Abstract Innovation is central to market competition, and constantly develop new products is not something easy for any company, independent of its size, and market. An analysis based on bibliography study of how Gillette manages the innovation within the company and how was the evolution of shaving along the years. The document presents a discussion of pros and cons of being a pioneer, and the consistency of Gillette’s innovation management.
IntroductionThere is not one single person in the world that never heard about Gillette or never used one of their products. Over 1 billion people in the world use Gillette every day, and some people in Brazil even call any razor as ‘gillette’. Starting the business in 1901, in short a space of time, King C. Gillette turned his idea in a highly successful, marketable product (The Times 100, n.d.). For many decades, the company has been consolidated in the market of shaving being the number one leader very far away from the second position brand. It sounds like a perfect scenario for Gillette, but actually the market was a little too monotonous for them (Mundo das Marcas, 2006; Bouzada, 2009). However many researchers (Aghion et al. cited Geroski (1995), Nickell (1996) and Blundell, Griffith, Van Reenen (1999)) have showed that there is a positive correlation between product market competition and innovative output, but this affirmation does not fit for Gillette. As Bouzada (2009) says, they could not see any potential for selling new units to grow their profits without investing in innovation. It was not a hard strategy to follow, due to the fact that innovation is one of the key targets on the company vision statement, which follows: “To build total brand value by innovating to deliver consumers value and customer leadership faster, better and more completely than our competitor” (Gillette Website, 2013) The evolution of shavingThe activity of shaving is as new as the Late Stone Age, when prehistoric man would shave with flint knives, shark teeth, and crude tweezers made out of seashells (Figure 1) (GQ Design Group, 2010). In 4000 BC, the invention of metalworking led to the birth of permanent razors with the Egyptians who established shaving and hair removal as a regular part of daily grooming using circular gold and copper razors found in tombs (Figure 2) (Modern Gent, n.d.). Under the rule of Alexander the Great, in 400 BC, the Romans would shave with a novacila, which was a hunk of iron with one sharpened edge and a tendency to slice cheeks (Figure 3) (GQ Design Group, 2010). The safety razor was proposed by Jean-Jacques Perret in 1770 in the book ‘The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself’ - La Pogonotomie - which gives advice for the use of different shaving products and equipment. The razor was a double-edge blade and L-shaped wooden guard that holds the blade in place. It prevents the user cutting themselves too deeply (Figures 4 and 5) (Modern Gent, n.d.). In 1800, the production straight steel razors started in Sheffield, England and they are in constant demand until the middle of 1800s, because in 1847, William Henson created the first hoe razor which placed the blade perpendicular to its handle, changing the way men would grip the shaver providing more control (Modern Gent, n.d.).
Figure 1: Flint Knife from Stone Age
Figure 2: Egyptian razor and mirror
Figure 3: Roman novacila
Figure 4: La Pogonotomie
Figure 5: Jaques Perret's safety razor
Gillette in the shaving marketThe beginning of Gillette started in 1885 with King Camp Gillette, a travelling sales man who imagines a hoe-shaped design razor with a disposable double-edged blade, and for the next six years he tries to sell his idea to bankers and toolmakers, but experts would say it was an impossible thing to do, due to the high cost of doing very thin good disposable blades. In 1901, K. Gillette meets a MIT professor called William Nickerson, who solved the engineering problem, and both created the...
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