A rort by any other name

Collection of modern safety razors: Gillette F...
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I seem to have lost my collection of shaving instruments in the recent move. I’m not sure where they went. Perhaps wherever all the biros, sunglasses and good TV shows have all disappeared off to.

When it came to replacing my razors I was amazed at the prices. There’s something known as the “razor and blades” strategy and I think there’s a lot of evidence that it needs a new name.

The basic idea is that the razor is sold cheap, i.e. at a loss, but the single loss is more than made up for by the series of blade purchases over the life of the razor. Of course, blades are designed to work with only one type of razor, so if you switched, you’d need to buy a new razor.

The concept is well known in business, and a number of other industries have apparently copied the strategy pioneered by the razor. For example, there was Polaroid cameras and their film cartridges, games consoles and their games cartridges (now discs) and Printers with their ink cartridges.

However, what amazed me about the recent prices was that the price of the razor was massive compared to the price of the blades. That’s not how it’s meant to work in the razor and blades model.

According to figures gleaned this very evening from Coles Online, razors and blades don’t appear to be following the razor and blades strategy…


  • Schick Quattro Freestyle Kit – $16.34
  • Schick Quattro Razor Kit Titanium – $14.16
  • Gillette Fusion Razor Kit – $13.72
  • Gillette Fusion Phenom Razor – $13.72
  • Gillette Mach 3 Razor Kit – $13.07
  • Schick Quattro Razor Kit – $13.07
  • Gillette Sensor Excel Razor Kit – $7.95
  • Schick Xtreme 3 Razor Kit – $7.62
These all typically include 2 blades also. Median price = $13.40


  • Gillette Fusion Razor Catridges 6 pack – $32.37 ($5.40 ea)
  • Schick Quattro Razor Catridges Titanium 4 pack – $17.10 ($4.28 ea)
  • Gillette Mach 3 Razor Cartridges 8 pack – $26.65 ($3.33 ea)
  • Schick Quattro Razor Catridges 8 pack – $25.06 ($3.13 ea)
  • Schick Xtreme 3 Razor Cartridges 4 pack – $11.43 ($2.86 ea)
  • Gilette Sensor Excel Razor Blade Cartridges 10 pack – $27.46 ($2.75 ea)
  • Schick Ultra Plus Razor Cartridges 5 pack – $8.70 ($1.74 ea)
Median price = $3.13


  • Schick Quattro Razor Disposable with Aloe & Vitamin E 3 pack – $9.80 ($3.27 ea)
  • Gillette Mach 3 Disposable Sensitive 5 pack – $16.01 ($3.20 ea)
  • Gillette Sensor 3 Disposable Razor 8 pack – $11.99 ($1.50 ea)
  • Schick Xtreme 3 Razor Disposable Sensitive with Aloe 8 pack – $11.98 ($1.50 ea)
  • Gillette Blue II Plus Sensitive Pivot Head Disposable Razors 16 pack – $14.16 ($0.89 ea)
  • Schick Extra II Razor Disposable Sensitive with Vitamin E 18 pack – $11.98 ($0.67 ea)

Note that the cost of a disposable (razor + blade) is less than the corresponding razor or blade. Even if you accept that the quality of the disposable will be lower than the ordinary razor, it’s hard to believe that the quality of, say, the Gillette Mach 3 Razor Kit ($13.07 with two blades) is four times the quality of the Gillette Mach 3 Disposable ($3.20 with one blade).

Although I know nothing about it, I would guess that Gillette and Schick are making out like bandits selling the razors. As a comparison, Catch of the Day recently sold a pedestal fan for $13.95, and selling something out of plastic with fewer materials, no moving parts, and no electronics for a similar price cannot be making a loss.

So, if the razor and blades strategy is no longer following the razor and blades strategy, what should we be calling it?

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