AS part of Royal Philips Electronics Group, Philips Shavers is the world leader in the electric shaving category, commanding over 60% of electric shaving market. The company is renowned for its extensive product and market research and its innovation record.
Breaking the ground
Over the years, Philips Shavers has been responsible for many category innovations that have changed the shaving market and set new standards of consumer experience.
The first major technological breakthrough was floating shaving heads, launched in 1959, which provided men with a very close shave, thanks to individual floating heads which pivoted to follow the contours of the face. Then came the Lift & Cut System (1980) changing the way that men shave with a double blade system that lifted the hair from below the surface of skin before cutting them – ensuring optimal closeness. The next step was Reflex Action (1996) which brought in a pivoting function meaning that the whole shaving unit moved, rather than just the individual heads ensuring greater contact with the skin in even the hardest to reach areas.
SmartTouch-XL is the latest of technological innovations which introduced two new technologies: SmartTouch Contour Following System – a suspension-cushioning system whereby the entire shaving head moves, and Speed-XL shaving heads – the first triple track heads which have up to 50% more shaving surface in comparison with other systems.
Philips’ pioneering efforts in the field of male shaving began in 1939 when the company launched its first electric shaver, ‘The Cigar’ at the Spring Exhibition in Utrecht where hundreds of men waited their turn to try this wonder.
The next innovation to hit the market in 1948 was ‘The Egg’, which became the symbol of Philips Shavers for the next ten years thanks to its reliability, and effectiveness.
In 1956, Philips Shavers introduced ‘The Pipe’, featuring 120 shaving slots (increasing the shaving surface by up to 40%) and flip top cleaning system.
Responding to the explosion of consumer demand, Philips Shavers invented floating shaving heads in 1959, a brand new technology that paved the way for the future of electric shaving. Four years later the first fully cordless shaver was launched, revolutionizing the way men see shaving. It became possible to keep electric shavers in office drawers or car glove compartments, and even take them on holiday.
In 1968, there was another world’s first with the invention of the Philips Shavers 3, the first threeheaded shaver. Since then the triple-head technology was adopted as the Philips Shavers trademark.
Ergonomic improvements followed shortly afterwards. In 1975, Philips Shavers introduced the Telephone Hook line (TH), forming the basis for a new standard in electric shaving, with slanted shaving unit, a longer handle and ribbed panels for better grip.
Five years later came another world first from Philips. This time it was the Double Action System (later to become the Lift & Cut System). One blade lifts the hair away from the skin while the next shaves it away – the shaved hair then sinks back under the skin, resulting in the perfectly smooth shave.
The next technological innovation from the Philips Shavers was the Reflex Action System in 1996. The whole shaving unit moved rather than just the individual heads, which allowed the shaver to follow the contours of the face closer than ever before.
In 1998, Philips Shavers merged the boundaries between wet and dry shaving by introducing Cool Skin, the first shaver with integrated moisturizing shaving emulsion. This formula proved so successful that one million units were sold in the first year after launch.
Soon Philips Shaver was also to become a status symbol when James Bond – the world’s greatest gadget lover – used the Philips Sensotec Shaver in Die Another Day in 2002.
The latest in cutting edge design and innovation in the long line of Philips Shavers was SmartTouch-XL launched in 2005.
The global presence
Philips shavers are sold in over 56 countries maintaining Philips’ world leadership in electric shaving, despite the fact that grooming habits and social expectations vary widely around the globe.
Justine Guest, customer marketing director, Philips DAP, comments: “Philips’ ongoing research into men’s shaving and grooming needs have developed an understanding of how trends in this market are changing. This has enabled Philips to deliver advanced shaving products globally that meet the needs of consumers to enable a close, irritation free shave.
“The grooming portfolio of products tends to be influenced by regional fashions and trends. These needs are met by market leading ranges including men’s beard trimmers, multi grooming products and the Bodygroom range. The UK market tends to lead this category with consumers here being the first to adopt new trends, such as Bodygroom and multi-grooming products.”
Healthy sales of shavers are supported by a rapidly growing interest in male grooming, which is greatly influenced by celebrity examples. We have entered an era in which maintaining neat facial hair, good haircuts and all over body grooming is accepted as masculine. It is also becoming apparent that a growing number of men, for whom looking good is a high priority, are increasingly accommodating to their partners’ wishes. A survey conducted by Philips and health club chain Fitness First took a closer look at grooming habits at the gym in particular, and found that hairy men are still a real turn off for women (as identified by one in five female gym goers).
So, how can you take advantage of these trends on the retail floor? First, Philips produces a lot of modern PoS material and puts a lot of effort into packaging which tells a good part of the story. Second, knowledge of evolving shaver technology should make a good introduction when tempting customers with a new purchase (few men those days wait until their old shaver expires in their hand). Moreover, the high profile of Philips shavers in the market should facilitate your job.
Finally, take note of the advice Justine Guest, the ‘First Lady’ of Philips Shavers, offers to independent retailers: “Select a limited range which includes top sellers in the market and covers key price points. It is essential that staff is well trained on products regularly and are familiar with trends within the shaving and grooming market. The products should be presented so consumers can touch, feel and interact with them, while being prominently displayed at key times of the year, such as Father’s Day and Christmas.”