Dollar Shave Club Razor Blades
Dollar Shave Club Razor Blades
Dollar Shave Club Razor Blades

One by one, almost every product that can be offered by subscription is being offered online. Diapers at, drugs at, food at and now razor blades at This is more than a fad, it is a trend – and, unlike some trends, the effect subscriptions will have on brick & mortar retail is easy to calculate and hard to ignore.

There are many lessons to learn from; let’s look at a few of them.

First, identified an opportunity: Razor blades are expensive and there is a market for a good blade at a good price. Razor blades are so expensive that, to succeed, would not need to be the least expensive blades, just a good balance of convenience, quality and price.

If you haven’t seen’s promotional video, take a minute to watch it. It is the very definition of what a well produced, well-targeted video should look like.

If you haven’t been to, take a minute to visit the site and see how a transactional website can be seamlessly merged with an experiential branded website. This is very hard to do and has accomplished it nicely.

Dollar Shave Club Package
Dollar Shave Club Package

Of course I had to test it out, so I signed up a few weeks ago and, within a week I received my first order. There are three packages to choose from – I chose the middle one – a four-blade razor. For $6 per month, will send you four new blades each month.

The package was simple and thrifty. In the envelope was a handle, four blades and some promotional material.

Just to level set for a second, beards are as individual as the people who have them. So my experience is probably not typical, but it might be. Spoiler alert: The following paragraph about my personal shaving experiences may fall into the category of TMI (too much information), so you may want to skip it.

I have a pretty tough beard and have been a happy The Art of Shaving customer for over a year. I use the entire system, pre-shave oil, shaving soap applied by brush and a five-blade razor (The one that is spoofed in the video) the Gillette Fusion blade. The eight pack of these blades costs $25 at The Art of Shaving, that’s $3.13 per blade plus tax and shipping if you order online, or plus tax and transportation if you buy them at the store. (’s four-blade blades cost $1.50 each, no tax, shipping is free).

I did the side-by-side comparison test and I can tell you without hesitation that the Gillette Fusion blade absolutely smokes the blades. It is no contest. A two-week old Fusion blade will give you a closer shave than a brand new blade, hands down. So, while founder Michael Dubin asks the rhetorical question, “Are our blades good?” Then answers, “No, they’re f#@king great!” That answer might be both self-serving and a bit of an exaggeration – as far as my beard is concerned, the blade offers a sub-optimal shaving experience.

I am a little sad that I can’t save $6 per month on blades. It would have been fun. But for less than the cost of a trip through the Midtown Tunnel, I’m not going to sacrifice a great shave with The Art of Shaving’s Gillette Fusion blades for a truly bad shave with blades.

OK, back to the future. Let’s not lose sight of the impact of subscriptions on traditional retail businesses just because doesn’t offer a superior product. Maybe other men will find the shave excellent or acceptable for the money. And, as we all know, if is not the ultimate solution to this market inefficiency, or some other new entity will figure out how to do it better and the business will evolve.

One very instructive and interesting factoid is that is not the least expensive way to purchase blades online. It is confirmed that buys at least some of its blades from a company called Dorco. At you will get an up close personal look at how badly a website can be designed, how impossible it can be for a consumer to make a comparison purchase and how, no matter how much they offer to save you, your time is worth more. Dorco’s website is neither experiential nor transactional – it’s just bad.

You’ll learn more from comparing and than you will from trying to figure out how to do a viral video like’s for your company.

Mike, I wanted to love – I think you guys are geniuses. I just wish the blades actually were f@#king great.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit


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