While the US has been the key market for subscription model brands with Dollar Shave Club revolutionising the shaving industry, one brand hopes to replicate the model in the UK. Shavekit, although only two years old, is already creating a loyal fan base and is hoping to tap into the US$1.7 billion industry of men’s grooming in the UK. Euromonitor International interviewed Tom Harrow, co-founder of Shavekit, on his views of the market and why he decided to enter the men’s grooming business.
How did you come up with the idea of launching shavekit?
Tom and I had worked together in the past and particularly like subscription business models; we understand them and we can make them work. We also both shave and constantly run out of bathroom supplies. Initially the idea was to replenish all the supplies of the bathroom but in the end we simplified it to just razors, with the view of launching new, high-margin, bolt-on products (shave cream, face scrub, etc) as the business grows.
With the trend for the unshaved look still going strong in the UK, how do you see the shaving market evolving in the next five years?
A very large proportion of the male adult population shaves. We don’t see that changing ever. Trends will come and go around facial hair as they have in the past and we think the current trend is on the way out. This is based on our own experiences and talking with our customers, so purely anecdotal but with thousands of customers using our product we’re getting a lot of feedback on the subject.
In terms of your retail channels your strategy, being a subscription model, is unconventional and at the moment unique to the US market, where there are many players using this model, including Gillette. Why does the UK market differ? Does it hold the same potential as the US, and who are your key competitors?
The UK market is huge. The UK has the highest internet penetration in the world so it’s a great territory to reach customers. We own our distribution so no negotiating with the supermarket for shelf space, which puts us in a very powerful position when launching new products. We are the fastest growing and largest service of this kind in the UK and look forward to start taking real % share as we scale – just like what you see in the states. There are a few competitors here in the UK but no substantial competitors yet.
Do you see the men’s subscription model, as used by yourselves, being relevant to other markets outside the US/UK? And are there any markets that you would consider entering (even US)?
Right now our focus is the UK but we are launching our French product in 2016.
How is the rise of mobile impacting your business model?
Very positively - mobile has been instrumental in acquiring new customers.
In terms of innovation, what’s the next big thing for Shavekit? Are you looking at integrating more into toiletries like skin care, hair care, bath and shower and/or deodorants?
We’re very excited about launching our own shave cream in the next few months, then stay tuned for complimenting products soon after.