Life&Culture

Unilever to buy men's grooming business Dollar Shave Club

Unilever to buy men's grooming business Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin will continue to serve as chief executive after the takeover is completed during the current quarter.

The company always seemed to play up its outsider status, poking fun as the big guys it was taking on. "It was probably on the radar but we weren't necessarily having the right conversation around what might disrupt us", said a person familiar with the company's thinking.

The monthly razor subscription service started in 2011, and CEO Michael Dubin made a splash with his YouTube video, modestly called "Our Blades are F***ing Great".

And of course, the Dollar Shave club has seen sales steadily increased since its launch from a reported $4m in 2012 to $154 million in annual revenue in 2015 thanks to its now three million subscribers, something P&G will be crossing its fingers it can emulate. Technology has lowered barriers to entry for new market entrants like Dollar Shave Club, enabling them to drive awareness, build brand equity, and target shoppers with precision more quickly and cost effectively than in decades past. For as little as $1 a month and $2 shipping and handling, Dollar Shave customers get five cartridges a month. Additionally, the deal is expected to help it significantly improve its distribution capabilities in existing markets. The deal suggests that Unilever, a consumer products giant that houses brands such as Dove, Vaseline and Axe, is looking for ways to gird itself for a changing shopping environment.

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Dollar Shave Club, in particular, has dominated the digital realm.

Calling Dollar Shave Club "innovative" and "disruptive", Unilever North America's President Kees Kruythoff acknowledged that Dollar Shave Club's primary appeal is its "incredibly deep connections to its diverse and highly engaged consumers". "In addition to its unique consumer and data insights, Dollar Shave Club is the category leader in its direct-to-consumer space". Speaking to ZDNet earlier this month, Kevin Datoo, Dollar Shave Club's COO, said the engineering focus has been key to helping the company scale and manage its rapid growth over the past four years. The startup previously raised some $160 million in venture capital funding for a valuation of $600 million, and will use the money brought in from the acquisition to expand to new territories.

Unilever would not comment beyond the press release.


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