By UTalkMarketing.com Founding Editor, Clark Turner.
We live in changed and changing times shaped by the emerging growth of the internet and digital communications.
In the new digital universe brand presence has been democratised. Those brands which embrace new opportunities in the correct manner will emerge victorious, while those heritage brands that remain tied to old practices will fall by the way side.
Back in the early nineties, when the internet was in its infancy and only accessible to a few, business entrepreneur, Will King, could never have imagined the role digital was to play in building his UK-based brand.
But the channel has played a critical role in building presence and awareness globally for King of Shaves, paving the way for world domination and posing a very real challenge to shaving sector market leaders, Gillette and Wilkinson Sword. Gillette alone dominates 90 per cent of the world market in terms of value.
The King of Shaves brand was launched with a shaving oil product, but has since expanded with an innovative Azor (razor) product.
“People did question our efforts in the early days,” King of Shaves Founder, Will King, told UTalkMarketing. “If I’d realised how big a task lay ahead at the time, before Google, I might have thought differently.
“If you have the money then any brand can afford a big spend, but creativity can offset that.”
The Azor and blade cartridges were developed over a five year period, when the advice seemed to be to develop a multi-blade offering. But looking at the sector, King decided that less was more and simplicity had to be the way forward.
“Just how many blades does a person need to shave with? Does a handle really need 16 components?” said King. “We decided what was really important was the simplicity of product and to offer a fair price at full price. It’s all about the costing.”
Gillette’s business model is to charge a low cost for its handle but then off set this with expensive cartridges. Just as many tech companies charge a minimum for their printers, but then hike up operational costs with the high price of ink cartridges.
King of Shaves has turned that model upside down, looking at things from the consumer’s perspective. The Azor is available from major retailers from RRP £4.99 with four replacement cartridges costing RRP £4.99 and eight for just RRP £9.49.
It works out as a more economical option for consumers than what the competitors are offering.
Gillette and Wilkinson obviously have global sales but the internet means that people can still read about King of Shaves around the world and access to information can, in turn, translate into demand.
“Word of mouth marketing drives word of mouth marketing,” explained King. “So we don’t worry so much about the competition. We’re more concerned about doing what we do right and about being true to consumers.”
The recent launch of a new Hybrid Synergy’ system Azor, saw the company embarking on its first ever TV advertising campaign. But rather than featuring top sports men striking macho poses, KoS’s ad company, Hooper Galton, decided to take a radically different tact.
The 30-second, animated advert tells the story of the 'The Evolution of Modern Shaving', with Charles Darwin evolving into a clean shaven modern man. A definitive break from tired, traditional razor ads, the messaging focuses on the advanced technology of the Azor, emphasising its 'Bendology Technology'.
“The plan was to go back to the fundamental basics of advertising, showing what is evolving in the world of shaving with our use of technology and bendy hinge, but with a sense of humour,” Kings explained.
“It’s about bending the rules to your advantage, just as we’re doing as a razor and blade company. The different black and white approach has made us very memorable and we now have 25 per cent of the system handle market share as a result.”
King stands over one principle belief: Cash is the enemy of creativity, adding, “It’s about being clever with a small amount of money and getting ahead with what’s coming down the track.”
In the early days of email, King was quick to sign up to a Compuserve account. The move set him thinking that the tool could herald a time of change for marketing and publicity practices.
Shortly after he obtained the Shave.com domain for just $35 – providing an invaluable source of SEO. And when Twitter was launched, the brand was one of the earliest to sign up for an account, which it uses on a frequent basis.
“After Twitter, we’re now looking at what’s next, targeting early adopters and young people who are likely to but into the innovation behind our brand,” King added.
“The challenge is now in building global awareness and that’s perfectly possible through digital channels and social media to reaffirm TV work. It’s about identifying new and emerging platforms and looking at how they can work for our brand.”
Take for example the ‘Fair Shave’ protest stunt staged at London’s Speakers’ Corner. A tongue in cheek political demonstration, tying in with a KoS manifesto pledge, there was considerable press coverage while footage on YouTube has been viewed around 5,000 times.
King is fan of YouTube as a channel to demonstrate the “personality and real face of a brand.”
Then there was a recent promotion on Spotify (again popular with early adopters), asking users to submit songs that “bent the rules” to a KoS playlist to win a cutting edge Smart car. Another marketing tie in was with a new state of the art shoe developed by Puma.
“It’s about creating talkability among early adopters by associating ourselves with brands that offer a better future to consumers, rather than being engrained in the past,” concluded King, “Just like us.”
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