January 5 – Happy Birthday, King Camp Gillette!


Posted on January 5, 2016

"Gillette" may be a familiar name to you because of the invention of today's famous birthday...

Because King Camp Gillette (born on this date in 1855) invented a disposable safety razor.

("King Camp" may be familiar words to you -- but isn't it surprising to have them as first and middle names?)

I don't know if you noticed that I said that Gillette invented "a" disposable safety razor -- not THE disposable safety razor. That's because there were several models being manufactured and sold before Gillette brought his out...

But it was Gillette's razor that became a huge success!

I read that many people credit Gillette with "freebie marketing" -- selling a product at a very inexpensive price (or giving it away for free) in order to make money selling another product or service. Freebie marketing is what cell phone companies use when they try to get you to switch carriers -- they offer you a cheap phone, maybe even a free phone, maybe even a free iPhone, in order to be able to charge you the monthly cellular service. In Gillette's case, freebie marketing was selling the razor itself very inexpensively in order to sell lots of the blades.

"Give 'em the razor; sell 'em the blades," was a phrase credited to Gillette.

But Gillette didn't invent this marketing strategy, and he wasn't the first safety razor manufacturer to use the strategy, either. He adopted freebie marketing AFTER some of his competitors started using it.

Gillette is still a big
name in disposable
razors!
To see why this sort of marketing works, contemplate the fact that, at first most of the sales Gillette made were to people new to his product, but later he was able to sell blades to both new customers and to old customers who'd already bought his razor. In 1904 he sold around 90,000 razors and about 120,000 blades -- quite similar numbers -- but by 1915 he sold around 450,000 razors and more than 70 MILLION blades!!


Gillette the rich...

Gillette made a lot of money with his company, and even after he sold majority interest in the company to someone else, his name and his face on the packaging still linked him to Gillette razors. When he traveled around the world, he was generally recognized from the packaging!

Gillette used a lot of his money buying property and building on it. He built a huge home and a smaller guest house in Palm Springs, California, and he later bought a large ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains, also in Southern California. 


Gillette the ragged...

Even when he was rich, Gillette would often wander about the Desert Inn, in Palm Springs, in an old, tattered bathrobe. People wondered who the poor guy was -- and were surprised when they were told that he was King Gillette!

But Gillette spent so much money on property and building, he was almost bankrupt when he died.


Also on this date:











Bean Day

































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