BOSTON -- Gillette Co. here has unveiled its eagerly anticipated Mach 3 razor system, which the company is calling its most significant product introduction since it brought out its first twin-blade razor in 1971.
Gillette plans to spend $300 million on promotional support, including $200 million on worldwide advertising, during Mach 3's first year on the market. The Mach 3 will be available in stores in July -- TV spots will break in early August -- and is expected to shake up the men's wet-shave category.
"Every [retailer] will put this in right away. It is very different in its look and the way it works. You would think there's not much more you could do with a razor blade, but they did," said Al Jones, vice president and market manager for health and beauty care at Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass. "It is also very much more expensive."
Suggested retail price for a Mach 3 razor, two cartridges and an organizer will range from $6.49 to $6.99, Gillette said. That is about 35% more than the company charges for its best-selling SensorExcel. A four-pack of Mach 3 cartridges is expected to go for between $6.29 and $6.79.
Jones, who noted that Imperial placed its initial orders for the new line months ago, said, "The [Mach 3] advertising is very loud; they're going to make noise with this."
As far as Gillette's retail partners go, however, there will be "no coupons, no deals, no slotting, no nothing," he said. "It's going to be institutional, telling the story of the product, the benefits and the technological improvements."
At a New York press conference late last month, executives said they expect the Mach 3 to garner a 20% to 30% share of the men's wet-shaving market. Gillette will continue to sell its popular Sensor razors, they said. A year ago Gillette's Sensor franchise held a 33.9% share of the razor system market, according to a Salomon Smith Barney research report.
"It's going to increase their share," Jones said. "They've admitted they're cannibalizing their own sales, but that's the point. They're encouraging people to trade up.
"From my perspective, I hope they succeed," he added. "It's good for us -- it costs me just as much to ship a 99-cent bottle of shampoo."
Gillette promises the Mach 3 delivers a closer shave with fewer strokes. Its three blades are aligned so that, in a single stroke, each blade shaves progressively closer to the skin than the last. Other features include a forward-pivoting action, spring mounting for the blades, an ergonomic handle and open cartridge architecture that allows for easier cleaning.
The company said that it spent more than $750 million bringing Mach 3 to market and that the system will be covered by at least 35 patents.