Here is the second in this fascinating series of articles by Matt Pisarcik of Razor Emporium:
1910’s: Wartime Sales & Ladies Shaving
As the company moved forward with early success in the 1900’s, a new decade was upon them and with it came the need to keep current. With products being sold in 145,000 retail stores throughout the lands, Gillette was truly beginning to be “Known The World Over,” a slogan that they also incorporated into their Diamond & Arrow logo which appeared around the end of the previous decade. One great milestone of the ‘teens for the razor company was the contract with the United States Army to furnish razors for soldiers fighting overseas. Not only did the company capitalize from the contract itself, but also on the prominence of their shaving system being selected for war-time usage.
Advertisements like these were prevalent in newspapers, evening posts and journals, talking about the reliability and performance that soldiers trusted the Gillette razor to give. All the while, this endorsement marketing technique built the reputation and house-hold name of the Gillette Safety Razor Company. Models that never even went to battle were still marketed to the general buying public as if they had. And better still to the war-time production, soldiers returning from overseas came home to become life-long buyers of Gillette blades for their Uncle-Sam issued razors!
Another highlight of the teens was the capturing of an entire buying segment that up to this point remained seriously un-tapped: female shaving needs. Initially titled The Milady Décolleté, the original offering to women was a “safe and sanitary way to the smooth underarms demanded by both good grooming and good dressing.” In essence, Gillette capitalized off reaching a new segment of the shaving population by popularizing the practice in itself. In other words, they made women want to shave their arms, and also want to buy a Gillette to do the shaving. Simply brilliant. Later on, Gillette went a step further to convince European women to do the same thing, and even added in the popularity of clean-shaven female legs. What a concept!
Advert images from Razor Archive.