King Camp Gillette
When a business brand is so well known that even competitors are called by its name, then what better testament could there be to determine the success of a brand?
Ironically, Gillette is falsely credited to be the inventor of the safety razor. The safety razor was actually invented in the mid-1870s by the Kampfe Brothers. What Gillette had though was this: the eye that sees business opportunities.
Gillette – How It All Began
King Camp Gillette was born to a middle-class family who was ravaged by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. To support his family, he started to work as a traveling salesman for the Crown Cork and Seal Company. It was in the 1890s when he suddenly came across a business idea; he realized that there was a need in the market for cheap, disposable razor blades.
Prior to his ‘invention’, razor blades required non-stop sharpening to be useful, which of course wore them out quickly. Since men need to shave frequently, they were ‘forced’ to keep buying new razors. Gillette thought that he could earn a lot by offering a safety razor at a discounted price with cheap and disposable razor blades… he was right.
Although Gillette’s business idea came to him in the 1890s, it was not until 1903 that he began selling his products. This is because inexpensive thin steel was next to impossible to work with and extremely difficult to sharpen. A lesser businessman would have long abandoned his business idea but, not Gillette. For this reason, he is considered one of America’s top business leaders.
In 1903, he sold 51 razors and 168 blades and a year later in 1904, he sold 90,884 razors and 123,648 blades. Gillette achieved this amazing growth in such a short time span by using his success formula, which was this – low prices, excellent advertising, and automated manufacturing techniques. These are the foundations why we, a century later, are still buying Gillette products.
The King C. Gillette Quick Bio
Full name: King Camp Gillette
Birthdate: January 5, 1855 (deceased July 9, 1932)
Birthplace: Fon du Lac, Wisconsin
Company: Gillette Company
Industry: Personal Care Home Products
Key Success Traits: Patience, Aptitude to see his business idea through, Innovation when it comes to merchandising and advertising
The Gillette Company was the maker of Gillette, Oral-B, Braun and Duracell products until 2005 when it was sold to Procter & Gamble for $57 billion.