The Company History of Gillette

Gillette razor.

A Look Into Gillette

King Camp Gillette started the Gillette Company at a time when American men were transitioning from long, full beards to short, well-manicured ones.

The latter alternative, however, called for frequent shaving and grooming. To achieve a clean-shaven look, men had only two options.

They could visit their barber at least three times a week or risk shaving with a non-disposable straight razor that was often dull and required professional sharpening.

Gillette became the first company to resolve this men’s grooming issue by inventing an inexpensive disposable razor blade.

The History of Gillette

Gillette began in South Boston in 1901 as The American Safety Razor Company and was later renamed The Gillette Safety Razor Company.

The company came six years after its founder, King Camp Gillette, stumbled upon an idea for a disposable razor blade.

Incidentally, the same grooming issue affecting American men in those days is the same one that inspired King Gillette to envision and later invent the disposable razor blade.


In 1895 King Gillette devised a disposable razor blade when shaving one morning with a permanent razor.

The razor was dull enough to stir frustration and inspire him to create a company that would later become a leading brand in the grooming industry.

At the time, King Gillette longed to invent something disposable. However, he didn’t know which item would be the best fit.

His inspiration to invent a disposable item came from his previous employer, William Painter, who made fortunes by inventing the disposable Crown Cork bottle cap.

Painter urged King Gillette to focus on developing a product that customers could purchase repeatedly, or in other words, create a disposable product.

Such an invention would ensure his company generated a steady income stream from returning customers.

King Gillette conceptualized his disposable razor blade idea but struggled to find a technical expert to produce it. Most scientists deemed his concept impossible and impractical to develop commercially.

It wasn’t until 1901 that William Nickerson, an MIT graduate engineer, agreed to try.

King Gillette founded the company and focused on raising the $5,000 needed for commercial manufacturing while Nickerson worked on making their invention a reality. The company began mass production in 1903.



Following the initial success in production, the newly renamed Gillette Safety Razor Company did its first print ad campaign in Systems Magazine.

This ad enabled the company to sell 168 blades and 51 razor sets in its first year of production.

In 1904, Gillette obtained the patent for the disposable razor blade, and sales sprung up to 123,648 razor blades and 90,884 razors.

The company’s earnings steadily increased over the first and second decades of the 20th century, thanks to Gillette’s advertising strategy.

During World War I, Gillette supplied disposable razor blades to all the US military troops following a government order. The company had to employ 500 new workers and work around the clock to fulfill this order.

It was arguably the company’s most resounding success in sales. By the end, 32 million blades and 3.5 million razors had been supplied to the military.

This order also brought a new pool of customers, ex-military men who regularly needed disposable blades after the war.


Gillette’s first major setback occurred at the end of the 1930s when a competitor sued them for patent infringement.

The company was accused of developing a new razor blade using a process patented by Auto Strop Safety Razor Company, an entity owned, at the time, by Henry J. Gaisman. Gaisman claimed that he presented his continuous-strip method to Gillette.

Gillette merged with Auto Strop Safety Razor Company to resolve the suit, only to encounter another setback.

Gaisman dug into Gillette’s financial records and discovered that the company had overstated its earnings by approximately $3 million.

There is no account of who disclosed this information, but it caused Gillette’s stock to fall from a soaring $125 in 1929 to an all-time low of $18.

King Gillette afterward resigned as company president and gave way to Gerard B. Lambert.

Lambert agreed to work without salary with the guarantee of company shares, provided he raised the stock by $5 per share. Profit remained low for most of the 1930s, partly due to the Great Depression.

Gillette found its silver lining in 1938 when a new president stepped in with a unique marketing approach.

Competitive Advantage

By the 1960s, Gillette had a 70-75% market share in the men’s grooming industry. The company’s two biggest competitors were Eversharp, which made Schick blades, and American Safety Razor.

Gillette gained an edge over these two and many other competitors by always being the first to innovate and patent blades and diversifying its product line to include supplementary grooming products.

By patenting its innovations, Gillette made it difficult for competitors to enter the market and copy the company’s inventions.

Innovation was always at the core of Gillette’s business strategy. The company invested heavily in research and development.

Besides the disposable razor blade, Gillette also invented Trac II (the twin razor blade), Atra (the adjustable razor), Atra Plus (the razor with a lubricating strip), and MACH3 (the razor with three blades).

Each invention was always better than the one before it.

Business Strategies

King Gillette isn’t just famous for using disposable razor blades. He also invented a new business strategy dubbed the razor and blade strategy.

The razor and blade strategy is a business strategy where one product gets sold at a giveaway price to improve sales of another complementary product.

Gillette implemented this strategy by selling razors at a low price and blades at a premium. Customers needed to eventually replace their blades, thus enabling the company to make its profits.

Regarding business expansion, Gillette used a different strategy. The company focused on going global, adding more product lines to its catalog, and acquiring other businesses. In 1905, Gillette opened its first overseas branch in London.

The company shortly afterward opened an industrial unit in Paris and offices in Russia, Austria, Scandinavia, and Germany. By 1923, 30% of Gillette’s profits were from foreign business.

The company has manufacturing plants in 27 countries and a market in 200 countries and territories. The company now makes more than 60% of its sales from overseas business.

Gillette began expanding its product line in 1936 by introducing its first non-razor product, the Gillette Brushless shaving cream. The company also added other products by acquiring businesses.

The first companies Gillette acquired were Toni Company which made home permanents, and Paper Mate Company which made ballpoint pens. Gillette also purchased many other companies in the 1960s and 1970s.

Marketing Strategies

In its startup years, Gillette focused mainly on print advertising but later expanded to partnerships with top-tier sports athletes.

One instance occurred in 1910 when the company created a print ad featuring baseball legends such as Honus Wagner, an infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Gillette also sponsored multiple sporting events in the 1940s, for example, the Kentucky Derby, the Sugar Bowl, and the All-Star Game.

Gillette went into creating televised commercials in the 1980s, with some being exemplary and others controversial.

The company’s most famous slogans are “The Best a Man Can Get” in the 1990s and “The Best a Man Can Be.”



There are so many things we can adopt from this company. Success comes to those who apply these strategies:

  • Be innovative

King C. Gillette started the Gillette Razor Blade Company with a simple mission: “We’ll stop making razor blades when we can’t keep making them better.”

Since its founding, Gillette forged ahead to improve its products and be the first to invent new product designs. In the same breath, focus on making your products and services better.

  • Find your business strategy

You must develop a business strategy if you are conducting business in a competitive environment.

Gillette’s razor and blade strategy enabled them to keep getting return customers and make profits from their blades.

  • Seize opportunities

Gillette could have admitted to being unable to fulfill the military order during World War I. However, the company hired 500 new employees to get the job done.

You might encounter some business opportunities bigger than you can handle. Don’t brush them off too quickly if they will help you grow your business.

Timeline.Gillette Timeline


W. K Kellogg launches The Kellogg Company as Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company.


King C. Gillette conceptualizes an idea to invent a disposable razor blade.


King Gillette launches the Gillette Razor Blade Company as the American Razor Blade Company.


Gillette succeeds in commercially producing disposable blades.


Gillette acquires the patent for disposable razor blades.


Gillette opens its first overseas branch in London.


Gillette fulfills a military order from the US government.


Gillette’s disposable razor blade patent expires, and the company invents a new razor blade.


King C. Gillette steps down as the company’s president.


Gillette adds the Gillette brushless shaving cream, its first non-blade product in its catalog.


Gillette begins acquiring other companies, the first being Toni Company.


Gillette acquires Braun AG.


1971: Gillette organizes itself into four divisions; the Toiletries Division, the Paper Mate Division, the Personal Care Division, and the Safety Razor Division.


1991: Gillette gets ranked 20th on the Fortune 500.


Gillette acquires Duracell, a battery manufacturer.


Gillette gets acquired by Proctor & Gamble and is now a subsidiary of the multinational consumer goods corporation.

The History of Gillette Products

I find looking at the history of a company’s products and services interesting, especially in the early stages of operation. It allows you to see how a company has grown and its products evolved.

For example, you can see a hundred years of product history with a company like Gillette.

The link below offers the latest search results allowing you to have the latest and most popular information any time you use this page.

A look at the latest search results for the history of Gillette Products.

Executive Team

If you’re wondering about the company’s team today, the link below offers the latest search results for topics, articles, and information leading to the people running Gillette.

On the other hand, if you are interested in investing in a company, it’s important to understand the people running it.

With strong management, you can expect good results. Conversely, with poor management, companies will be on a downward trend.

Look at the latest search results for the executive team of Gillette.

Working at Gillette

Companies need to treat their employees well. With a dedicated team, the company will do much better than running a company without a motivated team of employees.

The following link leads to the latest search results for working at Gillette. It’s worth mentioning when reading reviews.

Use your judgment. For example, some may be disgruntled employees, while others may not be happy wherever they work.

Also, it depends on the job you’re performing and whether it’s a good fit. That being said, if you are interested in the working conditions, you can browse search results to make your own assessment.

See the latest search results for working at Gillette.

Complaints and Lawsuits

Lawsuits and complaints indicate how a company performs, how it treats its employees, and whether or not the company is being managed ethically.

Looking at the latest search results will identify if there are any pending lawsuits and complaints, plus you’ll come across archived ones. Another perspective is to see if Gillette is suing other companies and look into those claims.

See the latest search results for complaints and Lawsuits related to Gillette.


For an overview of what Gillette is worth and how it’s performing, you can see the latest articles and information published online to see how well the company is doing and what the future has in store.

Naturally, financial reports are not about casual reading and aren’t the easiest to understand, but if you’re interested, the link below offers an overview of what’s out there.

See the latest search results for Gillette financials.

Company Assessment

For reviews, professional opinions, and a deeper look into the company, the link below dives into details of the company from third parties.

If you are looking for in-depth research, you will find it in the link below.

See the latest Google search results related to the worth, performance, and trends related to Gillette.


Books are another information source for discovering more about the Gillette story.

Naturally, books take a lot more time, effort, and research to write than an article. A couple on the market I have seen include:

Resisting Hostile Takeovers: The Case of Gillette by Rita Ricardo-Campbell | Oct 28, 1997

Cutting Edge: Gillette’s Journey to Global Leadership by Gordon McKibben | Dec 1, 1997

The link below offers a list of books related to Gillette. You can take the time to browse and see if any appeal to you.

View the most recent books related to Gillette on Amazon.


The news is another excellent source to stay current with any topic. A site like Google News lets you view Gillette’s latest and archived news stories.

In addition, you can set up an alert if you want a notification every time something new is published.

See Google’s news search results related to Gillette.

YouTube Videos

YouTube offers hundreds of videos related to Gillette, from company history to product reviews. While you are watching a video, keep an eye out for related videos that appear.

Many of these will be related to the video you are watching and offer topics you may not have considered.

See the most recent videos related to Gillette.