Gillette Innovation Case Study 17 Oct 2011

5895 words 24 pages
Michael Smurfit UCD Graduate Business School
University College Dublin
Frank Bradley

17 October 2011

Gillette with over 70 percent market share in the wet shave market in both the US and Europe dominated the category. This dominance was born from a relentless pursuit of better shaving technology, a willingness to invest whatever was needed to manufacture its products effectively, and a formulaic, integrated marketing strategy. Gillette prided itself on its innovations in shaving technology and its ability to persuade consumers to trade up as new improved versions of existing razors were launched. In 1990, the Gillette Sensor represented a breakthrough in shaving systems technology with its twin blade cartridge. This
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(Fortune, 14 October 1996).
Gillette spent 2.3 percent of sales on R&D each year, a figure that was approximately double the industry average. Gillette prided itself on introducing only new products that represented significant improvements. Rather than a new razor every year, the company waited until they had something meaningful, and then went to market. Zeien scorned the approach of attaching


superficial frills to existing products and labeling them innovations, dubbing the practice
‘putting blue dots in the soap powder‟; innovation was continuous at Gillette: „In the shaving area - both wet and dry - we have never launched a major new product without having its successor in development.’ (Industry Week, 3 January 1994).
Gillette’s attitude to innovation extended to its manufacturing practices. A major reason why Gillette was able to outpace its competition for decades rested on the company's ability to consistently cut its manufacturing costs while actually improving quality. Zeien believed that the company spent more on new manufacturing equipment than on new products, which was a reason why Gillette regularly reached its target of reducing manufacturing costs by 4 percent a year. Gillette's emphasis on refining the manufacturing process was much admired, according to Rosabeth Moss Kanter,of the Harvard Business
'Few companies are as good at combining new products with new