Featured case: The Dollar Shave Club:
Can the Unilever Deal Add Sheen?

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The case

Who – the protagonist

Michael Dubin, Founder and CEO, Dollar Shave Club (DSC).

What?

The DSC is a monthly subscription service selling men’s grooming items such as razors, moisturiser and shaving cream. Its ‘low-price, direct-sales’ model has disrupted the industry’s move to ‘high-tech, costly razors’.

Why?

United by their frustration over the high cost of razor blades, Michael (branding and marketing) and Mark Levine (manufacturing) realised they could combine their skills to offer something different to customers.

When?

The idea was born in 2010 when Michael and Mark met at a party.

LAWhere?

Initially targeting the American market, with its base located in Los Angeles, DSC then entered countries including the UK and Canada.

Key quote

“They’re generalising, saying things like ‘Guys are Neanderthals’ and ‘They don’t care about the ingredients that go into these things.’ And that’s BS because guys do care if they achieve certain benefits.” – Michael Dubin, Founder and CEO, DSC, speaking about L'Oréal and Unilever marketing their grooming products for men the way energy drinks are marketed.

What next?

Ironically, Unilever approached DSC in 2016 with a view to a $1 billion takeover, which Michael and Mark found too appealing to turn down, with the former staying on as CEO.

Unilever would benefit from DSC’s knowledge of selling directly to consumers, with the European giant used to selling their high-profile brands via the middle man of a supermarket.

Unilever recognised the advantages of manufacturers selling directly to customers, but was a major change in the industry about happen, and would DSC continue to grow into new markets?

 
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The Dollar Shave Club: Can the Unilever Deal Add Sheen?
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Teaching note

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The authors

Vasudha M.

Vasudha M. talks short teaching notes and the use of multimedia content.

Appealing to both sides

appealing to both sides

Vasudha commented: “It is true that male students show more interest in the case due to its focus on shaving and other men’s grooming products. Their personal experience leads to a higher degree of involvement in the discussions. But at the same time, the business model and the entry of Unilever into the scenario held its own appeal among female students.”

Influences

Vasudha continued: “The disruptive nature and uniqueness of the business model were some of the key reasons behind the choice of the case subject.”

Benefits of multimedia

Vasudha said: “Students enjoyed the videos which resulted in a multimedia experience and a greater understanding of the case study. Since the business model of Dollar Shave Club involved a healthy dose of social media marketing, video links were essential to provide a better exposure to and understanding of the model.”

Less is more

Vasudha concluded: “The teaching note was kept brief in order to not burden faculty staff with another lengthy document. Also at Amity Research Centers, we always write brief teaching notes, which makes it easier for faculty to guide the discussion.”

About the authors

Vasudha M. is Senior Faculty Research at Amity Research Centers, Chennai.
vmurugesan@chn.amity.edu

 

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