King of Shaves’ Will King on why investing in innovation is a necessity
How a flurry of original ideas has helped King of Shaves keep up with global shaving giants for the past 20 years
King of Shaves is a British shaving brand and we like to do things a little differently to our competitors. From the moment we launched in 1993 with our first product, a shaving oil which stops men from getting razor burn, we’ve been breaking the mould.
We’ve now sold tens of millions of bottles of our shaving oil, and we launched our innovative Azor razor in 2008. This was the first British-made razor in 100 years and features what we call ‘Bendology Technology’ – and describe as car suspension for a razor.
We recognised the potential of the internet early on, registering www.shave.com in 1995 and were the first shaving company with an e-commerce site – www.KingofShavesDIRECT.com in 1999. Today through our website, my regular blogs, and our Twitter and Facebook accounts we engage directly with our customers every single day.
We use our brand to back people with potential, not just famous or celebrity sports stars, but talented individuals such as Shelley Rudman – who won a Silver medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. That deal was agreed “because she needed a small amount of money, and believed she could win”. James Sheppard, believed he would win a world powerboat championship, and in 2007, driving King of Shaves – he won.
For five years, we ran our Young Blades athletic bursary, and in January 2012, raced to James Ellington’s rescue, the 100/200m sprinter, denied Elite Athlete funding due to injury, who put himself on eBay, and was cruelly let down. We ‘shaved’ his life.
It’s all about doing things that matter, differently. In 2009, we were the first company in the world to issue a small company retail bond – a Shaving Bond – with a 6% coupon, a copy of my book, free products and more. This is due to be repaid in August 2012, and 90% of the Shaving Bond 1 holders want to subscribe to a Shaving Bond 2. This is more than helping people ‘Shave and Save’ – it’s about how a brand connects and has a dialogue with their end consumer.
It’s so much better to bypass a bank, cut out their costs and go directly to the consumers! And, although our Shaving Bond caused a few raised eyebrows in 2009, it’s now been copied by companies as diverse as Ecotricity, Hotel Chocolat, Caxton FX and more recently, Mr. & Mrs. Smith Hotels, which makes me very proud.
To top it off, we’ve just launched our King of Shaves SUB – an online subscription service, where you can get an Azor 4 and 3 cartridges through the post, for £3 per month. Or for an extra £1 a month, customers can choose the 5-blade Azor 5 or Azor S for women. When you note that a single Gillette ProGlide cartridge costs up to £3.50, you can see this is pretty amazing.
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We know that our customer is King, that you must have an awesome product or user experience to offer. You must always be in the ‘I’ of the Hurricane – to ensure you don’t get battered to death. It’s all about the community, the conversation, the connections and the belief that in the future King of Shaves will be the iPhone of the razor and blade world, and ‘Nokia out’. We launch our equivalent of the iPhone of razors next year – so watch this space…
Will King is the founder and CEO of King of Shaves, the company he started in 1993. King of Shaves now has offices in Beaconsfield in the UK and New York in the US. www.kingofshavessub.com