Great Campaigns: Gillette 18th Birthday Free Gift


The 18th birthday free Gillette shaving kit is a tactic to promote customer loyalty, boost sales, and commemorate a milestone.

Since the 1990s, Gillette, a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, has been mailing razors to young men celebrating their 18th birthday. This year, the company has intensified its focus on introductory marketing, dispatching millions of razors and garnering enthusiastic responses on social media platforms.

While Gillette hasn’t disclosed its specific data sources for identifying potential recipients, it mentions utilizing sign-ups on its websites, opt-ins from retailers, and other commercially available sources such as magazine subscriptions. This may also involve data obtained from brokers who compile information from various sources for sale.

The premise behind Gillette’s birthday mailings is to provide young men with their “first real” razors (#FirstReal). The packages come with informative booklets likening significant life milestones to the transition from a first suit to a “first real suit,” emphasizing the importance of quality grooming tools with lines like, “You didn’t claw your way into manhood only to shave with a toy.”

Facing increased competition from online disruptors like Dollar Shave Club, now owned by Unilever, Gillette has felt pressure to maintain its market share. In response, the birthday mailings also feature promotions for Gillette’s on-demand service, enabling users to reorder blades through text messages. Razors and related products contribute significantly to Procter & Gamble’s annual sales, comprising 11%, and earnings, representing 15%.

The Math

Here’s a breakdown of how Gillette can generate revenue through their birthday razor mailings:

Let’s assume Gillette sends razors to 2 million individuals, and only 5% of them continue to use Gillette products. That amounts to 100,000 loyal customers who have stuck with Gillette for approximately 10 years.

Each set of replacement blades costs an average of $40, and these loyal customers purchase replacement blades annually over 10 years.

Revenue calculation:

100,000 customers x $40 per year x 10 years = $40,000,000 (40 million USD)

Considering the initial cost of posting the razors, which amounts to $10 per set, the total initial cost for sending the razors to 2 million people is USD 20 million.

Given this calculation, Gillette invests $20 million annually in sending out the razors, but they potentially earn $40 million in revenue over the 10 years from loyal customers who continue to purchase replacement blades.

This business model allows Gillette to not only recoup their initial investment but also generate significant long-term revenue.

The Thinking

This exercise is motivated by many factors:

  • Build Loyalty

Gillette hopes to build early brand loyalty in young men by giving them a free shaving kit on their 18th birthday. Gillette targets youth with free, high-quality product in the hopes that they would develop a favourable impression of the brand and stick with it when they get older.

  • Rite of Passage:

Shaving is a big part of coming of age for many young men, and it usually happens around the time they turn 18. By providing a complimentary shaving kit, Gillette shows its appreciation for this life event and its desire to be a part of it, establishing itself as a reliable friend throughout this formative period.

  • Building Awareness

An advertising tactic to raise awareness of the business and bring in new consumers is the free shaving kit. Gillette may reach more people than just those celebrating their 18th birthday by giving away a high-quality product and encouraging people to talk about it.

  • Long-Term Customer Relationship

The importance of establishing relationships with consumers at an early age and encouraging them to make repeat purchases is something that Gillette is well aware of. As a first step in building a relationship with consumers, Gillette offers complimentary shaving kits in the hopes that they will stick with Gillette for all of their shaving needs.

In short, the 18th birthday free Gillette shaving kit is a marketing ploy to strengthen consumer relationships, increase sales, celebrate a momentous occasion, and build loyalty.

And it is not an expense!!!

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