Dollar Shave Club to enter Europe in 2018

Dollar Shave Club has announced it will bring its subscription razor blade business to Europe early next year.

Michael Dubin, founder and CEO of Dollar Shave Club, revealed its move into Europe at Shoptalk Europe in Copenhagen.

Dubin set up his affordable direct to consumer business which posts razors out to customers on a monthly basis back in 2011. The start-up grew to take 20% of the razor market by volume and 10% of the segment’s dollar share.

Dollar Share Club hit headlines in mid-2016 when it was bought by Unilever for a whopping $1 billion.

Dubin said the company was never looking to be sold when it began conversations with Unilever over dinner in New York in December 2015. “It was about how we can mutually benefit each other,” he said. “We continue to be run as an independent company and they’ve been wonderful so far.”

As well as geographic expansion, Dollar Shave Club has also expanded into new categories including grooming products.

“We want to be the easiest place to get the things you use in your bathroom,” explained Dubin, who said the business is launching an oral care range later this year in the US.

“We want to help guys take care of their minds and bodies so they can be the best version of themselves,” said Dubin. “We talk about ‘guys and not ‘men’. Guys are a lot more evolved than they used to be – if you used to spend too much time in front of the mirror you were metrosexual, that’s not at all the case now.”

Subscription business

Dollar Shave Club is one of the biggest companies to have started life as a subscription business. And Dubin said the brand has purposefully stayed away from selling its products at mass retail.

“Having that direct relationship with the customer is really important,” he said. “If you evolve a digital product platform you can get a lot more information about your customers, if you sell at retail it’s really tricky to do that.”

While Dubin hinted at a launch of a Dollar Shave Club standalone store, he said it was too early to share any details. For now, the company will continue to sell online and through its subscription service.

“Subscription is such a rare construct and we get asked a lot: ‘should I build one, should I not build one?’”

But Dubin said subscription was never the purpose of the business.

“A lot of people do it because they love the concept of a monthly revenue which looks great on a spreadsheet,” he said. “But the only reason to develop a subscription model for your business is if it enhances the experience for the customer.”

He added: “Most guys milk razors longer than is comfortable, but we condition them when the box turns up to change their razor, which feels really good.”

Dubin explained that in order to be a successful subscription business, companies must be transparent with customers and give them tools to easily change their relationship with the brand, such as skip a month, pause a subscription and cancel.

“What you’ll see in the next 6-12 months is an overhaul of our digital product platform to allow for more flexibility. And to get that right you really have to kill it in the CRM game,” he explained.

“The name of the game with a direct to consumer business is learning as much as possible as you can about the customer. If you have that great degree of trust, and they trust you, they’ll answer [your questions] and you can use that information – you have to have that trust and I believe we do.”