Surprise: Harry's shares its secret plan to build its brand

February 4, 2014

A story last week caught my eye because it's an unusual story. Harry's, the 10-month old start-up razor start-up, just made a $100 million purchase. The company just bought Feintechnik, a factory in Germany that has been making razors for 93 years. Harry's isn't a household name yet, but it's seen early success and is positioning itself to be a real challenger to Gillette and Schick.

What's especially interesting about this development, is the insight we get into the founders' vision for the brand. The co-founders are Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeffrey Raider, who helped start Warby Parker, the budding brand currently disrupting the eyewear market. Katz-Mayfield and Raider wanted to build or buy a razor company since late 2011. After months of research and testing razors, they came upon Feintechnik, and after several meetings, they pitched the idea to acquire the company to a group of investors, including several venture capital firms. Katz-Mayfield and Raider were told to build a brand first.

Harry's utilized Feintechnik razors in their $15 shaving kits, which include an ergonomic handle, shaving cream, and two extra razors. They've achieved early success, reportedly having sold millions of razors to date. The brand is also pursuing unconventional paths, opening a barbershop in SoHo that also sells products and is selling the razors through J. Crew. From afar, these efforts seem to reflect an intention to position Harry's as a lifestyle brand.

While Harry's is joining the ranks of other young brands like Warby or Dollar Shave Club, another challenger to the shaving giants, Harry's is now markedly different. While these peers rely on third-party manufacturers, Harry's won't need to. Oftentimes, our clients are challenged by a reliance on third parties that can be a pain point for their brand's customer experience because these are elements they can't control.

Being responsible for the end-to-end experience (aside from retail through third parties), will offer Harry's greater control of its brand experience and the opportunity to innovate. The company will likely now be more responsive, able to more easily update the current designs of its razors, and potentially go to market more quickly. Taking ownership of the source of its razors, will likely help Harry's protect its brand and ensure for an exclusive experience.

And how does Harry’s see it? Well, their thinking is pretty straightforward and on their website they announce “Your blades are going to get even better – we just bought the German factory that makes them.”

So, is the $100 million purchase brilliant? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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