Gillette: The 11-cent Razor, India, and Reverse Innovation

by: Ryan Atkins

Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Length: 12 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-328

Core Disciplines: Base of the Pyramid, Marketing/Sales, Social Impact, Strategy & Management

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Teaching Note

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The “Gillette: The 11-Cent Razor, India, and Reverse Innovation” case describes Gillette’s development of the low cost Gillette Guard for the Indian market. After moderate success with razor introductions in India, Gillette took a different approach when it designed and marketed the Gillette Guard. Through market immersion, Gillette’s staff studied the Indian market and learned about the specific needs of Indian consumers. The Gillette Guard became the market leader in only six months, moving Indian consumers away from using low quality double-edge razors. Gillette also developed an operations model to efficiently produce these low cost razors in India, providing local jobs and ensuring stable costs. The success of the Gillette Guard makes for an interesting class discussion. The primary question is if Gillette should launch the low cost razor in the US, risking disruption of the market and cannibalization of sales of high-margin razors such as the Gillette Fusion ProGlide.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Examine and describe Gillette’s “razor-and-blades” business model.
  • Articulate issues relevant to strategy and marketing in the Base of the Pyramid.
  • Apply the concepts of sustaining vs. disruptive innovation to the problems faced by the case protagonist.
  • Analyze Gillette’s product development process.
  • Evaluate Gillette’s strategic options.