Should I save on a shave?

5th April, 2011

Dear Economist,
I was thrilled, like many men, with the arrival of three-blade shaving razors. But, of late, I feel that the cost of shaving with the three-blade is high compared with the value derived from it.
Do you think it would be better to shift to a twin-blade razor which will certainly save costs and might also give the desired shaving results?
R Sriganesh
Dear R Sriganesh,
Hang on, “thrilled” is putting it a bit strongly, isn’t it? I don’t know anyone whose pulse was set racing by the arrival of the Mach 3. It was, at best, mildly intriguing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent razor. But let’s be clear, the main innovation wasn’t the progress from two to three blades, was it? It was from no blades at all to one. That’s really where the shaving revolution started. It’s what we economists call diminishing returns.
It may help you to note that razors are sold in a classical two-part pricing scheme: the razor itself is cheap, perhaps even subsidised, and the blades themselves are expensive. The same is true of printers and printer ink. All this means is that you can try out an alternative, two-blade or one-blade razor without undue expense.
And if you decide that after slumming it with a Bic disposable that you really need the seven-blade razor which plays music and gets rid of unwanted lipstick stains on your collar – I am sure the razor manufacturers will be “thrilled” to oblige.
First published in “Mens Health”

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