One-upsmanship

This past summer, razor maker Schick had announced the Quattro, a four blade razor. It’s pretty obvious they’re trying to “one-up” their competitor Gillette’s Mach 3 (which only sports three blades).

What’s next? You can already predict a “Mach 5″ with five blades — or maybe Gillette will skip over five and go for the even six. This could continue for years, and we can look forward to a razor that holds 12 blades, letting you shave in one stroke.

If I had the cash (and/or desire) I might look into starting my own razor company and beat them both to the puch with a five or six blade razor of my own. Why would someone buy the Mach 3 when they could buy a razor with five blades on it?

Personally, I like the Mach 3 just fine — but even better would be a razor with one blade that actually worked, and lasted longer than a few weeks.

This same “One-upsmanship” exists in all sorts of industries. Products touting “0 Carbs” are showing up all over the place, KFC is setting the record straight, announcing that eating their fried chicken is healthy because it’s a “high protein, low carb food” (they, in fact, are comparing the fried chicken to Burger King’s Whopper — where the chicken comes out essentially the better of two evils). Everything is Super-Sized and just barely better than any other competitor’s product on the market.

So, what’s my point? Is a world with four blade razors and zero-carb french fries better than a world with three blade razors and regular-carb fries?

32 Comments

  1. Jason Long says:

    I’ve been a Mach 3 user for a couple of years and I’m actually thinking about going back to a two-blade razor. I think the Mach 3 is good, but perhaps too good – I’ve been fighting ingrown hairs along my jawline too frequently. Part of it is probably my technique, but I never had this problem with an Excel.

  2. web says:

    I’d admit, I bought into the hype .. I purchased it. I am very disappointed, it really doesn’t improve on the “shaving” quality but it is harder to maneuver than its 3 bladed counterpart. Not to mention I had this sinking feeling of betrayal, that I just sold Bessy down the river. I gave it a fair shot. Three days, then I couldn’t wait to go back. I do admit the first words out of my mouth were, “Weak, what a rip.”

  3. web says:

    Jason, Have you tried using a “bump reducer”? People whom shave thier heads use it. Stops ingrown hairs, my roomate is bald, works like a gem for him. Do you use aftershave? What kinda toothpase do you like, I like Aquafresh.

  4. supercrisis says:

    Mach 3 was my first bladed razor. Before that I used one of those electric deals and had stubble every day. I actually bought the Mach 3 just before leaving on a camping trip and all the guys thought it’d be cool to not shave for 2 weeks and just walk around with beards… but I had to try it out and man was it sweet. My biggest beef is the cost. If 3 blades costs $10 a pack, how much is a 4 blade razor gonna host when it needs replacing? It’s getting just stupid. But my Mach 3 can chew thru 5 days of growth better than a disposable 1 blade Bic razor. I have no point here, just thought I’d share my razor story. Oh, and eating KFC will still kill you, you just might live a day longer than if you ate Burger King instead.

  5. Jeff Croft says:

    Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs?
    Ted: Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the excercise video.
    Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7… Minute… Abs.
    Ted: Right. Yes. OK, alright. I see where you’re going.
    Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin’ there, there’s 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?
    Ted: I would go for the 7.
    Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. 7-Minute Abs. And we guarantee just as good a workout as the 8-minute folk.
    Ted: You guarantee it? That’s — how do you do that?
    Hitchhiker: If you’re not happy with the first 7 minutes, we’re gonna send you the extra minute free. You see? That’s it. That’s our motto. That’s where we’re comin’ from. That’s from “A” to “B”.
    Ted: That’s right. That’s — that’s good. That’s good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with 6-Minute Abs. Then you’re in trouble, huh?
    [Hitchhiker convulses]
    Hitchhiker: No! No, no, not 6! I said 7. Nobody’s comin’ up with 6. Who works out in 6 minutes? You won’t even get your heart goin, not even a mouse on a wheel.
    Ted: That — good point.
    Hitchhiker: 7′s the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that’s the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin’ on a branch, eatin’ lots of sunflowers on my uncle’s ranch. You know that old children’s tale from the sea. It’s like you’re dreamin’ about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.
    Ted: Why?
    Hitchhiker: ‘Cause you’re f**kin’ fired!

  6. Dan says:

    Jeff – right on. I knew this post had an influence from the back of my movie-watching mind. Perfect example!

  7. Jeff Croft says:

    Seriously, though…who is the guy in that Shick Quattro commerical? He looks SOO familiar to me everything I see it, but I can’t put my finger on it.
    Also…doesn’t Audi have a trademark on the Quattro name?

  8. p says:

    that’s the whole point of western society though: to consume things faster than we need to, so we can move onto something either slightly better or exactly the same but in a shiny new wrapper. our economies would crumble if we stopped doing that, since they’re based on our short attention span for consumable goods.

  9. CIAwallst says:

    The world of marketing has absolutely nothing to do with making the world a better place.

  10. p says:

    you’re right. the world of marketing has only to do with creating fear in people that the products they have aren’t adequate enough, but if they just bought something in different packaging their lives would be ok.

  11. Peter says:

    Diminishing returns: 2 blades is better than 1 blade (but not twice as good), 6 blades will probably be not measurably better than 5 blades.

  12. Fazal Majid says:

    Dave Barry wrote the definitive send-off to this trend…

  13. Jason Long says:

    Jeff – isn’t he the guy from one of the Survivor shows?

  14. Ryan says:

    This is funny, just the other day my friend and I were in Walgreens and I saw the Quatro and I said the same thing that you did: “What’s next a razor that has a huge plat of blades so that you can shave your entire face with one pass.” Anyway, I love the Mach 3 because it works well and I even know a girl who prefers it over the Venus which I thought was pretty cool. One thing that I do hate is that they rape you for blades. I’m a broke college student.

  15. I’m with you Ryan! Poor college student loves good shave, can’t afford multi-platnium 15 blade razors. Other than the price though, the mach 3 has been my razor of choice for years.

  16. Paul G says:

    Okay, maybe I bought into the hype, but I do love my Mach 3… Of course, now that I’m sporting a full beard (I like to call it my “winter coat”), it doesn’t get much use except for discouraging my beard from growing down my neck. I had to laugh when I saw the ad for the “Quattro.” It immediately reminded me of an older SNL spoof ad on the multiple-blade razors (“The fourteenth blade cleanly removes your sub-dermal layer…”).
    It makes me ill to think that there are probably thousands upon thousands of people out there who would buy this just because it’s new and different(It has an extra blade! It’s 33.333333333% better!). I get the same queasy feeling every time I see that the latest Britney Spears single has topped the charts. Meanwhile, most people have never heard incredible music like Mofro, Galactic, The Pillows, or The Black Keys.
    When did we start buying stuff based solely on the packaging? It’s like no one cares what the product is (or whether there’s even a product to speak of) anymore, if the box is cool, then that’s all that matters. Personally, I don’t mind buying a “trendy” product if it’s actually a decent, usable product, but I’m not paying ridiculous amounts of money for a lump of pig excrement in a shiny box with a multi-million dollar ad campaign.
    Anyway, enough ranting…
    P.S. If you ever, ever, ever get a chance to see Galactic play live, especially in a small venue, do whatever it takes to get there! You’ll thank me later.

  17. Jeff Croft says:

    Jason-
    I think you’re right! Survivor is one of my guilty pleasures, so it makes sense that I would recognize him from there. I think it’s Colby, from the Austraila series, maybe, but if so, he looks different now — in particular, he has dark hair. Hmm…I think you’re right, though…

  18. Paul Yasi says:

    There are a number of products named quattro, and I bet Audi does have a trademark on it, but that’s for a car and this is for a shaver, totally different… now if Schick put wheels on their shaver and had it drive over your face then Audi might have a claim….. wheels hmmmmmm……

  19. Kurt says:

    I have often thought of trying to invent a new razor myself – or maybe a vacuum cleaner – but often get bogged down in the design stage. Last night I saw the new Bombay gin commercials that feature a short clip who’s idea is maybe submitted by customers? At the end, the question is asked, “Where does inspiration come from?” We are then shown a bottle of Bombay gin.
    That’s my problem! I haven’t been drinking enough. Why hadn’t I thought of that sooner? A bottle of gin, some razor blades… I might just be rolling out that industrial razor soon.

  20. Martin P. says:

    Want a BigMac, large fries, choco sundae and large Coke Light?

  21. Mike says:

    I have to admit – zero-carb fries sounds like a pretty darned good deal to me.

  22. I. G. says:

    Past Chinese kung-fu masters had a device called flying guillotine. That is the ultimate multi-blade shaving system.

  23. Dunstan says:

    A classic example of this thinking, from Something About Mary:
    HITCHHIKER
    You ever hear of Eight-Minute Abs?
    TED
    The exercise tape? Sure, I’ve seen it on T.V.
    HITCHHIKER
    Two million copies it sold last year. Two million, man. But not next year–my idea’s gonna blow them outta the water. Get this: (dramatic pause) Seven-Minute Abs.
    BEAT.
    TED
    I see where you’re going.
    HITCHHIKER
    (big smile) Think about it. You walk into a video store and you see Eight-Minute Abs and right next to it you see Seven-Minute Abs–which one you gonna spring for?
    TED
    I’d go with the seven.
    HITCHHIKER
    Bingo. Especially since we guarantee you’ll get every bit as good a work-out.
    TED
    How do you guarantee that?
    HITCHHIKER
    Well it’s the company motto: ‘If you ain’t happy we’ll send you the extra minute.’
    TED
    Huh. That sounds great. (beat) Unless someone else comes out with Six-Minute Abs.

  24. Malic says:

    CIAwallst? I work in advertising/marketing. And I completely agree with you. So much so, that your comment has found it’s way into my random ‘sig list. For personal coorespondence, not business, of course!!!
    re:”The world of marketing has absolutely nothing to do with making the world a better place.”

  25. Hammer says:

    I admit to actually buying the blue Mach 3 when it came on the market even though I already had the gray one… Blue is my color.
    Anyone else using two razors at a time? Not simultaneously, of course, but I sometimes use both the Mach 3 and the Excel for one shave. Excel is better at styling, Mach 3 takes it all off.

  26. patrick says:

    Jeez, don’t I wish I could get a razor that lasted a couple of weeks. Even a Mach 3 gets too dull after the first shave … but then I have one of those southern european beards that will one day be studied by chemists to develop stronger reinforced concrete.

  27. tlack says:

    I own a Quattro and really enjoy it. It definitely (for me at least) provides a smoother, simpler (i.e., you dont have to be as careful about cuts) shave compared to the Mach3. Unfortunately it got dull pretty quick. I would buy again.
    The Mach3, on the other hand, was such a huge leap above normal razors that I could never, ever go back to a plain old disposable.

  28. Quattro is Nice! says:

    Tlack, your right on bro, I love the quattro, these guys are trippin, I mean I have a super thick beard, I mean it’s thicker than sandpaper type, 4 blades are better than 3 and yeah give my goddamn low carb fries! Yeah Baby!!! If you don’t like it, you’ll get left behind in everything you gotta move with the time! Don’t become a dinosaur!!!!!

  29. Ivan says:

    I have tender skin and a horrible, tough beard. The only multi blade razor that ever worked good for me was the Mach 3, gives nice, smooth shaves for a long time. Th cartridge cost has always concerned me, so I tried the Walgreen 3-blade (sucked, cut me up all over), and all the competition, The Shick 3 blade really sucked, clogged with my concrete stubble fast and cut me bad. The GF got a Shick 4 blade as a gift, and I tried it. Wooo-Hooo even better than the Mach 3! I switched and am very happy other than the blade cost. I also have to use a very narrow disposible arounf my nose, the multiblades just can’t manuever well in that tight area. I found a place on the web where I can get the 4 packs of the Quatro Blades for around $5.50, ordered in bulk.

  30. m.b. says:

    MACH 5 is coming, i have inside info from the company designing the machines to make it.
    I’ve seen the prototype and it’s pretty intense.

  31. gavsteed says:

    Audi have a copyright on quattro with a small ‘q’ thats the difference…i don’t think they had one up to about 5 years ago and a big or small ‘Q’ could be used interchangably but now they insist on only writing it with a small ‘q’ !!