• Hexcite Studio

In-store spot : Gillette recycling shopper marketing campaign.

It’s not every week I’m stopped in my tracks during my weekly Sainsbury’s shop. But there was something about this Gillette gondola end that struck me as different enough to stop and explore.

The usual run of transformer-style razors promising even closer shaves, with even more blades and even greater masculinity was interrupted with some clear, vertical communication and envelopes.

Photo taken by our Creative Strategy Director while on his weekly grocery shop.


If that’s all we have to do to disrupt shoppers then future client campaigns should be a shoe-in!

Gillette’s premise is simple. Take an envelope home, fill it with used razors from any brand and Gillette will do the right thing for you and make sure they’re properly recycled.


I took an envelope and promptly forgot where I put it. A clear metaphor for my thoughts about the shopper marketing campaign, unfortunately.

Photo from Gillette - Terracycle campaign.

Firstly Gillette; we have trust issues. Do I believe you’re going to recycle these? I’d hope so but you’re not sharing the proof with me. Why aren’t you pointing me to the magic microsite I can go to that shows me how you recycle them? (It turns out they do have one https://www.gillette.co.uk/recycle.list)

And where’s the incentive? I’m happy to do it for no greater reward than believing I can save a bit more of the planet than I did yesterday. But at least give me the confidence that I’m not just deferring the razor’s inevitable trip to the landfill. It’s shopper 1-0-1 – give me the confidence you’re going to do what you say you do.

There wasn’t even a data capture element wrapped up in it. That’s some investment in an at-shelf marketing campaign for no measurable consumer data.

Secondly, it’s probably only going to be hardcore environmentalists that would take them up on their offer of disposing their used razors. But in truth, they’re probably already doing it anyway. It’s like selling beard oil to Rylan Clark-Neal.

I’ve closely followed the surge of direct to consumer subscription brands that have shaved off lots of bushy market share for Gillette and Wilkinson Sword over the last decade or so. And I’ve always been surprised at how slowly the established brands are to come back with a compelling and disruptive shopper communications/marketing response.

Unfortunately this ain’t it, Gillette.

According to Statista, 60 million razors and blades were manufactured in 2017 in the UK alone. That’s a lot of plastic and rubber clogging up landfill. And this isn’t going to be fixed with shopper marketing alone – although it’s highly effective at communicating the benefits.

It’s time to think differently about the razor market and develop sustainable product solutions.

For a start, best sellers they may be, but surely it’s time to cut out single use plastic razors from the top brand house’s inventory of product (gasp!).

Maybe shoppers can be provided with environmentally friendly, freepost envelopes with their product (like online ink cartridges providers do) so they can send their used ones back when they’re ready.

Or another idea might be to champion the product development of a home blade recycling receptacle – so it is a desirable product in its own right. This would be an item that consumers would be happy to have on in display in their bathroom as a constant reminder to recycle their blades.

Unfortunately we know that at-shelf return schemes, where you can bring in and drop off your used products, rarely land in-store. Store managers want products to leave their store, not come back into them. But the space that does seem to work well is at the entrance to store where we often find that batteries and ink cartridges can be laid to rest for recycling.

It’s my opinion that all brands should be working to develop shopper marketing solutions not just for new products and promotions but also for the end of their life.

Imagine a supermarket entrance way that is a properly thought-out and designed space where different categories of small items can be returned and recycled. Not just a few random bins. These could be branded spaces paid for and supported by brands, such as Gillette, with solutions that provide discounts or coupons for making the effort to recycle – as they do in Germany for glass bottles.

And then maybe, Gillette, the trust in our shaving relationship would improve and we could finally get that little bit closer.

Andy Cording

Creative Strategy Director, Hexcite Studio


Recent Posts

See All