Courtesy of Gillette
Any caregiver who has shaved an adult will likely agree with this painful assessment: It can hurt. It can hurt the caregiver to keep doling out those nicks and cuts, not to mention the recipient who keeps getting them.
That’s why Gillette, the shaving-products manufacturer, has developed a new razor, TREO, that’s specifically designed for caregivers who shave others. The blade works with little to no water and uniquely protects skin from nicks and cuts. The handle is designed more like a paintbrush than a razor, to create a comfortable angle for the caregiver’s wrist. And a lubricating gel is built into the handle so that facial hair stays hydrated.
For the nation’s 43.5 million caregivers — some 75 percent of whom shave a loved one or patient once every three to five days — The razor breakthrough may represent one of the first signs of hope in a task often fraught with difficulty. As America’s population continues to age, our basic needs are evolving and our reliance on others is increasing. The nation currently has about 46 million adults age 65 and older, but that number is expected to more than double, to 98 million-plus, by 2060.
Gillette’s caregiving innovation adds a competitive twist to the global nearly $50 billion men’s grooming market, which has seen a plethora of discount newcomers — from Dollar Shave Club to Harry’s — threaten Gillette's century-old dominance.
With TREO, Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, is tapping into a potentially massive market of older adults and caregivers worldwide who are searching for a reasonably comfortable shave. The product could be used in nursing homes, assisted living communities, residential care facilities, hospice care facilities and, of course, by home caregivers.
It all began with some heart-tugging social media comments (mostly on Twitter and Facebook) that Gillette noticed from adult children who are acting as caregivers for their parents. As a result, the company sent employees to observe shaving rituals at several nursing homes in and around London.
“We realized we had to completely change the way we think about assisted shaving,” says Sushant Trivedi, global brand manager at Gillette.
Over the past year, TREO has been a “passion project” for employees, says Trivedi. “This is not about creating a razor that makes a ton of money,” he insists. Rather, he explains, it's about enabling the millions of mostly older men who depend on others to shave them to keep their pride and dignity. “Shaving is more than an act of removing hair from the face. It’s about the identity and dignity of a man.”
Next month, Gillette plans to kick off a pilot program for the razor in order to collect consumer feedback and improve and refine the product. Consumers will be able to go online to order samples and then can offer Gillette feedback on their experience using the razor.
P&G executives won’t confirm this just yet, but with the TREO razor as an impetus, industry experts say that the company must be working on other caregiver-focused products, such as large-handled toothbrushes in its oral care division.
The razor is still being tested in Gillette’s new-product labs and has no price tag yet. But its potential to improve lives is enormous, according to one brand analyst.
“This is a great example of a brand being in touch with its audience,” says Peter Madden, CEO of the brand consultancy AgileCat. “I think it humanizes the brand on a new level and, if they execute the campaign in the most appropriate way, could drive new interest and usage in their razors.”
It all comes down to numbers. Gillette estimates that more than 4,000 razors have been designed for people to shave themselves. Zero have been designed with the intent of shaving someone else — until now.