Allen Gannett writes that when Dollar Shave Club launched in March, the headlines were dumbfounding: Razors? By Subscription? It seemed the feared tech bubble, primed to burst, had finally arrived. However, once you watched Dollar Shave Club’s launch video, “Our Blades Are F***ing Great,” of CEO Mike Dubin deadpanning about his love of fine razors, it all made sense. This wasn’t just another subscription startup. This was the launch of a new brand; a competitor to the Schicks of the world; a new alternative to your trusty, albeit underused, Mach III. For $1 per month, Dubin promised you would get high quality razors delivered to your door. Almost 20,000 people laid down their credit cards in the first week, proving that Kleiner Perkins and other A-list investors were onto something.
Dollar Shave Club isn’t just the culmination of an underserved need for affordable razors. It exemplifies the emergence of the “Online-Only Brand.”
These brands represent a new movement in e-commerce, a second generation that is focused on the vertical integration of manufacturing, branding, and distribution—while upending the traditional retail model in the process.