A number of recent developments in wetshaving have brought us to a cross-roads. Perhaps its time to enlist the collective knowledge and wisdom of the wetshaving community, put on our thinking caps, and ponder "what's next?"
Of course, two significant developments have occurred over the past couple of months, one "hardware" and the other "software:" the introduction of the new Gillette "Fusion" razor, and the introduction of Proraso in (US) Target department stores.
The introduction of the Gillette Fusion has been met with almost universal disdain from the traditional wetshaving community. As near as I can tell, opinion on the wetshaving discussion boards has been running about 15% "pro" and 85% "con." The opinion of the general public has been difficult for me to guage, and I imagine it will take several months for solid information to percolate out (even to Gillette). Anecdotally it appears that Fusion has been met with relative disinterest and even some ridicule from the "water cooler gang." The two-year old article from The Onion has taken on a whole new meaning.
On the other hand, the introduction of Proraso at Target stores has been met with almost universal praise from the traditional wetshaving community. Here is "one of our own" in the unfamiliar isles of a mainstream department store! In terms of public exposure to a "quality" shaving kit (relatively speaking), this event rates right up there with the Weekend Today Show segment on wetshaving of over a year ago.
How are we to reconcile these two developments? What opportunity's (or risks!) exist? What next step should--or could!--the traditional wetshaving community consider? Here are some I see:
First, the introduction of the Fusion could provide an opportunity for an enterprising person or group to introduce, or re-introduce, "competetive" hardware. For example, could both the Fusion introduction and the Proraso introduction be capitalized on by distributing inexpensive DE's from Wasai or Parker (or even the plastic Zorrik) to mainstream department stores as a "spa" or "retro" shaving kit? Could a "new" DE razor be developed that used a pivoting head mechanism like the Sensor/Mach3/Fusion? What about the Injector-style "clones?"
Second, could the introduction of Proraso in a mainstream department store actually be harmful to the mid-range internet vendors such as Em's, QED, Classicshaving, etc.? Because this effectively reduces their mix of products, will they have to make an effort to "brand" and promote their own products (Em's skin care, QEDman, Classicshaving shave soap, etc.) or risk getting squeezed out of business? Or will they always remain a "niche"?
Third, what can we do as the traditional wetshaving community to promote the expansion of our "hobby?" Should we direct a letter-writing campaign praising Target for their decision? Should we offer ourselves as instructors for life-enrichment classes that many communities offer? Should we do nothing and hog the best stuff for ourselves?
With about 1000 total members of the internet wetshaving community wandering through a number of websites (SMF, B&B, MSN, ME, etc.), I'd be interested in your thoughts (even if its "dang, you think too much. Its just shaving").