Before moving to Venice Beach to start his company, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin spent eight years taking classes with the New York comedy improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade in between day jobs in marketing and branding.
It’s a skill that’s served him well: The funny launch video for Dollar Shave Club, which lets you subscribe to regular shipments of inexpensive razors, has been viewed more than 10.5 million times on YouTube (see above).
This self-proclaimed admirer of Ron Popeil is also a good enough pitch man himself to have pulled down $11 million in financing so far from some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capitalists.
But it’s Dollar Shave Club’s newest product that will put Dubin’s salesmanship to its most serious smell test. “One Wipe Charlies” are Dollar Shave’s attempt to disrupt the bathroom in a whole new way. Wired sat down with Dubin to ask him the obvious question:
Wired: Why butt wipes?
It’s really the next step on a path to owning the bathroom. While butt stuff is certainly funny and fun, it is a very serious product for us. The toilet paper industry is a $9 billion indusry, whereas shaving and grooming and razors by comparison is only $6 billion. Which makes sense—everybody wipes their ass. Not everybody shaves.
Here’s the very interesting thing about wipes. We did do our own study. We surveyed about a thousand guys between 18 and 45 and what we found out 51 percent of guys are using flushable wipes right now.
Yeah, it’s crazy. Sixteen percent are using wipes instead of toilet paper. That was a real mindblower for me. Twenty-three percent are hiding the packaging from view in the bathroom. We hope to alleviate some of that embarrassment with the cool packaging, the manly packaging.
Destigmatize the butt wipe.
Yeah, exactly. And we should. I think 90 percent of people who use wipes are happy with their level of clean after using the wipe versus only 50 percent with toilet paper. It is a deeper clean, a better clean, a faster solution. It is a very serious business thing. And it is a bold statement for us. We want to service the face, the ass and everything in between.
People ask us, who are you disrupting? Are you competing with Gillette, are you competing with Schick? And I always say no, what we’re really after is the consumer packaged goods and retail relationship. We’re using content and tech to disrupt that.
Okay, but how is it that you’re a tech company, not a razor and bathroom supply company?
We are using technology to create a more harmonious relationship with our members. This might seem very basic, but the way that a user interfaces with our site is very easy. our conversion rate is extremely high because it’s very easy to navigate that site, to get in and get out. Later this year, an app will come out that will also make it very easy to get what you’re out of.
Ideally we’re going to get to the point where you’re sitting in your bathroom, you’re looking around, you say, ok, what else am I out of? I guess I’m out of my shave butter. I’m out of my body wash. Then you’ll get all that with the app. You’ll also be able to check out some really engaging content. We’re also a content company.
Describe that. What does this start to look like, both selling these products and being a content company?
To answer that, I’d ask, what is that lifestyle that we’re defining with our brand? I believe it is a smarter lifestlye. Dollar Shave Club is all about saving you time, saving you money, and offering you superior products at an affordable price. Going to the store is a primitive, frustrating and costly experience. We eliminate that, and you don’t have to sacrifice anything on product quality by doing it. That’s smart.
And so everything that we do in the content space is going to be reflective of that smarter lifestyle. Whether that’s fun kind of ways to hack old solutions and create new ones, or whether that’s just a fun piece of content that helps you decorate your home better or live your life smarter in any way, that’s the kind of stuff that you’ll start to see us produce and help us tell that story, which really is what our brand is all about.
That first video you did (see below) went berzerk. Are you an actor? Is this all about “I want to direct”?
I didn’t direct the video. I wrote the video. I’m a marketing guy, a brand guy, and I’ve always loved the power of brands. I write all our radio spots. I wrote the last video, I wrote this video (above). I am presiding very watchfully over the development of our content engine.
Content serves to do what for you guys? What kind of lever does content allow you to pull?
Going back to the first video and why I think that was very successful, it’s because it was very easy to understand business premise. Ask most guys how they feel about razors, and they’ll tell you they’re frustrated about price and about going to the store. I think in a fun way we told that story and that resonated very loudly with guys. More than the latest funny video on the web, people had a real incentive to send this to their friends.
How often do you shave?
A couple times a week.
I was going to ask you how often do you wipe your butt, but I’m not going to.
Can I tell you that in our research survey of a thousand people, only 99 percent said that they wipe their ass?
Is there any grooming trend that your worried about that could hurt your business? a lot of people are going around like they’re Amish.
People are growing beards, but I think very few people are growing the unbridled “wild man of the north” beard where it’s untrimmed and unmanicured. You see a lot of people carving tight corners around facial hair and stylizing it. You still need a razor for that. But yeah, Amish is big. We’re not buying any billboards in Brooklyn.