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How Dollar Shave Club used CX friction and reward to disrupt the market

Kane CookeBusiness Development Manager15 Dec 2022

How did Dollar Shave Club succeed so quickly? They disrupted the overpriced, over-spec'd razor market by leveraging the forces of CX friction and reward. Here's what other businesses can learn from their approach about improving customer experience strategy.

The razor market had been ripping off consumers for decades with a confusing plethora of over-priced, over-engineered products. Then along came Dollar Shave Club m, undercutting it completely with a product that promised to smash purchase friction and offered a more rewarding customer experience.

What was buying a razor like before DSC?

The razor market was mired in an arms race of shaving tech. Electric razors with increasingly elaborate features, manual razors with a confusing array of blades and shapes – the options were overpriced and confusing and the shopping experience was frustrating.

“Stop paying for shave tech you don’t need”

Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin had experienced razor-buying frustration himself and set out to solve it with a simple mantra – don’t pay for shave tech you don’t need.

The DSC promise was that it would cut through the nonsense for the customer. No need to waste time choosing the right option. No need to worry that you’ve bought the wrong thing. No need to remember to buy new blades. Dollar Shave Club promised that their razors just did the job.

And they cost as little as a dollar a month.

And they were delivered right to your door.

DSC cut through the three major CX frictions of buying shaving products in one offer – simple, cheap and direct. Three years later, they had won nearly half of the online razor market.

Michael Dubin in the Dollar Shave Club launch video
Michael Dubin in the Dollar Shave Club launch video

Lathering up reward

DSC didn’t just slash purchase friction; they tipped the CX reward scales. Reward in this context includes everything a customer gets from a transaction.

For DSC customers, the rewards were centred on clever branding which made an everyday product appear fun and disruptive. Their famous launch video, featuring founder Michael Dubin claiming, “Our blades are f***ing great!” went viral, racking up 28 million views to date, and attracting 12,000 signed-up customers in the first 72 hours.

DSC created a genuine club customers wanted to be part of, which is a powerful reward. The video linked that to a solution for the friction in the existing market - “Do you like spending twenty dollars a month on brand name razors … and do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back scratcher and ten blades?” Dubin asked in the launch video.

The DSC’s customer experience strategy was based on messaging around the existing frictions consumers were frustrated by, and the promise of reward in the form of easy shopping and an attractive brand. The result was an almost immediate change in customer buying behaviour.

Key take-away from the DSC approach

DSC’s success was built on identifying CX friction in an existing market and tailoring a product that removed those frictions. But crucially, its branding also focused on reward for customers.

The key take-away is that killing friction at the same time as boosting reward is an incredibly powerful retail strategy.

3 tactics to improve customer experience strategy

  1. List five key CX frictions that customers encounter when they shop with you (Examples: website navigation, store layout, parking, delivery charges, returns process, product selection etc.)
  2. List five key CX rewards that customers get out of shopping with you (Examples: unboxing experience, staff advice, sustainability options, curation, free trials, etc.)
  3. Find one action point for right now on each side of the equation (reduce friction / increase reward). These don’t need to be large-scale structural changes – what could you do today to bust a friction or increase reward?

Uncrowd is on a mission to improve every customer experience on the planet through a unique combination of CX observation, quantitative measurement and comparative results. Our data is objective, empirical, and always shows your next best action.