Nearly everyone has heard about Dollar Shave Club (DSC) these days. Started in 2011 and focused on selling inexpensive razors to Internet-savvy men, the company quickly disrupted the staid razor blade business and grew to nearly $200 million in revenue, and it owns a significant percentage of market share. The company got so big that it has attracted a number of competitors, and one very large suitor.
This summer, international consumer goods giant Unilever signed an agreement to purchase the five-year old company for about $1 billion. Unilever makes and markets 1,000 different brands around the world. These products are consumed 2 billion times a day. Yeah, that’s big. Although Unilever has a number of personal care brands (such as Ax and Dove), it does not have a direct-to-consumer men’s shaving line.
Corporate acquisitions are a high-risk undertaking. Many fail to meet expectations when either cultures or organizations clash. It will be interesting to see how these two firms will work together.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- It’s always fun to bring up the company’s Web site and show the viral video that launched it: dollarshaveclub.com
- Next, bring up Unilever’s brand portfolio and discuss it with students: https://www.unileverusa.com/brands/?page=2
- Another good visual is the graphic of the company’s brands at https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-be-a-Brand-Manager-at-Unilever
- Discuss how to build and use a SWOT analysis grid: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (internal and external factors).
- Divide students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis grid for one of the Unilever brands:
- Strengths: what is company good at?
- Weaknesses: what needs work?
- Opportunities: what is going on in marketplace?
- Threats: what should company be wary of?
- Based on the analysis, what are the issues and risks that might occur?
- Debrief by building SWOT analysis grid on the white board.
Source: New York Times, Bloomberg News, other news sources