How Dollar Shave Club Grew From Viral Video to $1 Billion Acquisition

Back in 2012, the subscription razor service turned heads with its now legendary launch video that took audiences on a hilarious walk through their warehouse and poked fun at little annoyances every shaver faces.  Was the video any good? No. The video was f**king great.

Go ahead and click that “Play” button even if you’ve seen it before. It holds up just as well after a second or third viewing, and you’ll pick up additional details — like how Founder and CEO, Michael Dubin’s office is filled with model airplanes and the guy having his head shaved by the child is reading Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup.

With this nugget of video marketing gold, they took a boring topic and made it entertaining and worth sharing with a friend.  The best part about this video is that it’s the ultimate proof that you can do breakthrough content marketing even when you’re in a “boring” industry.

Today, the video that was produced for $4,500, has been viewed over 22 million times, and DSC has grown to include a team of about 190 full-time employees, 3.2 million customers, a whopping $615 million valuation in 2015, and most recently a $1 Billion all-cash acquisition by Unilever.

But how did they do it? Here are 5 major factors behind DSC’s booming brand and business success.

1. Simple Value Proposition

At its core, Dollar Shave Club has a simple value proposition: Name-brand razors sold in drug and retail stores cost too much, but with DSC you’ll have quality generic alternatives automatically delivered to your door for as little as $3.00 a month. No contracts, no hidden fees, or as they say “no BS.”

It’s a perfect example of product-market fit. Founder and CEO, Michael Dubin didn’t reinvent the wheel. He simply created an affordable solution to a real, relatable problem shared by men (and even women) everywhere. By selling something people actually want and need, in an industry that has not seen much innovation in decades, Dubin set the stage for both marketing and overall organizational success. If you have a product or service that no one will want or need, not even the greatest marketing will help it sell, but Dollar Shave Club presented a more effective solution to an age-old need.

2. Highly Targeted Content

It’s clear that DSC has a well-defined target audience and their main tactic for reaching that audience is through humor and convenience. They speak to the inconvenience and unnecessary expense of constantly replacing a store bought razor in order to get a close shave. And they do it with creative messages like these:

3. Unique Customer Experience

When you join the Dollar Shave Club, you’re not just signing on for low-cost razors and blades, you’re investing in the monthly “delight” that comes along with it. When your first shipment arrives, you get:

  • A beautifully branded box
  • A playful welcome note
  • Your shaving products
  • An explanation of the upgrade process
  • Occasionally free samples, and
  • “The Bathroom Minutes,” Dollar Shave Club’s monthly lifestyle newsletter (including a note from the chairman, monthly quotes, member spotlights, trivia, and club news amongst other things.)

DSC’s delivery here is brilliantly “delightful.”

The content they put together for members is simple and inexpensive, but, like their launch video, they took an ordinary product and made it an extraordinary experience for the customer. Unlike other big brands, DSC makes the act of buying your monthly razors something worth looking forward to and smiling about — and they even have the added bonus of being more affordable. As a customer, you really can’t go wrong.

4. Customer Loyalty

DSC isn’t just about getting new customers—they’re also working hard to keep the ones they already have happy. They appear to have a firm grasp on the concept of content marketing as one half of a mutual conversation.

One scan down their Facebook page makes it clear they take customer service seriously—they’re responding and interacting with almost every comment and post. Not only that, they’re bringing customers into their content creation strategy. To see what we mean, just check out the #UnboxDSC hashtag on their Twitter or Facebook page. The promotion encourages customers to snap creative photos of their unboxed orders in exchange for the chance to win a free t-shirt.

Their blog is also largely devoted to celebrating customers, with their weekly “Member Spotlight” series designed to show how, “amazingly awesome Dollar Shave Club Members are.”

5. Multi-Channel Marketing

DSC isn’t just posting blogs and videos and hoping their target audience finds them. Beyond Twitter and Facebook, they’re also active on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+. By embracing multiple channels, mediums and platforms to get their message across, DSC is able to reach a wide audience with a variety of content.

Thomas Peroutka

Author Thomas Peroutka

Thomas Peroutka is a digital strategist with more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing strategy at the local, regional, and national levels for both start-up and established companies by focusing on core business objectives, creating high-impact marketing strategies, and delivering conversion-based results.

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