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Dollar Shave Club Does Fine Fragrance

A new line, Blueprint, launches the Unilever-owned business into a higher price category, and precedes an international expansion and rollout of new distribution formats.

Dollar Shave Club is getting into fine fragrance.

Today, the Unilever-owned, direct-to-consumer men’s grooming business is set to unveil Blueprint Fine Fragrances, value-priced, prestige scents.

Blueprint is the third brand Dollar Shave Club has added to its portfolio following its acquisition by Unilever in 2016, and its first brand to carry products in a higher price range.

The line, which was codeveloped with fragrance industry veteran Ann Gottlieb, consists of two collections, Fresh and Warm, composed of three scents each. Fragrances can be purchased separately — $50 for a 50-ml. bottle — or as part of collections. Blueprint 100 Series Fresh Collection and 200 Series Warm Collection are priced at $35 each for three 15-ml. bottles. The Fresh and Warm Full Collection retails for $50 for six 15-ml. bottles.

Like Dollar Shave Club’s blades — and the six other personal-care sub-brands in its portfolio, including shave, shower, oral care, hairstyling, skin care and “butt wipes” — Blueprint will be sold only online via the Dollar Shave Club web site.

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“When we think about developing products, it’s ‘What is going to enhance a guy’s confidence?’ and fine fragrance is a huge one,” said Mike Dubin, founder and chief executive officer of Dollar Shave Club, who said research found 62 percent of Dollar Shave Club members were wearing cologne daily, and more than 75 percent owned more than two scents. “It’s a really big opportunity for us.”

Despite its slightly higher price point than other Dollar Shave Club brands, the ethos of Blueprint is the same as that of the other brands within the Dollar Shave Club umbrella — good-quality products at low price points, designed to simplify for men the process of shopping for grooming and personal-care items.

“If there’s a hole we’re filling, it’s the same hole we’re filling across the men’s grooming ecosystem,” said Dubin. “We want to offer best-in-class product for less than a best-in-class price. We have here six totally original fragrances…at a very affordable price.”

Dollar Shave Club’s research also found that the traditional department store fragrance shopping experience left more to be desired for its customer base.

“A lot of our members were saying it’s a haphazard experience to walk through a department store and get sprayed in the face with fragrance and have to smell coffee,” said Nick Virginio, senior brand manager of Dollar Shave Club. “The advertisements are hypersexualized and vague. A picture of Johnny Depp — what does that smell like? What am I supposed to smell like?”

The Warm and Fresh Collections were designed to ease the process of selecting a scent. “Men don’t really know what they want,” said Gottlieb, who formulated the Warm collection with notes such as cardamom, vanilla beans and sandalwood and the Fresh collection with citrus, floral and aquatic notes. “[This] addresses the type of feeling they might be looking for when selecting a fragrance.”

The Blueprint launch is coming at a time when other direct-to-consumer brands are rapidly expanding into retail. Harry’s launched in Walmart stores this year, for instance, and Target in 2016. Dubin, however, has no plans to take the brand into retail doors.

“You won’t find us at mass retail,” he said. “We believe the problem we’re trying to solve, of overcrowded aisles and shelves, exists primarily at mass retail. To solve these problems for guys — all those things are maximized by owning the customer relationship directly.”

Instead, Dubin is testing formats for product delivery and some off-line presence. Earlier this year, Dollar Shave Club began rolling out Full Service, an ordering platform that will allow customers to place bulk orders a few times a year instead of receiving items once a month. Full Service is also a way to entice customers to buy more from Dollar Shave Club than just blades, a category that has largely been its most successful. Dollar Shave Club was the third biggest U.S. men’s shave brand, following Gillette and Schick, in 2017, according to Euromonitor. A Full Service subscription will allow customers to fill a basket to be delivered several times a year with products from across Dollar Shave Club’s portfolio, and Dubin is looking at Blueprint as part of Full Service’s volume-driving potential. “We want to see if the member base and inbound members…if they are adding [Blueprint] to the cart or not when it’s positioned among a basket of goods.”

Later this year, Dollar Shave Club will test its products in the wild, rolling out 13 automated vending machines in public spaces across the U.S., including the Mall of America in Minneapolis, LaGuardia Airport in New York and Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island.

Though the business counts “many women” in its customer base, Dubin is focused on keeping products focused on men’s grooming and personal-care needs. He pointed to the latest Dollar Shave ad campaign — “Get Ready,” which made its debut this summer and included a spot with women using the products — as a sign that the company is instead taking a more inclusive approach in its advertising.

Looking ahead, Dollar Shave Club, which is sold in the U.S., Canada, the U.K and Australia, is looking to expand to European markets, though Dubin would not comment on a time line.

Dubin would not comment on sales figures or profitability. At the time of Unilever’s $1 billion acquisition in 2016, the Anglo-Dutch giant said the business was set to post revenues of more than $200 million.