The explosion of the online subscription shaving market over the past two years has introduced a wave of new brands to the UK. From US imports Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s to homegrown contender Cornerstone, French razor business Bic and even shaving giant Gillette, consumers are spoilt for choice.
Now South Korean market leader Dorco is hoping to claim its share of the UK shaving sector. Unfazed by the level of fierce competition, Dorco wants to carve out a niche for itself by offering subscription razor services for men and women, using blades manufactured in-house.
Established 60 years’ ago, Dorco is a household name in its native South Korea. However, in 2015 the company decided to take on the role of challenger by setting up a UK ecommerce site, the brand’s first point of expansion into Europe.
Dorco was encouraged to make its move in the UK after market research showed larger communities of Facebook and Instagram users buying online in Britain than in other EU countries, explains Sue J Kim, general manager of global marketing at Dorco Europe.
“Following this research we realised the UK is great fit for an ecommerce business, particularly as online buying habits are increasing. The category might be crowded, but the research shows that the UK is a good choice,” states Kim.
“We have experience with these products in other countries and have a proven track record of success. That, combined with our research and development, makes us confident we can also be successful in the UK market.”
Kim points to the advantage Dorco has as manufacturer of its own razors, which cuts out the middleman and allows the company to control both the cost and quality.
The brand is also hoping to trade off its 60-year heritage and how this plays into the increasing popularity of Korean beauty products in the UK. The name Dorco, for example, is Korean: it takes the first two letters from Dorco’s original business name – Dongyang Light Metal Industries – and combines it with ‘r’ for razor and ‘co’ for company.
“In the UK we are working to tell that story and introduce our heritage and experience in a new market. It’s an exciting challenge. In South Korea the brand is instantly recognisable and consumers know it stands for quality, which is a very important attribute in the domestic market,” Kim explains.
“We also recognise there are different cultures in the two different countries, as well as different buying behaviours. Both audiences are interested in beauty products, but currently in the UK there’s a trend towards buying Korean beauty products, which can create a halo effect for the brand.”
While Dorco currently sells its own-brand shaving gel, Kim sees the opportunity to raise awareness in the UK through collaborations with like-minded brands on special grooming accessory kits that widen out the product offering beyond blades.
Gender neutral approach
Recognising that it is a challenger in the market, Dorco wants to position itself as the buyer’s friend, a tone of voice that is being adopted across all communications. The overall focus is on growing consumer awareness and building confidence in the quality of the products, which the brand hopes to achieve through sampling and brand promotions aimed at getting its razors in as many consumers’ hands as possible.
Dorco is also hoping to stand out by offering subscription services for men and women, unlike major players such as Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club who solely target the male market.
Retailing for £5.09, the Dorco Eve 6 six blade women’s razor significantly undercuts the rival five blade varieties from Gillette’s Venus or Wilkinson Sword, with the South Korean challenger benefiting from the lower costs associated with controlling its own production.
Kim believes the combination of a gender neutral approach, a strong heritage and friendly brand strategy will enable Dorco to develop a loyal fanbase and realise its ambition to become the UK’s “go-to razor subscription service”.