The Spa Man spoke to Oliver Bridge, founder of Cornerstone, a subscription based shaving company that is shaking up the world of male grooming. Offering a unique service and top quality products, it’s a truly British success story. Oliver talks about the male grooming market, shaving and his business success.
The male grooming market is booming. What is fuelling this growth – why are men more interested in grooming and taking care of themselves?
I think it’s come from the fact that the concept of metrosexuality has died. For a long time, it was seen as ‘soft’ by a lot of men to use products like moisturiser and face scrub – something that was only for girls – this wasn’t helped by people like Peter Andre and David Beckham posing with 6 packs and fake tan on nationwide billboard campaigns: to take care of your skin was to put yourself in the same over-preened category. However, this metrosexual concept has really died a death – it’s now perfectly OK for men to use moisturiser and take care of themselves.
The razor market is very competitive – how is Cornerstone different from the mass market razor brands on the high street?
It’s simply down to product performance – we believe, and our customer / blogger reviews would back up the fact, that our product range gives a seriously good quality shave.
Our blades are engineered by a German team with decades of experience, which means that as a small start-up, we’re able to offer a superior product despite not having invested millions into R&D. Our skincare products were developed by a UK team of dermatologists and manufactured here in Britain – unusual these days as many companies produce offshore where it is cheaper.
In short, we have worked with the best people we could find to put together an extremely high quality product range and then offer it at the same price as the mass-market high street brands that don’t pay such attention to detail – that’s what sets us apart.
Why choose the subscription based service as your route to market?
Shaving and subscription are the perfect partners – if you wet shave, you use the same products every day, and running out is a real pain – it means either you can’t shave or you have a really uncomfortable shave (because you only have one blunt razor left!). Getting those products delivered to you on a regular schedule essentially means your bathroom cupboard automatically refills itself – you get a comfortable shave every day, plus you don’t have to spend your lunch hour queuing in Boots to buy emergency replacements!
Since you launched there seems to be an explosion of subscription boxes for guys – what’s behind this. What’s driving the trend?
I think subscription fits very naturally with the way men like to shop, and entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity to create services to fill this demand – hence the male focused subscription box boom! As a rule, I think men like to stick with the products we like (whereas in my experience, women tend to enjoy sampling and discovering new things more) and so getting a regular delivery of something is quite appealing. Also, we don’t enjoy the process of going round the shops (again, I think women genuinely do like this more), so the idea that you can make a purchase decision once and then never have to worry about the shopping process again is very attractive.
What do you think are next big trends in male grooming?
It’s becoming well documented, but I think we’ve seen the end of the beard and thick stubble as super fashionable, and therefore it’s only a matter of time before this filters down to the rest of us and we see a reversal of the last few years! If you look at people like Alex Turner (of the Arctic Monkeys) – his style: much sharper and more cleanly groomed, is starting to take over: genuinely, I think the clean shaven look is about to enjoy a bit of a renaissance. Outside of shaving specifically, I think better awareness of the damage that the sun does to our skin will drive more and more men to use SPF moisturiser, particularly as we’re coming into summer.