I was recently invited along to the Gillette Innovation centre in Reading, UK which is essentially the main research and design centre for all things Gillette. This is the birthplace of all of Gillette’s ideas and innovative creations which is vital to the growth of Gillette and, of course, vital to creating the next generation of shaving; might sound small but if we didn’t shave, we wouldn’t have silky smooth skin!
So surely you have heard about Gillette? If not, they are one of the most valuable brands in personal care and are currently owned by consumer giant Proctor and Gamble; an American multi-corporation. Although press for Gillette has usually been good, this hasn’t always been the case and they have taken heavy criticism over the past 5 years with a lawsuit (albeit proven) filed due to price fixing with its biggest competitor, Unilever. Despite this, Gillette remains at the top of the pile having offices on all major continents with the pride and joy of the company right here in the United Kingdom; Reading in Berkshire to be more specific.
So what did my trip entail? Well, first of all it started with a briefing and opening statement from Troy Nimrick who is the Director of Global Blades and Razors Research & Development; a pretty high ranking and innovative person in the industry. In addition to Troy, we were escorted around the entire facility by a lovely lady by the name of Kristina Vanooshuyze Ph.D., the principal scientist for Gillette who is based at the Innovation Centre in Reading; 2 of the biggest influences in the entire multi-billion pound company in the same building on an industrial estate in Reading, marvellous. After receiving a morning briefing with plenty of coffee, we were advised that no mobile phones/cameras were allowed into the actual facility due to strict privacy concerns that we could sell their ideas to other companies; overprotective? Of course not and something I 100% agree with and understand fully. This means all pictures/videos have been provided by Gillette today.
I will say now that when it comes to writing articles/media/journalism, I despise using stock/provided images with any non-marketing orientating piece but of course I had no choice this time round. With that out of the way, all shavers, razors, their journey begins in Reading; we are not talking about a short journey either, we are talking about a long sometimes multiple year long journeys. In fact, this particular facility sees 80 ordinary members of the public visit the centre to shave with Gillette products each day meaning over 25 thousand shaves are monitored, scrutinised and of course noted with each single stroke; this is Gillette’s brainchild and answers to any complaint to PETA’s previous allegations of animal testing. With an A-Z of Ph.D. and doctorates from Aeronautical Engineers to Zoologists, this particular centre is a Sheldon Cooper nerd cave of technology, equipment and of course brain power.
Without letting too much out of the bag about what happens and goes down at this particular facility, some of the equipment involved in innovating the world of shaving is certainly impressive; from super 3D printers which produce hundreds of prototype razors on a daily basis, to the 2 million FPS camera to monitor minute details upon each stroke, I can easily see why Gillette products from my experience have been nigh on perfect; this is in addition to very strict and stringent quality control, even for equipment and designs made here in addition to manufacturer which happens in Boston, USA. I think out of all the processes which range from CT scans, rapid prototype printing, super-fast speed cameras and 100% Gillette customised testing methods and devices created by some of the smartest men in the country, my favourite one has to be the blade inspection. This process enables that every single individual razor blade is 100% perfect prior to use, by testers, by the team and most importantly of all, by the consumers.
On the whole, I really enjoyed the tour, really enjoyed how warm the atmosphere was inside and I particularly appreciate Kristina’s expert tips in regards to “tapping”. What I mean by this is, if you are like me and think tapping a razor mid shave is a good way of cleaning it, you are 100% wrong!; I can’t stress to you how much I was frowned at by the guys behind the technology for this, in a joking way, of course! Yes the reason why is because the razor blades are aligned and calibrated for an optimal shave meaning that bangs, jolts and slaps doesn’t only damage the blades increasing the risk of cutting, it also knocks the blades out of position thus reducing the effectiveness of the overall shaving experience; you don’t want that!
All in all, I found the Innovation Centre to be a real eye opener and with a focus on innovating and producing the next big thing in shaving technology, I can guarantee that it will emanate from the Reading R&D facility I can be proud to have been toured around; this isn’t open to the public whatsoever so I feel privilege
Thanks to Gillette for the tour and for my Gillette Fusion Pro Glide Power Flexball Razor; a video of my shaving experience will follow in the upcoming weeks!