Gillette supplies 70% of the Russian shaving market, but hasn’t cut ties with the country

0

Gillette did not sever its ties with Russia, even though the country’s invasion of Ukraine prompted other major companies to shut down or scale back their business operations there.

The Boston-based shaving giant has a manufacturing plant in St. Petersburg where it manufactures more than 70 products, from disposable razors and double-edged blades to packaging. The plant accounts for almost three quarters of the market for shaving products in Russia.

Last week, Gillette’s parent company, Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, said it halted all “new capital investment” in Russia, as well as advertising and promotional activities. The conglomerate – which owns consumer goods brands such as Tide, Swiffer and Crest – said it was “significantly reducing” its Russian production to “basic health, hygiene and personal care items needed by many families Russians”.

It’s unclear how Gillette products will be affected, but P&G spokeswoman Kara Buckley said the company’s grooming segment, which includes Gillette and Venus, will be “very streamlined.”

Many P&G brands, from those that sell razors to deodorants to tampons, could fall into the “basic health, hygiene and personal care” category. P&G has a Russian manufacturing plant in Novomoskovsk, where it manufactures fabric, home and baby products for brands such as Tide and Pampers.

Over the past month, companies ranging from McDonald’s to Starbucks to Airbnb have halted operations in Russia.

Leveraging the Gillette brand to pressure Russia would have been effective, said John Guilfoil, a Massachusetts-based public relations firm who teaches at Northeastern University. But going out of business might not be so easy, he said, especially for a company closely tied to the global economy and supplying essential items.

“They have to balance support for sanctions with an overall message of support…but their products can be responsible for the health and well-being of the average Russian,” Guilfoil said. “To flip a switch may very well be impossible and do a lot of harm.”

London-based Unilever, which sells Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, said last week it would stop importing and exporting products with Russia. The company added that it would not advertise, “invest any more capital” or profit from its activities there following the Ukrainian invasion.

But like P&G, Unilever said it plans to continue providing “everyday essential food and hygiene products made in Russia to people across the country”.

Gillette’s manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg manufactures over 185.6 million products annually, which are exported to over 50 counties. Unlike Unilever, P&G did not say whether it would stop Russian imports and exports.

“The vast majority of products we manufacture in Russia are sold in Russia,” another P&G spokesperson wrote in an email. “For Gillette, these are double-edged blades and basic disposable razors at a lower cost.”

It’s unclear how — or if — P&G’s actions will affect Gillette in Russia, but Guilfoil said halting sales would send an “extraordinary message to the average Russian that something is wrong.”

Through its Gillette and Venus brands, P&G controls more than 60% of the global razor market.

“Certainly it is costly and expensive to cut yourself off from one of the greatest countries in the world,” he said. “[But] history shows us that there is a tangible and socially responsible benefit to doing these things.

Whether Gillette’s activities in Russia will elicit negative reactions from consumers in other countries depends on how close the company is statement is scrutinized by customers, he says.

“So far, P&G has done enough to make the right listings,” he said.

And “people associate the Gillette name with Boston” — not Russia — “mainly because of the football stadium,” Guilfoil added.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.

Share.

Comments are closed.