In 2016, Dollar Shave Club became one of the big acquisition stories when Unilever announced it had acquired the online retailer for $1 billion, making it a “Unicorn”, or $1B+ exit, as they call it in Silicon Valley. A statistically rare start up turn out.
Dollar Shave Club grew from nothing to $200M in annual sales in under 5 years. They took nearly 7% market share of the shaving market in the U.S. and 30% of e-commerce sales, annihilating market leader, Proctor and Gamble’s Gillette, in e-commerce.
When Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club it felt like they were on top of the world. However, within a month of acquisition, U.S. sales of Dollar Shave Club went completely flat and have remained that way for over a year. Unilever will likely use their global reach to expand Dollar Shave Club sales internationally. So while the shaving company may be growing internationally, the U.S. market has stalled for now.
Declining retention, new customer acquisition and Harry’s have all caused Dollar Shave Club to stop growing in the U.S.
While retention has been on the decline since 2015, we can see a steeper decline right around July 2016 when the acquisition happened.
If retention problems aren’t enough, Dollar Shave Club’s new customer acquisition has also slowed down and starts to take a steep dive right around acquisition time.
And the final punch in the face is that their fierce competitor Harry’s is stealing market share back from Dollar Shave Club.
We’ll leave it to the media and the industry to speculate on why Dollar Shave Club is failing to get new customers and retain its existing customers. The flat line after Unilever’s acquisition is just a correlation and not a causal link.