Ubiquitous Harry’s! You are everywhere today with your flashy bright yellow handle — on BBC, CBC, CTV, The Guardian, CNN, NY Times, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor and so on — even more now than when I first discovered you! Here is my story of intimacy with you!
Harry’s, I’m glad for my oversight, and re-trying you
How much more marketing promotion can you take of the razor that wants you to try it out and win your hearts to experience a real shaving experience; a shaving experience? Is there something like that? Yes, a real culinary experience, a real holiday experience – I’ve heard of those. But a real shaving experience is a term that I was not familiar with or cared about until Harry’s came into my life.
I was lured to the experience when the Harry’s starter kit was being offered for free (plus a nominal shipping cost, all amounts specified in this post are in $ CAD).
I must admit, however, that I took on the offer when I ran into an issue for the first time ever with the 5 bladed Gillette Fusion razor. Another factor may have been for the fact that my favourite football team, London’s Tottenham Hotspur, has Harry Kane playing for it! Does he use it, I wonder? I note, though, that he has been sporting a beard for some time now. But what an incredible promotion he would do to a brand with his own namesake, if he were to start using it! What a special idea to the owners of Harry’s, with hopefully a commission to me, just for the suggestion! Hey, Harry’s contact Kane!
Over the past 40 years since moving to Canada, I have always turned to Gillette’s new razors whenever they were introduced. I have been faithful to Gillette’s 5 bladed Fusion razor for more than 12 years — it was introduced in 2006. My previous ones were the company’s Sensor and Mach III.
For the first time ever, one day, as I was shaving with a new Fusion cartridge, the blue strip wear indicator came off. I wrote to Gillette explaining my concern, and sent them a photo of the Fusion blade with a receipt from the store. They sent me a replacement coupon worth $30.00! No questions asked! I continued using the damaged Fusion blade, as I didn’t feel that the peeled out blue strip had any impact on the blade’s shaving performance.
While I was still waiting for the Gillette coupon to arrive, I was drawn to Harry’s widespread promotion of its free trial kit. I ordered it, paying only the nominal shipping charge. Today, by the way, Harry’s charges $13.00 for the same kit, but with free shipping (all prices, as I noted earlier, in CAD $).
Like many other such free incentives, I submitted my payment details so that, unless I sent a cancellation note ahead of the next scheduled shipment, orders would be automatically sent to me based on my shaving habits that I had mentioned when completing my trial kit order.
The kit arrived, and I decided to set aside my coupon acquired Fusion cartridges in favour of the Harry’s — I had opted for a razor with an olive green handle (orange, and blue handles are also available at the same price; the razor with the chrome handle has a premium of $14), a shave gel bottle, and a cover to hold the blade cartridge.
Now, I have always admired German engineering, whatever form it takes, especially cars and stainless steel products. My cousin, who has been a career esthetician, has always relied on German products for all her esthetic needs, and she told me German products were the best and most reliable! I vividly remember my late dad telling me how his own father, or my grand father, ordered all the steel and metal parts from Germany for his leather manufacturing business in Bombay.
I wondered how Harry’s would fare against a company that has dominated the shaving market for decades, with a heavy emphasis and investment on its R & D. I had read many years ago, even before the introduction of Fusion, that some of Gillette’s products are researched for 5-7 years before they enter the market. Moreover, I had been using Gillette or Wilkinson products since my teen years in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, when my dad first let me use his razor.
Of course, when the trial kit arrived, I was concerned that my long-term use of Gillette would bias me against Harry’s. I promised that I would not let that influence me in any way when making a judgement about Harry’s.
True to Harry’s word, I liked the razor! Harry’s claimed, at least at that time, that anyone trying it would be re-ignited with a real shaving experience. Ignited, I wondered? Had I ever actually enjoyed shaving? Was it like eating a gourmet meal at the finest of restaurants?
Yes, with Harry’s! There was something peculiar about the shave. Ultimately though, my priority over the experience of shaving, was the blade’s endurance and my comfort with it. I felt nervous reaching to shave around the lower or upper lip areas. With Fusion, that fear of cutting myself was not there; with Harry’s, it was – not that it did cut me. I just felt that with Harry’s, I needed to be a little careful, probably because I was not accustomed to it or felt the 5 blade German made cartridge might be too sharp for the more sensitive areas of my face.
Now how long would this first blade last? Harry’s didn’t come with a wear bar, like the blue one on Fusion, so I didn’t exactly know when I would be nearing the end of the blade’s lifecycle. In the case of Fusion, I would note that the effectiveness of the blade would recede with the thinning of the blue wear indicator. However, I always maximized the use of Fusion and continued its usage until the blue wear bar almost completely disappeared. At least Fusion gave some indication about when it might be time to replace it with another blade, and that was certainly not the case with Harry’s. Each Fusion blade, in all honesty, lasted me between 6-8 weeks, even with daily use! I have used both the Fusion manual and power assisted razors.
After about 4-5 weeks of daily shaves with Harry’s, I did not feel the blade needed replacement. My feeling of discomfort that it would cut me when shaving near the lip area remained. So, at the 6th week, I decided to stop using Harry’s and switched back to Fusion – the one that I had acquired with the coupon!
This time, the blue wear strip was just fine. But then, immediately, I really felt I was missing that Harry’s feeling of shaving — that enjoyable sound of the blades as the razor rolled down my cheeks.
I was at the time pre-occupied with lots of matters and I forgot to inform Harry’s to cancel future standing orders. I then received two more Harry’s cartridges while I was still on my first blade of Fusion. Due to my nomadic living style, I decided to let Harry’s’ know I did not want to receive any more blades; as it was the 2 cartridges from Harry’s and the 4 Fusion blades would last me at least 8-10 months in total.
A few months passed before the Fusion was done with. I was tempted to buy another 4-pack cartridge that was on sale. I resisted, vowing to use the Harry’s blades instead.
As I set off on a 5000 km drive to Ontario, Harry’s and I became intimate. We got along very well. Yes, shaving was enjoyable. That sense of a friction of your hair being lifted was a kind of an experience, and it felt good!
This second opportunity made me realize and appreciate the quality of Harry’s great product. I loved it. I began to use the Harry’s razor in the same carefree manner as I was using Fusion. I did not have any cuts. Harry’s, I realized, lasted me 6-8 weeks. The shaving remained consistently good. I did not have a blue strip to distract me. My Harry’s gel though ran out, and I acquired two Fusion cans at a great price! Both the gels are good, and I really haven’t done a comparison to determine which is better. The Fusion metal can used to leave a rusty circular mark on the counter from the base of the can and, over time, the wrapper around the can would begin losing colour. The current Fusion cans are definitely better. I had no such problems with Harry’s.
In terms of cost, I didn’t really see a great deal of difference between the Fusion cartridge and Harry’s, provided I acquired Fusion blades when they were on sale at special prices. Often, there are fantastic deals.
For me, having to reconsider a product by fluke, in the case of Harry’s, was a blessing in disguise. I was absolutely thrilled with the Harry’s razor and the accompanying shaving gel. The only thing that let me down me was the blade’s cover. The Fusion’s razor comes with a convenient snap-on base rest, when it is not in use, whereas Harry’s provides a small lblade container with 2 pieces that often completely separate from each other; they need to be clipped together once the blade cartridge has been inserted into its location — I found this to be a little bit frustrating.
As for Fusion, it is indeed a great product and Gillette has served me very well throughout the 40 years that I have been using it. During the last 3 years, I have switched between Fusion and Harry’s without any specific preferences for either of them. At the moment, I am back on Fusion as I have been living the life of a nomad and do not wish Harry’s sent to me at a location where I might not be — it would be too much to ask my mum to mail it from Vancouver to Ontario. I do miss Harry’s though — because it introduced me to a nice shaving experience that I hadn’t ever thought about.
Finally, may I provide a tip to Harry’s. I think women would also love your razor, if you build the right one for them; and I think your name is appealing enough! Tottenham’s women fans (or fans of whichever team Harry Kane decides to join at perhaps a fee of £100-150 million ) might just go crazy over it. Men, as you say somewhere, may be messy about shaving, but women have an unmatched elegance and style!
To the two handsome founding lads of Harry’s I say this: Remain humble, and you will do well for a long time. You have a fantastic product and while I do not have Harry’s at the moment, it is something that I will always hold dear to my heart! I am already tempted to once again go for your trial kit — with the vibrant orange handle! Whether I permanently become a Harry’s user still remains to be seen; I think I am now in the process of settling down at one place!
Date posted: April 29, 2020.
Last updated: April 30, 2020 (clarity).
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Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian.
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