Examples of the razor and blades business model

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The razor blade business model relies on selling an initial product at a relatively low price (the razor) – potentially below cost, followed by consumables – where the firm makes the majority of its profit. Below are some of the most famous examples of the razor – razor blade approach.

Razor and Razor blades

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The most famous example of this approach – where it gets its name – is companies like Gillett selling the razor for a relatively modest price, while substantially higher margins on the consumable blades. The attempt is to get customers locked into the company’s offerings, as once this initial product is purchased, consumers are likely to continue to purchase the consumables.

Electric tooth brushes

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Electric toothbrushes are another example where the ongoing revenue stream associated with the sale of consumables can exceed the profit associated with the initial purchase.

Printer/ink cartridges

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Printers are often sold relatively cheap, with the ink cartridges to operate the printer often costs a similar price to the printer itself. 

Game Consoles and games

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Games consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox have historically been subsidized in their initial release. Although still priced at hundreds of dollars, the components in the consoles have at least historically exceeded the initial sales price. Both Microsoft and Sony have relied on continued revenue through the sale of games – for each game sold, a component of the sale goes to Microsoft or Sony, in turn helping to offset the initial console subsidy.

Cell phones and cell plans

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Subsidizing cell phones as part of phone contracts can also be regarded as an example of the razor-razorblade model. Cell phone companies have historically covered part of the initial upfront cost of phones, recouping the initial outlay over the course of the cell phone contract.  

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