Razor and blades model

The razor and blades business model [1] is a business model is a low price (or given away for free) in order to increase sales of a complementary good , such as consumablesupplies. For example, inkjet printers require ink cartridges, and game consoles require accessories and software. [1] It is distinct from loss leader marketing and free sample marketing , qui we do not depend complementary products or services.

ALTHOUGH the concept and Its proverbial example “Give ’em the razor, sell’ em the blades” are Widely credited to King Camp Gillette , the inventor of the disposable safety razor and founder of Gillette Safety Razor Company, [1] Gillette Did not originate this model. [2]


Main article: King Camp Gillette

The urban legend about Gillette is that it has not been possible, but it is also important to have a continuous stream. To foster that stream, he sold his products to the market for the blades. [1] [3] HOWEVER, in reality Gillette razors expensive Were When They Were Introduced first and the price only after-Went Down His patents expired: It was His concurrents Who invented the razors-and-blades model. [4]


This model has been used in many businesses for many years. The Gillette company is still using this approach, but it is not easy to use it. quote needed ]

Standard Oil

With a monopoly in the American domestic market , John D. Rockefeller , Standard Oil and its owner, to China to expand their business. Representatives of Standard Oil gave away eight million kerosene lamps for free or sold at Greatly Reduced prices em pour augmenter the demand for kerosene . [5]

Among American businessmen, this gives rise to the catchphrase “Oil for the lamps of China.” Alice Tisdale Hobart’s novel oil for the Lamps of China was a fictional treatment of the phenomenon. [5]


Comcast often gives away DVRs to its subscribing customers. However, the cost of giving away each free is $ 19.95 per month. Based on an average cost of $ 250 per DVR box to Comcast, after 18 months the loss would be out and start to generate a profit. [3]


The razor and blades model may be threatened if the price of the high margin consumables in question falls due to competition. For such a market to be successful the company must have an effective monopoly on the corresponding goods. ( Predatory pricing to destroy a smaller competitor is not covered here.) This can make the practice illegal.

Specific examples


Computer printer manufacturers have gone through extensive efforts to make sure that their printers are incompatible with lower cost after-market ink cartridges and refilled cartridges. This is because the printers are often less expensive than others, but they are not included in the cost of ownership. In fact, in certain cases, the cost of replacing ink cartridges may be reduced to one of two. Methods of vendor lock-in include designing the cartridges in a way that makes it possible to patent certain parts or aspects, or invoking theDigital Millennium Copyright Act [6] to prohibit reverse engineering by third-party ink manufacturers. Another method entails completely disabling the printer when a non-proprietary ink cartridge is placed on the machine, instead of simply issuing an ignorable message that a non-genuine (yet still fully functional) cartridge was installed.

In Lexmark Int’l v. Static Control Components The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the circumvention of Lexmark’s ink cartridge lock does not violate the DMCA. On the other hand, in August 2005, Lexmark won a case in the United States That Allows Them to sue some wide customers for Violating Their boxwrap license .

Video games

Atari had a similar problem in the 1980s with Atari 2600 games. Atari was originally the only developer and publisher of games for the 2600; it sold the 2600 itself at cost and profits. Several programmers When left to found Activision and Began publishing Cheaper games of comparable quality, Atari Was Left without a source of profit. Lawsuits to block Activision were unsuccessful. Atari added measures to ensure games are produced for 5200 and 7800 consoles.

In recent times, video game consoles have often been sold at a loss and are highly profitable to the console manufacturer. For this reason, the console manufacturers aggressively protect their profit margin against piracy by pursuing legal action against the carriers of modchips and jailbreaks . PARTICULARLY in the sixth generation era and beyond, Sony and Microsoft, With Their PlayStation 2 and Xbox , HAD high manufacturing costs So They Their consoles sold at a loss and avocation to make a profit from dirty game. [7] [8] Nintendo had a different strategy with its GameCube, which was much less expensive to produce than its rivals, so it retailed at break-even or higher prices. citation needed ] In the following generation of consoles, both Sony and Microsoft have gone to their consoles, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively, at a loss, with the practice continuing in the most recent generation with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One . [9] [10] [11]

Nuclear energy

Ever since the beginning of the commercial nuclear power industry, the business model has centered around selling the reactor at cost (or at a loss) and making its profits off fuel-supply contracts by exploiting vendor lock-in. [12]

Mobile phones

Mobile phone handsets are provided with the help of the user, especially if obtained from an older model. The monthly contract funds the handset cost.

Other goods

Consumers may also find uses for the subsidized product rather than utilize it for the company’s intended purpose, which adversely affect revenue streams. This HAS happened to “free” personal computers with expensive proprietary Internet services and Contributed to the failure of the CueCat barcode scanner. [13]

Affiliate Marketing makes extensive use of this business model, as many products are promoted to having a “free” trial, that entice consumers to sample the product and pay only for shipping and handling. Advertisers of heavily-promoted products such as Acai Berry targeting consumers will continue to pay for this product, and this business model has been implemented with much success.

Websites specializing in Sampling and discounts have been very popular with economy-minded consumers. The business model of these sites is to attract visitors to AdSense and complete affiliate offers.


Main article: Tying (trade)

Tying is a variation of razor and blades that are often of a different nature (for example, requiring a bookstore to stock up on a unpopular title before disposing to a bestseller). Tying is also known in some markets as ‘Third Line Forcing.’ [14]

Some kinds of tying, especially by contract , have historically been considered as anti-competitive practices . The basic idea is that consumers are being forced to buy and buy a good deal of money. The company doing this bundling may have a large market share so it can impose the tie on consumers, despite the forces of market competition. The tie can also be used in the market for the tied good, or who sell only single components.

Another common example of a cable TV provider contracts with content producers. The production company pays to produce 25 channels and forces the cable provider to pay for 10 low-audience channels to get a popular channel. Since they have a large audience, they are forced to have a very small viewing audience.

Legal issues

Microsoft has been accused of releasing Internet Explorer at no charge to destroy Netscape’s market ( see United States v. Microsoft ).

See also

  • Aftermarket (merchandise)
  • Complementary good , a good thing should be consumed with another good
  • Consumption subsidies
  • Demo , an event in which samples of a product are distributed
  • externality
  • Loss leader , for an item that is sold out
  • Opportunity cost
  • Product bundling , offering multiple products for sale
  • Product churning , selling more product than is beneficial to the consumer
  • Promotional merchandise
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL)
  • Trojan horse
  • Vendor lock-in


  1. ^ Jump up to:d Martin, Richard (2001-08-06). “The Razor’s Edge” . The Industry Standard . Retrieved 2008-08-01 .
  2. Jump up^ Picker, Randal C.,The Razors-and-Blades Myth (s)(September 13, 2010). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 532. Available at SSRN:https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676444orhttps://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1676444
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Anderson, Chris (March 2008). “Why $ 0.00 is the Future of Business”. Wired .
  4. Jump up^ Picker, p. 3
  5. ^ Jump up to:b Cochran, Sherman. “Encountering Chinese Networks: Western, Japanese, and Chinese Corporations in China, 1880-1937” . University of California Press . Retrieved 2008-03-16 .
  6. Jump up^ Yuk-fai Fong. “When Does Aftermarket Monopolization Soften Foremarket Competition?” (PDF) . Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management . Retrieved 2008-03-16 .
  7. Jump up^ “Sony promises more PlayStation 2 consoles” . 2011-01-15. Archived from the original on 14 February 2001 . Retrieved 27 February 2017 .
  8. Jump up^ Takashi, Dean. “The making of the Xbox: Microsoft’s journey to the next generation (part 2)” . venturebeat.com . Archived from the original on 3 December 2011 . Retrieved 27 February 2017 .
  9. Jump up^ Bangeman, Eric. “Sony taking big hit on each PS3 Xbox 360 in the black” . ArsTechnica.com . Archived from the original on 6 July 2012 . Retrieved 27 February 2017 .
  10. Jump up^ Phillips, Tom. “Sony expects to cut back PlayStation 4 hardware loss at launch” . Eurogamer.net . Archived from the original on 6 December 2013 . Retrieved 27 February 2017 .
  11. Jump up^ Mather, Steven; Rassweiler, Andrew. “Microsoft Xbox One Hardware Cost In Retail Price, IHS Teardown Reveals” . Archived from the original on 9 April 2014 . Retrieved 27 February 2017 .
  12. Jump up^ Kirk Sorensen. “Kirk Sorensen @ PROTOSPACE on Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors” . Gordon MacDowell via YouTube.
  13. Jump up^ Cory Doctorow. “Two million CueCats at $ 0.30 / each” . BoingBoing.net . Retrieved 2008-03-16 .
  14. Jump up^ Trade Practices Act – Third Line Forcing