Gillette was famously late to the shaving club party, launching its own subscription service three years ago after being outmaneuvered by the likes of Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.

But now the Boston-based razor blade maker is striking back, with the industry’s first order-by-text service. Employees gathered at the South Boston factory on Tuesday to celebrate by watching thousands of colorful dominoes fall in an elaborate, Rube Goldberg-style publicity stunt.

The Gillette On Demand texting service was inspired by surveys of people who bailed on subscription clubs — Gillette’s and others. One reason they left: They ended up with too many blades. Cartridges piled up, for example, when consumers took vacations and changed their shaving routines. The On Demand texting service represents a third way to reach them, a step somewhere between traditional retail sales channels and the shave club.


The biggest knock on Gillette blades is the cost. While Gillette may offer a better shave, plenty of consumers would prefer to save money. Toward that end, parent company Procter & Gamble made an average 12 percent price cut across various Gillette lines this spring. But will it be enough?

Gillette’s dominance in the US shaving industry is eroding. The business was P&G’s weak link in its April earnings report, with grooming division sales falling 6 percent. Analysts peppered CFO Jon Moeller with questions about the decline during the quarterly earnings call.

Launching a texting service might be the sort of thing you would expect from a startup. To compete, the executives at P&G know they need to think like one.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.