“Ethics change with technology.”
— Larry Niven
Last night my friends and I were in a debate about products, and brands, and the question emerged. Are brands and products of the same quality everywhere, in every country, on every continent? I mean Coca Cola should have the same taste, color, and smell everywhere in the world, right? Well maybe it is the case with Coca Cola but we came to the conclusion that with many other things it is not.
I would call it pretty much subjective observation if so many different people did not notice it. So back to our story, we were discussing the quality of brands in different parts of the world and we came to that topic since someone mentioned that Gillette razor blades are the best example that there are worthy and less worthy human beings around the world and that hypocrisy spread around the globe like a plague. It was a pretty hard statement and it got everyone`s attention. People started arguing immediately and everyone wanted to contribute to the subject. So in one moment, we had a room full of people considered friends among each other, all stating that they noticed a big difference in the quality of Gillette razor blades purchased in different countries. I mean try to imagine how funny is the situation where you have bunch of doctors, engineers, economists, and writers all united in one observation and conclusion about subject that has nothing to do with their jobs, or fields of expertise, and it can be noticed only if you travel to a different countries and forget your shaving gear so you need to resupply. Someone asked: “how did we even come to talk about stupid razor blades after having a normal everyday conversation about Hyperloop One and 3 Tesla MRI scanner 🙂 “. We all started laughing and raised our glasses to that one! One guy said that he is quite sure that some companies are manufacturing their products in two or even more quality levels for different markets. He said that he has some relatives down in Bosnia and whenever he goes there they ask him to buy them some laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets and some stuff for the kids. We asked what is wrong in Bosnia, is it possible that there is no detergent there? He laughed, like crazy and said, no no, there is plenty of it, all kinds, markets are full of it, but it`s bad and it destroys washing machines. A few times his relatives washing machine was broken, and when they called a service a repair guy said gypsum is stuck allover appliance?! How did the Gypsum get into the washing machine? Well, it was in laundry detergent. The same type of detergent that you can buy anywhere in the world. There we needed another beer. To satisfy our curiosity we decided to use the scientific approach on this matter and since most of us tried, used, or were using Gillette Fusion razor blades we went to Gillette site to investigate a little bit, and here is what we learned about Fusion 5 series:
There are three types of them, Fusion 5, Fusion 5 ProGlide and Fusion 5 proshield . We will not discuss differences here since we know nothing about it, and it is not important for this story.
Don`t ask how but during the next hour and next round of beer we got our hands on two Fusion 5 blade refills each purchased in different countries.
We will not make a point by comparing them to each other since it would not be fair, it is obvious that they are different Fusion 5 models. But what about comparing them to their originals from the Gillette website? I think that difference can be seen. That also would not be a problem, and would not be worth mentioning if we did not reach the conclusion that sometimes the same type razor blades perform quite differently. So to make a statement we decided to write down 3 things that can be compared in the use of razor blades and here they are:
We are now talking about the two most opposite cases that we noticed in a few years period of use of the same type of blades. Once more I repeat, these results are subjective, and we made this table in a try to visualize and quantify our discussion. So seven people filed out the table and here is what we came up with:
To summarize our theory, we all noticed that sometimes razor blades don`t last long and start cutting and scratching us almost at first use. Someone with good memory and observation skills stated that he thinks that it happens when you buy razor blades in some third world or developing or however called countries. So it is the same brand, the same packing even the price can be considered the same, but the quality is not. Simple logic suggests that if the same product is sold in different countries for the same price but with quite different quality something is wrong and only two options emerged. The first option is that human beings are also rated by quality so better people get better products for the same price. We could support this option by comparing some minimum wages by countries:
|Country||Minimal hourly wage in US $|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1.05|
|Central African Republic||0.37|
Why do we even talk about this right now? Well, when we go to work, we sell our time for money. We can state that we can limited the number of hours for selling, right? Just to put a number on it let`s calculate how much we have to sell. There are 52 weeks in a year and if we take 40 working hours in a week we get to 2080 working hours in a year. We will not calculate holidays and vacations, sick leave and things like that. Lets say that you work just 30 years , in France you get by minimal wage 62.400 * 8 Hours * 11 $ = 5.491,200 $, but for example in Bosnia you would get 62.400 * 8 Hours * 1.05 $ = 524.160 $ or in Zambia you would get 62.400 * 8 Hours * 0.29 $ = 144.768 $ . So let’s summarize this:
By being born in France you get a chance to sell your entire working lifetime for 5.491,200 US $
Converted to a topic of our story you could purchase 1.568,914 pieces of Gillette Fusion 5 razor blades
By being born in Bosnia you get a chance to sell your entire working lifetime for 524.160 $ US $ (if you are lucky enough to have a job at the first place)
Converted to a topic of our story you could purchase 149.760 pieces of Gillette Fusion 5 razor blades
By being born in Zambia you get a chance to sell your entire working lifetime for 144.768 $ US $ (same as in the case above)
Converted to a topic of our story you could purchase 41.362 pieces of Gillette Fusion 5 razor blades
So we reached final questions, are people worth equally all around a world, or is there some weird kind of a stock exchange that sets up a value of a human being?
If a so stupid thing like a shaving razor is not the same in the USA, Germany, and Bosnia what else is wrong in this world? What about the food? Is “Nutella” the same in Germany and in Croatia? I mentioned Croatia since people there started the initiative and it looks like an agency will be formed to compare products that are being sold in the rest of the European Union by-products sold there locally. Good thing for Croatia and it`s people, but meanwhile in some other “developing” countries, corrupt politicians, teamed up with CEOs, Chairman’s, and local thugs are selling their countries, their citizens health and wealth and children’s futures for razor blades.
Well, it is time to end this story, but an explanation needs to be offered since it may look like this is not a story for a technology-related site. Well, maybe it is not but it had to be told somewhere and I promised my friends that I will write it down. Maybe we wasted some time, maybe the things we figured were wrong, but we had a great time, and used technology to try to make our lives better.
Our last night`s conclusion was to advise everyone not to buy razor blades or laundry detergents in countries with a minimum hourly wage below 7 US $. It may seem funny or stupid but it` free advice so take it or don`t :).
I don`t have anything against Gillette or any other company, this brand and product came into this story by series of chained unplanned events, and it could be any other brand or product, but then again maybe they could do something about this.
One more thing to add, we tried to peek in with a digital microscope, so here is the result of magnified razor blades, the same ones from pictures above, one purchased in Bosnia and other in Germany :
I hope you find it useful, interesting, and if you have any comments, thoughts, or simply want us to test something, please leave a comment and we will get in touch.
Once again thank you for reading.