What P&G’s purchase of Billie means for the d-to-c landscape
It was a good hair day for Billie on Wednesday when Procter & Gamble announced it had acquired the young women’s razor company as the latest addition to its stable of women’s grooming brands. But experts predict the news to yield better days for the direct-to-consumer landscape in general as more conglomerates continue their quest of adopting new, mission-driven brands that have already built up a loyal customer following.
Early on, venture capital was plentiful for direct-to-consumer, ecommerce-native brands like Casper, Allbirds and Everlane. However, as the field of startups grew more crowded, the money stopped flowing as freely as the VC community sought out brands that were more well-rounded with brick-and-mortar offerings and long-term potential, rather than just fast-growing. At the same time, companies like P&G have started their own DTC brands in an effort to compete as the lines between large and small blur.
Andrea Hippeau, a principal at venture fund Lerer Hippeau, notes that the deal is good news for the d-to-c market in general. “The sentiment in the VC market around the exit potential for DTC companies has soured, so this is a very positive signal,” she adds, noting that it shows the potential for giants like P&G to snap up and integrate other startups that have proven their success.
P&G already owns female-focused brand Venus, and recently launched Joy, an offering very similar to Billie that sells exclusively at Walmart. Incidentally, in its three-year existence Billie has built its brand around anti-goddess messaging by marketing around authenticity. One of its largest brand campaigns showcased women with body hair in an effort to tell it like it is around the hair women actually grow.
Robert Ottenstein, an analyst with Evercore ISI, applauded the deal.
“The acquisition also makes strong strategic sense, given that Billie could fill the gap in P&G’s portfolio left by Olay, now refocused on facial skincare that Gillette’s Venus has failed to occupy,” he wrote in a recent research note. He also wrote that, based on page views, “Billie is potentially a homerun.” Evercore found that Billie received some 2 million page views in December, roughly eight times that of Venus and d-to-c competitor Flamingo, according to SimilarWeb data.
A press release about the Billie purchase noted that the brand will continue to be led by its co-founders Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman.
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