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2 years after acquisition, Billie is driving share gains for Edgewell
Billie's brick-and-mortar expansion is set to accelerate this quarter.
In 2021, Edgewell Personal Care acquired shaving and body care brand Billie. The $310 millions deal was a move not only to expand in women’s shaving, but also to add digital capabilities from a direct-to-consumer brand that was fluent in the ethos and tactics of internet-based commerce.
Today, the digitally native Billie is aggressively expanding its brick-and-mortar presence. During the quarter ended December 31, Edgewell began a wider national retail launch. It is now appearing in-store at certain drug and grocery retailers, building on a launch at Walmart in early 2022. This rollout is continuing to scale, with the “lion’s share” of the new shelf appearances set to occur in the current quarter, said CFO Dan Sullivan.
On an earnings call with analysts this week, executives said Billie served as the “catalyst” for women's wet shave market share gains by Edgewell in the prior quarter.
“The team that's built the brand the way it's been built is resonating with consumers and we're off to a very good start with Walmart year one,” said Edgewell CEO Rod Little. “As you know, when you grow share and you grow the category that becomes a very portable story, and so the expansion is underway now.”
Little said the interest from retailers topped the expectations of the company. At the same time, Billie is continuing to see solid performance in its original direct-to-consumer channel. Little said the DTC segment outperformed expectations, even as Edgewell did not release Billie-specific revenue metrics.
“We continue to believe we've got a very healthy omnichannel brand in front of us that has lots of legs to go in many, many more places,” Little said.
Billie joined a portfolio of brands that also includes shaving brands Schick and Edge, as well as sun care brands including Banana Boat. Given Edgewell’s experience in a broad set of categories and Billie’s appeal, executives said they see room for the brand to expand into adjacent product areas.
“That which started as a shave brand absolutely has the right and the runway to become a women's lifestyle brand,” said Sullivan. “That's what we saw when we looked at buying it, and that's absolutely what the team is committed to building Billie.”
Edgewell is also pursuing a wider U.S. rollout for men’s grooming brand Cremo, which it acquired in 2020, though Little said this expansion is still in the “early days, but initial read is good.”
“The product is fantastic,” Little said of Cremo. “It's a natural extension, category-wise, to the grooming line and we think sets up to give us a better shave portfolio in men's for the future.”
Bringing things full circle, executives said the brand-building capabilities on the teams at acquired brands like Billie and Cremo are being applied across the company, centering "consumer-centric innovation and new product development" across the company.
It shows how a single brand can not only help to lift a larger company through its own results and expansion, but also to extend its capabilities to other brands.
Billie is positioned to not just be a bright spot in the portfolio that grows with a boost from Edgewell’s ability to scale in brick and mortar. It is also a driver of growth for the company as a whole.
Trending in Brand News
Walmart launches online hub for clean beauty
The retailer debuted a Made Without List to identify ingredients that customers may not want to be included in beauty products.
A new online shop at Walmart is helping customers find products that leave out the ingredients that don't live up to environmental standards, or their values.
The news: Clean Beauty at Walmart launched this week to help customers find products that are transparent about the ingredients included, and ultimately are made without chemicals that are harmful to the planet.
What’s in the shop? The online shop has more than 900 products, and Walmart said 80% are under $10. In an announcement, Walmart spotlighted products such as e.l.f. Mascara, Kinlo sunscreen, earth Shampoo and Cetaphil face wash.
How it works: To inform product selection for the Clean Beauty platform, Walmart developed a Made Without List to identify the ingredients that customers don’t want, and align with clean beauty standards. It contains over 1,200 ingredients, such as formaldehyde and PFAS. To develop the list, Walmart reviewed state and federal regulations, consulted suppliers and worked with the Environmental Defense Fund.
The clean beauty products are also “reimagining entire products,” Walmart said. This includes exploring sustainable packaging alternatives, evaluating carbon emissions associated with production and adopting cruelty-free and ethical standards.
Key quote from Walmart SVP of Sustainability Jane Ewing: “Our customers want to buy products that reflect their values, and for many customers, that means providing greater transparency into product formulations and products made without certain ingredients.”
Trending: Clean beauty doesn’t only align with values and sustainability; it is also popular. The #cleanbeauty category has over 5.8 million posts on Instagram and 1.3 billion views on TikTok, signaling popularity among Gen Z and millennials. Walmart cited data from Statista that indicated more than 70% of consumers want to buy products that align with their values.Putting the face on: With the clean beauty shop, Walmart is providing a home for the popular category so it is easy to find on the company’s growing marketplace. The destination could also help attract younger, internet-savvy consumers at a time when the retailer is seeing increased visits from people who are giving Walmart a closer look than usual as they seek to save money amid inflation.