- Procter & Gamble on Wednesday announced plans to acquire Billie, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) maker of women's shaving and personal care products. The acquisition will add to P&G's stable of female grooming brands that includes Venus, Braun and Joy, per an announcement. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
- The companies will combine consumer insights, digital capabilities and innovation. Billie's co-founders, Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman, will continue to lead the company, according to the announcement.
- Billie launched in 2017 as a subscription service that delivers a steady supply of women's shaving products. Its brand messaging highlights how women should shave only if they want to, and that they shouldn't have to pay a "pink tax" premium for women's personal care products. Billie's products include razors, shaving cream, body wash and lotion.
P&G's planned acquisition of Billie is part of the CPG giant's effort to expand its share of the grooming market, which was previously on the decline amid the emergence of DTC brands like Billie and consumer habits shifting toward body-positive brands that offer convenience. P&G has worked to revive its Venus brand of women's shaving products alongside efforts to regain market share for its Gillette brand for men, but the results have been mixed. The CPG giant's net sales in the grooming segment slipped 2% to $1.53 billion in the most recent quarter from a year earlier.
Billie can help P&G to reach a younger audience of consumers, whose attitudes about grooming have changed in the past decade. P&G has cited the popularity of beards among young men for damping the sales of Gillette razors, while Billie emphasizes a laid-back attitude about feminine grooming that tends to appeal to younger women. In 2018, Billie's "Project Body Hair" campaign celebrated the natural appearance of women. The company last summer took that theme a step further with a controversial campaign that showed unshaven women in swimsuits. The effort was a significant contrast with P&G's ads for Venus with taglines like "Try a new way to smooth."
The planned acquisition of Billie comes amid a string of P&G snapping up younger DTC brands. Last year, it acquired feminine product maker This Is L. in an effort to expand its purpose-driven marketing. Before that, P&G purchased Walker & Company, a DTC marketer that creates grooming and haircare brands, such as Bevel and Form, targeted at consumers of color.
Billie is a DTC disruptor like Dollar Shave Club and Harry's that took aim at Gillette's market dominance. By getting Billie into its fold, perhaps P&G can avoid the steady erosion of market share experienced by Gillette. P&G last year wrote down the value of its struggling Gillette brand by $8 billion. Its market share in the U.S. fell from 70% in 2010 to 53% in 2018, per Euromonitor data cited by CNBC.