Buying Beauty: a look at the latest cosmetics and personal care acquisitions

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Buying Beauty: a look at the latest cosmetics and personal care acquisitions

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics

M&A activity has been coming along at a pretty good clip lately, and some of the most recent deals exemplify the current state of the beauty industry.

Cosmetics Design has reported on several compelling mergers and acquisitions over the past months. And, here we recap the highlights.

Entrepreneurs and innovation

To stay agile and in touch with today’s beauty consumer expectations, big beauty is settling in to a new strategy of innovation. Rather than aiming to do everything in-house, cosmetic and personal care corporations are outsourcing creativity—to a degree.

Ideas never come from just one place. And while L’Oréal’s recent acquisition of IT Cosmetics​ is a conventional one is some ways, it’s very of-the-moment in that IT was a proudly indie brand at the start, in 2008, and remained creative and relatable as it grew. Now as part of L’Oréal, the brand will still be led by founder Jamie Kern Lima, who recently told the press, “partnering with L'Oréal and utilizing the power of their global infrastructure will help us scale our mission in an even bigger way and we couldn't be more excited.”

WWD has called the phenomena, selling in (referring to indie brand founders who are not ‘selling out’ to big beauty, but rather bringing their brand and their wisdom to the acquiring company). And companies are partnering with outside groups like suppliers and startups on research and product development in new ways too.

Much the same way that brand innovations can come thorough crowdsourcing on social media, cosmetic and personal care companies of every size are collaborating more openly.

Naturally inclined

This week, Unilever acquired the natural personal and home care company Seventh Generation​. This deal serves to cement the fact that natural beauty is much more than a trend; it’s a movement with longevity that no business should ignore.

Naturals are in particular demand with consumers who are shopping, according to Mintel​, for skin care and anti-aging products that align with wellness lifestyles and healthy eating.

And, impending M&A activity could further enforce the value and persistence of naturals. There’s still talk in the beauty industry, and in financial media, of the possibility that Unilever will also buy Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. That company has an even bigger stake in the natural personal care space than Seventh Generation. The Honest product portfolio includes facial skin care, bath care, sun care, soaps and cleansers, as well as hair care and body care.

Better together

As one entity, Revlon and Elizabeth Arden​ will have a global reach and span the marketplace more completely than either company could have done on its own. By streamlining the business and eliminating overlap throughout the supply chain, Revlon (the acquiring company) will save costs and become more competitive. 

This deal was first announced in June and finalized earlier this month​. “Elizabeth Arden and Revlon are both known for their iconic brands, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation, quality and excellence,”​ emphasized the companies in a joint press release about the deal. Elaborating on that idea, Fabian Garcia, president and CEO of Revlon, tells the press, “Revlon plans to build upon Elizabeth Arden’s ongoing transformation by further enhancing the brand, with even more vibrant and relevant product development and marketing, while carefully preserving its unique heritage within prestige.”

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