P&G Ouai acquisition is part of larger multinational move to fill portfolio gaps, says Euromonitor
The multinational’s acquisition of hair care brand turned full personal care brand, founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, comes with a wave of other indie acquisitions, like P&G’s acquisition of skin care brand Farmacy, L’Oreal’s acquisition of skin care brand Youth to the People and Edgewell’s acquisition of razor brand Billie.
Ouai acquisition shows P&G expanding into new consumer space
Euromonitor research analyst Irene Chang said the Ouai acquisition is indicative of P&G’s need to move into the mass-stige and premium hair care space, while most of their portfolio is in the mass market space.
Consumers, particularly millennials and gen-z consumers, have demonstrated their willingness to invest in premium hair care products and purchase treatments and other products which are part of the “skinification of hair care.” The mass-market brands which make up P&G’s current portfolio aren’t able to fully serve those consumers, Chang said.
“I think they’re just realizing a real opportunity in premium beauty in general, seeing how consumers are really leaning into going to beauty specialist retailers, having a sensorial experience and everything,” Chang said. “P&G is inserting themselves into that space.”
Chang said the Ouai acquisition is a smart move to reach out into the market of young, premium hair care buyers and she expects P&G to make more acquisitions like it.
The multinational-ization of mass-stige and premium indies
Many multinationals are making these kinds of acquisitions across the personal care market, including hair care, skin care, mouth care and shaving, among others. Chang said this is likely because the same principles which made Ouai attractive to P&G make other indies attractive.
The legacy brands which make up most multinational portfolios are mass-market brands and/or brands for older consumers. Indie brands, on the other hand, have been very successful in engaging with young consumers and creating buzz and engagement throughout the beauty community, particularly with younger consumers, Chang said.
“They have large social media presences, they have celebrity endorsements, they have appealing, minimalistic branding,” Chang said. “They’re really desirable for any of these multinational companies because that is the gap all these companies have.”
In many cases, she said buying these indies which embody this young-premium engagement may be deemed easier than rebranding existing brands or creating and launching a new brand.
Estee Lauder’s acquisition of The Ordinary is a prime example of this move, Chang said. The Ordinary has a massive cult following of young consumers, offering something they couldn’t find with legacy premium brands
However, there is risk in absorbing a cult-favorite indie into a multinational, Chang said, for the loss of the independence of the indie.
“They have kind of a personalized appeal and a cult following, and an image that’s created that appeals to consumers, and I think when they get acquired by a multinational they risk losing that following,” Chang said.