- Procter & Gamble has acquired the direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketer Walker & Company, according to a news release. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Launched in 2013, Walker & Company owns brands that are catered to consumers of color, including Bevel, a grooming line for men with coarse or curly hair, and Form, a label for women with textured hair. Walker & Company CEO and founder Tristan Walker will continue to lead the company under the P&G banner, and report to P&G's global haircare and beauty president Alex Keith, Fast Company reported. The startup's headquarters will move from Silicon Valley to Atlanta, Georgia.
- With the deal, Walker & Company looks to tap into P&G's resources, talent and global scale. The packaged goods giant will accelerate growth for the startup's existing brands and assist with the development and marketing of new products. Walker & Company already has a retail presence in some Target stores, per Fast Company.
P&G's strategic approach with the purchase of Walker & Company is two-pronged: to support the CPG giant's growing push to become a more inclusive marketer catering to a broad consumer base, while also better fending off startup and challenger brands built on a DTC model.
On the latter front, P&G has recently ramped up direct services internally through its legacy brands. This week, its Gillette Venus line of razors for women announced a collaboration with the YouTube influencer Remi Cruz. The Venus x Remi product is an exclusive to Venus Direct, a new subscription service that mirrors an e-commerce model popularized by startups but recently adopted by other marketers, including Gillette's line for men.
The Walker & Company deal, however, shows P&G instead acquiring a partner to deepen insights around multicultural marketing, which is an area where many businesses continue to come up short, both in consumer-facing campaigns and in innovation with products tailored to diverse needs. P&G has seen success with creative efforts focused on diversity and inclusion, such as "The Talk." But in absorbing a scrappy, young disruptor that's proved successful in the space, P&G could potentially stay ahead of the industry curve in developing and marketing products targeted at people of color. Other recent P&G buys include the natural deodorant brand Native and First Aid Beauty, per Fast Company.
The Walker & Company acquisition comes as P&G is plotting a major business realignment starting in July which will likely see the company putting a bigger focus on areas like e-commerce and direct services. The Cincinnati-based marketer plans to streamline its operations through six category-based business. Each will have its own CEO to head up decision-making around brand communications, product and packaging innovation, supply chains and more.