Billie, the subscription-based women’s razor maker announced that Walmart would begin carrying its products, marking the brand’s first retail partnership. The direct-to-consumer brand will be available on Walmart.com starting on Monday, with an in-store rollout slated for February 2022. To accompany the partnership, Billie added a new shaving cream to its product line, to be sold in Walmart and on its e-commerce site, alongside a $10 “Starter Kit,” which includes a handle and two razor blade cartridges, a travel case and replacement blades.
The news comes on the heels of a big year for Billie: in November 2021, it was acquired by Edgewell for $310 million. The Edgewell deal is the second acquisition attempt for the brand: Gillette owner Procter & Gamble Co. announced it was acquiring Billie in January 2020, but the deal was ultimately blocked by the Federal Trade Commission.
Founded in 2017, Billie is one of several DTC razor brands — most notably Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club — that shook up the category. Billie stood out by focusing exclusively on female consumers, while Harry’s, for comparison, started with men and waited six years before launching its women’s brand, Flamingo, in 2018.
Billie’s colourful messaging is centred around encouraging women to shave when and how they want to, getting rid of the price discrepancy between personal care products marketed to women versus men, commonly referred to as the “pink tax,” and promoting sustainability.
The brand’s entry into Walmart’s personal care shelves comes as big-box retailers like itself and Target are beefing up their beauty offerings to compete with more traditional beauty dealers like Sephora as well as Amazon. Last year saw Walmart add a slew of new products from labels including Cake, a sexual wellness brand, Gen-Z skin care line Bubble and cosmetics brand Uoma by Sharon C. This partnership is just another way for Walmart to compete, said Katie Thomas, the lead at management consulting company Kearney’s consumer institute, adding that Billie is Walmart’s answer to Target’s partnership with Harry’s and Flamingo.
While Thomas said she would have expected Billie to select a smaller-scale retailer for its first partnership, Billie co-founder Georgina Gooley said Walmart’s massive reach appealed to the brand. One of Billie’s tenants, she said, is being a razor “for everyone,” a principle the brand tries to reflect in its pricing — no single Billie product costs more than $15.
“Launching into Walmart helps us to be more accessible,” said Gooley. “Folks can buy us wherever they please, whether it’s online or offline.”
A retail partnership has been on Billie’s radar since launch — even then, consumers were asking when they would be able to shop the brand in-store. As Billie grew, Gooley was able to recognise that a key group of women who were willing to adopt the brand would only shop through brick-and-mortar.
The partnership will help the digitally-native brand scale quickly — it’s set to be sold in 4,000 Walmart stores — as well as introduce it to consumers outside of its primary demographic, who may not know the brand online. Walmart, conversely, will be able to attract those consumers Gooley says are already primed to buy Billie in-store. And for Walmart, adding another buzzy beauty-adjacent brand to its lineup can only help further its mission of becoming more of a beauty destination.
“[Walmart is] much more open to bringing in smaller upstart brands, which allows them to test and learn a lot more about their consumer and what’s going to land and what’s not,” said Thomas. “For [Billie], it’s going to be about figuring out how they can keep the message and the foundation of the brand, while still increasing and growing, and expanding across different categories.”