At the end of 2018, Walker & Company, the holding company behind men’s grooming brand Bevel and women’s hair care brand FORM, sold to Procter & Gamble for less than $40 million. The sale price was nearly equal to the amount of money the company raised in its five year history.  

As we wrote at the time, the sale was not the outcome the company and its investors were hoping for, but it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the role of the CPG conglomerate in today’s ever-evolving landscape. CPG conglomerates have been punching bags for younger brands over the last decade, but they still have something smaller brands don’t: scale. 

As an independent company, Walker & Company didn’t have the money to invest heavily in marketing, the largest differentiator in the consumer products world. And while both Bevel and FORM explored wholesale partnerships with Target, Walmart and Amazon, earning and sustaining the shelf space required to drive sales is a scale game, which puts a small brand at an automatic disadvantage. Walker & Company did not succeed in competing against CPG conglomerates, so it joined one of them.   

Fast forward to early 2020 and Bevel, Walker & Company’s main brand, just relaunched with 11 new products—which span two new product categories (hair and body)—and a plan to increase distribution tenfold. Doing this requires a big investment in R&D, strong retailer relationships and a big marketing budget to get the word out—three things that P&G and other CPG conglomerates consider core competencies.  

We wrote recently about the fallacy of trying to own a product category, which many brands mistakenly think is possible or easy to achieve. As part of the relaunch, founder Tristian Walker said the brand plans to be “the first and only brand delivering head to toe grooming solutions that prioritizes the needs of black men, first.” With P&G’s support, such aspirations are actually achievable, given this type of domination means being accessible to everyone all the time. 

While it’s still early, Bevel and other brands Walker & Company launches under P&G’s umbrella should be highly successful. While the venture investors who funded the first phase of Walker & Company will not share in this success, Walker and his team hopefully will reap the rewards that come from making the humble decision to sell the brand to a company that could better help serve its mission rather than attempting the same feat by itself. 

If CPG conglomerates are smart they will continue to buy up smaller brands and give them the resources they need to succeed. If founders and investors are smart, they will capitalize their companies in ways that make this possible and worth doing. While Walker & Company’s sale to P&G does not rank high on the scale of lucrative exits, it could lead to one of the most successful and transformative collection of brands born in the 2010s.