Edgewell Personal Care Looks to Solidify Digital Capabilities

By Linda Winick

Products in personal care categories are a better fit for sales through the online channel than food and beverage. So, it’s not surprising that Edgewell Personal Care plans to solidify its e-commerce and digital marketing capabilities in 2018, including continuing to gain share in omnichannel and pure-play channels.
To that end, the marketer of such brands as Playtex, Schick, Hawaiian Tropic and others last year established a center of excellence for digital marketing and e-commerce.

“We have made a lot of progress over this past year, not only in the terms of the sales and share, but also in the terms of organization,” said David Hatfield, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the company operating in six product categories: shaving, sun care, feminine care, infant care, skin care and pet care. He gave security analysts an update on his company’s progress recently at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference.

“We recognized a while ago that our world and the world of consumer products in general was changing rapidly and that growth in the future would require more than just mastery of the fundamentals,” he said. “We needed to restructure and reconfigure moving dollars and people resources to new growth opportunities including e-commerce, digital and international.”

In response to a question by Dara Mohsenian, a Morgan Stanley analyst, Hatfield expressed confidence that Edgewell can continue to gain share rapidly within the U.S. pure-play category. “We grew 45 percent last year, and we look for a similar growth levels next year,” he said.
Hatfield was asked to review Edgewell’s strategy in e-commerce, its market share compared to brick-and-mortar, and how it will evolve over the next few years.

“We are committed to follow the consumer and the shopper wherever they go,” he said. “Certainly, our shares in the digital world are under what our brick-and-mortar are. We don’t see that as a barrier. In fact, we have actually gained share in each of the last three years and we are going to continue to follow shoppers wherever they go. I think we are learning more and more about how to manage digital content, being more and more topical, picking the right media, providing the right product offerings. It’s one of those things where – while we were somewhat late getting there – we have been able to leapfrog learning by bringing experts in from outside. I think that we are making up ground very fast in that world.”

He said the wet shave category going under you a fundamental change as the largest competitor is going through “an unprecedented reset using their estimates,” reducing price by a couple hundred million dollars in the U.S.

“That was in the reaction to us,” he said, “but also certainly the Dollar Shave and the shave clubs. I think it represents a moment in the category where the old business model of continual super premium trade up has sort of hit the end of its logical days here and the leaders really hitting a major reset and treating the category more like a normal one where you have price tiers going after consumer segments and product segments all the way from opening price point to private-label to middle tier type. I would note that we have been actually going after the category like that for many years now and have flat to rising share since the spin. So, we recognize that world and we are comfortable with it.

Looking forward to fiscal 2018, Hatfield said Edgewell will base is strategy on two pillars. The first is focusing on the fundamentals, reflecting its strategies of building brands, delivering compelling innovation, and providing category solutions.

“We start by generating consumer insights informed by emerging trends like personalization, customization, convenience, et cetera,” he said. “And we married those insights and those need states with newer technologies that are with obvious and perceptible benefits. And finally, we link product unit innovation with our underlying brand promise to strengthen brand equity and reputation.”

The company’s second strategic pillar will be reconfiguring our business against growth opportunities. Edgewell will launch “compelling new products” across all products segments as it continues to become even more consumer centric and innovative, he said.

This article is based in part on a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha. For more information: www.seekingalpha.com.

                                                                        Early December 2017