How a boy band manager and hipster mom tapped into America’s need to smell fresh— and even made Alicia Silverstone a fan of their products
Updated: December 14, 2017
Smelling bad is pit-iful.
That seems to be the message Americans are sending with their spending: Though deodorant has been sold in basically the same form for years, U.S. consumers are spending more and more money on it. The value of the deodorant market grew by 23% to $4.5 billion between 2011 and 2016, data from Euromonitor show, and it’s poised to rise a further 16% by 2021.
One of the companies jumping on this uptick in consumer demand for both natural and new scents is Portland-based Schmidt’s Naturals, which counts actress and nutrition guru Alicia Silverstone as a fan. On Thursday, consumer packed goods giant Unilever said that it had acquired Schmidt’s, which has been in business for less than a decade, for an undisclosed sum. The move seems to have been triggered by industry consolidation: P&G recently acquired Schmidt’s competitor Native for a deal reportedly in the neighborhood of $25 million.
The brand’s focus on transparency and mission to make natural products accessible to everyone aligns closely with Unilever values and represents an exciting category expansion for our family of brands,” said Kees Kruythoff, Unilever’s North America president, in a statement.
Earlier this year, Michael Cammarata, Schmidt’s chief global strategy officer told Moneyish that the purveyor of scents like geranium, lavender and sage is set to do “north of $20 million” in sales this year—up from less than $1 million in 2014. But WWD reports that 2017 figures could be as high as $90 million.
Industry growth doesn’t come from people just wanting to stink less—they want to smell like they’re wearing a quality, all natural fragrance too. And deodorant makers — like P&G’s Secret, which recently launched a number of new scents and a line of products made from natural minerals — have been paying attention. Plus, more consumers are demanding all-natural formulations, the Euromonitor wrote — and that’s driving some of the growth as well.
Schmidt’s success story is an unlikely one: It was given life by social worker Jaime Schmidt— who had almost no experience making consumer goods — who was pregnant in 2010 and trying to find a pleasant deodorant crafted from natural products. “I was pregnant and paying closer attention to my body,” she says. “That got me thinking that there was an opportunity to make my own deodorant, since a lot of them have a reputation for not working well.”
Also read: Is Your Deodorant Working?
At the time,“Portland was a maker’s market where everyone was making kombucha or hot sauce,” she says. She began cooking up products on her kitchen stovetop and selling them at farmers’ markets with her newborn son in tow. Today, Schmidt’s Naturals retails nationwide at the likes of Whole Foods, Kroger and Target, where its bergamot and lime concoction is a bestseller.
The business scaled up rapidly after Cammarata, who had created a multimillion dollar webhosting business as a tween before managing the Nickelodeon boy band Big Time Rush, came onboard. To hear him tell it, managing a teenage musical group has striking similarities to plugging better smelling pits. “The fan base had a lot of females and I started seeing a lot of girls asking the guys if they used natural products,” he says. “The experience translates. The girls that buy meet-and-greet passes for $500 are the ones making household decisions when they get older.”
Of course, Schmidt’s — like other deodorant companies — has a number of hurdles to face for continued growth. As it scales, it’ll have to start competing head-on with big boys like P&G, who have massive research and marketing budgets. Being in the Unilever stable will make it just that bit easier.
This story was updated on December 14, 2017 with news of Unilever acquiring Schmidt’s Naturals.
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