Japanese beauty company Shiseido has acquired "clean" skincare brand Drunk Elephant for an estimated $845 million. In this acquisition, Shiseido will own 100 percent of Drunk Elephant in a push to expand the Japanese company's global reach.
Founded by Tiffany Masterson in 2012, Drunk Elephant was a pioneer of the "clean beauty" movement. Masterson's success is credited to her personal philosophy that a skincare "formulation is only as good as its worst ingredient" and by eliminating six problematic ingredients (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical sunscreens, fragrance and dyes, and SLS), clear, balanced, and healthy skin is easily attainable.
In the past seven years, Drunk Elephant has grown rapidly while particularly attracting the millennial and Gen Z markets. Shiseido's complete acquisition of Drunk Elephant adds to the Japanese company's group of subsidiaries, including Nars cosmetics and Bare Escentuals.
"Drunk Elephant's approach strongly resonates with its highly engaged and loyal consumers, who value the integrity and effectiveness of Drunk Elephant's formulations combined with a fun, curious approach," Shiseido said in a press release. "Drunk Elephant will be able to leverage Shiseido's global platform and resources to expand into new and existing markets both in the Americas and internationally including Europe and Asia."
In addition to an article in Women's Wear Daily, Masterson also announced the acquisition on Drunk Elephant's Instagram feed. "I know what you're wondering because I am a consumer and I always think/wonder the same things when brands I love are acquired," Masterson wrote. "I want to reassure you. The formulations won't be changing. I'll remain in my same role. My same incredible and lovable entire team will stay with me. If it wasn't announced, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference; that's our main goal. Our prices will not be increased. And, we'll remain cruelty-free. I wouldn't have signed on for this unless both parties could agree. Fortunately, we wanted the same things; we share like values. I feel so honoured to join this global powerhouse."
Of course, many of Drunk Elephant's followers noted Shiseido's presence in China and aired their concerns over the notion of the brand staying cruelty free. "Hong Kong SAR does not require animal testing," Masterson responded in the comments' section. "That is the only place where we will be selling in retail (via @SephoraHK), and in mainland China, we are using cross boarder e-commerce which does not require the same registration process as cosmetics sold via retail there. (That means products sold ship [sic] form Hong Kong SAR only, nothing is sold in retail in mainland China.) We are @leapingbunnyprogram certified, and have never, nor will ever, animal test or allow products to be tested on animals. ❤️"
The acquisition will be finalised by the end of 2019 with Masterson remaining on board as chief creative officer and president while reporting to Shiseido's CEO Marc Rey.