New Economic Realities   //   January 31, 2024

Amazon aggregator Forum Brands acquires organic period care brand Lola

Lola, a period care brand known for its organic, cotton tampons, pads and other sanitary products, has been sold to aggregator Forum Brands. 

Founded in 2014 by Alexandra Friedman and Jordana Kier, Lola launched with a goal to disrupt an industry led by Tampax, which has an estimated 29% global market share. As concern grew over the ingredients used in personal care products, Lola tried to stand out by selling products made of 100% organic cotton, with no dyes or toxins. Lola initially sold its products online and offered a subscription service. 

But since then, the space has become more crowded. Several other companies launched at or around the same time as Lola, like The Honey Pot and August, all of which seek to create better-for-you period care products. 

Forum Brands confirmed the acquisition to Modern Retail, but declined to share specifics of the purchase. “We have been huge fans of the Lola brand for many years,” said CEO Brenton Howland in a phone interview. Howland said the acquisition first began in the third quarter of last year but was finalized in December.

In its pursuit of growth, Lola has followed in the footsteps of many other direct-to-consumer brands. It expanded into retail in 2020 with a deal with Walmart, and has since gone on to sell its products through other brick-and-mortar retailers, including Walgreens. It also launched new product categories – mostly focused around sexual health – including condoms, vibrators and lube. 

In late 2022, Friedman and Kier stepped down as co-CEOs, and Amy Fisher — who previously worked at brands like Wander Beauty and Ralph Lauren — stepped in as chief executive. Howland, however, confirmed that Fisher is no longer with the company. “As part of the transaction, [Fisher] has transitioned to new opportunities,” Howland said. Kelly Murphy, who previously worked as Lola’s vp of direct-to-consumer and Amazon, is currently overseeing the brand. Forum declined to comment on whether any other Lola employees departed as part of this acquisition.

Forum Brands, founded in 2020, started as an Amazon-focused aggregator. “We’re buying what we think are A+ high-growth e-commerce businesses that sell predominantly on Amazon and are looking to build a portfolio of standalone businesses that are category leaders, on and off Amazon,” Howland told TechCrunch in 2021.

Since then, the aggregator space has come under pressure, as venture capital funding as a whole has declined. Rumors also swirled in November that one of the leading players in the space, Thrasio, was preparing to file for bankruptcy

Forum Brands, for its part, has tried to stand out by hyperfixating on just a few categories, like family, health and wellness as well as pet — and by trying to build a business that can live both on and off Amazon. 

“We have indexed around a portfolio of products and brands that all really serve one core consumer,” Howland told Modern Retail. He described this target demographic as a consumer that “indexes female and indexes [between the ages of] 25 to 44.” Other Forum-owned brands include Florensi, which makes yoga products, and maternity skin care company Trilastin.

“I’d say in the next couple of years, we want to mirror e-commerce market share,” Howland told Modern Retail in an interview in May 2022. “That means not having Amazon be 95% of our business (and we’re already nicely below that today). Instead, having it be 50% or 60% of our business and having grown in the process, but adding incrementality and additional growth through other channels.” 

When describing the Lola purchase, Howland pointed to retail expansion as a major strategic goal. “We felt there was a bunch of omnichannel potential,” said Howland. “We can really help Lola unlock [its potential thanks to] the success of their DTC platform.”

This acquisition comes as more holding companies seem more interested in the category. Earlier this month, The Honey Pot announced that it has entered into a deal to be acquired by Compass Diversified – which describes itself as a company with “diversified holdings in niche middle-market businesses” for $380 million. 

According to Howland, Forum has laid a groundwork to help startup brands expand at a scale that’s difficult for most individual businesses. “We’re excited to bring the best of Amazon and physical retail [to Lola],” he said.