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Clorox Buying Out Burt's Bees

Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 30, 2007

Organic beauty company Burt's Bees was recently sold to Clorox for $925 million. We asked some experts for insight on what being owned by a company best known for bleach might mean for the beauty brand with a grass-roots reputation.

Stacy Malkan, author of "Not Just a Pretty Face":

It's disturbing because there are toxic ingredients in [Clorox's] products. Major corporations see the consumer demand for safe natural products, and we need to hold them accountable to keep those products pure and not slip in the cheap synthetics. We'll be watching them closely.

Lauren DeSanto, stock analyst for Morningstar in Chicago:

You know it's a bit of a surprising fit in some ways. Yet, Clorox has really been trying to focus on more organic and natural cleaners. So I think in that way, it's kind of complementary.

When you have a brand like Burt's Bees that has a loyal following, the idea is that people don't know that it has been acquired by a larger company. On the backside, you want to get efficiencies of scale. To the customers you don't want it to be any different.

Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Intelligent Nutrients:

It's an evolution. It's difficult for companies to change their habits. It's much easier to merge with other companies. It's very difficult for a public company to change ingredients. It's very similar with what Aveda has done [after being purchased by Estee Lauder].

John Bailey, chief scientist for the national trade group Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association:

I'm just a chemist, but it does point out an interesting phenomenon. In the cosmetics sector, consumers rule; what consumers want they will get. If there's an interest in organic or anything else, the industry is responsive. That's a fact of our economy across the board. Fuel-efficient cars, for example.

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