An in-depth look at Unilever — #2 on this year's list of Top Global Beauty Companies.
Below is a look at the company’s 2018 highlights, recent acquisitions, best-selling brands, and sustainability goals.
Beauty (Personal Care) Sales
(FY 2017 Beauty Sales: $21.3 billion)
- Marijn Dekkers, chairman
- Paul Polman, chief executive officer
- Graeme Pitkethly, chief financial officer
- Alan Jope, president, personal care
- Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP & COO, Unilever North America Personal Care
- Hanneke Faber, president, Europe
- Amanda Sourry, president, North America / global head of customer development
Personal Care remains the global manufacturer’s leading category. Brands include:
- Axe, Dove, Lifebuoy, Love Beauty & Planet, Lux
- Rexona, Signal, Sunsilk, Kate Somerville, Gallinée
- Aviance, ApotheCare, Schmidt’s Naturals, Badedas
- Equilibra, International Breeze, Brut, Carver Korea
- Hourglass Cosmetics, TRESemmé, Caress
- Citra, Clear, Closeup, Fissan Baby
- Hazeline, Pears, Pond’s Simple
- Suave, Sunlight, Tigi VO5, Vaseline, Williams,
- Zwitsal, Aim, Baba, Elefante, Elle 18, Folicure,
- Gabi, Geisha, Glysolid, Good Morning, Hamam,
- Kalina, Le Sancy, Lever Ayush, Liril, Matey, Monsavon,
- Organics, PS, Proderm, Ultrex, Zendium, and Zhonghua
- TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Collection
- Hourglass Vanish Foundation Stick
- Dove DermaSeries skincare collection
- ApotheCare Essentials
- Dove, Lynx and Radox shower foams
- Ayush Therapy
- Schmidt’s Body Wash
- Baby Dove
- Hijab Fresh
- Signal White Now
Appealing To A New Generation of Eco-Conscious Consumers
In 2017-2018, Unilever made major strides in appealing to a new generation of environmentally conscious global consumers—focusing on recycling and reducing packaging waste and developing more “natural” brands, in some cases developing its own incubated products. In fact, Marijn Dekkers, the company’s chairman, noted, “Unilever has a clear purpose—to make sustainable living commonplace.”
In Personal Care, turnover was up 2.6% over the previous year, reaching $24.8 billion, accounting for 39% of Unilever’s turnover for the period.
The Personal Care category is Unilever’s largest of four, and includes five €1 billion brands: Axe, Dove, Lux, Rexona and Sunsilk. Prestige brands, a more recent focus of Unilever, achieved a turnover of €425 million from brands such as Dermalogica.
Four of the Anglo-Dutch personal care giant’s markets—U.S., India, Brazil and Indonesia—generated turnover of more than €1 billion.
Growing the core and evolving areas such as naturals, prestige and baby was a key focus of innovation and investment in 2017.
Five new brand launches benefited Personal Care, while acquisitions in 2017 included Living Proof, Hourglass, Carver Korea, Sundial Brands and Schmidt’s Naturals. Previous acquisitions of Dollar Shave Club and Kate Somerville grew in double digits, while Dermalogica grew 5%. Skincare growth was boosted by Dove shower foam, and Baby Dove.
The Simple sensitive skin care range was rolled out to new markets, while several brands such as Dove and Sunsilk launched natural extensions. In India, Lever Ayush, a brand formulated using ayurvedic ingredients was launched and offers a range of skin, hair and oral care products. Hijab Fresh, a hand and body lotion specifically developed for Muslim consumers, was launched in Indonesia.
North America launched two brands: the millennial-focused hair care and skin cleansing brand, Love Beauty & Planet and ApotheCARE Essentials, a range of apothecary-inspired haircare products.
Several acquisitions were completed including Carver Korea, Hourglass, Schmidt’s Naturals and Sundial Brands.
Unilever’s Personal Care category includes several Sustainable Living brands such as Axe, Dove, Lifebuoy and Smile (Signal and Pepsodent), which aim to achieve Unilever’s goal of improving health and wellbeing for more than one billion people by 2020.
Toward the end of 2017, Unilever made a major acquisitions charge, picking up a number of brands aligned with its targeted goals.
In September 2017, Unilever announced its acquisition of Carver Korea, a leading skincare business in North Asia.
In November, Unilever announced ApotheCare Essentials—not an acquisition, but a hair and body brand they had incubated in less than a year as more of a “start-up” operation.
Also in November, the global manufacturer reached an agreement with Sundial Brands, a New York-based personal care products company, and appointed Esi Eggleston Bracey—a seasoned beauty executive with a strong track record—as EVP & COO of Unilever North America Personal Care, effective January 1, 2018, to work closely with Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO, Sundial Brands. Sundial’s brands include SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker and nyakio.
In December, Unilever announced an agreement to acquire Schmidt’s Naturals, a personal care company based in Portland, OR.
Also in December, came Love Beauty and Planet, a haircare and shower line packed in 100% recycled bottles, made with post-consumer recycled plastic. With this launch, Unilever announced numerous plans to lessen the impact of plastic waste, saying plastic packaging is particularly damaging to the environment.
Love Beauty and Planet product labels are easy to remove so that nothing can interfere with the recycling process and bottles can be recycled. The brand also encourages customers to save water through a new conditioning technology that rinses fast to reduce shower time.
Brands that fall under what Unilever identifies as “Sustainable Living” grew more than 50% faster than the rest of the company’s business last year, and also delivered more than 60% of Unilever’s 2016 growth, according to Alan Jope, president, personal care.
In January 2018, one year after Unilever made its industry-leading commitment to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, the company called for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics. CEO Paul Polman said he welcomed the news that 10 companies had made similar pledges. He urged more to step forward to accelerate the industry’s progress toward the circular economy and address plastic leakage into the world’s natural systems including waterways and oceans.
Alongside its commitment to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025, Unilever pledged to source 25% of its resin from post-consumer recycled content by 2025, and to publish its full plastics palette before 2020.
In February, Unilever acquired Gallinée Ltd, a skincare range focusing on the skin’s microbiome.
In June, the company signed an agreement to acquire a 75% stake in the Italian “natural” personal care and well-being business, using plant-based ingredients with functional benefits.
Also in June, Unilever furthered its eco-friendly efforts, announcing that Kate Somerville Skincare would have 100% recyclable packaging by 2022, and that it had partnered with the Plastic Oceans Foundation.
In July, Unilever announced its results for the first half of 2018, which showed a “solid” performance in the midst of some challenging markets.
As far as Beauty & Personal Care, CEO Paul Polman, said the category continued to grow the core with innovations behind global and local brands, while expanding the portfolio in attractive segments and channels. Skin care performed well, driven by Vaseline’s successful market development campaign, Pond’s and Lakme in India.
The prestige business demonstrated broad-based first half growth of more than 6%. The 2017 acquisitions Carver, Sundial Brands and Schmidt’s all grew strongly and will contribute to underlying sales growth from twelve months after completion.
Skin cleansing delivered good growth helped by new premium formats. These included aerosol mousse which delivers an improved sensorial experience and was launched across five brands in Europe, and the launch of Dove body polish in North America which exfoliates and nourishes at the same time.
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