Below is a look at the company's 2020 highlights, recent acquisitions, best-selling brands, and latest innovations.
Beauty & Personal Care Sales
- Alan Jope, chief executive officer
- Nils Andersen, chair, Unilever NV and PLC
- Fabian Garcia, president, North America
- Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer
- Sunny Jain, president, beauty and personal care
- Sanjiv Mehta, president, South Asia
- Pond’s Glow Up
- Garancia and Tatcha skin care
- Schmidt’s Here+Now baking soda-free natural deodorant
Unilever’s 2019 net sales grew 2%, slightly below the 3-5% target, due to factors such as a decline in developed markets because of European deflation. Overall, a strong performance turned in by emerging markets contributed to an underlying 5.3% sales growth.
The company’s Beauty & Personal Care segment grew 6% to $24.5 billion, led by strong, double-digit growth from its Prestige unit, with strength coming from Dermalogica, Hourglass and Living Proof. Acquisitions of Garancia, a French derma-cosmetic brand, and Tatcha, a modern skin care brand rooted in classical Kyoto rituals, brought breadth and depth to the company’s Prestige portfolio.
Elsewhere, the deodorant unit, which accounted for 8% of sales, delivered strong, broad-based growth, supported by double-digit growth from Dove, which delivered well-received innovations in “microbiome-friendly” technologies. The Rexona Clinical range and Dove’s zero aluminum range also performed well. Skin care and cleansing units accounted for 8% and 10% of sales (respectively) and was muted by price reductions because of lower commodity prices, though Pond’s and Vaseline performed well, and on-trend innovations such as Pond’s Glow Up cream, and the Simple brand was expanded to 30 markets including Turkey and the Gulf regions. The hair care unit, which accounted for 12% of sales, suffered from weak growth attributed to intense competition in the U.S. and continued pressure from local players in China.
In packaging-related news, Unilever made two sizable commitments to reduce plastic waste and help create a circular economy for plastics. The company pledged that by 2025 it will reduce its virgin plastic packaging by 50%, with one third (more than 100,000 tons) coming from an “absolute plastic reduction;” increase its use of recycled plastic; and collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells. The company said it is already on track to achieve its existing commitments to ensure all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging, also by 2025.
Alan Jope, CEO, commented: “This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models, like re-use and re-fill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.”
In related packaging news, Unilever committed to moving its Dove packaging in North America and Europe to bottles made from 100% post-consumer resin packaging. It also announced the use of plastic-free packs for its bar soap.
In July, Unilever announced it had experienced an overall sales decline of 0.1% and a decline of 0.3% for in its personal care and beauty sales for the first half of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic helped bolster the skin cleansing unit, however there was a lower demand for skin care, deodorants and hair products.
“Performance during the first half has shown the true strength of Unilever,” Jope said. “We have demonstrated the resilience of the business–in our portfolio, in a continued step-up in operational excellence, and in our financial position–and we have unlocked new levels of agility in responding to unprecedented fluctuations in demand.”
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