Unilever’s sales rise 9.1% due to price hikes and growth in prestige beauty

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 25-Jul-2023

A strong performance by the giant’s Beauty & Wellbeing category in the first half of 2023 has offset declining volumes in other divisions

Unilever’s sales for the first half of 2023 have soared, driven by price hikes and demand for its prestige beauty brands. 

The 9.1% growth was predominantly driven by pricing, which was up 9.4%, while volumes fell -0.2%, reported the consumer goods giant. 

Growth within its Beauty & Wellbeing division was also a key driver, with underlying sales for the category rising 9.1% and a volume growth of 3.8%.

This was led by continued double-digit growth in prestige beauty and health and wellbeing, as well as increased interest in hair care.

“As underlying price growth has sequentially moderated from 13.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022, volumes were virtually flat with a step-up in performance in Beauty & Wellbeing and Personal Care offsetting volume declines elsewhere," read a statement by the brand. 

Prestige brands such as Paula’s Choice and Hourglass delivered “strong” sales thanks to new product launches “backed by cutting-edge science and technology”. 

This included skin care brand Dermalogica’s best-seller Phyto Nature Oxygen Cream.

Unilever’s hair care category also reported a high single-digit increase, with “positive” volume growth driven by the Americas. 

Brands Sunsilk and TRESemmé were the standout stars, delivering double-digit growth thanks to formulation and packaging relaunches.

Unilever’s Beauty & Wellbeing division makes up 20% of the group’s overall turnover, 

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Unilever’s Personal Care division’s underlying sales, meanwhile, are also up 10.8%, driven by a 7.3% price growth and 3.2% volume growth. 

Deodorant revenue came out on top with soaring double-digit growth.

This was driven by Europe and the Americas, “where volumes were boosted by a recovery in service levels and associated pipeline fill”, read a statement from the brand. 

The Dove personal care portfolio grew by double-digits, as did antiperspirant brand Rexona.

New variants which built on Rexona’s 72-hour technology delivered a high double-digit sales boost for the brand. 

Men’s fragrance brand Axe also reported an increase thanks to the roll out of its Fine Fragrance range, which combines odour protection with fine fragrances.

The Personal Care division makes up 23% of Unilever’s overall turnover. 

Unilever’s core skin care sales also grew mid single-digit, with Vaseline performing strongly after extending its Gluta-Hya range into the pro-age segment. 

Skin cleansing sales also experienced a high single-digit increase, reporting strong growth in Latin America and South Asia.

Oral care, meanwhile, grew high single-digit due to Pepsodent being relaunched in South East Asia, said the brand.

Unilever’s overall turnover increased 2.7% to €30.4bn and its underlying operating profit was €5.2bn, up 3.3% against the prior year. 

Unilever is now forecasting underlying sales growth for the full year to be above 5%.

It also anticipates a “modest improvement” in underlying operating margins, reflecting higher gross margins and increased investment behind its brands.

“Unilever’s performance in the first half highlights the qualities that attracted me to the business,” said Unilever CEO Hein Schumacher.

“An unmatched global footprint, a portfolio of great brands and a team of talented people.

“My early immersion in the business has confirmed my belief in Unilever’s strong fundamentals. 

“The task ahead is to leverage these core strengths – supported by our simplified operating model – to drive improved performance and competitiveness. 

“This is our absolute priority and it will mean bringing greater focus and sharper execution, with science-backed innovations and investment behind our brands.”

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