Cutting-edge research by Unilever scientists could unlock a new generation of personal care products to support our skin’s barrier.
Innovation is at the heart of our growth. It’s how we design, produce and market everyday products that bring real benefits to people against genuine needs and pain-points, and deliver more sustainable solutions without compromising on performance.
Recently, we’ve been transforming how we innovate. We’re shifting our approach to work on fewer, bigger innovation activities – executed with more discipline – and focus on the fastest-growing consumer and channel spaces.
This is resulting in a stronger innovation funnel for our biggest brands to transform the core, premiumise their offering and access high-growth spaces. Here are just a few of many examples.
Our most effective deodorant yet
80% of people are let down by their deodorant, because ordinary antiperspirants can’t always keep up with their busy lives. To tackle this, we launched our most effective deodorant yet. Rexona’s patented technology provides 72 hours of sweat and odour protection – a microtechnology innovation brought together by over 50 expert scientists. We’re the global category leader in deodorants and Rexona – also known as Degree and Sure – is the world’s No.1 deo brand.
A zero salt stock cube
With many people eating over twice the recommended daily amount of salt, consumer interest in reduced salt or sodium products is growing fast. At our Foods Innovation Centre in the Netherlands, our experts came up with the world’s first zero salt range of stock cubes. Traditionally, salt is used to form the cube’s structure, holding all the other ingredients together.
To create the Knorr zero salt stock cube, the R&D team ran thousands of virtual experiments in parallel, with multiple combinations of ingredients to find the optimal balance of taste, texture and nutrition. Launched in 2020 and now scaled to ten markets, it’s just one of the many steps our largest food brand is taking to help consumers transition to healthier diets.
Leave-on skin care benefits in a wash-off product
Early in 2022, Dove launched its biggest formula improvement in six years: our new Dove Body Wash, with clinically proven superior moisturisation and care. It has a patented technology at its core, along with an ultra-mild, microbiome-friendly formulation, that brings leave-on skin care benefits to a wash-off product. By delivering better on core consumer benefits with our biggest brand and in key markets – and with sustainability built in through its 98% biodegradable formulation – the launch is proving to be one of our most successful ever.
The growing need for plant-based ingredients
If the world’s food system is to cope with population growth and climate change, plant-based foods must be higher on the menu. Dairy-free, vegan and meat alternatives – high growth and premium segments – are a key focus. One particularly successful innovation in this space is Hellmann’s Vegan Mayonnaise which is now available in 33 markets (and counting) and is the No.1 vegan mayonnaise in the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Czech Republic and Netherlands. And food isn’t the only application for plant-based ingredients. We’re also introducing 100% renewable and biodegradable plant-based polymers in our laundry detergents.
Advanced tech behind a beauty revolution
Over recent years, we’ve developed more than 40 technologies for our Prestige Beauty business, which is growing fast with a turnover of €1 billion in 2021. One of our most recent is Hourglass Red 0. This is the first vegan alternative to the most commonly used red pigment in colour cosmetics – red carmine, which is derived from female beetles and can take 1,000 beetles for one lipstick. This was a multi-year development, heavily dependent on digital, virtual experiments.
A key launch in a fast-growing segment
Dove Hair Therapy is a key launch for us in a segment – premium hair – which is growing at 30%. Its formula includes state-of-the-art skin care ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3) to deliver product performance that’s superior to higher-priced luxury brands, with 97% less breakage after just one use. This product was launched exclusively in the US and we’re in the process of rolling it out to other markets.
With powerful plant-based cleaning ingredients, a new formula for high performance on a low-energy cold wash, and plastic-free cardboard packaging, our Persil, Skip and OMO brands are launching their most sustainable laundry capsules yet.
New research by Unilever, IBM Research and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) reveals that vitamin B3 could hold the key to unlocking a new generation of hygiene products that work by boosting the body’s natural defences.