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How trends and technology are boosting our deodorants business

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Consumers are increasingly curating a wardrobe of deodorants, choosing multiple formats to meet different needs at different times. Here’s how our brands are using world-class technology to deliver on new demands.

Antiperspirant deodorant sprays from Rexona’s 72-hour range. The cans are dark green, one with blue accents, one with yellow

Deodorants is one of the biggest – and most profitable – categories in Unilever, and it’s getting bigger, achieving double-digit growth in our latest set of quarterly results (PDF 595.97 KB).

Our Rexona (Sure, Degree, Shield), Axe (Lynx), Dove and Dove Men+Care brands have all reported strong sales this year, and 95% of turnover in our deodorants business comes from those market leaders.

Between them, this portfolio of global brands covers every consumer need. Rexona offers gender-specific antiperspirant products, armed with body-responsive MotionSense technology. The more you move, the harder Rexona works to protect you from sweat and odour.

Axe deodorants combine irresistible fragrances with dual-action tech to help you stay – and feel – fresh. And Dove’s products care for skin while keeping body odour at bay.

All are rooted in science and efficacy yet address different demands – and that’s what has helped boost our deodorants business as people return to life after lockdown.

Deodorant trends and the move to multiple formats

In 2022, Unilever carried out a study exploring how 21,000 consumers across 14 different countries[a] choose and use deodorants. The results showed some clear emerging trends.

Across all but one of the markets, the number of people using multiple deodorant formats has gone up. But the most interesting point was that consumers are increasingly buying both antiperspirant and non-antiperspirant deodorant formats, rather than selecting a single product.

The study reveals the average number of formats used in the US is now two, up from 1.5 in 2017, and the number of consumers who use both antiperspirant and non-antiperspirant deodorant formats has increased to 27%, up 11%.

Just as many of us curate a collection of fragrances to suit different moods and occasions, it seems consumers are now reaching for different types of deodorants too – a move that’s benefiting our brands.

Longer-lasting deodorants and 72-hour formulas

Rexona longer-lasting deodorants

Another big trend driving deodorants growth is the shift to innovative products that offer proven longer-lasting protection, and our brands are pioneering in this space.

The 1990s saw the launch of Rexona’s 24-hour antiperspirant claims. By the early 2000s, the brand was offering up to 48 hours of protection. And in 2021, we launched Rexona 72-hour Non-Stop Protection – our most effective antiperspirant yet, equipped with patented tech developed in Unilever labs and a formula that’s increasing the brand’s sales in many countries.

The key to its efficacy is that the formula contains microtechnology ingredients which can compact together more closely than conventional antiperspirant complexes, forming an extremely effective barrier against sweat.

This quest for long-lasting products with superior benefits extends to other brands in our deodorants portfolio too. Reimagining the tech our scientists created for Rexona’s products, Dove now offers its own 72-hour Advanced Care antiperspirant, enriched with a quarter moisturising cream and skincare ingredients such as glycerine and sunflower seed oil. Not only does the product provide lasting sweat-and-odour control, but it also cares for delicate underarm skin by boosting its natural moisture barrier and shielding it from shaving damage.

Axe has introduced a 72-hour Body Spray deodorant too, formulated with twice the odour-busting zinc content of other Axe body sprays. This double dose helps to absorb odour molecules for a fragrance that stays fresh for longer, and is available in the brand’s new Axe Fine Fragrance collection, developed in collaboration with the world’s top fragrance houses.

Testing technology for future-fit products

We’re applying Unilever’s pioneering science to create cutting-edge deodorant technology that will keep consumers choosing our brands for decades to come – and there’s a global ecosystem of experts across our R&D team focused on that mission.

At our Global Design Centre in Leeds, UK, over 100 scientists are dedicated to developing the next big thing in deodorants, and they’re supported by colleagues around the world with specialist knowledge in areas from microbiome and skin science to inorganic chemistry, human biology and clinical testing.

“We’re blending top-notch science with innovative technology to take our deodorant products to the next level,” says Vivek Sirohi, Head of Deodorants, Unilever Personal Care R&D.

“It’s not just about stopping sweating or making you smell great; it’s about ground-breaking products that really make a difference to people and planet. Our global reach and deep category expertise for new discoveries keep us at the cutting edge, constantly creating something special and unmissable for our consumers.”

Read more about the tests behind the technology on the Wall Street Journal.

[a]

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, UK, and the US

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