The brands, categories and innovations behind our strong sales growth for the 2022 financial year.
It is our ambition to demonstrate that our purpose-led, future-fit business model delivers superior performance, consistently delivering financial results in the top third of our industry. And our – which we announced on 9 February – show that our strategic choices are paying off. Here’s how we’re making progress against each one.
1. Building a high-growth portfolio
This strategic choice is about building our position in our five Business Groups – Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition and Ice Cream – where we’re successfully evolving our portfolio into higher-growth spaces.
For example, in Beauty & Wellbeing, delivered another year of double-digit growth, with strong contributions from Paula’s Choice and Hourglass which continued its expansion into China, as well as Living Proof, which entered into the bond-building premium hair care category.
In , Liquid I.V. and OLLY drove strong double-digit growth and the acquisition of Nutrafol, which we completed in July, expands our portfolio, bringing to market a science-led approach to hair wellness supported by digital-first capabilities.
Across all our Business Groups, our new Compass structure is driving greater operational focus and faster decisions, including on simplification and SKU rationalisation, through to exiting unprofitable businesses where we need to.
2. Winning with our brands, powered by superior products, innovation and purpose
This is about growing our brands by delivering functionally superior products built on advanced science, as well as taking action on social and environmental issues that our consumers care about: improving the health of the planet, improving people’s health and wellbeing, and contributing to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.
Our big brands performed well in 2022. Our 14 €billion+ brands grew in aggregate at almost 11%, underpinned by bigger, better innovation, a relentless focus on functional product superiority, and continued brand investment, which was up €0.5 billion in total.
During the year, Comfort and Lifebuoy joined the €1 billion+ club, and this group of brands now make up 53% of our turnover.
OMO, Hellmann’s, Rexona, Sunsilk and Magnum – also five of our most purposeful brands – were among those which posted the strongest growth. Our challenge now is to commercialise the incredible work we are doing on sustainability even more extensively across our brands.
3. Accelerating growth in priority markets
This strategic choice is about accelerating our growth in the US, India and China, while further strengthening our leading positions across key emerging markets where we are uniquely positioned to win.
In the full-year 2022, we performed well in the US and India, growing at 8.0% and 15.6% respectively.
Growth in the US continues to benefit from our portfolio changes, with Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing both contributing strongly. Last week, we announced a three-year $850 million capital investment for the US supply chain aimed at increasing customer service, competitiveness and resiliency. This reflects our commitment to investing behind the US growth opportunity.
Growth in India was very broad-based, driven by strong competitiveness and a portfolio that’s been built with brands competing across all price tiers.
In China, our growth declined by 1.3%. This reflects the impact of Covid, with the lockdowns that ran through most of last year impacting consumer mobility and consumption. Despite continuing disruptions to life in the country, we’re optimistic about the outlook.
Nearly 60% of our turnover – some €35.3 billion – comes from emerging markets which together, grew 11.2% last year and are a critical source of competitive advantage and growth for Unilever. We saw particularly strong performances from Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil.
4. Leading in the channels of the future
This priority is about capturing the opportunity in digital commerce, pioneering with innovative routes to market, and leading with shopper insights which help to drive our growth and build strong relationships with our customers.
In 2022, our digital commerce business grew 23% and now represents 15% of our total turnover.
Over the year, we saw faster growth in the business-to-business (B2B) channel and more modest growth in direct-to-consumer (D2C) as shoppers returned to physical stores. That said, consumers typically search online before then purchasing offline. So these channels remain key. We’re seeing rapid changes in the landscape of digital commerce, with different channels and different models competing for consumers’ attention and spend.
We have invested in 29 Digital Marketing, Media and dCommerce hubs (DMCs), aligned to the five Business Groups. The DMCs bring together critical marketing and sales capabilities to ensure we deliver seamless consumer experiences and optimise our investment across all channels. The DMCs are a key investment for us winning in the channels of the future.
We’re well positioned for future growth
“It’s just seven months since day one of our new Compass Organisation with the objectives to make us simpler and faster, more expert in our categories, and increase accountability in the business,” says Unilever CEO Alan Jope. “It’s early days in what is the biggest change in a generation, but overall these changes are bringing benefits and the transition has really delivered well so far.
“We’re executing better with a sharpened portfolio, clear strategy and more future-fit organisation. We’re well positioned for future growth. And I think we can look forward with both optimism and confidence, while we continue to navigate the tricky operating conditions.”
In some 500 million households across the world, you’ll find a product from our Dirt Is Good brand: a level of penetration that has sales topping €4 billion a year. Proving that you can grow a brand to be powerful, purposeful and profitable.
Take a closer look at Hindustan Unilever – one of our best-performing businesses.