Take a closer look at Hindustan Unilever – one of our best-performing businesses.
How has Unilever grown in Vietnam in recent years?
Our business in Vietnam consistently outpaces market growth. In 2022, it crossed the €1 billion turnover milestone, reporting broad-based double-digit growth with positive volumes.
Vietnam is now the 12th-biggest business in Unilever, with enormous potential thanks to a thriving economy and the leading positions our brands enjoy across many categories. In fact, almost 80% of brands across our portfolio are No.1 in terms of sales and consumer choice.
Our teams have focused on reaching hundreds of thousands of stores to make Unilever products available for millions of Vietnamese people in both rural and urban communities. An estimated 35 million Unilever products are now used every day across Vietnam.
What is driving this strong growth?
Vietnam’s GDP growth rate bounced back from 2.6% in 2021 (after the Covid-19 pandemic) to more than 8% in 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
According to , there has been a significant uptick in recent years in the number of people joining Vietnam’s ‘consuming class’ – those who spend at least the equivalent of $11 a day. In 2000, less than 10% of Vietnam’s population were members of this group. Now 40% are classed as consumers and by 2030, McKinsey says the figure may be close to 75%.
When it comes to consumer trends that are boosting growth for Unilever, key drivers include consumers trading up to more sophisticated formats, increased demand for natural and sustainable products, and a shift towards healthier home cooking.
How long has Unilever operated in Vietnam?
Our business in Vietnam was established in 1995.
Since then, our brands such as OMO laundry detergent, Lifebuoy soap, Sunsilk shampoo and P/S toothpaste have become hero products in homes nationwide.
More than 1,400 people work for Unilever in Vietnam and the business has been named the No.1 employer of choice in the country several times. There’s an extremely strong learning culture in this part of our business, and we invest in attracting, upskilling and retaining a very talented team.
Our ultra-modern ‘Homebase’ HQ in Ho Chi Minh City opened in 2020 and features a variety of flexible working spaces, a food court and a gym with a dance studio. We’ve also got two production plants – one in Ho Chi Minh City and the other in the northern province of Bac Ninh, plus five distribution centres.
What are Unilever’s most popular brands in Vietnam?
In 2022, we saw strong business growth across all five of in Vietnam. Our Fabric Cleaning category performed particularly well, and in the latest Brand Footprint report from Kantar, OMO, Sunlight and Comfort were listed as the country’s most-chosen home care brands.~
Our ten biggest brands account for 85% of our business in the country. These are: OMO, Comfort, Sunlight dish wash, Surf, Lifebuoy, P/S (known in other markets as Pepsodent), Dove, Knorr, Sunsilk, and Clear.
We’ve recognised that a number of brands and categories across our portfolio are so far under-represented in Vietnam, and we’re planning to take action to address this, growing Unilever’s presence into the future.
How are our brands bringing their purpose to life?
Research* reveals that by the age of 65, people in Vietnam have lost, on average, six teeth. A chronic lack of formally trained dentists combined with prohibitively high costs means many people can’t – or can’t afford to – visit a dentist when problems arise. Our P/S brand launched its ‘Protecting Vietnamese Smiles’ campaign in 1998 to help, providing consumers with free dental check-ups, oral care education, and – from 2022 – teledentistry. .
Our Lifebuoy soap brand is also reaching millions more consumers in Vietnam through digital channels. The brand is partnering with telehealth providers which allow people to seek professional advice via the phone and take preventative steps to protect their health. In Q4 2022, more than 10 million people in Vietnam had been educated via the ‘Doctor Anywhere’ programme, with more than 75,000 calls made. .
Our Home Care brands are showing strong growth in Vietnam while rolling out Unilever’s programme, which aims to give consumers high-performing products that are also better for the planet. Sunlight, OMO and Comfort now have more eco-friendly formulations, which are gentler on the skin and use more sustainable packaging.
OMO has also launched a campaign to plant 1 million trees by 2025. This programme is helping to regenerate nature, clean the atmosphere and inspire consumers to take action for the environment. So far more than half a million young people have been engaged by the programme’s communications and education activities, and 380,000 trees have been planted in 19 provinces and cities. And since 2020, Sunlight’s ’Women Do Business’ programme has offered training courses in business start-up to 100,000 women, and financially supported 125 start-up projects.
Our Beauty & Wellbeing brands are expanding in Vietnam, too, and launching their own purpose-led initiatives informed by local insights. Sunsilk’s ‘Dream too good to hold back’ campaign helps Vietnamese girls overcome gender stereotypes in the world of work, and Dove’s ’My hair, my say’ campaign encourages Vietnamese women to embrace their own style and not be dictated to by society.
What makes this market completely unique?
Traditional trade (primarily markets) accounts for a 75% contribution to Unilever product sales in Vietnam. Mini-marts are the fastest-growing offline channel and online is also growing well, thanks to continued focus on digital transformation.
Our teams in Vietnam are pioneering a business-to-business digital distribution model with our ‘OrderUNow’ mobile application, which helps hundreds of thousands of grocery stores and retailers across the country directly import goods from Unilever. We are leading in the direct-to-customer model through our UShop e-commerce ecosystem, specialising in selling Unilever products through our own branded online store. We have also become one of the top names in e-commerce platforms in Vietnam, as well as a strategic partner for supermarket chains.
To address the plastics waste issue in Vietnam, the business is innovating its package structure to significantly increase recyclability. We now collect and process around 70% of plastic waste generated from product sales and shipping. Unilever also established a public–private collaboration with Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and like-minded businesses to drive a circular economy for plastic waste management in Vietnam. It is the first of its kind in the country.
The gender balance at Unilever Vietnam is 55:45 at management and director levels. Unilever Vietnam holds the top spot as employer of choice in the country. It has also been recognised by UN Women as one of the most gender-responsive companies in the Asia Pacific region, thanks to its corporate culture and community partnerships that work to empower women to achieve economic autonomy.
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