Slugging has made Vaseline a social media sensation, but there’s so much more to this heritage brand. Discover how Vaseline’s new products backed by advanced skincare science are powering growth in fast-moving markets and with underserved consumers.
Inside our markets: Unilever in Thailand
Retail growth in Unilever Thailand is outgrowing the country’s GDP. Discover how brand innovations, a mix of mom & pop stores and social commerce are adding to its bottom line.
How has Unilever grown in Thailand in recent years?
Unilever is the No.1 consumer products company in Thailand, 73% of our brands are market leaders and 98.2% of the 25 million households in Thailand use our brands three times a day.
For the past two years, Unilever Thailand has outgrown the country’s GDP. This year, the Ministry of Finance’s forecasted GDP was 2.4%. Unilever Thailand’s retail sales growth was 11.1%.
Key figures include growth in fabric cleaning (11.4%), hand and body lotion (24.0%), shampoo (12.9%), post wash (13.6%), and liquid soap (22.4%).
Unilever Thailand has also been crowned the best business to work for by HR Asia for six years in a row (2017–22).
What is driving this strong growth?
The Thai marketplace is an advanced hybrid, dominated by organised trade (over two-thirds), 30% distributive trade and growing dCommerce channels, especially livestreaming and social commerce.
To succeed here, Unilever is working to win in core channels such as hypermarkets and mom & pop stores while exploring future core channels such as health and beauty, convenience and dCommerce.
This means responding quickly to consumer behaviour shifts, such as more frequent, smaller, convenience-focused purchases; government price control and stimuli campaigns; and providing customer-centric solutions tailored to customer needs in different channels.
The team, for example, have equipped retailers with eB2B solutions to order products. These also serve AI prompts on stock levels to ensure fewer lost sales.
Developing innovative products in core brands for our local market has also been a game-changer.
One example is the development and launch of Vaseline Gluta-Hya Serum Burst Lotion which was designed to offer superior brightening and moisturising without stickiness, meeting consumer needs in Thailand’s hot climate. It’s been so successful that sun protection and anti-ageing products have been added to the range.
How long has Unilever operated in Thailand?
In 1890, Lever Brothers Ltd introduced its famous washing soap to Thailand. In 1908, it became the soap-maker for King Rama V.
It has been operating as Unilever Thailand for 91 years and has two factories – Minburi and Gateway – which manufacture 2,100 SKUs exported to 15 countries.
It also has 3,005 full-time employees; 97% of its leadership team are local, 66% are female.
What are Unilever Thailand’s most popular brands?
Breeze, Sunsilk, Knorr, OMO, Vaseline, Sunlight, Wall’s and Comfort.
Breeze, Vaseline, Sunlight, Sunsilk and Wall’s are all market leaders in their category.
How are our brands bringing their purpose to life in Thailand?
Thailand ranks tenth globally for plastic polluters in oceans, producing 2 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, with only a quarter recycled.
Unilever Thailand has introduced locally sourced recycled plastic for the bottles of its bestselling Sunlight dishwashing liquid. It has saved 274 tonnes of virgin plastic annually, based on annual volumes from 2017 when the bottle was launched.
Its brands also work to shape a fairer, inclusive and equitable society.
Sunsilk’s campaign challenged transgender taboos. Cornetto’s celebrated love’s diversity. And Dove’s campaign challenged forced haircuts in Thai schools. It led to the Ministry of Education lifting restrictions and Dove winning a Bronze Cannes Lion Award.
What makes this market unique?
Thailand is a regional innovation hub, renowned for advancements in health and beauty products, as seen by its work with Vaseline.
As of 2022, 53% of its population live in cities, with a fast-growing middle class adapting to new digital and lifestyle trends.
Thailand is also the second largest eCommerce market in South-East Asia, with a total gross merchandise value (GMV) of US$22 billion (€20.06 billion).
A quarter of Thai households shop online, with ‘pure player’ marketplaces (which sell only online) such as Shopee, Lazada and Kaidee being the most popular platforms.
The country also has the highest TikTok use in the world - 63.6% of its adults are on the app.
And Unilever Thailand’s ability to engage consumers on social and digital channels saw it win the Thailand Management Association’s Digital Excellence Award for Data & AI Leadership in 2022 and Digital Retail Innovator in 2023.
Sunlight products have been synonymous with clean dishes for over a century. Now the brand’s cleaning power is stepping up its game with a tech-led, bio-enzyme-fuelled formula that delivers on performance, purpose and sustainability.
From branded soaps to enzyme-powered dishwashing and from championing women to protecting the planet, Sunlight has aways been on the frontline of innovation and improvement. Here’s a whistlestop tour of Unilever’s trailblazing €1 billion brand.