A look at how we’re growing our business and brands in one of the world’s most dynamic countries.
What’s behind Unilever’s full-year results?
A quick look at the brands, categories and innovations driving our underlying sales growth for 2023.
Underlying sales growth was up 7.0%, volume growth up 0.2% and underlying operating margin up 60bps to 16.7%. Underlying sales growth of our 30 Power Brands was up 8.6%.
Here’s a look at the results highlights from each business group, and how innovation from our brands is driving performance.
Beauty & Wellbeing
- 8.3%Underlying sales growth
- 21%of Group turnover
Beauty & Wellbeing delivered a strong full-year performance, with underlying sales up 8.3%, balanced between price at 3.8% and volume at 4.4%. Volume growth accelerated through the year to 6.3% in the fourth quarter, with good volumes in Hair Care and very strong volumes in Health & Wellbeing.
The full-year performance reflects continued strong growth in Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing, which now account for a quarter of Beauty & Wellbeing’s turnover, as well as successful relaunches of some of our core Hair Care and Skin Care brands. The relaunches were powered by our science and technology capabilities and were supported by increased investment across our key markets to elevate their superiority credentials.
Hair Care grew mid-single digit through a combination of price and volume growth, with strong growth in Latin America and Turkey. Sunsilk delivered double-digit growth for the year following a successful relaunch of the brand. Clear delivered mid-single digit growth driven by breakthrough innovation – our first clinically proven anti-dandruff formula powered by niacinamide concentrate to repair and strengthen the scalp’s skin barrier. Following the successful relaunch in China last year, the mix has now been expanded to Thailand, Turkey and Brazil.
Core Skin Care grew low-single digit, driven by price. Vaseline delivered double-digit growth, reaching €1 billion of turnover in 2023. Following the launch of our successful Gluta-Hya range in South-East Asia two years ago, we further expanded the platform with the launch of serums and a Pro-Age range, tapping into a larger consumer pool by extending the patented technology to more products and new markets such as India. In North Asia, AHC declined double-digit as we reset the cross-border trade channel.
Our US-centric Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing portfolios, built over several years through carefully selected bolt-on acquisitions, continued to grow ahead of the market, delivering double-digit growth for the year. This was supported by strong performances from Hourglass, Dermalogica and Paula’s Choice which launched a Vitamin C range, using our core science and technology capabilities.
In Health & Wellbeing, Liquid I.V. and Nutrafol performed strongly. Liquid I.V. added sugar-free and kids variants to the range, without compromising flavour or function. The brand extended its presence outside the US for the first time with a successful launch in Canada, and further international roll-outs planned.
- 8.9%Underlying sales growth
- 23%of Group turnover
Personal Care grew underlying sales 8.9% for the year, with growth balanced between price and volume, underpinned by continued strength in Deodorants. In the fourth quarter, all three categories drove positive volumes.
Personal Care’s full-year growth was led by its Power Brands and science-backed innovations. These innovations offer functional benefits but also deliver enhanced health, hygiene and superior skin cleansing. Personal Care supported these innovations with a step-up in marketing investment, including strategic sponsorships such as our first sponsorship deal with FIFA.
grew double-digit, led by strong volume growth, particularly in Europe and Latin America. Rexona grew double-digit and its range of products with 72-hour sweat and odour protection technology is now in over 100 markets. Dove delivered double-digit growth with the successful launch of Dove Advanced Care for women and the launch of a new range of Dove Men+Care antiperspirant. Axe grew high-single digit following the launch of its new, long-lasting fine fragrance collection.
Skin Cleansing delivered mid-single digit growth with positive volumes. Lux grew double-digit, driven by elevated skin care benefits in soap bars from its ProGlow technology. In the US, Dove grew mid-single digit supported by its Body Wash relaunch with new packaging and 24-hour renewing MicroMoisture technology.
Oral Care grew mid-single digit, led by price. Closeup grew double-digit and Pepsodent grew mid-single digit, having expanded its premium offerings in therapeutics and whitening.
The Dove Personal Care portfolio achieved double-digit growth with balanced price and volume growth.
- 5.9%Underlying sales growth
- 21%of Group turnover
Home Care grew underlying sales 5.9% for the full year, with 6.8% from price and -0.9% from volume. Volumes were positive in the second half, with a sharp price growth deceleration in emerging markets reflecting commodity cost deflation.
In Home Care, we stepped up investments in brand and marketing and R&D to drive unmissable superiority of our biggest brands and deliver innovations that enhance the efficacy and sustainability of our products.
Fabric Cleaning grew mid-single digit for the year. This was led by high-single digit growth in Latin America where we launched OMO Branco Absoluto that restores the whiteness of clothes. South Asia delivered balanced high-single digit growth as we continued to develop the market by offering a full range of products to consumers, from entry-level products such as our Wheel laundry soap bar to mid-tier Rin, to premium Surf Excel liquid detergent. Growth in Europe was flat, with double-digit price growth offset by volume declines.
We expanded plastic-free packaging for OMO capsules to more countries across Europe and drove premiumisation through next-generation innovation such as laundry sheets, a convenient and sustainable alternative to liquids and capsules.
We leveraged our cross-category science and technology platforms by using fragrance innovation from Beauty & Wellbeing in Fabric Enhancers where we launched Comfort Beauty Perfume in Vietnam. Fabric Enhancers delivered mid-single digit growth driven by price with low-single digit volume decline. Turkey continued to lead growth with double-digit price and volume growth.
Home & Hygiene grew mid-single digit, led by strong growth in Latin America and South Asia which was partially offset by a decline in South-East Asia. In the United Kingdom, we launched – an unmissably superior innovation that is designed to spray upside down for improved cleaning performance as well as convenience. High store penetration and availability coupled with product superiority make this a blueprint for future roll-outs.
- 7.7%Underlying sales growth
- 22%of Group turnover
Nutrition grew underlying sales 7.7% for the year, with 10.1% from price and -2.2% from volume. Growth continued to be price-led as we responded to higher input costs of food ingredients. In the fourth quarter, we saw an improvement in volumes, with our two largest brands, Hellmann’s and Knorr, returning to positive volume growth.
Growth in Nutrition was driven primarily by Knorr and Hellmann’s, which together accounted for 60% of Nutrition’s turnover in 2023. We sharpened our focus on offering holistically superior products and unmissable marketing campaigns in key seasons, supported by increased marketing and R&D investment. Our business in Europe remained challenging as a result of continued cost inflation, the targeted exit of unprofitable SKUs, and private label share gains, impacting both volumes and profitability.
Scratch Cooking Aids grew high-single digit, led by Knorr, which achieved €5 billion in turnover in 2023. North America grew mid-single digit, supported by the ‘Knorr Taste Combos’ campaign and the launch of Knorr ready-to-eat snack pots which provide consumers with a nutritious meal while saving time. Latin America grew double-digit and Europe grew mid-single digit as we developed targeted campaigns to inspire healthier diets. Africa grew double-digit, supported by fortified products that help address malnutrition in the region.
Dressings grew double-digit driven by price. With strong foundations in taste, sustainable ingredients and recyclable bottles, Hellmann’s grew double-digit, with positive volume driven by Latin America. The performance was helped by further roll-outs of our vegan and flavoured mayonnaise range. We stepped up brand marketing investment to target high consumption occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and the summer BBQ season. 2023 was our third consecutive US Super Bowl ‘Make Taste, Not Waste’ campaign with nearly 10 billion earned media impressions, and we partnered with the NBA in Brazil.
Unilever Food Solutions, now 20% of Nutrition’s sales, grew double-digit, with positive volume and price growth driven by our strong presence in Europe, North America and North Asia. Our focus on customer service and digital selling has enabled us to serve more operators and improve productivity. As the foodservice market in China fully reopened, we grew double-digit, helped by market-making innovation such as extending Knorr bouillon to more flavours, tapping into evolving consumer preferences.
Functional Nutrition returned to growth while growing penetration and market share through its core proposition for kids as well as premium innovation tailored for women and people with diabetes.
- 2.3%Underlying sales growth
- 13%of Group turnover
Ice Cream had a disappointing year with declining market share and profitability. We continued to invest behind our Power Brands, including Magnum and Cornetto, which generated almost 85% of the business group’s turnover. These brands remain well positioned to meet consumers’ desire for superior and indulgent ice cream. Emerging markets delivered mid-single digit growth, driven by a strong performance in Turkey. In the fourth quarter, we made additional investments in promotions, particularly in North America, to address competitiveness and volume decline.
In the full year, there was a marginal decline in In-home Ice Cream (around 60% of the business), with volumes down high-single digit broadly offset by pricing. Inflation remained high and private label gained share as consumers looked for value propositions in this discretionary category. In the US, our Talenti brand expanded from pints into new formats with mini gelato and sorbetto bars.
Out-of-home Ice Cream (around 40% of the business) grew high-single digit, driven by strong pricing partially offset by some volume decline. Our limited-edition Magnum innovation, Starchaser and Sunlover, performed well and became Magnum’s biggest ever innovation.
Growth Action Plan
Alongside the results announcement, CEO Hein Schumacher gave an update on our plan to drive improved performance and competitiveness.
“In October, we set out a Growth Action Plan focused on three priorities: delivering higher-quality growth, stepping up productivity and simplicity, and adopting a strong performance focus.
“The new leadership team has embedded the action plan at pace. We have increased investment behind our 30 Power Brands, accelerated portfolio transformation, and are driving a sharper performance focus with clear and stretching targets across the whole organisation.
“We are at the early stages of this work and there is much to do but we are moving with speed and urgency to transform Unilever into a consistently higher performing business.”
Take a closer look at Hindustan Unilever – one of our best-performing businesses.
It’s the biggest market for four out of five of our business groups and contributed almost a fifth of Unilever’s total turnover last year. Take a closer look at our €12 billion business in North America.