Until the early 2000s, Unilever's operations in the US consisted of several separate businesses operating more or less independently from one another. During that decade, however, the group steadily streamlined its structure to create a single operating entity, better able to negotiate effectively with retailers. Unilever's unified US portfolio now houses mainly global giants such as Dove, Axe, Tresemme, Hellmann's and Ben & Jerry's alongside a dwindling group of local jewels like Suave haircare, Degree deodorants and Breyers and Popsicle ice creams. Ice cream remains a particular strong point in the US; Unilever overtook longtime local champ Nestlé in the mid 2010s and has steadily widened its lead. Euromonitor estimated almost 21% local share in 2019 to Nestlé's 15%. Numerous other food brands - including Slim-fast, Skippy, Ragu and Wish-Bone and most recently the entire margarine portfolio - have been sold, along with what were once two core businesses. Oral care products including Pepsodent and Mentadent were divested in 2003; followed by the laundry division, including All, Wisk and Snuggle, in 2008. The group has mostly exited the US home care sector in the US altogether, although it acquired the Seventh Generation eco-friendly home cleaning business in 2016, which still operates as a standalone entity. Instead, it has focused primarily on bolstering its personal care profile with the acquisition of Alberto Culver in 2010. The Culver deal, as well as aggressive expansion of Dove, significantly elevated Unilever's local personal care business, especially in haircare. It overtook P&G in 2016 to become #2 in US hair behind L'Oreal. More recently Unilever has expanded its personal portfolio with a succession of different premium and prestige beauty and skincare brands, most of which are sold primarily in the US. These include Living Proof, Schmidt's Naturals, Tatcha and others. Another big bolt-on was Unilever's first venture into shaving products with Dollar Shave Club. Fabian Garcia succeeded Amanda Sourry as president, Unilever North America in Jan 2020. See also main Unilever profile.
Capsule checked 26th June 2020
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Historical profile information for Unilever USA
Adbrands Daily Update 26th Nov 2020: Unilever strengthened its position in the US vitamins sector with a deal to acquire SmartyPants, a maker of natural mineral and vitamin supplements based in Los Angeles. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The new purchase joins premium-priced vitamin and supplement brand Olly Nutrition, acquired by Unilever in 2019.
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2019: Unilever made another addition to its premium skincare portfolio with a deal to acquire Asian-influenced Tatcha. Price tag was reported to be in the region of $500m. Headquartered in San Francisco, the brand is sold primarily through online channels.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: Unilever added yet another brand to its increasingly voluminous US-based beauty portfolio. Specialist deodorant and body wash manufacturer Schmidt's Naturals uses - as the same suggests - only natural ingredients in its products, no chemical additives. This has become one of the US market's hottest segments; P&G acquired rival natural deo producer Native last month. Schmidt's sells sold mostly direct to consumer online or through selected outlets of Target and Kroger. No terms were disclosed, but Schmidt's is expected to hit $90m in revenues next year. Unilever has been on a buying streak in the beauty market recently. This year alone, it has completed deals for beauty and personal care manufacturers Sundial Brands, Carver, Hourglass Cosmetics and Living Proof, and launched a string of new brands and line extensions.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Dec 2017: Unilever's latest move in the US beauty sector is not another acquisition - it has made several in the past couple of years - but two brand new launches developed inhouse. Love Beauty and Planet is a line of hair care, styling and body-care products made with sustainable packaging and ingredients, rolling out early next year through mass and drug retailers. Meanwhile, botanical-based hair and body cleansing line ApotheCare Essentials, is already on-sale through CVS pharmacies and will be extended to other drugstore retailers and e-commerce channels in January. Both have been overseen by Piyush Jain, Unilever's VP, North America hair care, and are being given a soft launch with only limited advertising. "The consumer we're talking to would rather discover a brand like this," said Jain. "She likes the sense of journey around discovering the brand, instead of [us] screaming out loud to her. We want this brand to be discovered on a treasure hunt that she shares with her friend, versus a big manufacturer announcing it big on TV."
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Mar 2017: Hershey's incoming CEO Michele Buck raided Unilever USA to recruit its EVP, customer development Todd Tillemans as president. Hershey is also looking to appoint a chief growth officer to oversee strategy and marketing excellence. Tillemans' move sparked a round of musical chairs at Unilever. Current UK & Ireland leader Gina Boswell will move back to the US to succeed Tillemans. She is replaced in turn as UK CEO by Sebastian Munden, previously EVP, global marketing operations. Separately, Unilever's EVP global haircare Laurent Kleitman is moving to Coty to become president, consumer beauty.
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