The US is Unilever's biggest global market by far, with sales in excess of $10.5bn (or €9.4bn) in 2020. (The next biggest is India at €5bn, followed by China at €3bn). 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. Local share in 2020 was 24% to Nestlé's 20%. 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, the group has focused primarily on bolstering its personal care profile, through acquisitions such as 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 and is now joint leader in US hair, neck and neck with L'Oreal, each on around 25% share. It is also the local leader in deodorants with 47% share to P&G's 40%. 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. Personal Care & Beauty products now account for more than half of local sales, or a combined total of around $5.7bn. Ice cream alone contributed another $3.4bn. 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
Marketer Moves 26th Aug 2021: New CMO at Dollar Shave Club. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Update 15th Jun 2021: Unilever's high-end beauty acquisition spree continued with a deal to add Paula's Choice skincare. No terms were disclosed but several media outlets including WWD reported a figure of $2bn. Founded by Paula Begoun in 1995, and based in Seattle, Washington, the brand is sold worldwide mainly through direct-to-consumer channels, though it is also stocked in select prestige retailers in North America, Europe and Asia.
Adbrands Update 27th Apr 2021: Unilever added to its vitamins and supplements portfolio with a deal to acquire holistic health and wellness company Onnit for an undisclosed sum. Based in Austin, Texas, the company produces a wide range of supplements designed to improve cognitive function, mood and relaxation, gut health and immunity support. "Onnit is a leading brand in the fast-growing nootropics segment," said Peter ter Kulve, Unilever's president of home care, health & wellbeing. "With its holistic health offering and digital-first model, Onnit perfectly complements our growing portfolio of innovative wellness and supplement brands that include OLLY, Equilibra, Liquid IV, and SmartyPants Vitamins."
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.
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