What’s behind Unilever’s solid third quarter results?
A quick look at the brands, categories and innovations driving our underlying sales growth for the third quarter of 2023.
On 26 October, we announced our results for the third quarter of 2023, which reflected a solid performance: underlying sales were up 5.2%, with 5.8% price growth and a 0.6% volume decline.
Our billion+ euro brands, which account for 56% of Group turnover, delivered underlying sales growth of 7.2%, led by strong performances from Dove, Hellmann’s, Rexona and Sunsilk.
Here’s a look at the results highlights from each business group, and how innovation from our brands is driving performance.
Beauty & Wellbeing
In Beauty & Wellbeing, the Hair Care category grew mid-single digit, mainly through price, with strong performances in South Asia and Latin America. Sunsilk grew double-digit, helped by a successful relaunch based on a new Activ-infusion formulation with the power of oils, vitamins and proteins. In Japan, we launched the premium Nexxus brand which combines professional salon heritage with molecular protein science.
Core Skin Care grew mid-single digit, with strong growth from Vaseline. In North Asia, AHC declined double-digit as we continue the channel reset for the brand.
Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing continued to grow strongly. In Prestige, growth was driven by Dermalogica, Tatcha and Hourglass where we launched a luxurious skin tint that also boosts hydration. In Health & Wellbeing, Nutrafol grew strongly and Liquid IV continued to perform well with range extensions into sugar-free and kids hydration solutions.
In Personal Care, the Deodorants category grew double-digit, driven by strong performances in Latin America and Europe. Rexona continued its strong growth trajectory, building on the success of its 72-hour sweat and odour protection technology and Axe grew well, supported by its new fine fragrance collection.
Skin Cleansing grew mid-single digit, with volumes returning to positive growth. Lux grew strongly and in South-East Asia, we relaunched Lifebuoy based on a new formulation with multivitamins to fight dangerous germs. The Dove Personal Care portfolio delivered double-digit growth, driven by a strong deodorants performance.
Oral Care grew high single-digit with Pepsodent and Closeup growing double-digit.
In Home Care, the Fabric Cleaning category grew mid-single digit driven by Latin America and South-East Asia. In Asia, we relaunched OMO with a formulation that is powered by naturally derived stain removers through our Easylift™ technology. In Europe, pricing was offset by a volume decline. We introduced the premium OMO ultimate liquids range, delivering our most superior stain removal that attacks the toughest stains while being kinder to the planet.
Fabric Enhancers grew mid-single digit, driven by price and strong double-digit growth in Turkey.
The Air Wellness business declined double-digit as consumer demand remained muted.
In Nutrition, the Scratch Cooking Aids category grew high single-digit, driven by price and positive volumes. Growth was driven by South-East Asia as well as Africa, where innovations such as Knorr stock cubes fortified with iodine and zinc help address malnutrition.
Dressings grew high single-digit, with double-digit price growth. Negative volumes were impacted by challenging market conditions in Europe and lapping a strong comparator in the US. Hellmann’s grew strongly as we continued the roll-out of our vegan and flavoured mayonnaise range while leveraging the ‘make taste not waste’ campaign.
Unilever Food Solutions continued to perform well and grew high single-digit with positive volume and price.
In-home Ice Cream declined mid-single digit, with double-digit volume decline partially offset by price. Our volumes continued to be impacted by lower consumption due to the discretionary nature of the category, with private label gaining share.
Out-of-home Ice Cream grew low single-digit, with positive price growth partially offset by negative volume. Magnum’s Starchaser and Sunlover limited edition innovation continued to perform well and in South-East Asia we launched Wall’s bites under the Heart brand, with bite-sized portions promoting sharing occasions. Turkey, a large out-of-home Ice Cream market, grew very strongly.
Alongside the results announcement, CEO Hein Schumacher set out an action plan to drive growth and unlock potential.
“Unilever is a company with strong fundamentals: a portfolio of great brands used by 3.4 billion people each day, number one or two category positions across 80% of its turnover, an unrivalled global footprint and a team of talented people,” says Hein.
“Despite these strengths, our performance in recent years has not matched our potential. The quality of our growth, productivity and returns have all under-delivered.
“Today we are setting out our action plan to close this gap. We will drive faster growth by stepping up innovation and investment behind our Power Brands; we will drive simplicity and productivity, leveraging the full strength of our operating model; and we will sharpen our performance culture through strong leadership and stretching goals.
“I am excited about what we can achieve by delivering on these three priorities, as we focus on unlocking Unilever’s full potential in the months and years ahead.”