Exploring the Factors Influencing Unilever’s Annual Performance

On February 8th, we unveiled our comprehensive results for the entirety of 2023, showcasing a notable upswing in financial performance marked by a return to volume growth and the gradual rebuilding of margins.

Our underlying sales growth surged by 7.0%, accompanied by a 0.2% increase in volume growth, while the underlying operating margin soared by 60 basis points to 16.7%. Notably, the underlying sales growth of our 30 Power Brands escalated by 8.6%.

Let’s delve into the key highlights of the results from each business group, shedding light on how innovation within our brands is propelling this performance.

Beauty & Wellbeing exhibited a robust performance throughout the year, with underlying sales climbing by 8.3%, evenly balanced between a 3.8% increase in price and a 4.4% rise in volume. Volume growth picked up momentum, reaching 6.3% in the fourth quarter, buoyed by substantial volumes in Hair Care and exceptionally strong volumes in Health & Wellbeing.

The full-year performance is a testament to sustained robust growth in Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing, which now collectively contribute a quarter of Beauty & Wellbeing’s turnover. Furthermore, successful relaunches of core Hair Care and Skin Care brands, driven by our cutting-edge science and technology capabilities, have been instrumental in this growth trajectory. These relaunches were bolstered by increased investment across key markets to amplify their superiority credentials.

Hair Care experienced mid-single digit growth through a combination of price and volume, with significant expansion in Latin America and Turkey. Sunsilk witnessed double-digit growth post a successful brand relaunch, while Clear experienced mid-single digit growth propelled by breakthrough innovation, including our first clinically proven anti-dandruff formula fortified with niacinamide concentrate.

Core Skin Care grew at a low-single digit rate, primarily driven by price. Vaseline recorded double-digit growth, surpassing €1 billion in turnover in 2023. Building upon the success of our Gluta-Hya range in South-East Asia, we expanded the platform with the introduction of serums and a Pro-Age range, tapping into broader consumer segments and newer markets such as India.

Our US-centric Prestige Beauty and Health & Wellbeing portfolios, cultivated through strategic bolt-on acquisitions over the years, continued to outpace the market, achieving double-digit growth for the year. This growth was buoyed by stellar performances from Hourglass, Dermalogica, and Paula’s Choice, which launched a Vitamin C range leveraging our core science and technology capabilities.

In Health & Wellbeing, both Liquid I.V. and Nutrafol delivered robust performances, with Liquid I.V. introducing sugar-free and kids variants to its range while expanding its global footprint beyond the US.

Personal Care witnessed an underlying sales growth of 8.9% for the year, with a balanced contribution from price and volume, driven by sustained strength in Deodorants. Notably, all three categories of Deodorants drove positive volumes in the fourth quarter.

The full-year growth in Personal Care was spearheaded by its Power Brands and science-backed innovations, offering functional benefits alongside enhanced health, hygiene, and superior skin cleansing. Marketing efforts were intensified, including strategic sponsorships such as our inaugural deal with FIFA.

Deodorants experienced double-digit growth, propelled by strong volume increases, particularly in Europe and Latin America. Rexona expanded its range of products with 72-hour sweat and odour protection technology across over 100 markets. Dove achieved double-digit growth with the successful launch of Dove Advanced Care for women and Dove Men+Care antiperspirant.

Skin Cleansing witnessed mid-single digit growth driven by positive volumes, with Lux experiencing double-digit growth due to enhanced skincare benefits from its ProGlow technology. In the US, Dove grew at a mid-single digit rate following its Body Wash relaunch featuring new packaging and 24-hour renewing MicroMoisture technology.

Oral Care achieved mid-single digit growth, primarily led by price. Closeup recorded double-digit growth, while Pepsodent expanded its premium offerings in therapeutics and whitening.

Overall, the Dove Personal Care portfolio achieved double-digit growth, with balanced contributions from price and volume increments, underscoring the robust performance across our diversified product offerings.

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