Unilever unveils new vision and strategy embracing inclusivity
Unilever has announced it will eliminate the word ‘normal’ from all of its beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising, as part of the launch of our new Positive Beauty vision and strategy.
Positive Beauty, which sets out several progressive commitments and actions for the beauty and personal care brands, including Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe and Sunsilk, will champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet.
Using Unilever’s world class innovation and technology, Positive Beauty will also help to drive a transformation in how our products are designed and formulated so that they do more good for both people and the planet, deliver a superior product experience, and tap into consumer trends.
The decision to remove ‘normal’ is one of many steps that we are taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals, as we work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty. It comes as global research into people’s experiences of the beauty industry reveals that using ‘normal’ to describe hair or skin makes most people feel excluded.
The 10,000-person study, which was commissioned by Unilever, was conducted across nine countries1. It found that:
More than half of people (56%) think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.
People want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better, than just looking better (74%).
More than half of people (52%) say they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.
Seven in ten people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – this rises to eight in ten.
Sunny Jain, President Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever: “With one billion people using our beauty and personal care products every day, and even more seeing our advertising, our brands have the power to make a real difference to people’s lives. As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty. We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward. It’s just one of a number of actions we are taking as part of our Positive Beauty vision, which aims not only to do less harm, but more good for both people and the planet.
With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business.”
In addition to removing the word ‘normal’, Unilever will not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are under-represented.
At the heart of the delivery of these commitments will be Unilever’s beauty and personal care brands, many of which have a track record of delivering impactful programs and purpose-led growth. More of our beauty and personal care brands will join the likes of Dove, Lifebuoy, Vaseline and Sunsilk by taking action on social and environmental challenges and advocating for the evolution of norms, policies and laws.
Sarah Degnan Kambou, President, International Center for Research on Women: “Every day, we see and hear messages about how to ‘fit in’, how to be included in very narrow definitions of what is ‘normal’. In order to champion equity, we need to challenge these restrictive ‘norms’ and create societies and communities that celebrate diversity – and the unique qualities and ideas that each person brings. Beauty is no exception. We look forward to seeing Unilever advance these commitments and hold themselves to the high standards they have set out before them.”
Consumers increasingly expect brands to take a stand on the issues they care most about. Unilever’s brands perceived as more purposeful grew more than twice as fast as the rest of the portfolio in 2020. The company’s research further supports this trend, with the majority of people (69%) saying they will recommend a beauty brand to their friends and family if it caters to a wide range of skin and hair types, while half of respondents would pay more for these products.