Unilever wants to double direct-to-consumer premium product sales

Consumer goods giant Unilever is planning to boost the e-commerce presence of its premium brands and sell directly to consumers, its chief executive said this week.


Dove

The company, whose portfolio includes beauty brands including St. Yves, Tresemmé, Tony & Guy and Dove, is reportedly moving into the more upmarket beauty arena with rumours pointing to a potential acquisition of Space NK.

Currently, direct-to-consumer sales account for just 5% of Unilever’s revenues. The majority of its products are sold in supermarkets and multi-brand retailers, like Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

But according to CEO Paul Polman, there is no reason why direct-to-consumer sales could not be doubled. The company is using the subscription model of its Dollar Shave Club, which sells shaving razors, foams and gels online, to learn for this next step.

“Every shopping journey now has a digital component,” he told The Daily Mail.

“We’ve learnt a lot from Dollar Shave Club. We’ve been able to take that knowledge and expand it to other parts of the business, like our premium tea business T2.

“We are now also seeing our online business taking off… and with our prestige businesses we see more opportunities to go direct to consumers.”

Last year, Unilever acquired three prestige businesses, including Korean skincare business Carver, New York-based beauty and personal care products company Sundial Brands and American deodorant and soap brand Schmidt’s Naturals.

Additionally, it introduced new premium skincare formats such as aerosol mousse, which was launched across five brands and Dove Exfoliating Body Polish in North America. In the first half of 2018, the group’s prestige business reported growth of more than 6%.

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