Speaking at the annual WWD Beauty CEO Summit, Lewis outlined the growth opportunity of delivering margin-accretive innovation and increasing the availability of Unilever Personal Care products by opening up new channels.
The ambition according to Lewis, is to continue to build a more premium portfolio of Personal Care brands, while still growing the business at the bottom of the pyramid. Unilever Personal Care has annual sales of around €20 billion.
“We built our success by making our products accessible to billions of people around the world. But the opportunity to think up through the pyramid is clear, the case to build a more premium portfolio compelling,” he said.
“We are therefore making beauty as much a part of our Personal Care business as the need for cleanliness and the bars of soap that helped build the foundation of our business.”
This ethos has seen the Anglo-Dutch giant acquire Alberto Culver three years ago developing upscale brands Toni & Guy and TIGI; before extending its premium portfolio in Skin, with the recent investment in Ioma.
According to Lewis, Unilever has put a big focus on business integration to build the Personal Care division, and this is being applied to product development.
Lewis explained that Unilever is leveraging its R&D expertise and capabilities across categories to deliver innovation; and although he didn’t elaborate, he hinted at developments in the near future.
In his talk, there was also a mention of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and the importance for consumer companies to address these issues.
Lewis called on the industry to look at the overall environmental impact of the products, from primary sourcing of raw materials to after consumer use, and highlighted in particular the work that Unilever is already doing to reduce the impact of sourcing, packaging and water.