UNILEVER SAYS NO TO ‘NORMAL’ WITH NEW POSITIVE BEAUTY VISION

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London: Unilever Company announced it will eliminate the word ‘normal’ from all of our beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising including Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe and Sunsilk, as part of the launch of our new Positive Beauty vision and strategy, which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet.

The decision to remove ‘normal’ is one of many steps that Unilever is taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals, as it works 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 countries. 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, said: “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 is 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.

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. 

Unilever’s deciosn to remove ‘normal’ from our packaging and advertising is just one action within the set of commitments it has made to create real and measurable impact such as Helping to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030, in addition to Supporting a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.

Positive Beauty will also accelerate Unilever’s science and technology programmes and innovation partnerships, driving the continued transformation of how its products are designed and formulated to become more people and planet positive. This includes developing tailored products to serve the diverse needs of people around the world, delivering real and meaningful consumer benefits, backed by cutting-edge science. Innovation will also advance the use of more natural, biodegradable, and regenerative ingredients – alongside continued packaging innovations that use less, better or no plastic.

Sarah Degnan Kambou, President of the International Center for Research on Women said: “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.” 

Positive Beauty follows the launch of Clean Future, the sustainable business strategy of Unilever’s Home Care Division in September 2020, and Future Foods, the sustainable business strategy of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division in November 2020. 

The Positive Beauty vision and actions build on Unilever’s recent global commitments to build a more equitable and inclusive society by raising living standards across its value chain and creating more opportunities for under-represented groups, and the longstanding Unstereotype initiative, which seeks to eradicate stereotypes from the advertising industry.  They also complement existing actions being taken across Unilever to tackle plastic waste and support the company’s investment in a €1 billion Climate & Nature Fund, which aims to tackle a range of environmental issues, including water preservation, landscape restoration, reforestation and wildlife protection.   

Research methodology

Unilever conducted a global study to investigate people’s experiences and expectations of the beauty industry, and to uncover the positive actions that can be taken to foster a more globally inclusive beauty culture. The research consisted of a 25-minute online survey and covered 10,000 respondents in total across 9 countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UK and the USA. The sample comprised of 1,000 adults (2,000 adults in the USA) aged 18+ representative of the country’s online demographic. 

About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world – including iconic global brands like Dove, Lifebuoy, Knorr, Magnum, OMO and Surf; and other brands such as Love Beauty & Planet, Hourglass, Seventh Generation and The Vegetarian Butcher. 

Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of our founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago, and it’s at the heart of how we run our company today. 

The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while: 

– improving the health of the planet;  

– improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and  

– contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world. 

While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognised in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth-consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.