In its operational review, the company blamed ‘intense competition’ for its slowdown, with revenue increasing 3.1% on an underlying basis - just half of that which it recorded last year.
“The slower growth in the third quarter reflects intense competition in many of our markets as well as the effect of a strong comparator last year,” Unilever explains.
Strengths in the portfolio
Unilever has been quick to point out where its brands are doing well within personal care, despite the overall slowing growth. It pins these successes on innovation and focus on higher end lines.
“Personal Care continued to grow the core of our brands through innovations while extending into more premium segments,” the company confirmed.
In deodorants, it picked out its Rexona brand as a particular success, noting that it now retails in 40 countries. It also noted that dry sprays in North America continue to perform well.
Across hair, the company states that its Sunsilk relaunch appears to have been successful, and its TRESemmé ‘Beauty-Full Volume’ range is proving popular.
In skin care, the company picked out Simple as its success story, pinning this on its innovations within the ever-popular naturals segment.
Around the world
Unilever says its performance across the globe has been up against various external pressures, and notes it has performed best in North America during this third quarter.
“In North America growth improved further supported by strong innovations in deodorants, dressings and ice cream. Hair performed well in a highly competitive environment while the rate of decline in spreads has slowed.”
Latin America also proved a successful market for the company, with growth there ahead of its markets despite a tough comparator of last year.
However, in Asia and Europe, the company has faced tougher market conditions. In Europe, the company explains, “high promotional intensity adversely impacted our Home Care and Personal Care performances”.
In Asia, Unilever’s slowed growth was due to it “reflecting weaker market growth”.
“Sales in China were slightly down due to intense price competition from local brands in laundry and some destocking related to the continued rapid channel shift to e-commerce,” the company notes.