Social commerce innovation: Unilever unveils beauty startup collaboration platform

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever wants to team up with innovators in the field of social commerce, specifically livestreaming, shoppable media and gaming to drive in-house innovation across its brands [Getty Images]
Unilever wants to team up with innovators in the field of social commerce, specifically livestreaming, shoppable media and gaming to drive in-house innovation across its brands [Getty Images]

Related tags: Unilever, startups, Indie beauty, Innovation, sustainable beauty, social commerce, beauty tech, livestreaming

Personal care major Unilever has launched a collaboration initiative to partner with forward-thinking beauty startups, scaleups and entrepreneurs specialised in social commerce to drive next-generation in-house innovation across its portfolio of brands.

The ‘Positive Beauty Growth’ platform was being led by Unilever’s beauty and personal care division with its flagship Dove and Love Beauty & Planet brands and The Unilever Foundry – the company’s collaborative innovation network that had already piloted more than 400 startup projects to date, including work with AI-powered skin care engine HelloAva. Via the latest collaboration platform, Unilever wanted to partner with startups, scaleups and entrepreneurs specialised in social commerce – a category set to pull in €2,912bn ($3,370bn) by 2028, with beauty and personal care growing at a CAGR of over 30% between 2021-2028, according to Grand View Research.

Livestream commerce, shoppable media and gaming commerce

“To bring this growth opportunity to life, the Positive Beauty Growth platform is especially interested in partnering with entrepreneurs, from seed startups to late-stage scaleups, in the field of livestream commerce, shoppable media, group buying and gaming commerce,”​ Unilever said.

It said beauty startup and entrepreneur partners would be selected towards the end of November 2021 following a series of pitch competitions and challenges. Submissions for those interested in joining the platform opened this week and were set to close on October 19, 2021.

Unilever said successful teams would be given the opportunity to “pilot their idea” ​in collaboration with some of the company’s leading global brands.

A two-way relationship with the global startup community

Sunny Jain, president of beauty and personal care at Unilever, said collaboration in the “mega-trends of the future” ​was a “strategic imperative for Unilever”.

“Building a thriving two-way relationship with the global startup community helps power innovation and experimentation, deliver business solutions and fuel growth. The Positive Beauty Growth Platform has been designed to do just that,”​ Jain said.

Importantly, the company said its collaboration initiative aligned with its wider ‘Positive Beauty’ vision – unveiled earlier this year​ – that aimed to create a beauty industry that was “equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet”.

“Using Unilever’s world-class science, technology programmes and innovation partnerships, Positive Beauty is also helping to drive a transformation in how our products are designed and marketed so that they do more good for both people and the planet, deliver a superior product experience, and tap into consumer trends,” ​Unilever said.

Jain added: “By harnessing startups’ disruptive approach, we will help future-proof our brands by pioneering into new spaces shaping the beauty industry.”

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