Stepping up: HUL’s beauty and personal care innovations offset slump of winter skin care

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

HUL's Vaseline sales impacted by delayed winter season. [Vaseline]
HUL's Vaseline sales impacted by delayed winter season. [Vaseline]

Related tags India financial results Skin care Hindustan unilever

Unilever subsidiary Hindustan Unilever (HUL) says that its beauty and personal care business has grown thanks to new product launches, which helped to mitigate the slump of its winter skin care line-up.

For the three months ending December 2022, HUL reported that its beauty and personal care division​, which consists of brands such as Dove, Lakmé, and Vaseline, grew by 10% to INR5,718cr (USD696m).

It was initially impacted by the delayed winter season in India. According to India’s meteorological department, the country recorded its warmest December in 122 years.

This affected the sales of winter skin care portfolio, led primarily by Vaseline.

“Vaseline is a big brand that sells in winter, where the sales definitely shoot up. That was impacted because the winter was very slow in coming in December,”​ said Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and managing director of HUL.

Recent beauty innovations

However, it was buoyed primarily by the skin cleansing category. It showed strong double-digit growth with volumes growing in mid-single digit, helped to boost sales.

The Mumbai-based outfit highlighted key launches in the category, such as St Ives’ scrub soap range, an exfoliating soap bar that features ingredients such as coconut water, aloe vera, and walnuts. It also launched a new Lifebuoy soup with neem and aloe vera.

Furthermore, it launched a new range of Lakmé serums with ingredients such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and pro-retinol.

Hair care delivered high single-digit growth in the quarter, in part due to the launch of TRESemmé’s salon-inspired shampoo range.

“TRESemmé has launched a new salon-inspired keratin range of shampoo, conditioner and serum which is enriched with bond plex technology, our latest innovation that goes deep inside to repair broken hair bonds and make hair up to 20 times stronger,” ​said Ritesh Tiwari, CFO.

The company said this “continued focus on innovation”​ and its concentration on “emerging and on-trend demand spaces”​, helped products in the non-winter portfolio deliver double-digit growth.

“Our innovations and future formats such as mask and serums continue to gain consumer relevance,”​ said Tiwari

HUL cuts soap prices

HUL confirmed that it reduced prices of soaps this quarter, as palm oil prices softened by 30% vs December 2021.

According to local media reports, HUL reduced the prices of soaps from brands such as Lifebuoy and Lux in October 2022, just before the Diwali celebrations.

Last August, HUL reported seeing “extremely unprecedented levels” of inflation in the soap category​, which presented a significant challenge for the firm.

According to Tiwari, the soap inflation caused the company to lose market share in the overall fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.

“We have 5% to 6% volume decline of market, FMCG market, in June quarter and categories like soap are a good contributor to that decline; just the sheer amount of inflation which has happened.”

HUL revenue grew 16% to INR14,986cr (USD182m) for the third quarter of its 2022/23 financial year. Net profit rose 11.6% year-on-year to INR2,505cr (USD305m).

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