Unilever will stop calling certain hair and skin types 'normal' in inclusivity push

9March 2021

The consumer goods giant announced Tuesday that it would no longer use the term to describe certain physical characteristics on its packaging for beauty and personal care products, which include Rexona deodorants and Sunsilk shampoos.
The company says the move “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.”
Unilever (UL) is one of the world’s biggest retail suppliers, with 2.5 billion customers in more than 190 countries.
in a statement, it said that a recent study it commissioned and conducted found that “seven in ten [respondents] 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.”
More than half of those surveyed also said that “they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products,” Unilever added.
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“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,” Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty and personal care, said in the company’s statement.
“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward.”
By the company’s own account, it still has more work to do.
Unilever also said Tuesday that it would no longer “digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin color in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are underrepresented.”
Businesses around the world have been increasingly rebranding in response to demands from customers to be more inclusive. Last year, many major companies renamed or retired products, including Quaker Oats with its Aunt Jemima brand in the United States and Nestlé with its Red Skins and Chicos sweets in Australia.
Unilever has been no exception. Last year, its Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever, removed the word “Fair” from its “Fair & Lovely” skincare brand after complaints.
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The company acknowledged in a statement at the time that it had previously played up “the benefits of fairness, whitening and skin lightening” while marketing its products. The brand is now called “Glow & Lovely.”
Competitors, including L’Oreal (LRLCF) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), also said they would rename or discontinue some of their skincare brands in India for similar reasons.
Unilever has worked to diversify its product lines by partnering with minority-run businesses in recent years. In 2017, for instance, the company made headlines for its acquisition of Sundial Brands, the Black-owned maker of SheaMoisture and other popular skin and hair care brands.

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