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Unilever seduces women with personal care products

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Consumer goods manufacturer is expanding its personal care segment in Kenya and the regional market as part of its global strategy to diversify its business.

The company, which has recently introduced two hair care brands East Africa, is betting on improving economic growth in Kenya and the region to expand its market share.

Globally, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods manufacturer has been in the hair business through the Tresemme and Sunsilk products. In East Africa, it has introduced TCB and Motions hair products.

“The opportunity for hair is growing in Kenya and East Africa,” says Ms Debra Mallowah, Unilever’s Vice President for Africa in charge of the Personal Care division. “African women view their hair as the crown and they need solutions to their hair problems.”

Ms Mallowah says women form a significant part of Unilever’s customer segment as they control personal care shopping in most households. The company is banking on women economic empowerment to drive up sales revenue. According to the Ernst & Young’s Growing Beyond – High Achievers report, women now earn $13 trillion around the world.

In five years’ time, this will go up to $18 trillion.  In 2028, women are expected to control three-quarters of the world’s discretionary spending and the female consumer is increasingly seen as a growth market for most brands.

She said that besides changing income status due to improving economic fortunes in the region, women still form are an influential constituency in the personal care market, which accounts for 37 per cent of the company’s overall global turnover.

Its Personal Care business has been growing significantly over the same period from a low of 28 per cent to a high of 37 per cent, underlining its strong potential. “There is no doubt that personal care is the next big thing globally and in the region, with the ever rising population and changing income status. East Africa alone has 142 million people,” said Mrs Mallowah.

The consumer goods giant’s priority, she said, is to produce personal care products that cut across all segments of the society and whose use is more of a necessity than a luxury as it is common with beauty products.

“Personal care has a strategic role for us in Africa and Kenya as the East Africa hub and we strive to reach wide, up and down,” she said.

As part of the shifting strategy, the global giant recently acquired Camay and Zest soap brands from Procter & Gamble and is already eyeing the purchase of British premium brand, REN Skincare. The changing strategy is also set to incorporate herbal products, majorly targeting the health conscious clientele.

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