Unilever has decided to use the mindset of a start-up to pursue its plan of delivering a natural and premium hair care and skin cleansing line of products.

 The company’s first new brand of its kind in the preceding few decades is called ApotheCARE Essentials, and it is targeting the constantly growing number of consumers who are looking for natural beauty products.

The firm grouped together around 5 people in a team whose duty is to develop and launch the hair and skin care brand in just more than a year.

According to Unilever’s vice president of hair care Piyush Jain, the creation and development of a new product normally needs around 20 people and two to three years. Jain is also a founding member of ApotheCARE Essentials.

Unilever and other bigger companies, like Procter & Gamble, are being pressured because of smaller brands that are attracting more consumers, who are craving for new, natural, and premium products. It has also recently reported slumping sales in its troublesome third quarter.

In addition to that, these companies are also trying to sidestep criticisms and accusations of a sprawling corporate structure that encourages bureaucracy, thus hindering innovation.

“The marketplace is evolving so rapidly and there are so many different business models and new brands coming in. It’s exciting that we as Unilever are piloting some of the new trends and even leading the trends,” said Jain.

A Combination Of Nature And Technology

Matthew Seal, a Unilever biochemist and a founding team member of ApotheCARE Essentials, said that their team has already analyzed the company’s portfolio and found out that its existing brands (such as TRESemme and Dove, among others) were failing to cater a growing number of customers, who are searching for better natural products.


The team created ApotheCARE Essential’s 18 products using a three-step process.

Initially, the research and development team had to choose from its six base ingredients and four fragrances.

Afterwards, they used a technique called phytoextraction. This process basically bursts plants open in a manner similar to a water balloon in order to release the necessary ingredients. Through a process called slow infusion, they mixed and blended the ingredients while controlling time and temperature.

When it comes to the packaging and design, the labels show images of the base and fragrance ingredients that were used in the formulas. The design’s goal is to stress ApotheCARE’s blending of nature and science, while attempting to attract consumers.

The target customers are those women who are aware how they look and obsess over improving their hair and skin a little bit every day, according to Seal.

“She has a reverence for technology and understands it has a role to play along with nature,” said Seal, referring to the target customer. “She isn’t going back to making it yourself in the kitchen, and knows that isn’t necessarily a solution for beauty. She believes in the scientific method.”

Expected To Be A Core Brand

Jain says that he currently has expectations that ApotheCARE Essentials will become one of the company’s core brands, although he refused to say how much revenue the brand expects to generate.

Additionally, it also gives the firm a blueprint that will help it to rapidly develop other brands.

“We’ve obviously learned a lot in the crafting of this and we can leverage some of what we learned here,” said Jain. “There will always be a combination of doing things fast and entrepreneurial and also doing things traditional to match the rigor with what we launch with the resources out behind it and testing it.”

However, Seal said that they will not start randomly launching brands just because the company now sports the experience of creating an idea and taking to the market a little over a year.

In making decisions, the company will still depend on what the consumers need, and how the company addresses them.

“We’ll always develop technology, and sometimes we’ll get a golden egg,” said Seal. “We can’t always radicalize the core of our portfolio, but we’ll always work to improve those brands and occasionally get something like ApotheCARE.”

ApotheCARE products are set to hit the drugstores and Amazon starting January 1.

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