Unilever will introduce new testing methods for its 30 "power brands" in the first half of this year.
In its full-year results for 2023, Unilever outlined a "quantitative methodology" designed to measure how much its brands appealed to people. It said the testing would be conducted "across multiple dimensions" in "key geographies" to help it identify "performance gaps and improve competitiveness".
Unilever raised investment in brand and marketing by 1.3 percentage points to 14.3% of gross margin in 2023, focused on the power brands. It will continue supporting the brands this year through “incremental brand and marketing investment”.
These brands represent around three-quarters of Unilever’s turnover, and include Ben & Jerry’s, Cornetto, Dove, Hellmann's and Magnum.
Underlying sales for the power brands were up 8.6% year on year, while total underlying sales grew 7%.
Sales were boosted by higher prices, which rose by 6.8%, and selling more products, with volumes up 0.2%.
But turnover for 2023 was down 0.8% year on year to $64.22 billion. Underlying operating profit rose 2.6% to $10.45 billion.
Hein Schumacher, chief executive of Unilever, who took up the role in July last year, unveiled the power brands in October alongside a Growth Action Plan with a mantra of “fewer things, done better, with greater impact”.
Schumacher said the latest results showed “an improving financial performance”, with the “return to volume growth and margins rebuilding. However, our competitiveness remains disappointing and overall performance needs to improve.
“We are working to address this by improving our execution to unlock Unilever's full potential. We have increased investment behind our 30 power brands, accelerated portfolio transformation, and are driving a sharper performance focus with clear and stretching targets across the whole organisation. We are at the early stages of this work and there is much to do, but we are moving with speed and urgency to transform Unilever into a consistently higher performing business.”
Unilever's chief marketer Conny Braams, chief digital and commercial officer, stepped down from her role last August and was replaced in October by Esi Eggleston Bracey, who took on the new job title of chief growth and marketing officer.