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Unilever Builds Another Brand, Love Beauty and Planet

Love Beauty and Planet is a sustainability play for young consumers, launching in wide mass distribution in January.

Unilever is at it again — building a new personal-care brand designed for young consumers in the U.S. market, that is.

Love Beauty and Planet, a line of hair care, styling and body-care products developed with sustainable packaging and ingredients, will rollout to U.S. mass and drug retailers in January.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant has made headlines during the past few years for its persistent string of acquisitions in both its personal-care and prestige beauty portfolios — the latest is Sundial Brands, announced in November.

But Unilever is not just acquiring brands — it is building them as well, and Love Beauty and Planet is the second to launch in the U.S. market. Last month, WWD reported first that the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant will in January rollout ApotheCare Essentials — a botanical-based hair and body cleansing line, incubated by a small, start-up-style team in less than a year at its U.S. headquarters — to a mix of drugstore and e-commerce retailers in the U.S. The line is already available at CVS.

While ApotheCare is a masstige play targeted at Millennials shopping mostly on e-retailers such as Amazon and Birchbox, Love Beauty and Planet is said to be launching with a much wider mass, drug and grocery distribution. Unilever would not comment on door count.

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Love Beauty and Planet connects back to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, which is the company’s blueprint for reducing its environmental impact. It’s also a play for younger consumers who are interested in brands committed to sustainability.

“Love Beauty and Planet is at the heart of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,” said Piyush Jain, Unilever’s vice president of hair care in North America. Jain oversaw the development of both ApotheCare Essentials and Love Beauty and Planet. “It was similar to ApotheCare in that we crafted a small team [of four to five people] — the intent was the same. Let’s find the [white] space, let’s find people who are passionate about it and let’s craft this very quickly.”

From 100 percent recyclable packaging to ethically sourced fragrances and a proprietary technology designed to reduce conditioner rinse time, the line aims to hit on several notes when it comes to sustainability. The pastel-floral-tinged, feminine packaging is targeted squarely at the young Millennial consumer the line is aiming to attract, Jain said. “Even the visual language — using a heart and ampersand [instead of words] is very ‘in’ with our consumer. We know the Millennial consumer is excited about this space — they want to do good, but they want to smile and take a selfie while doing good.”

Love Beauty and Planet consists of 18 stockkeeping units, including shampoo, conditioner, styling products like a hair oil and dry shampoo, as well as body wash and scrubs. There is also a Showerless cleansing mist, which is designed to act like a dry shampoo for the body by cleansing without using water.

The outer packaging is designed to be completely recyclable — Jain cited a statistic that only 31 percent of recyclable bottles in the U.S. that make it to recycling plants actually get recycled, many of them due to having labels that will not come off. So Unilever developed a label designed to withstand showering, but that would come off with heat applied at recycling facilities. The line’s conditioners are formulated with a proprietary Fast-Rinse technology, designed to rinse out of hair in under 10 seconds, allowing for less water to be used in the shower.

Love Beauty and Planet also harnesses ingredients that are plant-based ingredients, Jain said. Most of the products are based in 100 percent organic coconut oil, and Unilever partnered with Givaudan to scent the line with ethically sourced fragrances, such as Bulgarian rose.

Unilever will launch a social and digital campaign with microinfluencers around Love Beauty and Planet in January. The brand also partnered with Ashoka, an organization that supports social entrepreneurs, to identify brand ambassadors. Eschewing television advertising is unusual for Unilever, said Jain, but a key part of the Love Beauty and Planet marketing strategy.

“The consumer we’re talking to would rather discover a brand like this — she likes the sense of journey around discovering the brand, instead of [us] screaming out loud to her. We want this brand to be discovered on a treasure hunt that she shares with her friend, versus a big manufacturer announcing it big on TV.”