It's a question of aesthetics

In 2006, Unilever decided again to take a long-term look at the future of its skin care category.

Gap in the market

lady applying face cream

During consumer research, an important insight emerged. People who were buying our anti-aging products were often also turning to laser therapy for treatments such as skin rejuvenation, acne and hair removal. In fact, the aesthetics market was exploding with more consumers trialing professionally administered light-based treatments and enjoying the results.

The challenge before us was clear: could we commercialize hand-held devices aimed at the home market to offer solutions that were intuitive, safe and pleasing to use, and that delivered benefits over and above our existing products.

Leading light

This was a new challenge in an area where we had no capability or experience. So we chose to partner Cynosure, a leading developer of light-based aesthetic treatment systems used by physicians to perform non- and minimally-invasive procedures.

We selected Cynosure for a number of reasons. We could leverage their extensive research into professional lasers. They put forward a hugely innovative and exciting proposal. And they agreed to develop a pipeline of devices in multiple benefit areas.

The perfect match

As President and CEO Michael Davin comments, "We view this as the first step in a meaningful long-term strategic relationship. Unilever’s world-class distribution, marketing and branding capabilities are second to none. With its global footprint, Unilever has the scale to launch and distribute products into the consumer market.”

Chief Research and Development Officer Genevieve Berger looks at it from Unilever’s perspective, “We decided to go with Cynosure for the company's ability to develop leading-edge technology that both delivers outstanding clinical results and emphasizes safety, which is essential for the consumer marketplace.”

Senior level buy-in

John Bartolone, Innovation Acceleration Director, sums up the key factors in the success of this process. “The partnership is a win-win for both companies. As partners we are genuinely working together and thinking about solutions from both sides. But more than that, the close and continued involvement of Unilever senior management in driving forward this initiative has been critical in light of the radical market that will need to be successfully established – one we expect to exceed $1 billion by 2012.”

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