Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Unilever Lathers Up

An ambitious restructuring program, marketing, and a dandruff shampoo may take the consumer-goods company all the way to the top

In recent years, Unilever (UL), the world's second-largest consumer-products company, has been overshadowed and outmaneuvered by nimbler and more aggressive rivals, including market leader Proctor & Gamble (PG). But now the once-sleepy Anglo-Dutch maker of Lipton tea, Dove soap, Knorr soups, and Surf detergent is challenging its Cincinnati-based competitor in a category the latter practically owns: antidandruff shampoo.

Sounds a bit mundane, but the battle against flaky scalps is very big business. Analysts figure antidandruff formulas account for half of the annual $40 billion global shampoo market. And the biggest opportunity lies in emerging markets, where antidandruff shampoos are considered premium products and cost more than so-called beauty brands such as P&G's Pantene.