Unilever plans to stop using the word “normal” on packaging for its beauty products in a push to make its branding more inclusive.
The London-based owner of brands including Dove, Axe and Vaseline announced the decision Tuesday after conducting a survey that showed describing hair or skin as “normal” makes consumers feel excluded.
Unilever also said it will stop digitally altering the skin color, body shape and size of models who appear in its advertisements while increasing the number of ads featuring people from “under-represented” groups.
“We are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty,” Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty and personal care, said in a statement. “We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward.”
Unilever said it conducted a survey of 10,000 people in nine countries in which seven in 10 respondents said using the word “normal” on product packaging and in ads “has a negative impact,” a rate that rose to eight in 10 among 18-to-35-year-olds.
Unilever made the change after weathering several controversies over how its brands’ advertisements portrayed people of color.
Violent protests erupted in South Africa last September after an ad for the TRESemmé hair care brand labeled images of black women’s hair “frizzy & dull” while describing white women’s hair as “fine & flat” and “normal.”
That came after Unilever’s Indian business said it would change the name of its skin-lightening cream from “Fair & Lovely” to “Glow & Lovely” amid concerns that the old brand perpetuated stereotypes against darker skin tones.
Dove also drew fire in 2017 over an ad that appeared to show a black woman pulling a T-shirt over her head to reveal a white woman underneath.
Unilever is one of the world’s biggest advertisers, and its beauty products are a linchpin of its business. The beauty and personal care segment accounted for about $25 billion of the roughly $60 billion in turnover Unilever posted last year.
Unilever shares rose about 1.1 percent in premarket trading Tuesday to $54.55 as of 8:20 a.m.
With Post Wires