Research & development in Unilever

Innovation is the engine of our growth and our lifeblood. Our future depends on our ability to bring bigger & better innovations to market quickly.

At the heart of our business

Alan Jope

In a fast changing market, the importance of innovation is only going to grow. Research and Development (R&D) plays a key role in delivering proprietary breakthrough innovations. At Unilever, R&D is treated as an investment aligned closely with our overall business strategy.

Innovations with proven consumer benefits

Around the world, health and vitality are amongst the most important consumer needs, and people expect science and technology to help them achieve their goals. We seek to build R&D capacity in all of our key markets, to gain greater consumer understanding and offer solutions close to our consumers.

The purchasing power of developing and emerging markets already exceeds that of America, Europe and Japan combined─its rate of economic growth is double. The developing and emerging markets are also home to the fastest growing over-60 population.

In the future, these markets will account for the majority of our business (in 2009: 50% of our sales). Our unparalleled footprint and strong history in these regions, as well as extensive local knowledge, means we’re well placed to deliver products that meet the needs of these populations as they grow in size, wealth and aspiration.

A changing landscape

As we look ahead, we face many challenges. Competition is fierce and increasingly global, so it’s crucial that we constantly introduce new products and improve existing ones. Key to all this is the discovery and application of new proprietary technologies that address un-met consumer needs and/or improve product functionality.

Our global R&D network covers all regions, and we have invested strongly in building large R&D centres in China (Shanghai) and India (Bangalore and Mumbai), Latin America (Sao Paolo) and Africa (Durban), ensuring they are networked with our established centres in Europe and the US.

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