Unilever’s purchase of Seventh Generation this week is the latest in a series of green acquisitions. Organic Monitor predicts the trend to continue as large multinationals look to build a foothold in sustainable product industries.
“Seventh Generation is a leading brand in the North American market for natural home care products. The acquisition gives Unilever a presence in the fastest growing segment of the cleaning products industry. It will also help the multinational achieve its sustainability goal of halving its environmental impacts across the value chain,” explains the market research firm.
The trend of green acquisitions is spreading from the food, personal care to home care industries. In July, SC Johnson purchased the natural home care and personal care brand Babyganics. Like Unilever, SC Johnson will look to build distribution of its new green brand in mass market channels.
Unilever however is likely to build synergy between its green brands. It previously acquired the natural skincare brand REN, expanding its international distribution. The multinational is also reportedly seeking to add Honest Company to its portfolio. By doing so, Unilever will be the first multinational to have a major presence in the organic food, natural personal care, and natural home care product industries.
Unilever is not the only multinational to go on a buying spree in sustainable product industries. According to Organic Monitor, L’Oréal was the first to make major acquisitions when it bought The Body Shop and Sanoflore in 2006. “By buying ‘green expertise’, L’Oréal subsequently developed natural and organic lines for some of its popular brands,” says Organic Monitor.
Colgate-Palmolive and Estée Lauder have also bought green brands, however not all multinationals have been successful. Clarins bought the organic cosmetics brand Kibio in 2010, only to axe it a few years later. Accoding to Organic Monitor, there are also questions on how brands like Jurlique and Burt’s Bees have fitted into their ‘adopted parent’ organisations.
Organic Monitor sees the trend of green acquisitions to continue. Multinationals will buy green brands as they look to enter fast-growing sustainable product industries. Purchasing ‘green expertise’ also helps them achieve their sustainability goals of reducing environmental and health impacts. The major question however is whether the green brands will thrive or survive under their new parentage.