This week, Unilever announced they have agree to acquire Seventh Generation Inc. This Vermont-based company, of course, is best known for its natural, green cleaning products.
Last year, Seventh Generation posted sales in excess of $200 million , with compound annual growth reaching double digits over the past decade.
This transaction is part of a major push by Unilever to secure more of the “natural selection” in the supermarket aisles. While this market has certainly been growing over the past few several years, the emerging Millennials generation has increasingly sought out such upstart brands that many will view as more environmentally friendly; and this desire has put big time pressure on many of the traditional brands.
As such, Unilever considers Seventh Generation to be a “purpose-driven brand,” much like Dove and Ben & Jerry’s; though Seventh Generation sells detergents, dish cleaners, and other such home and personal care products that are free from artificial fragrances and dyes.
Seventh Generation Chief Executive John Replogle notes, “We look at this as having a multiplier effect for our business,” who will remain to run the company. He goes on to say, “We always aspired to be a billion-dollar brand. We see this as a springboard as opposed to throwing in the towel.”
It turns out that this Seventh Generation deal comes only a few weeks following Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club, in a $1 billion deal. Dollar Shave Club, of course, is a popular and fast-growing startup which provides mail-order service of shipping disposable razors at a flat monthly fee; a company which, while not yet necessarily profitable, challenges P & G’s Gillette business.
Of course, Unilever is not new to the detergent business. The company had earlier sold its North American laundry detergent business—a business which had included All and Snuggle brands at one point—for $1.45 billion, to a private equity firm, in 2008.
Unilever home care division president Nitin Paranjpe notes, “Seventh Generation has long been a disruptor in the US marketplace, leading the industry in sustainable innovation while attracting new generations of conscious consumers. This addition to Unilever’s product portfolio will help us meet rising demand for high-quality products with a purpose.”