1950

From the late 40s into the 50s the development of new mass markets for consumer goods - including Africa and Asia - provide opportunities for expansion.

Sunsilk bottle from the 1950sA post-war consumer boom

Unilever's United Africa Company grows fast, producing goods for sale in the newly independent African states, which helps create new local manufacturing industries. Meanwhile post-war prosperity in Europe, spurred by the start of the European Community, leads to a consumer boom and rising standards of living. 

As new scientific advances come thick and fast, Unilever increases its focus on technology, making Port Sunlight Research its Research Division with responsibility for both UK and Dutch laboratories. It also establishes a nutrition research group in the Netherlands which later becomes the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute - a centre of excellence in nutrition. 

 During the 1950s new types of food – most famously the fish finger – are developed as a direct response to the need for nutritious food that makes use of ingredients available in the wake of post-war rationing. Some of these are then marketed through a promising new channel – commercial TV.

Highlights

1954

Sunsilk shampoo is launched in the UK and will become our leading shampoo brand – by 1959 it's available in 18 countries worldwide.

1955

On the 22 September Unilever airs the very first advertisement on UK commercial TV, which is for Gibbs SR toothpaste. 

Fish fingers are introduced in the UK and within a decade they account for 10% of British fish consumption.

Dove soap is launched in US. 

1956

Unilever Research establishes its Biology Department, which in the 1980s will become the BioScience, Nutrition and Safety unit. 

The PG Tips chimps make their debut appearance on the UK's newly launched commercial TV station. Aired on Christmas Day, the commercial is inspired by London Zoo's chimpanzees' tea party. It results in PG Tips becoming the UK's biggest selling tea brand. 

The first Miss Pears is crowned in the famous Pear's Soap beauty contest celebrating the beauty of natural, clear complexions.

1958

In the Netherlands Unilever expands into frozen foods and ice cream through the acquisition of Vita NV, which was later to become the Iglo Mora Group.

1959

Unilever launches its first margarine in a tub, replacing the traditional block wrapped in greaseproof paper, with Blauband in Germany followed by Flora in Britain.