Consumer giants spurn risks to chase online subscribers

LONDON (Reuters): Major consumer companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle are chasing consumers who want food and household goods delivered automatically, even though this kind of business has not always worked.

The companies are pitching new online subscription services, which promise stable revenues, lower delivery costs and valuable data about customers.

The world’s biggest packaged food company, Nestle, whose Nespresso coffee is already a sizeable subscription business, recently launched a subscription programme for nutritional drinks in Japan and expanded ReadyRefresh, an online bottled water service, in the United States.

It also wants to expand the subscription pet food from Britain to continental Europe, one of its executives told Reuters. It is testing the service in France for a possible launch this year.

Unilever on Monday will launch its Skinsei brand in the United States after testing, offering ”personalised” skincare by subscription. Unilever expanded its Dollar Shave Club subscription razor service to include cologne and beard oil in 2018 and toothpaste in 2017.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest home and personal care company, expanded its Gillette on Demand razor subscription service to Canada. Subscribers can text when they are ready for their next shipment.

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