Hindustan Unilever Rural Marketing Strategy

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					 DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                  People Matter Case Study
                                                                                       2010




Unilever Brand Imprint
Engaging brand strategy teams on sustainable
consumption

The business case

Brand Imprint is a structured process to get decision makers at the heart
of Unilever‟s brands thinking about what sustainability issues mean for the
future of their brand. This is particularly crucial for a company like Unilever
because:

   -    A large proportion of the environmental impact of Unilever‟s
        products comes about through the consumer use and disposal
        phase. Issues such as nutrition and the health impacts are also
        related to the consumer use phase.
   -    Unilever brands reach 2 billion people each day, this is a powerful
        opportunity to educate, champion social causes and promote
        behavior change.
   -    At Unilever, brands are the nexus of innovation and need to
        continue to respond to changing consumer concerns to maintain
        competitiveness.

Responding to this reality cannot take place if the analysis and expertise
on sustainability is centralized within a corporate function. It depends on
the teams driving each brand getting to grips with the social, environment,
and economic risks and opportunities material to their customers and
stakeholders.



Situation

Unilever

Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods. It has
operations in over 100 countries, and supplies ice cream and beverages, savory dressing
and spreads, home care and personal care products in nearly 150 countries. Over half its
turnover comes from developing and emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Central and
Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Unilever is a decentralized company driven by its consumer brands. Branded businesses
within Unilever such as as Knorr, Lipton, Hellmann‟s, Magnum, Omo, and Dove create
individual product lines to meet the different needs, tastes and pockets of local
consumers.
 4, chemin de Conches        Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93    E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
 CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva    Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31    Web:      www.wbcsd.org
 Switzerland
 DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                    People Matter Case Study
                                                                                                2010




Getting sustainability into brand DNA

Unilever has a long history of corporate responsibility, stretching back to its founders,
who famously introduced pioneering social programs over 100 years ago at Port Sunlight.
The company‟s earliest vision was to “Make cleanliness commonplace, to lessen work for
women, to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more
rewarding to people who use our products.”

100 years later Unilever continues to produce products that raise quality of life, enabling
people to feed themselves and protect their health. By 2004 Unilever had a well-
established corporate social responsibility department and high standards of corporate
governance, product quality, environmental responsibility and community partnership.

Some of its brands had developed their own strong „social missions‟. For example Dove‟s
advertising was aimed at empowering girls and women to accept and celebrate their body
image, while Lifebuoy promoted handwashing for health in developing countries. In India
Hindustan Lever had launched the Shakti initiative to create micro-enterprise
opportunities for rural women to sell Unilever products door to door, extending the
company‟s rural reach and boosting household incomes and female self-esteem.

However, while such examples were celebrated and reported on by the corporate
sustainability team, and the company‟s senior leadership, on the whole sustainability
issues remained separate from the strategic development of the company‟s brands.

The CEO and corporate leadership recognized that the company‟s greatest potential for
contributing to sustainable development was through its brands. These everyday
household-name products a powerful means of improving the lives of large numbers of
people, by championing social causes or prompting widespread changes in behavior and
attitudes.




Targets

In 2004 Unilever set a new mission to “add vitality to life” and set out to make the Unilever
brand and its values more visible within its product lines.

This new approach also reflected a recognition of the need to ensure that each and every
brand was responding to the environmental challenge of meeting more needs with less
resource. And the changing demands of conscious customers concerned about health
and the environment.

Putting this mission into practice meant bringing social, environmental and economic
factors into the heart of the development and innovation plans of each of its company‟s
brands.

Activities


  4, chemin de Conches         Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93     E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
  CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva     Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31     Web:      www.wbcsd.org
  Switzerland
 DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                    People Matter Case Study
                                                                                           2010




Unilever: Brand Imprint

In 2005 the sustainable development team, lead by Vice President of Sustainable
Development Santiago Gowland developed an approach called Brand Imprint to help key
individuals within each brand understand the social and environmental risks and
opportunities facing their business.

Brand Imprint is a 3-4 month process that brings the sustainability conversation into the
heart of the brands. It was designed to provoke a shift in thinking by key decision makers
from seeing sustainability as something separate from business considerations, to seeing
it as a competitive factor.

The process aims to assess the brand‟s positive and negative „imprints‟ on society and
the environment. As Gowland puts it “we were quite simply asking does this product
improve people‟s lives and at what human cost? Can we increase the contribution to
human welfare, and can we reduce the negative impact? How can we do more with
less?”

Crucially, the Brand Imprint process brings together decision makers from all along the
product value chain. This includes R&D, marketing, sourcing and production. The
process is led by the brand‟s global VP, and facilitated by the sustainability team. Its aim
is to identify, understand and respond to social, environmental and economic issues that
may be material to the future of their brand. Often these different functional leaders have
not been in the same room together before, and very few will have thought about their
brand in terms of „sustainable consumption‟ – the need to shift towards production
systems that meet the needs of 9 billion people within a finite planet.

Through the Brand Imprint process the group is tasked with systematically investigating
the direct and indirect environmental, economic and social impacts of products, as well as
the external influences (consumers, market forces, opinion formers) that might impact on
the brand's future growth. This provides a structured process for each of the brand teams
to undertake a 360º scan of the social, economic and environmental impact that their
brand has on the world.




  4, chemin de Conches         Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93    E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
  CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva     Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31    Web:      www.wbcsd.org
  Switzerland
 DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                    People Matter Case Study
                                                                                             2010




Rather than Unilever‟s sustainability experts presenting evidence and arguments to
illuminate each segment of this assessment, they introduce the framework and then pass
the ownership of each of the six areas of research and analysis on to a senior functional
leader.

The sustainability team then works behind the scenes with these six managers over the
next few months to help them bring together the data and hypothesis for their segment,
drawing on market research, customer surveys, sector benchmarking and stakeholder
engagement.

Finally the Brand Imprint working group came together for a two-day workshop to share
their research and analysis and to develop plans and commitments.

Results

Each of Unilever‟s 13 major brands has carried out the Brand Imprint process. As a result
of the Brand Imprint process, the teams determine actions to turn risks into opportunities.

Lipton Tea was one of the first brands to undertake Brand Imprint. While the company
had been running a sustainable agriculture program in Kenya, for more than a decade, at
a cost of around 1 million euros per year, it had not linked this to its tea brands and so the
costs were not offset by any marketing benefits. Lipton Tea faced an increasingly
commoditized tea market, which threatening both the value of Unilever‟s investments in
higher-grade tea production and the ongoing advancement of labor standards and
environmental stewardship in the industry. The central question was: how could Lipton
build on the lessons from its Kenyan programs and respond to these trends in the
market?




  4, chemin de Conches         Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93     E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
  CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva     Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31     Web:      www.wbcsd.org
  Switzerland
    DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                      People Matter Case Study
                                                                                             2010




Through the Brand Imprint process the Lipton team explored three possible routes:
continuing the improvement program in Kenya, establishing a new sustainability program
or working together with a third party to certify the credibility of the brand‟s social and
environmental impacts.

The action item coming out of Brand Imprint, was to select a third party certification
scheme to gain consumer confidence in Unilever‟s sustainable agricultural practices, and
to shift the broader market.

In May 2007, Unilever signed an agreement with the Rainforest Alliance and set a target
for all tea Lipton Yellow Label and PG Tips tea sold in Western Europe to be fully
Rainforest Alliance Certified by 2010. Supported by marketing campaigns, this enabled
significant brand reputation, sales and market share gains. Lipton also secured new
markets with corporate customers such as McDonalds, IKEA and KLM/Air France, who
valued the opportunity to offer tea with the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. By 2015,
Lipton aims to source all of the tea for its tea bags, worldwide, from Rainforest Alliance
Certified plantations.

Lessons learnt
     Signal senior executive support. High-level support was critical to Brand Imprint
      being taken seriously. It was featured in several CEO speeches, and the process was
      designed so that at brand level it was led by a global VP.
     Put sustainability concerns into business language. The Brand Imprint process
      was developed as a business initiative, driven by the strategic business imperative for
      innovation. Social and environmental issues were understood as business drivers.
     Develop a robust and replicable process that can be used to drive decision-
      making. Brand imprint in many ways replicates the scanning, consultation and
      material issue identification process that Unilever had used at a corporate level in its
      sustainability reporting, but made it useable for brands as a driver of innovation.
     See the sustainability team not as experts, but as supporters of learning. The
      most convincing evidence is that which people have gathered and experienced for
      themselves. The sustainability team‟s role was to facilitate and accompany the
      functional teams on their learning journey, and help to make connections between
      different brands facing the same issue.

Next steps

The experience gained through the Brand Imprint process helped Unilever develop and
gain support for the next stage of its approach, the Vitality Framework. This framework
defines the company‟s mission across its brands and business and provides a business
focused framework for setting metrics and key performance indicators.

The company has now set a goal to double the business while cutting its environmental
impacts.




    4, chemin de Conches         Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93    E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
    CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva     Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31    Web:      www.wbcsd.org
    Switzerland
 DEDICATED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE




World Business Council for
Sustainable Development                                  People Matter Case Study
                                                                                       2010




+ Support Material
Unilever Sustainable Development Overview 2009
http://www.unilever.com/sustainability/news/publications/default.aspx#tcm:13-
212975
Horlings, S (2009) Bridging the gap between branding, sustainability and consumer
demands, Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative.
Gowland, S (2010) The Power of Brands to Create Better Futures, Oxford
Leadership Journal, June 2010 • Volume 1, Issue 3




 4, chemin de Conches        Tel:   +41 (22) 839 31 93    E-mail:   madden@wbcsd.org
 CH – 1231 Conches-Geneva    Fax:   +41 (22) 839 31 31    Web:      www.wbcsd.org
 Switzerland

				
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