Although Unilever's Path to Growth strategy involves all components of the general environment, two segments that are especially relevant are the global and sociocultural segments. A major strength of the company's global environment is its geographic diversification of its major product markets. In 2003, Unilever had sales and marketing efforts in 88 different countries. The key is that it gave decision-making power to its managers in different countries so that they could tailor their products to the market's specific preferences and consumers' local tastes. Thus, it was the cross-country preferences of consumers that determined what products Unilever would carry. The global segment provides an enormous opportunity for Unilever. The case states that emerging country markets show the greatest potential for sales growth. Major competitors such as Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods had sales in roughly 140 to 150 different countries in 2003, and Nestle, Unilever's main rival, had market penetration in almost every country in the world. If Unilever is able to expand its operations into 50 or more new countries and concentrate its advertising campaign on consumer preferences, it could significantly increase its market share in the global economy.
Another important piece of Unilever's general environment is the sociocultural segment. One of the company's founding values is understanding and improving consumers' lives. A major strength of Unilever lies in its ability to anticipate consumer trends and demands and then cater to their needs. For example, market research indicated that nutrition was the number one concern in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and that weight was the number three concern. The focus of peoples' attitudes became living healthier lifestyles. To move with the trend Unilever acquired SlimFast. SlimFast was the U.S. market leader in the weight management and nutritional supplement industry, with... [continues]
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