Unilever is a global company that was founded alomst 70 years ago. The company sells more than 1,000 diffrent brands through some 300 subsidiaries in more than 130 countries. The head office is diveded between London and Rotterdam.
At the beginning of January 1997 the Rotterdam headquarters of the Unilever group was seething with activity. Althought the company was the market leader in ice cream sales in the countries where it operated, the management team realised that its brand image needed to be renewed. While other product categories had already launched global brands, this was the first time the company had considered taking global action to relaunch the ice cream business.
In some of the countries where Unilever's ice cream was sold there were indicators that the brand image needed to be reinforced. Internal discussions in the group focused on the diffrent brands available in each market and their respective graphic images. There were a lot of questions which seemed hard to resolve. Moreover, there was beginning to be a certain feeling that the time had come to introduce major changes in order to consolidate Unilever's leadership in ice cream sales, both in Europe and the rest of the world.
Market studies carried out by the group revealed contradictory information about brand images. But they also clearly revealed that although the public was defenitely familiar with the company's products in their particular countries they did not associate them with Unilever. As far as ice cream was concerned, consumers were highly aware of the company's local brands, but there were not global image.
The big question was how to effectively introduce changes without simlutaneously losing the image that each of the diffrent brands of ice cream had built up over the years in various countries and local markets.
The ice cream market is exceptionally dinamic and changeable. Competing companies need to be tremendously...