Unilever: Globalising Ice-cream Business
LUISS GUIDO CARLI International Marketing course (2009-2010) By Filippo
Unilever Ice-cream division Plans for changes in marketing and brand strategy Ice cream market has several features that determine a constant need of change and innovation. Unilever marketing measures should move in parallel or anticipating these kind of major changes. Firstly, to create and deliver superior costumer value, satisfing costumers who stay loyal and buy more. Secondly, to defend Unilever leadership in ice cream sales and the second highest global market share with 16% of the world market (Nestlé has the 17.5%). Habits change a lot in this sector through the years, then, there are several differences among the various countries in which Unilever is present, in particular concerning buying channels and behavioural attitudes. Moreover, Ice cream can not be considered at all a seasonal product, since sales in the biggest part of the countries have no great variance throughout the year. Because of all these concernings the choice of a new brand strategy is not simple. To design a costumer driven strategy in an international pattern, first, we have to analyze which are the differences between the different countries costumers, and second, how can be introduced structural changes in a way that do not damages the image that, over the years, Unilever consolidated in national markets. The hardest issue is to balance global efficiency with local responsiveness. Global market trends, costumer habits and preferences call for a new international strategy, but there are many advantages, as we are going to see, coming from the current national brand strategy. Unilever should work starting by three weaknesses that the headquarter marketing office has individued: • • • Seasonal image of the brand Out of date brand image Cold and low-dynamic brand logotypes
These are basically the issues by which Unilever has to develop a new marketing and brand strategy. These perceptions boost for a renewal and refreshing of the different brand logotypes. What for Unilever is appearing as an exigence is the unification of the several national brands in a single unique international brand. This strategy has been already enhanced by Nestlé, the main international competitor, few years ago. The primary issue of this international strategy consists in responding to the globalization’s opportunities. Tourism and overspill media could promote substantial benefits for Unilever ice cream division: expecially in terms of resources leverage, cost cutting and promotion/advertising synergies. Market researches showed that no costumers associates the Unilever ice-cream national brands with the parent company. So, no added value can be delivered exploiting the international Unilever image, and this represent an unexploited value-added. There are anyway reluctances, about this global opportunity, by many local companies and subsidiaries: the actual territorial strenght of some brand logotypes push for less enthusiastic concerns about radical change of brand structure and architecture.
The kind of new policies that Unilever is planning to implement are based on the need of innovation by which the ice cream industry is caractherized. As competitors aggressively launch new products and extensions to product lines, a closer relation with the marketplace becomes an opportunity. Since the industry shows continued growth in sales, Unilever with its huge market share has the room to grow more than the competitors. So, Unilever answers to the renewal of its brand policy consists in the change from an individual brand portfolio among Unilever national ice cream divisions, to a unified international brand. Here we propose a model that allows the creation of an effective Unilever Branding policy. The strategic branding cycle1 seeks to create a brand ready to stimulate positively the costumer.
Unilever’s Strategic Branding...
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