Unilever emphasises quality

15 November 2011

LONDON: Unilever, the FMCG group, is emphasising the quality and "superiority" of its products, not least because digital media now allows the views of individual shoppers to exert an enormous influence.

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer, told the CMO World Tour project that the rise of new media had amplified certain traditional brand values.

"What struck me is the importance nowadays of having great products that can be peer reviewed. You can have great advertising but if you don't have great products you can't have someone out there sharing their personal experiences," he said.

"It has put a much greater emphasis on product quality and, in fact, product superiority in our overall marketing mix."

More broadly, Weed suggested certain traditional "fundamentals" are intact, but the means of using mainstream media like television to connect with consumers is changing fast.

"They buy brand experiences, they enjoy products and services and they repeat purchases based on the enjoyment of that product and service. That will always remain the same," he said.

"I think what's different is the way we engage people, and certainly we have had a mass approach to engagement of people with TV ... We will see TV coming down and a more personalised engagement on a one-to-one basis."

Equally, the advent of smartphones and tablets encourages "one-to-one" communications centred upon shopper habits and preferences, be it at home, on the move or in stores.

"Every day, 2bn people use our products," said Weed. "But actually this is made up of single decisions and single purchases, and the great thing about a mobile device is it's a very personal thing."

However, Weed warned marketers must be "always-on", offering a stream of relevant, fresh material that proves attractive to web users.

"We have a well-honed system to spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a 30-second TV ad. You cannot do that and be always-on," he said.

"The challenge is to have always-on, quality content that's cost effective and right now you can have two of the three, but you can't have three of the three. I want two of the three, I'll get three of the three but we've got some work to do before we get there."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff