Unilever looks to social media in Asia

02 November 2009

SINGAPORE: Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, is making increased use of a wide variety of social media tools in Asia, as it seeks to connect with consumers in a number of different countries in the region.

Simon Clift, the FMCG titan's chief marketing officer, has previously championed the idea of brands utilising the emerging range of Web 2.0 services as a means of engaging their target audience.

One example of how the UK-based firm is applying this approach in Asia is a recent initiative where it asked influential bloggers in China to undertake "blind" tests of Pond's Age Miracle skincare range, and post their opinions online.

Pond's main competitors in the world's most populous nation include Clinique and L'Oréal, as well as Olay and SK-II, both of which are manufactured by Procter & Gamble.

As part of its strategy to increase brand consideration, Pond's aimed to sign up affluent female consumers through portals such as Onlylady.com, with 150 women ultimately taking part in a seven-day trial of the "mystery" product.

The aims of the scheme included encouraging electronic word-of-mouth about Pond's new offering, and building the brand's credentials in an authentic way.

Coca-Cola and P&G are also currently attempting to use bloggers to champion their goods, and this approach is regarded as being particularly effective in China, where large numbers of web users produce, read and comment on this form of content.

Overall, Unilever found that the feedback delivered during the trial was overwhelmingly positive, with 90% of the bloggers involved continuing to endorse the brand once its identity had been revealed.

Laercio Cardoso, vp, marketing for Unilever's home and personal care brands in China, said "this is the first time used we've used social media in China. There is no doubt we will use it more to connect with consumers."

Mutya Laxa, global brand director for Pond's, added "everyone was excited by the response in China." Moreover, "the cost of those sites are a tenth that of traditional media, so it's very cost efficient as well."

Pond's now plans to roll out this model to other key emerging nations in Asia, including the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

In Indonesia, one of the brand's "fan pages" on Facebook, the popular social network, also currently has nearly 10,000 members, and Pond's has been seeking to leverage its position with these web users.

To do so, it produced games to be featured on Facebook, as well as running events for members of this group, and even developing a bespoke mobile application.

Similarly, in Vietnam, Unilever has launched a competition linked to its Comfort brand, requesting that married male consumers submit stories about love online, with the winning entries going on to be published in a well-known magazine.

As part of this process, it created a campaign website allowing people in the country to send romantic messages to each other.

To support a new TV ad for Lux, its beauty range, featuring the Bollywood actress Priyanka, the CPG specialist again reached out to bloggers, this time across Asia, encouraging them to link to the brand's YouTube channel, in the hope visitors would post their own videos based on th

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff