Saving our planet; one bag at a time

December 5, 2006

Unilever’s Brand Impact concept will definitely make them a stronger company

Filed under: Branding, Environment — Kaajal @ 2:58 pm

Unilever's Brand Impact

I was thrilled to read this morning that Unilever has woken up to the fact that addressing consumers’ social and environmental concerns is as important for a brand as its functional attributes.

These guys are getting it!

I’ve been saying it on this blog for months now and I’m happy to see this happening.

Unilever Group CEO Patrick Cescau believes the successful brands of will be those that not only satisfy consumers’ functional needs but also address concerns as citizens.

The group is developing a new process that enables a full analysis of social, economic and environmental issues relevant to each brand to be built into brand innovation and development strategies. Unilever terms it as ‘Brand Imprint’, which is being piloted with a number of its key brands.

For example, initiatives from HLL, its Indian subsidiary, are expected to play a vital role in this pilot study. Innovations like Surf Excel’s ‘save two buckets of water per wash’ enables the Indian consumer to get the same results with less rinsing led to a 50% sales increase for Surf Excel 50% in 2005, in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where water availability is a constraint.

Water is going to be a major issue in the future and these guys are on the right track.

Another big issue is plastic bags.

If companies like Unilever introduce initiatives to persuade their retail channels to encourage the use of reusable fabric bags instead of plastic or paper bags, they’d derive huge branding benefits.

In addition to just looking at the Brand Impact of their own products they also need to take cognizance of Ogilvy’s Shelly Lazarus’ concept of 360 degree branding, where she says that every touch-point at which stakeholders come in contact with a product needs to transmit the same, consistent message.

The total experience influences brand perceptions, not just the product or its advertising.

This includes the retail experience.

A brand that claims to be environmentally sensitive shouldn’t be sold in a harmful plastic bag, should it?

Reusable bags made from fabrics are a simple, elegant and affordable solution to this looming problem. I sure hope Unilever extends its thinking to this level.

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