Unilever Executive Vice President Samir Singh, who oversees nearly 25 brands with around $ 10 billion in revenue, thinks it may be too late for brands to belatedly seek a goal , especially at this stage of the pandemic. Singh, who oversees brands like Lifebuoy and Dove, believes the time for brands to play with their lens is long past.
“If your brand’s goal doesn’t play a role in the biggest crisis humanity has seen since the World War, you really have to ask yourself if your brand’s goal is in the right place,” Singh said. . Asia-Pacific Campaign. “Frankly, we don’t want to see more awake ads.”
The pandemic has forced historic brands such as Lifebuoy to strongly pivot its business and focus, he argues. “We kind of set up over 40-50 disinfectant factories because the world really needed disinfectant, we handed out almost 50 million euros of free bar soap and disinfectant and washing liquid. hands in the world, ”he said. “Finally, this business works because people trust these purpose-built brands. “
This Unilever company took advantage of the pandemic as people flocked to buy disinfectants and soap to protect themselves from Covid. By collaborating with competitors such as Dettol and Lux in key markets such as India, where specific brand names have been mentioned in campaigns urging people to wash their hands, Unilever sought to take the high road.
“People love to say that every crisis is an opportunity, and I’m sure that’s right in many contexts,” he said. “But when you sell hand washing and disinfectant, we have been very clear that the crisis is a crisis, it is not an opportunity. That is why when we set up the factories and put the priority on in production, we were very clear that it had to go to the people on the front lines, wherever they were.
If brands like Lifebuoy made more noticeable pivots for their business, then for Singh, leading others like Dove in a new direction was more difficult. In this case, internal research showed that more than two-thirds of the women surveyed indicated that dry hands were the main reason for avoiding disinfectants. That and calls from frontline workers in the United States prompted Dove, best known for its soaps and body washes, to fall into this category, with what it claims to be the world’s first disinfectant and moisturizer formula. . “You have to pivot on how the world is moving and you can still be consistent with your brand, but be relevant to where the world is going,” he said.
In the other part of his business, oral care, Singh had the opportunity to increase the penetration of the products in his CPC (Cetylpyridinium Chloride) mouthwash, which Unilever says significantly reduces viral load. of Covid-19. Being available only in Russia, the company has established a global supply chain and has so far expanded its reach to 11 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia (pictured below) on top is Pepsodent’s mouthwash for India, which uses this innovation) and Southeast Asia. And, to support this push, Unilever worked with three global KOLs and stepped up efforts to engage dentists with face-to-face visits, digital communication, and webinars to introduce CPC mouthwash.
One of the levers on which Unilever was able to rely during the pandemic was its growing muscle e-commerce-representing today a tenth of its activity, and growing. Singh businesses are also benefiting from this change online. “One myth that I always want to expose is that e-commerce is not just about premium and new (but) in fact, the major brands, the big brands, which sell in offline retail, contribute to the essential for online market share and revenue. “
One of the trends that Singh’s business is seeing is the online growth of products related to personal care, such as bath bombs and salts for those who have a tub, and gels and scrubs for those who don’t. only have a shower. To capitalize on this trend, the company launched a range of offerings ranging from Find Your Happy Place and Beloved within its Love Beauty Planet line in the Target chain in North America. Closer to home, Unilever launched Lux Bath and Beauty on e-commerce platforms in China. “There is a trend towards self-care and mental well-being that e-commerce helps stimulate,” Singh said.
Lux products on e-commerce platforms in China
Despite this push to find a new goal in a pandemic, an uneven recovery of Covid around the world is forcing consumer goods companies to disaggregate their marketing strategies in all markets. “While we are managing these brands, on a global scale… we are always keenly aware that there is no such thing as a global consumer,” Singh said. “Especially for our larger markets, we do very tailor-made innovations and advertising, even if it’s on a global brand. “
For example, marketing in the United States, focused on exploiting an explosion of body washes, is very different from the type of advertising and market development innovation and small packaging that Dove does in the markets. emerging. “Even in the best of times, we sort of operate on that continuum, but now even more so, as you can understand,” Singh said. “The world is in such diametrically different places, [we] are very, very keenly aware of it. “