Bath and body well-being brand creates a 3m-high candle and lights it in a busy Christmas shopping precinct to encourage people to ‘reset’.
Unilever criticised for focus on sustainability and brand purpose
By our News Team | 2022
Prominent fund manager believes the focus is excessive and a factor in Unilever’s poor business performance last year.
‘Sustainability’ and ‘brand purpose’ have become buzzwords among top marketers, senior executives and big-company boards. But when is it overkill?
This is a question being asked in the UK marketing and business community after a prominent fund manager, Fundsmith Equity Fund, criticised FMCG giant Unilever by calling its focus on sustainability and brand purpose “ludicrous”.
Terry Smith, the founder of Fundsmith, said in a recent letter to investors that Unilever’s poor business performance last year was down to an over-emphasis on these factors.
Unilever – which has iconic global brands such as Knorr, Dove, Axe, Lipton, Joko and Vaseline in its stable – was the fund’s second worst performer over the period.
“Unilever seems to be labouring under the weight of a management which is obsessed with publicly displaying sustainability credentials at the expense of focusing on the fundamentals of the business,” Smith wrote.
Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels
‘Ludicrous’ examples illustrate the problem
“The most obvious manifestation of this is the public spat it has become embroiled in over the refusal to supply Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the [Israeli-controlled] West Bank. However, we think there are far more ludicrous examples which illustrate the problem.
“A company which feels it has to define the purpose of Hellmann’s mayonnaise has in our view clearly lost the plot. The Hellmann’s brand has existed since 1913, so we would guess that by now consumers have figured out its purpose (spoiler alert — salads and sandwiches).”
According to the industry publication Marketing Week, Unilever has been on a mission to put purpose at the heart of all its brands since 2018, after finding that its purpose-driven brands were growing at a faster rate. The company’s 28 ‘Sustainable Living’ brands grew 69% faster than the rest of the business, up from 46% in 2017, and delivered 75% of Unilever’s overall growth that year.
As a result, CEO Alan Jope committed to furthering Unilever’s purpose credentials, saying at the time: “We believe the evidence is clear and compelling that brands with purpose grow. In fact, we believe this so strongly that we are prepared to commit that in the future, every Unilever brand will be a brand with purpose.”
Data from 2008 recession indicates that, in another recession, the amount spent on higher-priced Fair Trade goods may actually increase.
Interbrand study says lack of growth mindset, weaker brand leadership and poor forecasting are among the key reasons.
Tlali Taoana has experience in strategy, marketing and executive roles, and will expand the capabilities of the business.
AMC President flies the flag at the World Marketing Forum in Thailand, then welcomes Tunisia as the confederation’s 11th member.
It doesn’t always pay to advertise online. Consumers tend to view sponsored listings with suspicion and prefer to click on organic listings.
Organisations must harness the power of AI to free up their people to do what no robot can do – truly connect with customers.
Multi-channel retailing has become crucial to the sales strategy of any brand, including digital-natives that started as online-only.
Hloni Mohope is to move from her KFC South Africa role to become Chief Marketing Officer for the brand in Central and Eastern Europe.
Can they get a foot in the door and take market share from the big global sneaker names? African brands think they can.
Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reports on conference presentation urging marketing leaders to change their world view.