Unilever’s Story of Purpose
What does it take to create a brand that holds existence in almost each and every household across the world in some or the other form?
In a unique merger of a soap and a margarine company, a phenomenon was born that took over the world. Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company headquartered in London, UK, and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The company was formed in 1929 when the Dutch margarine producer Margarine Unie and the British soapmaker Lever Brothers came together. Hence, leading to the origin of the brand name, Unilever.
Unilever is one of the largest fast-moving consumer goods companies in the world, with over 400 brands spanning food, beverages, cleaning agents, and personal care products. Unilever’s products are sold in more than 190 countries, and the company employs over 155,000 people globally. Some of its well-known brands include Lipton tea, Dove soap, Knorr soup, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and Axe deodorant, among others.
A Marketing Strategy Driven by Purpose
Taking its sustainable development goals with utmost sincerity, Unilever has long been committed to purpose-driven operations and marketing. The company’s purpose has always been to achieve sustainable functioning by creating a socially responsible brand, and this is reflected in all aspects of its marketing strategy.
Campaigns that Embody Unilever’s Essence
Over the years, Unilever has continued to invest in brands that connect with its audience beyond the performance of its products. Hence, the marketing campaigns that they chose to design also spoke about issues above their products. With a purpose-driven approach to marketing, they focused on creating campaigns that aligned with the values and beliefs of consumers. With their clear social messaging, they aimed to drive a positive change in society.
Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign
For generations, women grew up witnessing personal care and beauty brands that focused on making women fair and lovely. Breaking such conventional beauty norms, one of Unilever’s brands Dove launched the Real Beauty Campaign. The campaign aimed to challenge traditional beauty standards and promoted a more inclusive and diverse representation of beauty in the media. The campaign featured women of different ages, sizes, and ethnicities, and encouraged women to embrace their natural selves. The Real Beauty Campaign was not only successful in promoting Dove’s products and establishing it as a socially aware brand but also initiated a dialogue on body image issues.
Knorr’s Future 50 Foods Campaign
To reduce the company’s environmental impact and improve the health and well-being of its consumers, Unilever has been committed to finding new ways of promoting sustainable living. One such initiative includes its growing focus on developing plant-based food. Knorr’s Future 50 Foods Campaign was a part of this initiative that aimed to encourage people to consume more plant-based foods and support a more sustainable food system. Knorr partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to develop the list and promote the benefits of plant-based diets.
Some other path-breaking purpose-driven marketing campaigns by Unilever include Lifebuoy’s “Help a child reach 5” campaign and Magnum’s “Pleasure Seekers Campaign”. The brand has constantly tried to break age-old narratives and bring changes with taglines like Surf Excel’s “Daagh Acche Hain” and Lipton’s “Drink Positive”.
Inclusive Social Media Strategy
A huge part of social media today involves the presence of an aggressively woke audience that doesn’t think twice before calling out brands for their malpractices. Unilever’s strong sense of inclusivity works in its favor in this aspect as well.
In 2020, Unilever gained success in achieving a 50-50 gender ratio in managerial positions. The company is found supporting LGBTQI+ Community with its logo adorning rainbow colors during pride month. The company is also committed to sourcing its raw materials sustainably, promoting fair labor practices throughout its supply chain, and reducing its carbon footprint. These initiatives are not just good for the planet, but they also resonate with consumers who are increasingly concerned about the impact of the products they use on the environment and society.
Hence, Unilever’s purpose-driven marketing strategy has been a major contributor to its success as a company. By aligning its campaigns and values with those of its consumers, Unilever has been able to build strong brand loyalty and drive positive change in society. As consumers continue to demand more from the brands they buy, purpose-driven marketing is likely to become even more important in the years to come.