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Part A: Create an effective Marketing Strategy in Digital Age
Unilever plc is one multinational British company of consumer-packaged goods. Having founded in 1929, 2nd September, Unilever had emerged following the renowned merger of Margarine Unie, one Dutch margarine manufacturer and Lever Brothers, a British soap producer. Having headquartered in the UK London, Unilever's product portfolio includes bottled water, baby food, breakfast cereals, beauty products, condiments, cleaning agents, hygiene and healthcare products, energy drinks, instant coffee, ice cream, soft drinks, pet food, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste and tea (unilever.com, 2023). Unilever is also the biggest soap produced globally as well as its products are available all across 190 nations. The biggest brands of Unilever come as Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Axe, Dove, Lux, Magnum, Lifebuoy, Knorr, Sunlight, Rexona, Omo and Heartbrand (Wall’s). Unilever has also been organised into 3 key divisions, namely Home Care, Foods and Refreshments and Personal Care and Beauty (unilever.com, 2023).
Figure 1: Unilever Logo
(Source: unilever.com, 2023)
Unilever has started diversifying its product portfolio during the 20th century’s second half, from being a mere manufacturer of goods created from fats and oils. Moreover, the conglomerate had also started its worldwide expansion drive from this time only. Unilever also holds its R&D, Research and Development facilities all across the Netherlands, India, China, the United States and the United Kingdom. Moreover, Unilever also enjoys a primary listing on London Stock Exchange. It also holds a secondary listing for the noted Amsterdam Stock Exchange as well as acting as one AEX Index and FTSE 100 Index constituent (unilever.com, 2023). Unilever, all throughout its operating history, had also made varied acquisitions such as Lipton, Hellmann's, Brooke Bond, Ben & Jerry's, Chesebrough-Ponds, Knorr, Slim-Fast, Pukka Herbs, Alberto-Culver and Dollar Shave Club in the years 1971, 2000, 1984, 2000, 1987, 2000, 2000, 2017, 2010 and 2016 respectively (Caputo Jr, 2020). Unilever had also divested its noted speciality chemical businesses as Imperial Chemical Industries during 1997. It was during the 2010s the organisation had eventually shifted the focus to beauty and health brands, away from the food brands showing slow advancement, under Paul Polman's leadership (unilever.com, 2023). As a fabric care company, Unilever is continuing its growth since 2016 and aiming to achieve 13.46% market share by 2024 (statista.com, 2018)
Figure 2: Unilever’s market share in fabric care
(Source: statista.com, 2018)
The FMCG company is also continuing its growth in terms of annual turnover and operating profit and net profit as displayed in the performance of Fiscal year 2020-2022 (unilever.com, 2022).
Figure 3: Income statement of Unilever from 2020-2022
(Source: unilever.com, 2022)
In this present study, online video advertisement and social media-based advocacy typed digital marketing strategy will be proposed for Unilever’s laundry capsule product.
Figure 4: Laundry Capsule Unilever
(Source: unilever.com, 2022)
Segmentation and Targeting
Chosen market segments
In the field of Marketing, Market Segmentation comes as the noted process to divide the broad journal of business ethics or Consumer-packaged goods market, usually consisting of potential and existing consumers, into some consumers’ sub-groups, relying on some shared traits. The 4 key pillars for segmentation used by marketers for the purpose of defining the ICP or Ideal Customer Profile come as Behavioural, Demographic, Psychographic and Geographic (Wan et al., 2020). In this present case of proposing a new digital advertisement plan for Unilever’s laundry capsule, the following market segments are considered:
The choice of Psychographic segmentation will be considered in terms of dividing the consumers into the key sub-groups, relying on the shared psychological traits and including conscious or unconscious priorities, motivations and beliefs, thus predicting the viewers’ behaviours (Gajanova et al., 2019).
Behavioural Segmentation comes as the innate procedure of grouping consumers as per their behaviour while purchasing any product (Wan et al., 2020). The marketers of digital marketing hence will observe the aspects like readiness for buying, knowledge of the product, loyalty level, product usage-based experience and interactions with the brand.
With demographics segmentation, it can be found how the brand appeals to the majority of people by location, age, job title, gender, income, as well as other variables (Gajanova et al., 2019). In consideration of the right sets of demographic data, marketers can be able to articulate the right audience groups who can eventually become the intended consumers.
Table 1: Market Segmentation for the digital advertisement
The price point of the laundry capsules will be promoted via digital advertisement plans to lure the middle-class segments.
The prime message to be devised out of the digital ads will be the laundry capsules' deep cleaning power of removing odour and dirt (unilever.com, 2022).
Enhanced per-capita income-based Middle-class
Working professionals and Housewives
The home cleaning needs for clothes and other fabrics will be promoted via digital marketing advocacy.
The quick and proper cleaning capability of the laundry capsules, suiting modern-day millennials' lifestyles, will be highlighted (Cai et al., 2022).
The price points' affordability with the modern-day affluent middle class will be featured via digital ads.
The digital ads will particularly try to attract women in terms of ensuring their clothes' cleaning act to become easier with laundry capsules (Laitala et al., 2020)
It will be promoted how the laundry capsules suit individuals from varied lifestyles and fields of life.
Decarbonised and Sustainable Laundry
The energy-saving, plastic packaging free and decarbonised laundry characteristics of the laundry capsule will be marketed (unilever.com, 2022).
The digital ads will showcase the powerful attribute of a single laundry capsule, thus reducing frequent detergent/surf-buying needs (Bruyninckx and Dusselier, 2019).
Table 2: Target audiences
In the following part of determining target audiences/Consumer-packaged goods, it is crucial to devise the most effective targeting strategy. For the concerned digital advertisement plan, Segmented targeting strategy will be used (Suoniemi et al., 2020). For that purpose, the digital advertisements will create varied ad videos in line with vaster consumers' base subgroups.
Positioning and Branding
The branding strategy is more as the framework which determines how the businesses can present themselves to the Consumer-packaged goods, thus standing out from the rivals. The brand of the business ethics is more than merely the logo, name, colours and fonts (Flikkema et al., 2019). The innate goal of branding comes as to be determined by two main attributes, namely brand image and brand awareness. Brand image is all about creating identity/recognition for enabling individuals to have the right perception of the brand as well as ensuring them it offers a fruitful user experience (Sürücü et al., 2019). On the contrary, brand awareness is aimed at creating the name, recognition and familiarity so that potential consumers might think about the brand while making buying decisions.
In terms of digitally promoting the laundry capsules of Unilever, its unique compositions will be used for brand image creation purposes. The fast and efficient dirt removal and sustainable components of the laundry capsules will be highlighted by the digital marketing drive for creating the intended market position and brand image for it (Coons, 2023). It will thus be highlighted how the laundry capsules are particularly designed regarding top performance for cold temperatures as 20 degrees Celsius and beyond that, on short cycles (unilever.com, 2022). In that regard, Consumer-packaged goods might save over 60% of energy in each use. The sustainable footprint of laundry capsules will be presented as having plastic-free cardboard packaging, ready to prevent approximately 6000 tonnes of plastic from penetrating the overall waste system each year (Coons, 2023). Moreover, the specially-designed formula of the Unilever laundry capsule, containing biodegradable ingredients which are 65% obtained from the plant source as well as optimised in delivering top-notch cleaning performance in short and cold cycles, will initiate the key marketing message for the digital advertisements (unilever.com, 2022). The Unique components in terms of the re-engineered capsule-based membrane will only be fully biodegradable with having the fastest-dissolving ability. The digital ads hence can ensure the target users to have no residue on their laundry (Hardie et al., 2021). Moreover, the laundry capsules’ high-level compatibility with washing machines can rather hold a major promotional pitch as well as advocate the need for less energy.
In that regard, the digital ads of the laundry campaign are thus meant to acknowledge the target audiences’ utilitarian and basic needs. For the noted product., the basic need comes as having clothes' washing one while the utilitarian needs are top-notch washing experience and sustainable washing drive. The innovative washing agent and formula, coupled with sustainable packaging and energy-efficient attributes, can rather be effective to have a constant tap on the concerned needs' contexts (unilever.com, 2022). In addition, it will also be highly anticipated in terms of yielding enough online brand awareness provisions for the online format. In order to attain mass-level awareness, the choice of known faces can be initiated. In that regard, both celebrity endorsement and social media influencers will be used to promote the laundry capsules. Celebrity endorsement, commonly termed as celebrity branding, uses the celebrity’s mage and fame to promote the product (Calvo-Porral et al., 2021). In that regard, the trust and credibility of the Consumer-packaged goods on the brand and product gets instilled. Influencer marketing comes as the collaboration between known social media personalities as well as brands for promoting the brands' offerings (Belanche et al., 2021). As most of the individuals hold celebrities/influencers in high regard, the product endorsement for the laundry capsule can instantly boost the trust amount on the brand. Moreover, such brand awareness tactics can also make the target audiences more encouraged and curious in trying out the promoted product. It is how not only the existing users of laundry capsules can remain loyal and integrated with the brand, but also the new potential users can be hoarded for sure.
In line with such a branding strategy, the desired market positioning goalset of the concerned product can also be satisfied for sure. The brand will be taking the differential position as to offer more sustainable wash care solutions, as compared to the conventional detergent, powdered and liquid washing components. In order to position the Unilever laundry capsules successfully in the industry, it is crucial to have a proper tap on the industry rivals. The choice of a positioning map only helps to define the varied market positions and decide the most preferred one for the selected brand/product.
From the above perceptual map, it has become evident that the two major axes determining varied market positions come as quality cleaning/sustainability and price (Gigauri, 2019). Unilever laundry capsules will be tried to attain the high-quality/sustainability mark along with a competitive price mark, driven by key competitive forces.
The innate ambition for marketing communication comes as to create proper brand awareness, build relations with stakeholders and customers, generate leads, offer information to consumers, boost website traffic as well as improve search engine-based rankings (Zollo et al., 2020). It is notable that there remain varied media channels for helping the brands in reaching the target audiences. For the concerned digital advertisement pitch for the Unilever laundry capsule, social media marketing communication is decided to be initiated. Social media marketing comes as one digital marketing form that duly leverages the noted power of known social media networks, thus achieving branding and marketing goals (Zollo et al., 2020). The provision of SMM or Social Media Marketing tends to use varied social networks and social media pages, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, for marketing services and products, reaching new audiences as well as engaging with the existing ones. For Unilever's laundry capsule, the usage of Facebook and Instagram will be used for posting appealing images, posting video ads featuring celebrities advocating for the cleaning and sustainable forces of the laundry capsules and others. The choice of using the YouTube platform will be considered for promoting paid advertisements for the product as well as collaborating with popular influencers to promote the item on their channels (Zollo et al., 2020). In addition, the immense usage of posts, shares, comments, likes, hashtags, reels and other social media metrics can eventually enable the product to attain better sales volume return.
In that regard, the likely benefits of using social media platforms for marketing communication purposes can be facilitated as to allow the brands in advertising the offerings to the consumers and prospects as well as potentially getting the news spread all over the public through networking and interacting with the engaged followers (Dwivedi et al., 2021). The promoted products thus can be benchmarked as well as having the chance of getting the desired popularity within an enormous audiences’ group, that too in a minimal time. Moreover, in order to survive the modern-day competitive force for brands, having a feasible online presence is highly crucial and social media platforms can help to facilitate that purpose. The relative cost-effective component aligned with social media promotion also makes it highly popular in recent times. It is although important to have a constant tap on the related disadvantages, such as wrong/misinterpretation of the social media promotional message, thus witnessing massive backlash among the online population (Wibowo et al., 2020). In addition, the rather time-taking context of social media marketing ROI can often create less engagement-driven content for brands, resulting in product recall typed incidents.
Moreover, while deciding on the desired-level marketing communications pitch, it is also crucial for having decided on the right means of reaching the vaster audiences' base. In that regard, the choice of the concerned social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, can be found legitimate (Zollo et al., 2020). It had already been mentioned in the above part of the study that Millennials are the target audiences for the digital advertisement plan for Unilever's new laundry capsule. The usage of the chosen social sites is also found to be dominant among the millennial generation at large. Millennials seem to prefer browsing varied content types, varying from photos, videos, newsletters and others (Demeku, 2021). The one platform which Millennials seem to gravitate much towards, even more than their younger equals, comes as Facebook. It has been found that 87% of the Millennials are inclined in using this platform as compared to only 32% of Gen Z (Demeku, 2021). Moreover, the usage of YouTube is also found to be prevalent among 54% of Millennials. Moreover, 71% of Millennials are also found to use Instagram (Demeku, 2021). Given reference to such stats, the decision of considering the social media digital media-based marketing communication for Unilever’s laundry capsules got thematised. [Referred to as Appendix 1]
Considering the user advocacy and multi-faceted benefits aligned with social media marketing, it can rather be assumed as to communicate the key promotional message of the Unilever laundry capsule in terms of having stronger dirt exclusion and sustainability attributes. Moreover, the actual communication purpose for the digital advertisement, brand awareness only can take place in the given scenario (Koay et al., 2020). In that regard, the noted product can attain more marketplace spotlight, similar to conventional liquid and powdered wash care goods. The rather aim to urge target audiences making the switch to this alternative product can hence be facilitated in light of the digital advertisement plan-based emotional brand appeal context. Having considered the theoretical concept of social media-based communicational mode, it can surely be claimed to attain an interactive reciprocal communication pitch in such a scenario (Bukar et al., 2020). The total audience or target consumers' overall experience with the promoted digital advertisements can rather be measured to determine the OVP “Online Value Proposition”.
Part B: CSR and Ethical Issues
The ethical and sustainability initiatives of the company
It is to determine the pivotal role played by corporate sustainability as well as business ethical pitch for modern journal of business ethics organisations. Present-day business firms are facing the menace of environmental degradation in the face of climate change facts. The global and national unions thus had come together as well as formed many SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals. It is all about enabling the business operations in a likewise manner for attaining the desired business ethics pledges as well as actualising the highly-important sustainability attributes. The consideration of Corporate Social Responsibility of CSR is thus gaining high popularity for modern firms (Štreimikienė and Ahmed, 2021). It is to locate how Unilever is making advancements towards such a CSR drive. The pivotal existing actions undertaken by the conglomerate hence will be critiqued here for determining its sustainability reputation. The context of Carroll’s Pyramid of CSR theory hence advocates the need of being socially responsible in terms of satisfying ethical, legal, economic and philanthropic expectations driven by society and onlookers at any given period of time (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2019). In light of this 4-layer CSR pyramid, the existing ethical pitches of the concerned brand will be elucidated herein:
Economic responsibility comes as the most common social responsibility for businesses. It is because it duly reflects the key purpose of any business, namely, to create enough financial value. Economic responsibility also refers to the noted practice of making economic decisions, relying on the commitment of doing good (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2019). The common practices aligned with financial responsibility include making investments in alternative energy areas, funding local charities for bolstering organisational mission and investing money in community-development programs. Considering the full year and quarter 4 results of Unilever in 2023, the brand's turnover was found to increase by 14.5%, thus worth €60.1 billion, including 6.2% currency impact as well as 1.0% net acquisitions’ disposal (unilever.com, 2023). Moreover, the operating underlying profit had been €9.7 billion, seeing 0.5% up as compared to the last year. It was also found that the operating underlying margin saw a decline of 230bps, 16.1% in the said period (unilever.com, 2023). Moreover, in 2022, Unilever's global revenue had generated over 60.07 billion of euros, thus seeing an almost 8 billion euros' increase to the previous operating year (statista.com, 2023).
Figure 6: Worldwide revenue of Unilever
(Source: statista.com, 2023)
Legal journal of business ethics responsibilities might not merely be the obligations of the people or the general public. As business firms themselves are legal entities, they must act in an effective manner to observe the rules and laws. The reputed business firms are also socially dependable and acclaimed by the common public (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2019). Every journal of business ethics hence must have the responsibility for operating the business actions, within pre-set boundaries, through varied agencies and commissions as well as the levels of government. Such regulations and rules are rather set to maintain the desired balance as well as ensure the greater good of society. Unilever is rather found to lead one purpose-led business operation by remaining mindful of the noted legislative areas such as inclusion and diversity, human rights, ad responsible business (unilever.com, 2023). The organisation, thus, is found to have the dedication to create a more neutral and inclusive workplace as well as offering proper work provisions to all. Unilever is also fair in offering prosperity context to the ones depending on it for living. The values of Unilever in terms of Pioneering, Responsibility, Respect and Integrity also help it to remain legal in all its business decisions (unilever.com, 2023).
Ethical responsibility duly indicates the organisation's commitment for operating the business in a thoroughly ethical manner by upholding enough human rights principles like fair treatment towards all stakeholders, equal pay and fair-trade policies. The context of ethical responsibility in business also remains concerned with ensuring the firms operate in an ethical as well as fair context (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2019). It is notable that business firms that accept ethical responsibility tend to practice more ethical behaviour for leaders, investors, suppliers, customers and employees. Human rights hence come as one non-negotiable part of Unilever’s business. Moreover, the conglomerate is also dedicated to offer positive nutrition to its consumers (unilever.com, 2023). Unilever is found to hold a zero-tolerance global approach towards all types of corruption. The business integrity program of Unilever helps to bring the values to life for all the staff as well as enabling them to apply ethical standards all across the day-to-day work. It is the Code of Business Principles that incorporates clear guidelines, policies and learning materials to control, detect, respond to and prevent any wrong workplace behaviour (unilever.com, 2023). Taking the right actions towards Environmental degradation sustainability also comes as one major ethical responsibility of Unilever. It is all because of offering a proper Environmental degradation scenario to both existing and future generations. Hence, climate change facts action, Regenerating and Protect Nature and a waste-free world are found to be some key sustainability drives of Unilever. The conglomerate hence had been identified to make the progression to the issue of Sustainable Development Goals sourcing, waste stewardship, zero-carbon future and other areas (unilever.com, 2023).
Figure 7: Cases of Unethical business practices in Unilever
(Source: unilever.com, 2023)
The philanthropic responsibility of CSR duly indicates the business organisations' goals, aims, and objectives to actively better/improve society on overall. A prime aspect of corporate philanthropy comes as to donate money to some noble causes for the local community from the organisational earnings. The context of philanthropy only serves the power of influencing lasting societal changes. While an organisation gets the desired support, the 'ripple effect' seems to occur through touching many lives, potentially for generations. The context of philanthropic responsibility thus can rather be looked at as one key cornerstone for a stable society (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2019). In the wake of the global pandemic, Unilever has donated over €100 million priced sanitiser, soap, food and bleach. The conglomerate had also given €50 million for the Covid action Platform to the noted World Economic Forum, thus supporting the organisations such as UNHCR and UNICEF (unilever.com, 2023). Unilever is also assisting smallholder farmers all across the supply chain for improving yields and grown crops' consistency and quality. For the Philippines, it had also formed one innovative program with HLA Humanitarian Leadership Academy for supporting SME businesses to get ready to face emergencies (unilever.com, 2023).
Table 3: CSR initiatives of Unilever
Areas of shortcomings
- Plastic pollution still remains one burning issue in Unilever’s sustainability and business ethics’ context. The organisation is one of the top global plastic polluter brands, only to create major problems for the climate change facts
issue (Chandra and Jatmika, 2022).
- The palm oil sourcing context for Unilever brands is still a long way to achieve the full-on sustainability mark.
- The problem of discrimination is one key concern area for Unilever's marketing and products.
- The issue of labour abuse is also prevalent in global supply chain operations (Chandra and Jatmika, 2022).
- In the first place, Unilever needs to have taken stricter steps towards unethical labour practices and discriminatory workplace stances to become more legal and ethical in future.
- Then, Unilever has been suggested for replacing all its brands' packaging with paper and other biodegradable ones from the existing plastic packaging.
- Lastly, it can be proposed for enabling Unilever for using only sustainably-sourced raw materials, having less contribution to deforestation typed issues.
This noted discussion had hence been helpful to create a brand-new digital promotion strategy for Unilever's laundry capsules, to be circulated over online digital platforms for the upcoming year. The study had started with having a brief background analysis of Unilever, thus attaining a holistic insight into its operations. Thereafter, the first digital market planning stage, namely deciding the product-specific segmentation and positioning strategies, had been taken on board. The underlying sub-groups as income, social class, generation, age, interest, buying pattern and others, had been helpful to decide the target audience for the digital ads