Simon Clift, Unilever chief marketing officer, claims that the global manufacturer is “not currently planning” to reduce its European marketing spend. He was speaking that the annual Marketing Society conference today (25 November).
Clift, who was recently appointed to the newly created position, added that Unilever would continue to focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly practices despite the economic downturn.
He told delegates that because Unilever makes products that people need and use, it is not as sensitive to recession. He added that the company was “not planning any deceleration in our innovation programme … in a recession we just have to look much harder at where we might be wasting money.”
He pointed out that 75% of the company’s growth comes from developing markets and added: “It would be naÔve to think we won’t be affected but the market will continue to grow.”
He added that the company experienced recessions in developing markets every three years and had amassed experience in dealing with the challenges. “My feeling is that people still want good products but they will just buy less of them. It would be a tragic thing to strip out quality.”
Clift said that there will be some “fantastic bargains” for advertisers but the market was not yet at the point where the downturn was being reflected in media pricing.
Addressing the challenge of investing in sustainability during tough economic times Clift said that manufacturers had a responsibility to keep their nerve.
He said: “All consumer behaviour regarding the environment is about delegating to manufacturers. It puts a lot of responsibility onto us. In the end it is an important challenge to us.
“Consumers’relationship to capitalism is going to go through a fundamental change through this financial crisis. People will realise unleashed capitalism does not have all the answers.”