Ben Grace, marketing director at Bulldog Natural Grooming, asks: How will the growing trend in natural and ethical consumerism influence your marketing strategy?
KW: Any consumer trend influences marketing. The bigger the trend, the more people become engaged with it. As far as Unilever is concerned we want to be a leading innovator and marketer. An example of this is PG Tips, for which we source a significant amount of tea from the Rainforest Alliance. By 2015, all Lipton and PG Tips teas will be 100% Rainforest Alliance globally.
And we have been a significant champion for setting up and making progress on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil [an industry-led initiative set up with the conservation organisation WWF]. We have made a commitment to sourcing completely sustainable palm oil by 2015.
I want to make sure that what we are not doing is just following this as a marketing drive, but as a substantive area. So I want to engage consumers with the products and claims they are interested in, as well as sourcing the products from the right place.
Naomi Segal, campaign director for green lifestyle organisation Global Cool, asks: I notice Unilever has recently launched its Cleaner Planet Plan. Do you think consumers find your sustainability activity credible?
KW: Unilever has a real commitment to the society that it serves. We are looking at the whole value chain, from sourcing to consumer use. The big focus is around our own manufacturing and production. We have made a 41% reduction in CO2, and a 73% reduction in overall waste. They are big figures in an area that is totally within our control.
But you have to start looking at how retailers and consumers engage with your products and work out where there is a big environmental footprint. Take something like Persil Small & Mighty, where we developed the technology to make the product two times concentrated.
This means less water, less plastic, fewer lorries and less shelf space. It’s a win for the consumer and retailer and a competitive advantage for us – and of course it’s a win for the planet.
Gemma Barton, senior brand manager at Green & Black’s, asks: You’ve spoken about digital going from strength to strength; is there a digital campaign that has really stood out for you?
KW: Lipton Tea in China stands out for a campaign that we did at the Chinese New Year. People could upload a picture of their face on to a video that featured people singing and dancing to bring in the New Year. This video was forwarded to more than 100 million people. It shows that if you can get the right sort of approach to digital marketing, you really can engage a massive audience.