Company Overview of Unilever Essay

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Unilever Future Market Plan 2016-2020 Essay


The below paper is designed to develop a marketing plan for Unilever for the period 2016 to 2020. The period – as the research paper created by ESPN, Mindshare and Unilever (Hofman et al 1) describes – is not without challenges. The way people consume media is changing and is likely to change at a greater extent in the five years covered in the paper. The way people engage with brands, develop preferences and interact with companies is changing, too.

Companies like Unilever can and should take advantage of the technological developments and create a media and marketing communication plan that makes them successful in the marketplace, through proactive approaches. The paper will analyze the report, the trends and possible outcomes in order to develop a framework that covers the future media strategy of the firm. In order to find a feasible solution, however, there will be a need for analyzing not only trends, but media consumption patterns, developments for the future, as well as the effectiveness of the emerging communication channels.

Case Question: What should Unilever’s Integrated Marketing Communication Goals and Media Strategy be for 2016 – 2020 Also create a marketing plan outline for their media strategy.

As the below paper will show, the challenges of the future marketing channels are numerous, and there are several certainties and uncertainties that will determine the success of marketing related to technological advancements, customer behavior. Due to the impact of globalization and postmodern socialization patterns, it is likely that people’s buying habits, preferences and motivators will be different 2-8 years from now. The main forces that will have an effect on media communication and marketing of Unilever’s products are: social, economic, technological and regulatory. These forces and their most likely changes will also be included in the case study, with a special focus on social and technological forces, determining the media communication of the 21st Century.

The scenario matrix of the Media 2015 Study (4) determines two main forces influencing consumer behavior: attention and access. While it is harder to get the attention of consumers to listen to media advertising the traditional way (media and street advertising), new channels, like online media, mobile and search marketing are emerging. One of the most effective ways of communicating mission, company vision and values is likely to be social media. This aspect of marketing communication will also be detailed in the study.

Konsbruck (5) details the constraints of new media communication patterns, related to the development of information technology. The author states that one of the main constraints of “getting the message through” online channels is that people already suffer from information overload. The internet is an endless source of information, media and advertisement, therefore, it is hard to “get the message through the noise”. However, there are also risks associated with the technological development of recent years.

Information can be shared easily, accessed for free, and the credibility of online sources varies. While people are using review sites to decide which product to purchase, the credibility of some of these portals can be questionable. Reputation management, therefore, needs to be implemented into Unilever’s media communication plan, in order to ensure that reliable, positive messages get through to customers, which are not only able to perform marketing functions, but also communicate the brand’s values, vision and engage interaction with existing and potential buyers.


The key influences of consumer behavior in the 21st Century, as previously mentioned is globalization and the change in shopping habits. The increase of number of people shopping online is likely to move shopping channels from large hypermarkets like WalMart to convenient online channels.

As the risks and constraints associated with technological development have already been partly covered in the previous part of the case study, there is a need to summarize them and add some more findings from the Media 2015 Study. (7) As previously mentioned, the customer-perceived credibility of information available through the internet is currently declining. At the same time, trust in the media today has hit its all-time low. On the top of information overload, the study also mentions attention deficit, which means that getting messages through is becoming harder.

The creation of brand communities, emotions marketing and communication patterns aiming to strengthen customer-brand relationships are today’s fastest growing trends, according to Hudson et al. (15).
Reviewing the current publications of Unilever, it is evident that the corporation is building upon communicating its vision and mission online. Focusing on sustainable living, the company’s vision states that “We work to create a better future every day.” (Unilever Website) Further, the company already features events, Twitter feeds on the main website and has a brand page on Facebook. Focusing on families’ concern for the environment and life quality of future generations, the marketing and media messages of Unilever are currently effectively communicating the brand vision. The new approach of the company strengthening the features of corporate social responsibility within the organization and creating a clear direction does engage both shareholders and customers.


The way companies are going to market their products is going to change in the future. According to Google, video advertising, increased use of review and comparison sites have changed customer behavior. For example, Google’s Think Inside website states that eighty percent of customers shopping for a new mobile phone visit review sites and compare features, as well as prices. This also indicates that there are some sociological patterns that need to be addressed by the company, in order to understand, meet the expectations of, and engage customers.

Further, according to Kotler (375), Unilever’s current approach towards balancing traditional and digital media is something they call “superdistribution”. This means that there is a strong link between viral videos, online campaigns created and their coverage in traditional media: newspaper and TV ads. This multiplies the result and creates a greater traction on the marketplace for Unilever. Unilever does not move towards simply digital ads, even though there is a shift in marketing.

The management understands that the combination of the two advertising methods creates better results than either one of them alone. Digital advertising is used to enhance the effect of TV and printed ads. Subsequently, Unilever does not have a dedicated digital marketing team, still all managers are fluent in online advertising. A good example for this type of “superdistribution” is the Evolution campaign that started with a viral video, got extensive media coverage, and worked successfully integrated into a broader marketing campaign. Still, it would not be fair to call the “Digital Marketer of the Year” a company that misses out on the opportunities provided by digital marketing.

However, – unlike other firms stepping into the world of online advertising – they understand that abandoning traditional marketing methods would take away some of the results provided by online ads and viral campaign. Combining the two, on the other hand, can multiply results. Focusing on strong brands that people can relate to, such as Dove as a part of the “Real Beauty” campaign has resulted in greater brand awareness, a more successful communication of the image of the brand and consequently more sales. The campaign also provided the company with invaluable free media coverage based on the campaign’s success, further communicating a positive company image.