Unilever Benelux and social media: playing catch up?

by Steve Seager on June 21, 2010 . Views: 1000

It’s not often I dive into the world of FMCG. Not my area of expertise. But this recent article summary (in Dutch) quoting Nils van Dam, Benelux Marketing Director of Unilever, prompted me to write this post.

I’ve bulletised his comments, blow by blow, and added some thoughts. I leave you to make up your own mind about his views. And what do you believe? It would be nice to hear from you!

1. Social media is a hype.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, here are some stats on social media marketing in terms of spend projection for 2010.

2. There is no proven business model for social media marketing.

Here’s a list of more than 50 case studies from my business partner. Split down by sector.

3. Unilever is not a niche player. It is a mass market player.

Mass markets are a construct to help brands spend money more effectively in traditional mass channels. But they are made up of many targeted niches, aren’t they?

4. The average shopper only spends half and hour in the supermarket. And makes their decision about what to buy in only 3 seconds.

According to Nielsen, global consumers spend more than 5 hours a week on social networking sites. (An 82% increase from last year.) During which time their purchase decisions are being continually formed. Not just in three seconds in the supermarket.

5. The consumer IS more and more interested how products are made so Unilever will be informing the consumer about this via social media

This is a good move. This should help Unilever better manage their reputation. And avoid a re-run of last year’s social media baptism of fire in which Greenpeace showed how Unilever’s purchases of palm oil resulted in the destruction of Indonesian rain forests.

The last words

As Unilever’s former CMO, Simon Clift, who left Unilever earlier this year said in this article; “We may be ahead of some of our competitors, but we’re most definitely behind consumers.”

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