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Unilever Ambitious About Asian Market, Adopts Social Media

Posted by Vaibhav Kalamdani on October 31, 2009

unilever-logoLooking at the rate at which social media is growing amongst small businesses across the world, corporate giants are making sure not to be left behind in experimenting the latest marketing medium. We’ve already seen companies like Ford, General Motors, Coca Cola, Southwest Airlines, etc. embrace social media and using it effectively to create a strong online presence. Now, its time for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies to set the gear high and ride its benefits! According to Advertising Age, FMCG mogul Unilever is all set to whirl the social media wand in the Asian market.

Apparently, Asia is the biggest market for the FMCG companies to market their products, with demand escalating from fast-developing nations like China and India. Being aware of the growing competition, Unilever has decided to promote three of its popular brands, Pond’s, Lux and Comfort through social media. The aim is to target specific regions and engage users via certain social media platforms like blogs, video-sharing sites, etc. For example, the company plans to use bloggers in a blind test of Pond’s Age Miracle moisturizer as part of its experiment and marketing strategy in the region for the skin-care brand.

The consumption level of skin-care products in China is high, with the Chinese women being particular about the products that they use. This is good news for Unilever, but the growing competition from other brands like L’Oreal, Clinique, Olay brands, P&G’s SK- II and Lancome is a reason to worry for the multinational giant.

Realizing that traditional media causes deeper holes in the pocket than the digital media, Unilever opted for a stealthy digital campaign to generate buzz, establish the product’s credibility and invite Chinese women to try Pond’s Age Miracle. An initiative towards achieving this goal is, where Unilever asked for volunteers to try out an unidentified anti-aging solution and quickly signed up with 150 official testers, according to Advertising Age.

With over 100 million Chinese claiming to communicate via forums/discussion boards, and 41 million being heavy social-media contributors, it could be risky for Unilever to influence such a massive community. In case if women do not accept the brand, it could fail in the market within no time.

But looking at the past where bloggers gushed over the mysterious moisturizer in several numbers of posts during a 7-day trial last month, with 9 out of 10 continued to promote the brand as enthusiastic, unpaid brand ambassadors, Unilever wouldn’t need to be that worried.

The aim behind the digital campaign is clear. Unilever would like to leverage the tremendous demand available in the Asian market by connecting with its target audience. With this kind of hunger, the company would also like to hunt for customers in other countries like Singapore, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

The initiative to launch the campaign could be similar, i.e. targeting bloggers, forums and other social media platforms where users flock in huge numbers. This means, one can expect several activities by the firm in the Southeast Asia belt. With digital media being 1/10th of the cost of traditional media, this strategy could certainly prove useful for Unilever in the short as well as in the long run. 

Using Facebook and YouTube:

With over 300 million users on Facebook, a large part of the population apparently comes from Asia. Hence, Unilever plans to exploit the various Facebook fan sites and communities that are dedicated to its brands (like Pond’s). For example, one in the Indonesian city of Bandung has approximately 10,000 members, which the company is using as a test to reach young Asian women, develop tailor-made Facebook activities like games, invitation to events, branded merchandise program offering discounts to local lifestyle hangouts and a mobile app with girl-friendly content, according to Advertising Age.

In the previous month, Unilever invited top beauty bloggers from India, Indonesia and Malaysia to encourage fans and followers to view a spot, called ‘Behave Beautiful’ which features Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra. The contest then requires users to create and upload their own ‘Behave Beautiful’ clips to the Lux YouTube channel.

In fact, it’s not only in Asia, but also the Far-east and Africa that Unilever plans to focus its social media campaign. With so many activities, the company certainly seems to set an example and embark on a long social media journey.

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