Unilever looks to innovation for growth, sustainably

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 08, 2011 Published on March 08, 2011


FMCG behemoth Unilever is looking to double its Indian subsidiary's turnover in less than 10 years, even as it undertakes a ‘Sustainable Living Plan' globally.

According to Mr Paul Polman, the CEO, the plan sets a ‘very audacious ambition' of doubling the company's turnover, while minimising overall environmental impact.

“In 10 years, all agricultural materials we buy will be sustainable. A billion more people will have access to health and nutrition through our brands and activities. Our total environmental impact, across the entire supply chain, will be the same or less than what it is today,” said Mr Polman.

He added, “It will be increasingly relevant, not just for the sake of the earth, but also for consumers basing decisions on which companies they want to buy their products from. Increasingly, the social responsibility will be a driver of choice.”

“With inability of many Governments to take charge of the issues we have, consumers will increasingly take charge. We see it happening with social networks, we see it happening in West Asia. As HUL and across the total business model globally, we are very excited about that.”

The company is banking on a base of around 2 billion consumers using its products everyday to herald this socially conscious consumption.

The Unilever official attributed incremental turnover or sales from innovations on brands in the range of €3-5 million two to three years ago. Now, the company is looking at innovations delivering €50 million or more. “The Dove launches that you see here in India, the hair care roll outs of products like Clear, and the Sunsilk relaunches, are examples of that.”

In 2009, nine initiatives were rolled out in 10 or more countries, while in 2010 the company had 40 such innovations. “Bigger innovations rolled out faster, and then obviously supporting them, is what drives our growth,” added Mr Polman.

On the Indian market, he said, “It's a very exciting period to be in India. Our innovation programme here is very strong — we've innovated about 30 to 40 per cent of our portfolio — instead of catching up, we are leading. Sixty per cent of the business is growing share.”

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Published on March 08, 2011
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