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Multinational company

I. Introduction:
1. Profile:
Unilever is a multi-national corporation. It is working in three fields of action: home care, personal care, food. It
has top brands; for example: Lipton, Hellmann. but they are one piece of all Unilever’s brands. There are more than
179 000 employees who are working in 500 companies of Unilever in 100 countries; moreover, Unilever also appears
in 70 different markets in the world. Every year, UN gains profit about 40 billion euro.
Unilever was founded in 1930 when 2 major companies, Margarine Unie and Lever sunlight merged. It has 2
headquarters, one in London (UN PLC) and the other one in Rotterdam (UN NV), which have the same directors and
act both successfully as single company because of an equalization agreement. Unilever’s shareholder, in both
England and Nether land, receive the same dividend. The Unilever PLC in London is responsible for administering the
Home and Personal Care group. The Unilever NV in Rotterdam undertakes to operate Unilever Best foods and Ice
Cream/Frozen Foods.
Now, Unilever is:
- The world number one in personal wash with fragrances and deodorants: Dove, Omo, Lynx.
- The world’s third large food company after: Nestle and Kraft. Unilever has many leading brands in culinary foods,
ice-cream, margarine and tea-based beverages: Knorr, Lipton, and Magnum.
- The world’s second advertiser: 2006, about 4.5 billion $ was used to advertise in Unilever.
Especially, Unilever joins climate leader “Unilever has a long-standing commitment to reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. Over the past decade, we have successfully reduced our CO2 emissions in our own manufacturing
operations by more than 30% in absolute terms. Across the globe, we are partnering with interested stakeholders to
maximize results. As such, we are pleased to be working with the EPA and other industry leaders to ensure that we
maximize the impact of our climate change strategies on the environment.” Gavin Neath, SVP , Global Corporate
Responsibility. Unilever’s mission is adding vitality to life:” feel good, look good and get more out of life “with all
Unilever’s brand”.
After 77 years, now Unilever has very modern technology, special produced skill, fine service system, perfect
selling and distribution systems, new working method, sensible marketing strategy…. They help Unilever to compete
and protect their brand in difficult economy case now.
2. History
Unilever was formed by the merger of British soap maker Lever Brothers and Dutch margarine producer Margarine
Unie in1929. At that time, 2 parents company have their own factories and some small business places. Because of
vegetable and marine oils, the main material for their products: margarine and soap, so in earlier, Unilever extended it
business to many countries where can find the main materials easily and cheaply. It built and purchased many
factories in Asia and in Latin American. In 1930’s Unilever entered Latin American ambitiously, daringly. In 1945-
1980, Unilever expand its business in Europe, mainly in the UK, the Netherlands, and West Germany. It
diversified new spheres: frozen foods, fish production, fish restaurants, transport, animal feed, chemicals, and printing.
In addition, Unilever expanded its core products: soaps and detergents in the world strongly. In 1930’s , 90 % of
Unilever’s profit belonged to soaps and detergents but in early 1980’s soaps and detergents brought to Unilever 40 %
profit, the main profit belonged to frozen food, additive of food, ice-cream, tea, cosmetic, home care. In 1930’s
Europe market contributed 20% common profit. After 50 years the profit figure in Europe market of Unilever was
double developing and Unilever, market was wide-open in Asia, Africa, Latin American, West Europe and SNG.
With 2 brands, Lipton and Brooke Bond, Unilever seizes 35 % in the world black tea product market. In
1972, Unilever purchased Lipton in UK and they already had Lipton in the US and Canada. In 1984, Unilever bought
Brooke Bond from another tea-US-company PG Tips with $618 million. Unilever became the worldwide market
leader in tea. In India, Unilever has been strong position in tea. India is the tea market leader of Unilever and Unilever
is the most major buyer tea in India. But in 1985, Unilever paid only $1.20 a day for each picker
In 1986:
- Unilever successfully acquired Chesebrough Pond. It is the first step of Unilever to participate care sector.
- With demanding oil to their core products, margarine and soap, Unilever took part in chemicals sector and had $ 2
billion business.
- Unilever turned into one of the largest trucker in Britain because of needs for transporting its consumer good
During 1983-1990, Unilever sold 70 companies including many companies which made Unilever leader position in
some product sectors in Europe. At that time, the main activities seem to buy and sell companies. In 1980s and 1990s,
Unilever began to reorganize corporation including: reforming structure, taking stock of property, reducing
employees, Proposing elastic objective . . .It was critical time when the differences from history, setting, market,
product, culture, geography were obstacle on merging companies and factories. The most symbolic case is the
merging between VNBD and UVGN. Then, Unilever’s slogan was ‘cumbersome, inflexible corporation’. An
important reason that made Unilever critic is the policies not care about worker much. It made the workers angry and
insecure so 4,000Unilever’s workers, from 10 countries concentrated and damaged in front of Unilever’ headquarter in
In 1989-1990, Unilever began changing its strategies to facilitate. That time was trouble, the impression economy
influenced strongly on Unilever. Reducing employees and merging companies seem to be the most effective method
in the world. But with Unilever, these methods weren’t enough effective. All actions were classified as: food,
Executive and personal care. The aim ways were developing the core products (tea, ice-cream, margarine, spreads, and
culinary products) in emerging market; priority regions to attack: China, India, Indonesia, Eastern Europe, Latin
America; combining comprehensible its internal products with its directing in Europe.
In 1995, Unilever wanted to develop totally its products in developing countries so this is its way to solve the trouble
- Became the leader position in ice-cream market in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, Argentine, Mexico, and
the US. Even, worldwide.
- Reduced its ice-cream factories in Europe from17 to 8.
- Purchased many important companies: Cica (made Unilever become leader status in culinary products in Argentina
and Brazil) , Kissan in India ( both very important tomato-based product companies), Laocai in China, Collman in the
UK, Amora- Maille in France and especially, in 2000, Unilever bought Best food.
In 1999, Unilever has 1600 brands in 150 countries but only 600 brands brought 90% profit to Unilever and 400
other brands were beginning to go to markets. Rate of increase profit every year of Unilever is slow down: from 5% in
1998 to 0.7 % in 2004, the fewest developing rate from mid 90’s. As from that time Unilever always has low
developing rate. In food sector, with the top brands including Lipton tea, Hellmann mayonne, Ben & Jerry ice-cream,
Unilever still stands after Nestle and Kraft Foods Inc. In Personal Care market, P&G and L’Oreal have more
advantage than Unilever. Unilever’s products always face with different products from other companies which cost
much cheaper. Margarine, soup, soap- the core products- have trouble in selling in American and Europe- traditional
market. The Unilever US companies divided and carried the Lever Brothers name until the 1990s. Unilever has been
really critical!
9/1999, Anthony Burgman and Niall Fitzgerald brought a 5-year-plan to reorganize corporation: Path to grow.
This plant’s objective was saving 1.6 billion $ every year and developing 5% profit in the end of the first year of plan
(Unilever’s profit in 1999 was about 44 billion $). To reach the plan, Unilever’s presidents decided to close 100
factories from 300 factories, dismiss 25 000 workers, sell property which doesn’t bring profit, make some decision
about reorganizing Unilever’s structure. In the other hand, Unilever reformed its brands. From 1600 brands, they sold
1200 brand and even 400 other brands are saved which brought 92% common profit. However, Unilever doesn’t be
helped much by this plan. The next only president of Unilever thought that the false case isn’t depended on Unilever’s
structure but only on Unilever’s products now that aren’t care much from customer. Unilever decided:
- Doing many market researches and found that nutrition products group is developing strongly.
- Bringing many new complete products: Nutrition vegetable juice..
- Making a plan that take the nutrition factor to every brand of Unilever.
- Having an objective: catch up Nestle and Procter & Gambler in Europe market.
For this plan in 2006, Unilever sold off the global frozen foods division; excluding the ICF ice cream business, and
the Italian frozen vegetables businesses.
Today, Unilever notices developing strong market. In 2006, it is the first time Unilever get much more profit from
developing markets than Europe- traditional market. 41 % profit from 53 billion dollar profit was brought to Unilever
by developing countries, is increased 8 % but profit in Europe market is developed 1% and in the US is 2.4%. Patrick
Cescau said that he found business opportunity when he visited customer’s house in developing country. In 2005,
Unilever profit was increased 3 % (reach 39.6 billion $) by Dove, Knorr, Rama, Axe, Dometos, Sunsilk .In the second
quarter 2007, Unilever announced that its interest was 1.6 billion $ was increased 16 %.
From 1930 to now, Unilever has been developed strongly, swiftly by purchasing and selling brands. In modern
economic, with many advantages and challenges, Unilever has innovated continuously. Developing, reorganizing,
difficulties, hope ness are the words that you can see in all Unilever’s history.

II. The marketing Strategies:

I think it is impossible to talk about marketing strategies used by multinational company. Because marketing
strategy is used differently with one product with one country. In the other hand, every marketing strategy is helped by
professional consultative agency, for example: In Viet Nam, all marketing strategies of the brands is advised by Mind
Share company in Singapore. But I can report about many remarkable points in marketing strategies in Viet Nam:
Marketing Mix 4P:
1. Place:
1995, the first year Unilever went to Viet Nam and Unilever decided to created a marketing and distribution
product over 100 000 places. Unilever brought direct retailed notion, used sellers coming to each retailed shop
following distribution channel and the seller’s missions are making an new offer, delivery, take credit for next time.
The retailed shops are got shop windows to use their space effectively.
2. Product:
Unilever VN gets international standard for its product but still flexible with Vietnamese. They bought old famous
brands in VN: Viso, P/S. then, Unilever VN improve recipes, make new flexible package and marketing effectively.
Besides, Unilever VN researches Vietnamese demand masterly: “thinking as Vietnamese”. Especially, Unilever VN
cares much about counterfeit and genuine, protects its customer, defend its intellectual property: its products have
resisted counterfeit logo, ensure to protect its customer.
3. Promotion:
Unilever has 2 faces in marketing:” above the line” and “below the line”.
“Above the line” is acted to popularize in television in magazines…It reports to customer quickly about new product
including qualify, how to use…
“Below the line” is “all of popularize action not in mass media...”.In fact, it depends on mass media, objectives,
qualify, distribution and target-customer. Specifically, it is lower the prices, coupon, giving presents with many forms,
exchanging package to present, bringing sample of no commercial value, competition sponsor…These doing build up a
reputation to brand imagine of Unilever
4. Price:
Because 80% Vietnamese consumer is living in countryside and their income is low, Unilever VN has an objective to
decrease Unilever’s producing expenses, bring sensible prices. Unilever VN with local small companies find local
material to exchange import material, distribute production , help local in financing in technology…
5. People:
The other ‘p’ important factor- Corporate social responsibility – is upholding in Unilever’s marketing strategy.
Unilever VN always care about improve human resources, it helps durable development. Unilever’s slogan is
“developing by human” so Unilever VN built professional employees system, improve their power. Besides, Unilever
employees HIV labor; it integrates HIV patients into public and propagandizes knowledge effectively about HIV for
public. Marjin Van Tiggelen, president of Unilever VN, said that the companies used its strength to help Vietnamese
overcoming difficulties getting rich and they are Unilever’s potential customer. In Viet Nam, Unilever VN leads in hu
manitarian action. For example: developing project in health field, education field …as “P/S protects smile”, Lifebuoy
and washing hands, fund to set poor woman up in business …

Refence from:
Unilever company profile. Food World Research & Consultancy / Paul Elshof. Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale
Ondernemingen (SOMO). 2005. .

Ngoc Thuy and Giang Uyen, viewed 06November 2005, (

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