AdAsia: Learning the rules of the game from Harish Manwani

02 Nov,2011

By Tuhina Anand

So what does behemoth like Unilever do when a shampoo sachet priced at Rs 2 and projected at doing big sales doesn’t take off in the market? It focuses on listening to the consumers and gets an insight into why the market is not responding as expected. Then goes into reverse engineering which helps in bringing down the cost of the product, builds a manufacturing plant for sachets and prices the sachet at Rs 1, a pricing figure that consumers were more comfortable with thus getting the perfect recipe for success. This and many more such insights were shared by Harish Manwani, Chief Operating Officer, Unilever and Chairman, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) who was speaking at AdAsia 2011 on the topic ‘The Game Changers’.

Mr Manwani termed HUL as the `emerging market company’ as the economic centres shift to emerging markets. In fact, 54 percent of their business comes from the developing market. But one of the lessons to keep in mind is that it’s not one India but many Indias and how one caters to such heterogeneous consumers is the key to succeed. Affordability and accessibility needs to be kept in mind but at the same time one has to make money too and that’s where consumer insight comes in handy. He also talked about having a sharper focus on shoppers than consumers.

The key that also emerged from this session was Unilever’s belief in doing well by doing good like the project Shakti that has empowered women which has also helped them in selling their product. The strategy that has emerged is of making brands meaningful as well as brands that are marketed should have a social purpose. Mr Manwani said, “We have been ensuring that all our brands just don’t have functional benefit but also has social benefit.” In fact Unilever factories have been working relentlessly towards sustainability and creating products through innovation that would also help in bettering our environment.

This shift can also be seen in communication that Unilever has adopted like in the case of Surf where initially the messaging was simple and talked about the whiteness that is the basic want from detergent to taking the route of saving and addressing the housewives the obvious customer for the product in famous Lalita Ji. The communication has now taken the route of saving two buckets of water, thus the brand becoming socially responsible. So there is a technology that helps in building product that is superior and then there is communication that helps in delivering a social message with brands that have social purpose. That’s Game Changers.

He also pointed that power of brands will not change, power of consumer insights will remain and so will the ability to create great advertising and its power will remain unchanged but going forward what will change or bring about a change will be the advent of the digital medium, the ability to work with consumers, importance of 360-degree communication, having a strategic and not opportunistic relationship with the agency and creating tools that will help marketers in knowing exactly where there money is going when they spend on advertising.

 

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One response to “AdAsia: Learning the rules of the game from Harish Manwani”

  1. Keep Changing that is mantra to win the race.

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