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The Unilever market analysis and overview

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 4487 words Published: 13th Apr 2017

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“To add vitality to life” is Unilever’s everlasting corporate mission, and it works to create a better future every day. Ever since Unilever was established in 1884 by the founder William Hesketh Lever, It has grown to one of world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods. “Winning in the market place” is one of the core secrets of its success (Unilever Global, 2010).

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In 1996, Unilever’s market share of powder category in Brazil reached as high as 81 per cent with three brands: Omo, Minerva and Campeiro. Despite its brand name and company goodwill Unilever was unable to penetrate the detergent market in the North East (NE) of Brazil. The North East of Brazil constitutes twenty eight percent of Brazil’s total population with close to forty eight million low income consumers (Chandon &Pacheco 2007).This report therefore aims at providing recommendations on the marketing strategy that Unilever should employ to target the low-income consumer segment.

The report is structured into three parts namely consumer behaviour, brand identity, and the marketing mix followed by our recommendations. First we shall identify the consumer behaviour differences among laundry products’ customers in Brazil. Second we shall discuss whether Unilever should bring out a new brand, reposition its existing brand or go ahead with a brand extension to target the North Eastern Brazilian market. We will then briefly touch upon the positioning of the brand and discuss in detail the marketing mix. Theories and empirical data shall be applied where necessary.


In order to make an effective marketing strategy, we should first analyse the consumer behaviour differences between the SE and NE segments of the laundry product market in Brazil. A deep understanding of the target consumer group is the first step in promoting a successful product to a new market (Chandon &Pacheco 2007). The following table clearly shows the consumer behaviour differences between the two market segments.



  • 53% of the population live on less than two minimum wages.
  • 21% of the population live on less than two minimum wages.
  • Only 28% of households own a washing machine.
  • Washing machines are a necessity with 67% of the population possessing a machine.
  • Women scrub clothes using bars. Then they add bleach to remove stains& little detergent powder at the end to make clothes smell good.
  • Women mix powder detergent and softener in a washing machine and use laundry soap and bleach only to remove the toughest stains.
  • North-easterners use a lot more soap (20kg)
  • South Easterners use a lot less soap than the NE (7kg)
  • Women often do their washing in a public place
  • Most women wash clothes alone at home
  • People attach the symbolic value to cleanliness; women see it as the dedication towards her family.
  • Cleanliness has much lower relevance for self-esteem and social status

It is essential to analyse the buyer role framework to understand the shopping habits of low income consumer. This in turn will help the firm in its marketing mix. Table 2 below analyses the buyer role framework for the laundry products in the NE segment:


Women of the house


Friends, neighbours or relatives that the women meet at the public laundry area


Husband or in the case of the unmarried woman the financial head of the family sometimes even themselves.


Husband and Wife or either one of them


The Whole Family/Household



Why are there such varied differences between the two consumer segments? The reasons can be attributed to some factors which influence their choices. All these factors can be divided into four aspects: cultural, social, personal and psychological.

The first factor that should be taken into consideration is “motivation” which belongs to the psychological aspect; because the motives drive consumers to buy. We all know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. According to his theory, motives can be divided into five categories: the physiological needs, the safety needs, the love needs, the esteem needs and the need for self-actualization.

Among these categories, the “physiological” is the basic need, which means the fundamentals of survival (Maslow 1943, 370-396). Only if the lower needs are well gratified, can new set of higher needs emerge (Maslow 1943). As stated in the case, women in the NE of Brazil, who have very low incomes and poor living conditions, are just fulfilling the most basic need and hence will prefer a product that offers value for money.

Another factor related to psychological aspect is “beliefs and attitudes”. Women in NE of Brazil attach symbolic value to the cleanliness of the clothes. They regard it as the dedication of the mother to her family. Due to this they would probably buy a laundry product with ability to remove stains.

Lifestyle is also an important factor that influences behaviour under personal aspect. “Lifestyle refers to the pattern of living as expressed in a person’s activities, interests and opinions. Lifestyle analysis, categorizes consumers according to their beliefs, activities, values, and demographic characteristics such as education and income” (Jobber, D. 2007). Women in the NE of Brazil, viewing washing clothes as one of the pleasurable routine activities of their week.

The forth factor which influences their consumer behaviour is the “social class”. It is a sub factor of “cultural aspect”. People in NE of Brazil are the working class and those at lowest level of subsistence. Their social class is at the bottom of the pyramid. Their income can only sustain their daily basic needs, and these factors greatly affect their buying attitudes towards the laundry products. This is one reason for their extensive laundry soap usage.

One factor of classifying households is based on their geographic location. This analysis is called geo demographics and is based on population census data. (Jobber, D. 2007). The households’ different economic conditions determine whether they will buy the kind of laundry product which may be less effective but with a more reasonable price or the best product without considering its price. The geographic location differences can enlighten the company to make the marketing strategies accordingly.


Marketing managers aim at developing their products into brands to help them create a unique position in the minds of their customers (Jobber, 2007, p. 326). It is therefore essential to understand the difference between a product and a brand. ‘A product can be anything that has the capacity to satisfy customer need. Branding is the process by which companies distinguish their product offering from the competition.’ (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 133). Branding enables customers to build relationship in terms of prestige, status, economy and eases the purchase decision (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 134).

After analyzing the needs of the target market we as a strategic marketing team propose that Unilever should employ the brand extension strategy.


Brand extension refers to the use of an established brand name on a new brand within the same broad market (Jobber & Fahy, 2006). As mentioned earlier, Unilever has three brands namely Omo, Minerva and Campeiro. Their prices are coherent with the order in which they are listed. Omo has been positioned as an expensive product with the ability to remove stains with low quantity when used in washing machines, thus reducing the need for soap or bleach. Minerva, the only brand having penetrated the laundry soap market and the detergent market has positioned itself has having an emotional appeal where as Campeiro stands out as the price brand (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 132). After closely examining the performance, characteristics, consumer preference and market penetration (in both the categories of laundry products) of the three brands we propose that Unilever should apply the brand extension strategy to Minerva. This will provide a good opportunity for Minerva as a brand to increase its market share in the laundry soap market, which is currently being dominated by other local or international products. Also the strong brand identity of Minerva can be sustained into the future through this extension (Jobber, 2007, p. 370). Minerva proves to be the right choice for brand extension because it is correctly priced and positioned unlike its sister brands which are either too low (Campeiro) giving the idea of low quality, or either too high (Omo) making it out of reach to our target market.

Our target market being the women in the North East of Brazil and considering their washing traits (Table 1) we propose that Minerva’s extension be a laundry soap that will try to cater to all of the needs of the North Eastern women or household. Also the North East market for laundry soap is very fragmented because laundry soap is much easier to produce than powdered detergent. Laundry soap is also seen as multi-use product that has many home and personal care uses.

The brand will be called Minerva Brilhar- Sabão Multi Purpose (Multi Purpose Soap). Under the brand flagship we propose to launch three products namely Minerva Brilhar Alfazema, Minerva Brilhar Cítrico and Minerva Brilhar Coco.The reason for choosing three variants is to reduce the risk of the product not being acknowledged by the mass. A detailed explanation of all the three variants will be discussed under the marketing mix.


‘A strong brand provides a strong foundation for leveraging positive perceptions and goodwill from the core brand to brand extensions. The new brand benefits from the added value that the brand equity of the core brand bestows on the extension’ (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 136). Minerva as a brand has a considerable share in both the laundry soap and detergent market. Though not the largest in terms of sales or market share, its positioning makes it the most popular or sought after brand.

The use of brand extension is an important marketing tool. The two main advantages of brand extension in launching new products are that:

  • Reduces risk
  • Less costly than alternative launch strategies (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142).

Both distributors and consumers may perceive less risk if the new brand comes or is part of an already established brand name (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142). The North Eastern side of Brazil has very few malls and supermarkets. Small retailers with small-to- midsized shops are very dominant. Due to their restricted clientele and their spending power shopkeepers would generally be skeptical in shelving a new brand, until and unless they were being paid for shelving the particular product.

Consumers generally seem to attribute the quality associations they have of the original brand to the new one (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142).Launch costs may also be reduced by using brand extension. Since the established brand name is already well known the task of building awareness of the new brand is not required. Consequently advertising, sales and promotional costs are reduced (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142). Furthermore, there is the likelihood that the company may be able to bank upon advertising economies of scale since advertisements for the original brand and its extension reinforce each other (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142).

Looking at the other side of the coin, there is also the danger that the marketing management will underfund the launch of the product, beleiving that the spin off effects of the original brand name will compensate. This can lead to low awareness. Another effect is ‘cannibalization’, which refers to a situation where the new brand gains sales at the expense of the existing brand. There is also the danger that bad publicity for one brand can affect the reputation of the other brands under the same umbrella. Also if a brand name is extended too far there can be a loss of credibility and this is something that the management needs to guard itself against (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 142).

‘Brand extensions are likely to be successful if they make sense to the consumer. If the values and aspirations of the new target segement (s) match those of the original segement, and the qualities of the brand name are likewise highly prized then success is likely’ (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 143).


4.1Market segmentation & Targeting:

Market segmentation is the technique used by marketers to gain an understanding about a diverse nature of markets. Market segmentation may be defined as ‘the identification of individuals or organisations with similar characteristics that have significant implications for the determination of marketing strategy’ (Jobber, 2007, p. 275)

Market segmentation provides the basis for the selection of target markets. The company decides the target market that it wants to serve. As customers in the target market segment are homogenous, a single marketing mix strategy can be developed to match those requirements (Jobber, 2007). The consumer segmentation criteria can be classified into three broad groups: Behavioural, psychological and profile variables (Jobber, 2007).In reference to the case at hand, Unilever is focussing on marketing its laundry products to the low income consumers in North East part of Brazil. Since the consumers in this region are homogenous a single marketing mix strategy can be developed.

The launch of Minerva Brilhar aims at targeting the market with the following factors taken into consideration:

  • Buyers: Household women from NE part of Brazil
  • Benefits Sought: Fragrance, Multi-use product.
  • Purchase occasion: Self Buy
  • Lifestyle: Conservatives with traditional values.
  • Gender: Female
  • Social Class: Lower income.
  • Income: 53% of population live on less than two minimum wages.
  • Geographic: North East VS South East part of Brazil.

5. Marketing Mix

Marketing Mix is the planned management of the customer relationship including product, price, place and promotion (Jobber, 2007, p. 1001). In what follows, each of the aforementioned elements of marketing mix is discussed in further detail.

5.1 Product Strategies:

For some time now it has been conventional for marketers to think in terms of different product levels (Jobber & Fahy, 2006).Managing products from a marketing perspective can be explained using the three product levels namely core product, actual product and augmented product as seen in Figure 3.


SOURCE ADAPTED: (Jobber & Fahy, 2006)

The three product levels that are depicted in the figure above can be applied to the case of Minerva Brilhar as shown in Table 3.

Core product

Convenience, Familiarity, Reassurance and Fragrance

Actual Product

Plastic pack, Images with text, Modern look to the laundry bar with a ready to use image

Augmented Product

Satisfaction, Guarantee, Ease of use.



The characteristics of Minerva Brilhar are discussed below across various criterions:

Key product drivers: Various fragrances to choose from, ability to remove stains, better grip, multi-use product (can be used for other home and personal care uses), value for money and longer life of the product.

Packaging: Plastic pack of 250 gms x 4 bars with images and text. Each flavour will be packed in individually.

Flavour and Ingredients: Three flavours namely Lavender (Alfazema), Citrus (Citrico) and Coconut (Coco). The patented formulae and technology developed by Hindustan Unilever in India for its brand Rin Supreme (sister company) will also be used to develop the above mentioned products. The technology used by HUL is called ‘Pure Clean’. The supposed technology would keep clothes looking new for longer unlike other detergent bars which contains 40% mined ingredients (Exchange4media, 2002)

Product positioning: Our products tag line would be ‘Keeps your family spotless for longer’.

The images of the product Minerva Brilhar are seen below.

Minerva Brilhar- Sabão Multi Purpose



5.2 Price Strategy:

Price from a marketing perspective can be defined as the sacrifice a consumer is prepared to make in exchange for the benefits of having a product or service, in order to achieve good value. The value is determined as a function of price, functional benefits and emotional benefits (Jobber & Fahy, 2006).Therefore in reference to Minerva Brilhar; we provide improved value to customers by using the differentiation approach strategy wherein the product benefits are enhanced by maintaining the price. Minerva Brilhar is reasonably priced as compared to the other Unilever detergent brands. The product provides enhanced value in terms of functional benefits such as ease of use with a better grip and is a multipurpose product. It also caters to the emotional benefits of the NE Brazilian customers such as cleanliness and provides a range of pleasant fragrances.


The pricing decision of products is influenced by internal and external factors. While deciding the price for Minerva Brilhar the following factors were taken into consideration.

Marketing strategy: The differentiation strategy of pricing is suggested since the product has enhanced value and is priced at a nominally higher price than the existing Unilever products.

Marketing Mix: The quality of the product was enhanced in terms of better grip and more variety of fragrances for multipurpose use.

Length of the distribution channel: The length of the distribution channel is long in the NE Brazilian market therefore the distributor mark up price is increased slightly.


There are three key methods used by managers to set prices namely cost based pricing, competition pricing and marketing pricing. The figure below briefly explains the three pricing methods.


SOURCE ADAPTED FROM: (Jobber & Fahy, 2006)

The pricing method adopted in the case of Minerva Brilhar is the marketing/customer based pricing wherein the price of the product is designed based on attaching appropriate price to reflect the benefits offered to the customers (Dr.Angela Tregear, 2010). The market orientation approach was used to decide the prices. Minerva Brilhar will be priced at 1.71$/kg. Table 4 will outline the cost break up of Minerva Brilhar

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The cost break up constitutes of formulation cost of 1.05$/kg due to added features in the product such as three variants in flavour and better grip with a pure clean formula. The packaging cost will be 0.15$/kg as it is a plastic pack with four bars. The promotional cost is slightly higher at 0.32 $/kg as heavy promotion is needed to build awareness for the brand extension. The major challenge faced by Unilever in pricing their products was to divert its funds from its premium brands to invest in a lower margin market. Therefore, pricing Minerva Brilhar at a price that is affordable by the mass can allow Unilever to penetrate the market better.

5.3 Promotion strategies:

Promotional activities can be broad and are aimed at the market as a whole. The overall range of techniques available to the marketer is usually known as the ‘promotional mix’ and comprises seven main elements which are represented in Figure 4 (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 217).


SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM (Jobber & Fahy, 2006)

The promotion of Minerva Brilhar will be done through advertising, sales promotion and sponsorship. A key point to note here is that almost all Brazilians irrespective of their incomes are avid television watchers (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 133). Despite of this fact, Unilever has responded by reducing the amount of advertising it places on television and instead switching to outdoor and internet advertising (Jobber & Fahy, 2006).Therefore retaining the existing Unilever marketing strategy of outdoor and internet advertising the product will be advertised will the help of posters on small stores. Radio will also be used as an alternative to television for delivering the message across to a wide number of audiences.

The other means of promotion that we propose for the new brand is through sales promotions. Consumer promotion techniques such as free samples can be introduced to encourage trial as this can be effective for brand extension (Jobber & Fahy, 2006). In the case of Minerva Brilhar we will sell 20g of free sample with the purchase of each pack of any flavour.

The final step of promotion for our brand will be through sponsorship. Considering the popularity of football in Brazil we propose that the sponsorship be in the form of a football match played by four teams namely Minerva, Minerva Brilhar Alfazema, Minerva Brilhar Cítrico and Minerva Brilhar Coco. We will encourage the North Eastern locals to participate in the match.This will indeed create an awareness among the minds of the consumers.There will also be wet demos of the product at the end of the match for consumers to visualise the features of the product.Radio shall also be used inorder to promote the event.

5.4 Distribution strategy:

The final part of the jigsaw is the distribution,the ‘place’ element of the marketing mix.Products must be available in adequate quantities, in convienent locations and at times when customers want to buy them.According to Jobber and Fahy,’distribution channel is the means by which products are moved from producer to end consumer’ (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 285).Choosing the most effective marketing channel is as crucial aspect of a marketing strategy.


All products require a channel for distribution. There are various channels of distributions. The most difficult decision is to decide which channel of distribution to choose. The distribution strategy comprises of three components namely channel selection, distribution intensity and channel integration.

Channel selection: The main challenge for Unilever was that they lacked a strong distribution network in NE part of Brazil (Jobber & Fahy, 2006, p. 134).This makes it indeed difficult for a product that is new to the market to position itself well. Keeping the practicality of the situation in mind, to establish a strong distribution channel for Minerva Brilhar would be to get access to as many specialised distributors as possible for the product to be recognised in the market. By keeping the channel length short, we will be able to cater to the mark up price of distributors.

Distribution intensity: The distribution intensity for Minerva Brilhar will be intensive as it essential for the product to reach the 75,000 small outlets spread over the North East. The product should be easily accessible or else the purpose of creating a brand extension is defeated.


Prahalad & Hart (2002) in an article state an interesting statement that ‘low income markets present a prodigious opportunity for the world’s wealthiest companies-to seek their fortunes and bring prosperity to the aspiring poor’ (Prahalad & Hart, 2002). Unilever’s own analysis of Nirma and HLL’s competition in the detergent business reveals more about the profit potential of the marketplace at the bottom of the pyramid (Prahalad & Hart, 2002).This theory is widely known as the bottom of the pyramid theory. It is essential for an organisation to bear in mind that they must focus on low income consumer segments as value-demanding customers (Rajghatta, 2010). In relevance to the case at hand, Unilever can adopt the bottom of pyramid theory and develop products exclusively for the lower income segments wherein producing only cheap and low quality products must not be an ultimate goal. The company can earn immense profits if it rightly creates a good quality product with the value for money. The brand extension strategy as proposed should be the right decision for Unilever as it can provide a wide range of products with value for money to the customers. If Unilever adopts the bottom of the pyramid theory in the right fashion it surely will move towards the road of success.


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