Unilever used to be the stock you should never sell. But the world has changed

Here we come to the first of business problems: globalization has stalled for a variety of reasons, from the popular belief that it has ended the rise in living standards for many in the West, to the desire for chains of supply more robust and less dependent on an unpredictable China better able to cope with upheavals like the pandemic.

Along with this trend, the rise of globalized brands, at least when it comes to the food, personal care and cleaning products Unilever sells, is also threatened.

“For a long time, global brands have been the place to be and Unilever has been riding the wave,” says Tineke Frikkee of Waverton Investment Management. “But now local brands are gaining share, helped by technology.”

Before the advent of the internet, it was almost impossible to build a successful brand from scratch if you didn’t have the kind of marketing influence, backed by a big budget, that came from being an established business. long-standing and with deep pockets like Unilever. You used the profits from your existing brands to develop new ones – exactly the kind of makeup we talked about.

This has changed. Now, start-ups with innovative ideas and catchy names can grab the attention of consumers through a smart social media campaign or the use of local online “influencers”. These original products, well rooted in their places of origin, can build a relationship with target customers in a way that a big budget advertisement for Persil, for example, cannot.


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