UNO April 2019

How to create brands relevant to the home care market

“Making your home a better world, making our world a better home!” This is the mantra inside Unilever’s Home Care unit, reflecting our dual focus on consumer needs and desires to feel good in their homes and the sustainability of the planet in which we live—and which is, after all, our home.

Home care markets may seem at first to be mostly functional and commoditized, but their role in family life, not in the least thanks to their importance in the domestic budget, makes them one of the areas through which our brands can best touch people’s lives.

This is one of the many factors that motivate Unilever’s 62,000 global workers to focus on the development, communication and marketing of our products. We strive to have a positive impact on sustainability, whether by improving health and wellbeing, reducing our environmental footprint or promoting better living conditions, either by creating jobs or supporting equal opportunity for women. Working with this spirit of purpose and service has been a part of Unilever since its foundation in 1888, when Lord William Lever created the Lever Brothers factory in Port Sunlight, bringing better conditions to the English community through its vision of making cleanliness and hygiene commonplace in society. Over the last 130 years, its legacy has been growing, and today it is essential for any project in the company to add to our society’s and planet’s sustainability.

But even if sustainability is a growing trend, it is already much more advanced in other European markets. Even in Portugal, it is more commonly found in food or personal care than in home care. One of the major things that prevents this market from accelerating its search for more sustainable solutions is that their production is still often more expensive than that of conventional products, which translates into higher final consumer prices. If we combine this with the difficulty in perceiving the difference between technical specifications and the language used in their ads, as well as the fact that they do not always have a proven efficacy, we can see why this segment is still very small in these areas.

Given this, it is imperative key brands eliminate these barriers so sustainable propositions become the norm in Home Care, something required by consumers for all their household hygiene products or clothing treatments.

“In a market where pricing and promotion take on an ever-greater importance, only brands with a clear perspective or differentiating cause will remain top-of-mind among consumers”

And what does it take for a brand to be relevant? Faithful to our legacy, we believe relevance can only be built with a purpose! In a market where pricing and promotion take on an ever-greater importance, only brands with a clear perspective or differentiating cause, consistently communicated, will remain top-of-mind among consumers and give additional motive to purchase them.

Skip is undoubtedly a corollary to this statement. No other brand in the Portuguese home care market could better exemplify how a value proposition translates to fairness and, consequently, consumer preference. With the aim of showing that dirt stains are just marks of a life well-lived, since 2005, the company’s mission has been to motivate outdoor education for children through its “It’s Good to Get Dirty” program. Linking “Brand Say” with “Brand Do,” this idea has been continuously communicated through events and activities, such as family days at Monsanto Park, the opening of a children’s playground in Outurela and, more recently, Outdoor School Days.

This year, a disruptive campaign shocked the public for three days by “threatening” to launch reality show Space Kid, in which a 7-year-old would live alone in a “spacecraft” for 1 year, only connected to the world via technology. The idea arrived with the launch of the Momentos que Marcam (Moments that matter) campaign, and its goal was to draw attention to the fact that by 7, today’s average child has been exposed to screens for an accumulated year. In Portugal, the number is even more frightening: 2 years!

Domestos also has a very strong value proposition. It took on the mission of combating poor sanitation, seeking access to clean living conditions for 25 million people worldwide. This brand has a longstanding partnership with UNICEF, which also came to Portugal last year. Now, part of the revenue from its products sold goes to this cause. Since 2012, more than 75,000 children have benefited from this partnership, and 6 million people have had access to clean bathrooms. And do not think the issue of poor hygiene is a problem only in developing countries. In Portugal, Domestos has a special focus on schools and the implication poor hygiene may have on children’s educations, having conducted a study indicating that 59 percent of children do not use their school’s sanitation facilities, or only do so as a last resort.

“Brands that implement clear goals grow at rates significantly higher than the average company’s”

Focusing brand resources on value proposition, leaving aside communicating pure functionality and superiority, requires courage, determination and consistency. However, if the product’s benefits are also to be delivered—without defrauding consumer expectations—it is the proposition that really adds value to the brand and creates an emotional bond that is difficult to break.

Brands that implement clear goals grow at rates significantly higher than the average company’s, demonstrating that this is the way to remain relevant and win. In addition, companies that embrace a value proposition last longer, and their people thrive and are happy!

Teresa Abecasis Burnay
Home & Personal Care Marketing director and Media and Communications director for Unilever FIMA
The current Home & Personal Care Marketing director and Media and Communications director for Unilever FIMA, she began her career at Mars Portugal in 1998, where she worked in various Sales and Marketing roles. She then moved to Gillette Portugal, where she managed Marketing and Trade Marketing for the Oral Care area. In 2001, she joined Lever Elida to lead the Category Management department. In 2008, she took responsibility for Personal Care Marketing at Unilever Jerónimo Martins. In 2013, she returned to Sales and moved to England, where she led global customer development for several businesses, simultaneously sitting on two leadership boards. In 2018, she returned to Portugal to join Unilever FIMA’s executive committee in her current role. An economics graduate from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, she also holds a specialty in Macroeconomics and Marketing from Leicester University in England. [Portugal]

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