Unilever will adopt marketing strategies used in developing countries in order to drive future growth in Europe, as the head of its European business warned that poverty will rise in the region as a result of the debt crisis. The company behind Persil, PG Tips and Flora said it will apply lessons from its Asian business as consumers change their shopping habits amid a financial crisis that has left Greece mired in recession for the past five years and Spain with the highest unemployment rate in the industrialised world.
“Poverty is returning to Europe,” Jan Zijderveld, the head of Unilever’s European business told the Financial Times Deutschland in an interview.
“If a consumer in Spain only spends €17 when they go shopping, then I’m not going to be able to sell them washing powder for half of their budget.”
Unilever has already started to change the way it sells some of its products. In Spain, the company sells Surf detergent in packages for as few as five washes, while in Greece, it now offers mashed potatoes and mayonnaise in small packages, and has created a low-cost brand for basic goods such as tea and olive oil.
“In Indonesia, we sell individual packs of shampoo 2 to 3 cents and still make decent money,” said Mr Zijderveld. “We know how to do that, but in Europe we have forgotten in the years before the crisis.”