By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
Robert Candelino, head of Unilever Thailand, said that outlook for the consumer market in Thailand is tough.
“I think the consumer market is desperate for new excitement and more energy. I think there are so many changes happening that have never been before in history. This includes in media, retail, consumer habits, buying preferences, demography and society – colliding all at once,” Candelino said.
“This is why it’s important to have a purpose at the core to go through this storm and to understand what you stand for in your values, the people you hire, the type of initiatives and what principally we want to do as a company.”
He said that the dynamic of the Thai economy is changing rapidly.
“We (Unilever) as a business need to change continuously. We have now lots of new and exciting channels – traditional retail shops, substantial big modern trade, online and social networks – to serve people and to improve the lives of Thais every day,” said Candelino.
He said that the biggest challenge today is probably the transformation of retail and that of consumer behaviour.
“We’ve had a model that’s been there for 30-40 years. You get in the car or get on the train, and then go to the store and buy your items, putting in the basket. You pay for it, then you leave and go home. That model served all of us well for decades and that model is now being challenged,” he said. “It’s still there but it’s changing. Convenient channels, proximity channels, mom and pop shops, they’re all becoming more and more relevant as part of people’s lives.
“All of these changes in retail and the behaviour of people mean that, as a consumer products company, our job is to meet people where they need and want us to be at the end of phone, at the end of a computer terminal, or a local shop or at the doorstep one hour after they ordered from us. We need to be everywhere. We understand this ecosystem, and people deserve to be more demanding. That’s what happening and, as a consequence, everyone needs to change.”
He said that globally, Unilever has succeeded in integrating the principle of sustainable living into the company’s business practices since 2010.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands deliver over 60 per cent of the company’s total growth, and grew more than 50 per cent faster than the rest of the business in 2016, Candelino said.
“These outcomes demonstrate that Unilever has become more competitive by integrating sustainability into our business,” he said. “In Thailand, Unilever is ranked as the market leader in seven major product segments including laundry detergents, hair cleansing products, skin cleansing products, detergents, Jok rice porridge products, and ice cream and skin care.
“We are proud of the fact that 99 per cent of 24.7 million households in Thailand make a purchase from Unilever’s product portfolio, with a repeat-buy rate of over 99 per cent, and that our consumers use our products three times a day.”
Candelino said that with the company’s high household penetration of its consumer products, it aims to expand the pie with the introduction of new benefits, new platforms, new businesses and new items. Such methods will help expanding the market universe, he said.
To aid this effort, Unilever has implemented what it calls the 3Ps – for purpose, people and performance.
lUnilever aims to offer consumers improved well-being on a daily basis. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) applies to ll Unilever employees and contributes to the company’s business practices to drive business growth while supporting communities. Unilever is also committed to reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impacts, the chief executive said.
lPeople: Unilever’s employees are encouraged to pass on greater value to customers by providing them with excellent value from the company’s portfolio of products. “As our customers benefit, it is important that everyone is motivated and happy in their work environment,” Candelino said.
lPerformance: By building innovation in each product segment to meet the requirements of consumers through the company’s sustainable livelihood policy and improving the purpose and capacities of employees, Unilever is confidant of increased growth in each of the targeted product segments while delivering products that contribute to better livelihoods for consumers, Candelino said.