Unilever takes direct distribution up a notch with new marketing campaign

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever takes direct distribution up a notch with new marketing campaign

Related tags Marketing

Hindustan Unilever has confirmed its intent to expand the company’s direct distribution efforts in India, launching another novel marketing initiative which targets the individual personal care consumer. 

The multinational has been trailing a local approach in tackling India’s booming urban population, tailoring its offering to individual consumer needs by means of telecallers and direct-sales representatives, and employing rural brand representatives.

The Economic Times of India notes that HUL has expanded its direct distribution reach to 3.2 million outlets in 2013 from two million in 2012, indicating that the strategy is paying back.

The company is now applying this technique to its marketing too; tapping into the 72% contribution that grocers make to overall FMCGs sales, Unilever (which owns such brands as Fair & Lovely and Dove skin care) has initiated a telephone-advertising service which presents consumers with promotions and adverts when phoning to place orders.

Slow modernization

In India, traditional retail routes are still outperforming modern trade: according to market researcher Nielsen, traditional grocers grew at 9%, outperforming modern retail, which grew only 8%.

These figures suggest Unilever is right to focus on direct distribution for now; and by moving its marketing efforts onto the telecommunications platform, it confirms its awareness of the rising potential of mobiles in the country’s ongoing rapid urbanization.

Making the most of mobiles

According to a new PwC survey, 69% of respondents in India said they shop online via mobile platforms, with this number set to rise considerably, and similarly high numbers of mobile shoppers are being seen across the APAC region.

The percentage of internet traffic in Asia has risen from 23% to 37% on mobile devices in the last year, well above the global average of 25%, according to Infosys.

This latest bid to leverage the rising mobile trend follows an earlier initiative by the company this year, when it launched a music streaming marketing service for its beauty brands. 

The company is set to reach 350 million villagers in India by streaming Bollywood music interspersed with adverts to their phones, according to Bloomberg.

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