SWOT analysis of Unilever
This detailed ‘SWOT analysis of Unilever’ examines the strengths and the weaknesses of Unilever. It also examines the opportunities the company should explore and the threats it must deal with effectively. Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational company, founded in 1929. It is headquartered in London, the UK and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Strengths of Unilever
Unilever is a consumer goods company. It has over 400 brands in its mega portfolio. Its most famous and the leading brands are but not limited to PG Tips, Lipton, Knorr, Ben & Jerry’s, Brut, Magnum, Pot Noodle, Vaseline, Persil, Domestos, Dove, Lynx, Capri Sun, Heinz Ketchup, Philadelphia, and Flora. There is hardly anyone who has not used at least one product from any of these brands.
Unilever was founded in 1929. It is world’s one of the oldest multinational companies. Its market experience is enormous. It operates in 190 countries and has over 155,000 people delivering its success (Unilever, 2020). It invests a huge amount of money on research to develop new products in line with current market trends.
Unilever’s turnover in 2019 was €52 billion. Out of it, €21.9 billion was generated by beauty and personal care products, while €19.3 billion by foods and refreshment products. Home care products generated €10.8 billion in the same (Unilever, 2020). There is no doubt that that even in economic difficulties, people will continue to buy foods & refreshment and beauty & personal care products making Unilever’s brands highly sought after around the world. In fact, Dove was the leading deodorant brand in the USA in 2019 which generated 203.9 million U.S. dollars (Shahbandeh, 2019).
Unilever is famous for its CSR activities. It has received a number of awards and accolades on sustainability, social, and economic performance from external bodies and agencies over the years. Its effective marketing strategies and economies of scale have also played a big role behind its global success.
Weaknesses of Unilever
Unilever is vulnerable to product imitation and substitute products. Many of its products can be easily replaced with substitute products. Likewise, many of its products can be easily imitated in countries where rules and regulations are not very closely observed. Another weakness to note is that Unilever has limited direct influence on consumers as it must rely on retailers.
Unilever’s corporate image has been affected by a number of controversies. For instance, it was fined 104 million euros in 2011 for fixing washing powder prices in eight European countries. Likewise, it is also accused of causing deforestation and seen by many as one of the top global plastic polluters.
Opportunities for Unilever
While Unilever has over 400 brands, it can pursue new opportunities, particularly beyond the consumer goods industry. It has good infrastructure, expertise, market experience, distribution channels, and financial power to explore and implement diversification strategies.
More and more people around the world are becoming health-conscious and looking for goods that are healthy and environmentally friendly. Likewise, the new generation is looking for products to address their needs. This gives Unilever an enormous opportunity to develop new products and grown further globally.
Threats to Unilever
Threat is the last element to address in the SWOT analysis of Unilever. Unilever faces a number of big competitors globally. Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, Kimberly-Clark,
Mondelez International, Edgewell Personal Care, and some others put a huge pressure on Unilever and impact on its pricing strategies and ultimately the profits. Likewise, as Unilever operates around the world, it can anytime be affected by local macro-environmental challenges.
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Last update: 19 August 2020
Shahbandeh, M., (2019) Leading deodorant brands in the United States in 2019, based on sales (in million U.S. dollars), available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/194809/leading-us-deodorant-brands-in-2013-based-on-sales/, (accessed 17 August 2020)
Unilever (2020) About Unilever, available at: https://www.unilever.com/about/who-we-are/about-Unilever/ (accessed 16 August 2020)
Photo credit: Pixabay
Author: Joe David
Joe David has years of experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality and tourism management.