Case Study: Unilever
In business, the objectives are often to increase sales and/or profit, and to grow the business. A company’s strategies are often geared towards growth.
A company usually has more than one product, or may have many products under different brands.
For example Unilever has:
- Food brands – Lipton, Ben & Jerry’s, Bertolli, Bovril, Planta
- Personal brands – Axe, Dove, Rexona, Simple, Vaseline
- Household brands – Breeze, Cif, Lifebuoy, Lux, Omo
Unilever’s growth can come from
- an existing brand (eg. Lux)
- a brand category (eg. Food)
- a new brand in an existing category (eg. a new brand of butter in the Food category)
- a new brand category (eg. Clothing).
4 Main Growth Engines
Growth can come from one or several of these areas:
- Current customers
- New customers
- New products
- New categories
Growth Strategy 1: The Best Customers Are Your Existing Ones
In their quest for more business, most companies will look for new customers. But before you strategise for ways to gain new customers, think how you can appeal to your existing customers to get more from them.
They already know you, trust you and had a business relationship with you. They are more likely to offer you more business than someone who doesn’t know you yet, nor doesn’t yet know if they can trust you.
Studies have shown that generally, the business acquisition cost per new customer is 5 times that of existing ones. Meaning, it is roughly 5 times more expensive to get business from new customers than additional sales from existing customers.
So it is wise to cultivate and nurture your current customer base, then to invest in wooing new customers.
Growth Strategy 2: The Next Best Customers Are Similar To Existing Ones
People buying from you are likely to have some similar traits like interests, attitudes, needs, wants or behaviours. So find people similar to them to be your new customers.
What do you know about your current customers?
What do they read?
Where do they live?
Where do they go for holidays?
What are their favourite eating place?
What clubs do they belong to?
Which retailers do they frequent?
Chances are your potential new customers will share a number of these interests. So you need to target them there.
Growth Strategy 3: Your Customers Are Your Best Sales Person
Your customers buy from you because they like your product(s) or service(s). If they are happy and satisfied, they are likely to introduce and recommend you to their family and friends.
Why? Simply because they want to share their positive experience with those close to them. It is human nature to want to share enjoyable experiences.
Instead of passively hoping your customers will tell their friends about you, why not directly ask them to share about you.
You can ask them to tell their friends. Ask them for the names of their friends so you can contact them directly.
You can also offer an incentive to both your customer and the friend they introduce. For example:“If your friend joins, you’ll get $10 and your friend will also get $10.”
Growth Strategy 4: Introduce New Or Improved Products/Services
Are you one of those who change your smart phone every year or whenever there is a new improved model? I know of many who do, and I am one of them – changing my iPhone whenever there is a fancier, improved model in the market.
This shows that companies can grow their business with new products or services.
But when we say “new”, we don’t just mean totally new. “New” also includes incremental innovations like:
- New sizes of the existing
- New flavours of the existing
- New packaging of the existing
- Variations to the existing
- Improvements to the existing
Hence another way to achieve growth is through incremental product innovation that makes the old new again.
Growth Strategy 5: Entering A New Category
A company can grow its business by entering new categories.
The easiest and safest new categories you can enter will be those related to your existing category. Here you already have some expertise, credibility and existing customers.
For example, if you are an advertising agency, you may consider getting into public relations. If you are an online technology company, you may branch out into providing cloud services.
In whichever category you choose to enter, make sure it makes strategic sense to your company’s overall growth direction.