Unilever’s long-term ambition was profitable, sustainable, and responsible growth. But this ambition became increasingly difficult in the volatile global environment of the new millennium, characterized by low growth, geopolitical challenges, and the increasing effects of climate change. After mixed results for 2014, Unilever bounced back in 2015 with a solid underlying sales growth by actively managing its portfolio, increasing product margins, and cost cutting. A product mix towards higher price and higher margin however caused concerns that Unilever would not be able to sustain the high level of cost savings. Also of concern was the global reach of Unilever’s operations which continually exposed the company to a wide range of external economic and political risks and natural disasters potentially affecting its operations. In 2014 and 2015 Unilever experienced a slowdown in emerging markets, worrisome to a company deriving 58% of its revenue from those emerging markets. How should Unilever move forward in 2016 and beyond to fulfill its long-term ambition was a question.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Hoffman, A., & Gold, N. (2016). Unilever: Making Sustainable Living Commonplace. RSM Case Development Centre. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/93975