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Unilever sees spurning of global brands spread beyond Asia

[SINGAPORE] The tide is turning against multinational brands, which have been losing market share to local products not just in Asia's emerging markets but also in the US and Europe, according to Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever.

"Consumers are changing, not craving for global brands just for the sake of it," said Hemant Bakshi, president director of Unilever Indonesia, at a panel discussion at Bloomberg's Year Ahead Asia Conference in Jakarta on Wednesday. "From a time when consumers used to look westward and look toward global trends, what's important now is much more what's happening within the country, in the smaller community."

The trend has been notable in Asia, which traditionally was considered easy money for Western multinationals, as they capitalised on rising incomes and weak local competitors. But now brands of Indian toothpaste, Vietnamese laundry detergent and Japanese flavoured water are picking up market share with lower prices and by catering to local tastes.

Mr Bakshi is seeing the trend in developed, Western markets too. Technology has made it easier for local brands to challenge their global counterparts by lowering entry barriers, he said. Social media platforms like Facebook are making it easier for local brands to target and reach out to segmented consumers, he added.

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