Business Case Study: Unilever Corporate Culture & Values

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Business Case Study: Nordstrom's Culture of Customer Service

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 About Unilever
  • 1:18 Corporate History
  • 2:22 Developing a Vision
  • 3:23 Current Corporate Culture
  • 4:58 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Loy

Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.

This lesson examines the corporate culture at Unilever. We analyze how the culture came about, when it changed course, and where it is today. Unilever is a unique company. From independence to sustainability, let's see how Unilever's culture evolved.

About Unilever

Have you ever used a bar of Dove soap, or eaten a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream? If you have, you know Unilever. With over 170,000 employees and $45 billion in revenue, Unilever is one of the top consumer goods companies in the world. Born from an 1885 British-Dutch partnership that merged several companies into one in 1930, the company has grown to produce many well-known products. You likely know Axe, Dove, Heartbrand, Knorr, Lipton, VO5, Nexxus, TRESemmé, Mrs. Dash, and Sunsilk, just to name a few.

The company has four divisions: foods, specialty chemicals, home care, and personal care. Every year, Unilever buys and sells large companies. It has sold companies we know like Slim Fast, Jiffy, and Bertolli in recent years. With an ever-changing portfolio, it's hard to imagine that the company can ever rely on a consistent corporate culture. You would think that a company that goes through this many changes would have difficulty developing into a corporation that interacts or behaves in a certain way. Unilever is in 170 countries, after all, and has a history of morphing its behaviors with different mergers and acquisitions.

Corporate History

World War II shaped Unilever's early corporate culture. Because of a lack of communication and transportation in many large markets, branches of the company began operating independently. For example, there were no routes to reach London during this time, so regional leaders had to make decisions based on what was profitable for them. They couldn't worry about what was going on in other geographical regions.

Unilever's corporate culture was one of independence where companies could be bought and sold based on their success in a specific geographical area. Even similar products were different depending on the region. A certain type of ice cream might be popular in one country but not so in another.

The company's purchase of Breyers in 1993 made Unilever the top ice cream producer in the United States. But in Russia, Inmarko is the most popular brand. Its purchase made Unilever the largest producer in Russia. As certain products become universally accepted, Unilever looks to develop a vision that focuses more on its successes from a corporate level. As in this example, corporate executives envisioned becoming the largest producer of ice cream world-wide.

Developing a Vision

After the war, a sense of globalization began to develop. Unilever went through various phases of diversification and consolidation during the '80s and '90s. The company invested in new products, and those products started to grow in popularity. As demand increased, the company's marketing vision started to take shape. For example, in 1969 Unilever broadcasted the UK's first ever color TV commercial, which marketed Bird's Eye peas.

Since then, the company has focused on similar innovation, finding ways to popularize new products at a global level. Two large events at Unilever stimulated another change in corporate culture. In 2004, the company advertised a new mission: Vitality, which was born out of the company's new Unilever Health Institute. Then, in 2008, Unilever was named the food sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. No other company had achieved this success. Prestige aside, the company was changing its corporate culture.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support