Consumer goods giant Unilever is now offering smaller packages to keep pace with the thinner wallets of its European customers. The company says the strategy comes from the developing economies in Asia and is vital now that "poverty is returning to Europe," as one manager says.
For all the negativity in Europe these days, the terms used in the euro-crisis debate have been surprisingly optimistic. Across the common currency zone, all anyone seems interested in talking about is a "solution" to the crisis while those public figures who would openly suggest that the euro zone might soon lose a member are roundly criticized. It has become bad form to wonder what Europe might look like if no solution is found.
For companies struggling to survive in the increasingly challenging European marketplace, however, there is little room for such niceties. Realism is the name of the game and some, such as the multinational consumer goods giant Unilever, have begun to adjust.
"Poverty is returning to Europe," Jan Zijderveld, Unilever's top manager in Europe, told the Financial Times Deutschland on Monday. As a result, the company has begun offering smaller, less expensive packages so as not to put too great a strain on increasingly limited budgets. It is, Zijderveld noted to the paper, a strategy the company learned by doing business in the developing countries of Asia.
"In Indonesia, we sell tiny packages of shampoo for two to three cents and still earn decent money," he says. "We know how to do it, but in the European boom years prior to the crisis we forgot."