Unilever Vietnam has proven sustainable and future-fit through tapping into consumer trends towards sustainable development. The business shows a range of ambitious sustainability targets and bold initiatives this year.
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More Shoppers Want Brands to Embrace Sustainable Practices

Consumer trends and how the business responds

The world continues to face many challenges in 2023. The global economy began to appear fragile. Consumers are preparing for a ‘winter’ ahead. They maximise the value of everything they own and spend money more wisely, but still pay much attention to businesses who create positive impacts for people, society, and environment as they are much more aware of the role of sustainable development.

According to the sharing of GROW founder on Forbes, sustainability is among five key direct-to-consumer trends to look for in 2023*. Consumer awareness is spreading. One report shows 82% of shoppers want brands to embrace sustainable and people-first practices, and Gen-Z is leading the charge.

Aligning with those consumer trends, Unilever Vietnam has strived to develop and offer good-value-for-money products to their consumers via multiple channels – offline retail stores, digital D2C (direct-to-consumers), e-commerce, omni-channels, etc.

Unilever Vietnam also drives product innovation to make it more positive for people and the planet, implements a range of sustainability programs across the business in Vietnam with the participation of their purposeful brands, focusing on plastic waste management, carbon emissions reduction, improving people’s health and wellbeing, and women’s empowerment for an inclusive society.

For example, the home care business at Unilever Vietnam is showing strong growth while rolling out Clean Future program, which aims to give consumers high-performing products that are also better for the planet. Sunlight, OMO and Comfort now have more eco-friendly formulations, which are also gentler on the skin and use more sustainable packaging.

The personal care products like Lifebuoy or P/S are improving people’s hygiene standards through handwashing and oral care habits while reducing plastic in packaging and complying with NDPE (no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation). Or the beauty products are providing people with the dignity and confidence to express themselves and conquer their dreams.

Ambitions towards 2023

To specify the sustainability commitments, Unilever Vietnam sets out a range of ambitious targets and bold initiatives to realize their vision.

The first priority is to tackle plastic pollution through driving 75% recyclability in all our bottle packaging, reducing 87% virgin plastic by absolutely reduction and PCR inclusion, and collecting and processing more plastic than that used for their products sold into the market.

Circular Economy model will be the key driver for the company’s determination to bring plastic back to its cycle. A practical Waste Segregation at Source, and education and communications program to change behavior among the community with larger scale plays a crucial role for plastic waste collection and recycling to facilitate the post-consumer recycled plastic inclusion in Unilever Vietnam’s product packaging. This model requires the collaboration from their business units and think-alike partners.

Next, the biggest ambition from Unilever Vietnam is to build a net zero carbon emissions value chain until 2039. Therefore, in 2023, the company will influence and support their partners to build capacity to work on zero emissions operations for the target of net zero value chain.

The tree planting program driven by OMO brand has absorbed CO2 for the Earth. Each year, OMO will plant 200,000 trees towards the goal of one million trees by 2025.

Finally, Unilever and their purposeful brands, in a close collaboration with their governmental partners, private sector partners, international organizations and NGOs, are committed to tackling key issues in people’s health & hygiene and women’s empowerment to promote gender equality in the society.

Through strategic purposeful programs such as “Handwashing with Soap for a Healthier Vietnam”, “Green - Clean - Healthy Schools”, “Protecting Vietnamese Smiles”, “Clean Toilets Journey”, led by their pioneering sustainable living brands like Lifebuoy, Vim, P/S, Unilever Vietnam is committed to improving comprehensive health and hygiene conditions for at least one million Vietnamese people, especially school children across the country.

At the same time, the women’s empowerment program “Women Do Business” by Sunlight will continue its success journey and meaningful mission to provide business start-up training opportunities for at least 100,000 women. This will help women have better knowledge, more sustainable livelihoods and become the force for goods towards sustainable development in the wider society.

Opportunities and challenges to conquer

Here in Vietnam, the government take a serious pledge to drive the sustainable development – for example Prime Minister’s strong commitment towards net zero at COP26. It is the motivation for businesses to invest more in carbon emissions reduction solutions.

It is acknowledged, however, there are so many things that the public and private sectors need to do to realize sustainability ambitions.

One of the biggest challenges is plastic – we have to build the plastic circularity. It is not only people’s awareness of sorting and collecting plastic waste but also a lack of consistent and complete system nationwide.

During their waste sorting and collection programs for the community, Unilever Vietnam heard some people share that they were already aware of the role of waste segregation at source. However, they found that although they sorted the waste at home, all kinds of waste were collected in one single bin later – this is mostly due to an inconsistent development of the plastic management system.

Therefore, challenges need tackling include not just raising people's awareness and turning it into action but also establishing a wide system of segregation at source and collection of plastic waste to bring plastic back to the economy and create a plastic cycle.

This requires the collaboration from the government, organizations and businesses to drive net zero plastic waste in the environment. And the Public-Private Collaboration model by the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment and Unilever Vietnam is among pioneering initiatives to underpin and facilitate this vision.

Ms. Le Thi Hong Nhi, Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Unilever Vietnam said: “It is usually thought that there is a trade-off between sustainable development and business performance. However, Unilever has a strong belief in how the sustainable business model drives superior performance. Consumers have an intention of advocating and purchasing products from brands that create a positive impact on the society and the environment. Working towards the sustainable development motivates our business to drive product innovation for not only sustainability but the product quality and value as well. Additionally, in a long term, it is cost saving that businesses can benefit from the sustainable business model, particularly the energy cost reduction. And a business adopting the sustainable development more motivates and retains trust of their employees, as well as proves advantaged in the talent war as high-quality talent - particularly for the young one - is seeking employment with purpose-led companies where they can have a positive impact on issues related to the environment, society, and people that they care about.”

Diep Nguyen