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Let’s do ‘good’ business

Integrating social responsibility into brands makes business sense, says Manwani.

business Updated: Oct 15, 2007 00:56 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

Consumer goods giant Unilever has said the company is constantly looking to refresh its product portfolio, aimed at ushering in social equity through appropriate brands.

“Social innovation is central to how our brands drive our business strategy. This is really about increasing the social value of the brand while taking steps to reduce its environmental impact,” Harish Manwani, president of Unilever Asia & Africa and chairman of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, said.

Speaking to HT on the sidelines of the HT Leadership Summit, he said “goodness” has to be at the heart of every business. "Doing well and doing good are two sides of the same coin. It not only insulates an organisation from external risks but, more importantly, opens up new opportunities for growth. Our experience bears out that this is a win-win opportunity for all stakeholders."

Manwani said Hindustan Unilever Limited had launched products like Pureit, a water purifier, mainly out of this belief. "Availability of safe drinking water is a widespread problem in India. We invested significant research and money and through a unique technological breakthrough, developed an affordable yet advanced in-home water purifier,” he said. “The key to its success is the fact that the product was conceptualised to address a real social issue, which is also a great business opportunity," he added.

According to Manwani, social responsibility is more than just philanthropy. “It is good business. It is about creating social benefits through our brands and through our interactions as a business with society. It is about integrating
social responsibility into our brands and business.”

Manwani said that women’s empowerment is a key social issue that can and should be addressed through brands and business. "As a market, the ‘woman’ is at the centre of our consumer universe and more importantly, our experience bears out that women’s empowerment is the key to sustainable social change,” he said.

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