Unilever’s President of Europe, Jan Zijderveld is to bring his expertise to bear as he has been voted President of AIM – the European Brands Association. Jan outlines what he hopes to bring as he will represent the branded goods business in Europe.
I am passionate about brands and in particular the role they play in making people’s lives better. It makes the honour of being appointed the new President of AIM this week even more special. I am looking forward to working with the AIM’s members and the team. During my Presidency it is my objective to drive 3 things:
- Leveraging the full potential of brands for consumers and society
- Protecting brands and its innovations at EU level
- Promoting brands with a purpose
So to the first point. AIM’s mission is to ensure brands are allowed to thrive in the right environment. Brands bring employment and can make a positive impact on the societies and communities they operate in when leveraged the right way. Ensuring the environment is right to facilitate this is central to what we do in AIM.
The organisation currently has 1800 members – which includes brand manufacturers like Unilever - across 21 European countries and its membership is growing. AIM helps its members on key issues, which affect their ability to design, distribute and market their brands. As the extremely competitive and complex retail landscape and legislative environment continues to evolve at lightning speed, we want a level playing field for brands. This will enable brands to continue to innovate and flourish.
Europe is ahead of the curve when it comes to effective branding and ensuring we continue to be pioneers in this area is something I very much want to bring to the new role.
Secondly, protecting our brands and intellectual property rights has become a hot topic as more unscrupulous players enter the market with counterfeit products or copycats. The shape and size of the EU is changing as we enter a new era of trade, while the digital world continues to throw up new challenges and opportunities. One of the current challenges is how we get the balance right between data and privacy in Europe. Data is the engine of the digital world but we need to find the right way to use it while protecting privacy too.
Tackling legislative issues and the new challenges we face will remain top of the agenda.
This is important because consumers want brands that can be trusted. Above all else, we need to protect that. Trusted brands are at the heart of all our belief systems, especially in today’s volatile world.
This aligns with my last point of promoting brands with a purpose. Consumers’ needs and demands are changing as brands with purpose – those that make a positive difference in the world – are growing faster than the rest. I personally believe that business can be a force for good and our brands are the vehicle to deliver this. With AIM, we foster sustainable development by helping brands to become more sustainable, offer better nutrition, and offer employment opportunities in a healthy business environment. We can make a positive difference beyond our immediate individual business agenda’s by being active in an association like AIM.
A good example is the AIM Nudging for Good awards. Just last week, AIM celebrated some of the brands with purpose who are leading the way via these awards. The awards highlight the important role brands can play in helping consumers to bridge the gap between their good intentions and the actions they take – empowering them to adopt healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. In other words, brands can nudge for good!
There were 14 finalists in all and I am very proud to be able to say that Unilever had the highest number of submissions. It’s another testament to our pioneering Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Our Water Savers initiative won the sustainability excellence award on the night and it was well deserved too.