Communication Science on the Spot with Anniek Mauser

12 April 2016

On Tuesday 5 April Dr Anniek Mauser was our guest on the Spot. Anniek started working for Unilever in the sustainability field 15 years ago, and currently holds the position of Sustainability Director at Unilever Benelux. During an interview with Dr Theo Araujo, she provided an insider’s perspective on the world of Corporate Social Responsibility.

According to Anniek, communication is key when it comes to pushing forward sustainable practices. External communication about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan stimulates Unilever to make progress, since its stakeholders require frequent updates. Moreover, it is important to be transparent, visible and tangible.

People’s awareness of sustainability has changed tremendously throughout the years. Over the past decade, sustainability has increasingly advanced on the public agenda, in part due to documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore.

However, according to Anniek it remains challenging for Unilever to create sustainable awareness among its consumers. In a supermarket, it takes a customer only three seconds to decide which product he or she wants to buy. This means that a product must not only stand out, but the packaging must also instantly convey how this product contributes to a sustainable world. When Anniek asked the audience who was familiar with with Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade ice cream, practically everyone raised their hand. However, merely 20 percent of those people knew what the brand’s sustainable concept entails. Therefore, Unilever must make use of various tools, such as a roadmap and storytelling. Anniek explained that Unilever introduced a five-step plan concerning creating sustainable awareness: (1) make it understandable, (2) make it easily available, (3) make it desirable and fun, (4) make it rewarding by emphasizing its benefits, and finally (5) make it a habit.

Anniek described how bloggers can also have an enormous impact on how the public perceives sustainability. If Rens Kroes, who has approximately 300.000 followers on Instagram, communicates that products that contain e-numbers are unhealthy, many people are inclined to believe her. Therefore, it is important for Unilever to interact with these bloggers. By inviting bloggers to the office for workshops and debates, Unilever wants to stimulate the exchange of knowledge. 

Written by Susan Vermeer

If you want to know more about online influencer marketing, join our next edition on Tuesday 31 May, where we will have new media expert Omar Kbiri on the Spot.

Published by  GSC