Unilever's head of European business, Jan Zijderveld, has predicted a harsh couple of years ahead for European business, telling the German edition of the Financial Times that 'poverty is returning to Europe'. Continued 'sluggish economies' and 'fragile consumer confidence' have stunted growth in developed markets, he noted.
Unilever has said that it will apply lessons from its Asian ventures as consumers change their shopping habits in Europe. Unilever have identified that the packaging in Europe needs to change, and cost-effective packaging will need to be matched by better in-store services, using the example of the 'Apple store' concept to illustrate his point. 'In an Apple store, everyone thinks: Wow, what an experience. But in some supermarkets in Europe, you think: half empty shelves, boxes on the floor, not a sales person in sight - how terrible is that? Why can't we sell like Apple sells devices? Why are there no genius consultants for chicken?'