Global Brand Director Personal Care – Water & Innovation, India
Michiel first cut his sustainability teeth while working in Vermont for Ben & Jerry’s – long recognised as a trailblazer in ethical business practices. Almost ten years later, he remains committed to reducing the environmental impact of our business in his most recent role as the Global Brand Director for Water & Innovation in our Personal Care business. He is based in India.
Water scarcity may seem exotic to many of us, but as Michiel points out, in the future it will be common. As the population expands, water consumption will increase and more and more consumers will be faced with water shortages. With a limited amount of water available, people will be forced to make choices about how best to use it.
Michiel and his team are looking at ways of addressing this issue. One of the ways they will do this is by including innovative technologies, which use water in more efficient and smarter ways, into the development of new products. As Michiel points out, “with the right mind-set and understanding of consumers’ behaviour, we can make more water efficient products commonplace in the near future." This will help bring us closer to our Sustainable Living Plan goal to halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.
Putting on his marketing hat, Michiel points to the advantages for Unilever. “With 60% of our consumers living in markets that are water-stressed, developing products that better address their needs will also help create competitive advantages that allow our business to grow.”
Developing our brands
Before joining the Personal Care category, Michiel was the Global Brand Development Director at Lipton. During this time he set up a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, with Lipton committing to source all the tea used in its tea bags from Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms.
When Michiel left Lipton, Lipton was well on its way to meeting its commitment. So far, over 300,000 tea farmers have achieved Rainforest Alliance certification, the majority of whom are smallholders in Kenya