Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever: The Bohemian and the Behemoth FACTS: Ben ;amp; Jerry’s success is a direct result of transitioning form a local Vermont-based ice-cream producer into a large multinational corporation as part of an acquisition initiated by Unilever. The company’s three interrelated mission statements stand to complement each other and through history and culture have successfully turned Ben ;amp; Jerry’s into a social behemoth.
Following a merger with the multinational juggernaut Unilever Ben ;amp; Jerry’s faces numerous challenges as it strives to sustain its image and culture in a much larger corporation. The uniqueness of Ben ;amp; Jerry’s ideology has been a major contributor to its success as its distinct culture has created a loyal fan-base as it has always been actively involved in the community, favoring development in the face of non-existent hierarchical management. In going public in 1984, Ben ;amp; Jerry’s established the Ben ;amp; Jerry’s Foundation to fund community-focused projects.
ISSUE: Considering the ever-evolving economic environment and changing market trends, Ben ;amp; Jerry’s faced new challenges which call for intuitive strategies to combat such difficulties yet allowing for the company to remain true to its mission statement and background. Owing its predominant success to its focus on social responsibility and high standards endorsed by its loyal fan-base, despite such preexisting conditions, the reality was relatively more sobering in terms of its financial situation until being acquired by Unilever in a bidding war.
Essentially a prominent issue in this stage of integration between the two companies has been the dilemma of whether the mission statements from each prospective firm may be able to co-exist or intertwine. Seeing as Ben ;amp; Jerry’s mission statement emphasizes the significance of their “social mission” in to practically every part of their business. Unilever needs to “tweak” Ben ;amp; Jerry’s approach to the “social tatement” part of their mission while protecting its brand name and fan loyalty in order to retain and build upon existing profits and sales. HOLDING: Ben ;amp; Jerry’s has since the initiation of its business enacted a very family-like company environment which is rather untraditional. The lack of hierarchical pyramid has endorsed open communication within the organization and encouraged a consistent and loyal employee base. Ben ;amp; Jerry’s brand name and image is crucial to its existent customer-base and needs to be retained.
However, considering its acquisition by Unilever, conventional law does give the larger multinational with majority ownership to enact and enforce policies it deems appropriate and suitable to its own mission statement and benefit. Additionally, terms of contract between the two did however call for adherence to existing Ben ;amp; Jerry’s terms and policies and a verbal commitment of never to hire a CEO that the cofounder Cohen disapproved of.
Additionally, as Cohen noted that this acquisition had more to do with “infusing those values in that larger business”. The real issue arises when after the departure of the new chief executive at Ben ;amp; Jerry’s, Yves Couette is named the new CEO owing to his 24 year old veteran status as a Unilever employee. This employment initiation raised conflict between the cofounders of Ben ;amp; Jerry’s suggesting that this change will not “guarantee that the social and environmental values of the ice-cream maker” be maintained at its current level.
REASONING: In understanding this acquisition it must be realized the uniqueness of the two enterprises in their own genre of products and services. Unilever has had sustained levels of growth in their business and that certainly is for a reason. Likewise, Ben ;amp; Jerry’s unconventional and unique business culture has attracted and retained a large customer base. Therefore it is essential that ensuring the core cultural values are sustained and adhered to in order to protect the brand name.
Social involvement for Ben ;amp; Jerry’s has been one of the significant factors in its success and should most certainly be continued. Unilever understands the ever-evolving market and its economic implications, which brings us to suggesting that Unilever leverage from Ben ;amp; Jerry’s social statement that propelled it to its success by encouraging social activism. Additionally, with that being said, Ben ;amp; Jerry’s can certainly leverage from the existing resources from its larger counterpart Unilever can provide.
It can and should take advantage of the marketing tools at Unilever s disposal as it an reach a much broader audience in getting its unique business culture and product across to a much wider variety of audiences. Additionally, product innovation can also be expanded upon at Unilever, but with the core origin of Ben ;amp; Jerry’s in mind. Conclusively, Unilever in managing Ben ;amp; Jerry’s will have to ultimately shift focus from a quality-oriented philosophy to a more efficient and improved model which Yves Couette seemingly aims to build upon.