You probably know the name Unilever, but you have probably also never bought anything from Unilever. That’s because they don’t actually sell anything themselves.
Unilever sells through retail partners today. What you do know is many of their brands - they are some of the worlds largest and most used products. They include brands that touch nearly every human every day like Dove, Vaseline, Suave, Tresemme, Lipton, Axe, Breyers, Marmite, and many more. They are one of the largest manufacturers in the world with over $50B in annual revenue globally.
Since they don’t sell directly to people, they have to rely almost entirely on their products and advertising to build their brand. Because the world of advertising is changing dramatically thanks to changing norms and laws around data privacy, Unilever needs to establish more direct customer relationships through digital channels.
So they have been creating some really unique and engaging online experiences, of which this is just one!
This specific promotion comes to us from Canada. To celebrate the Holiday season, Unilever Canada created a 12 Day Giveaway calendar that includes a range of their products and also gathers a bit of data about their customers along the way.
Get ready - the Unilever Team did an amazing technical job with this one.
Let’s start with ROI. Unilever uses unique codes to connect coupon usage with individual people. This means they can measure how these promotions actually impact buying behavior. It’s an innovative way to measure the ROI of their marketing campaigns. And it’s especially clever when you realize that you don’t actually buy anything from Unilever - since they don’t have any stores. These codes help them gather a lot of useful data.
This experience is also interesting because it reflects a gated interaction that learns who it’s users are. In other words, it is only sent to certain customers, and it checks your ID against their database. If you do not match, then you are automatically redirected to an experience to opt in to their database with your email address. Also, it knows if you have visited previously and what prizes you have won. Pretty cool!
All this clever behavior shows you that not only is Unilever serious about creating stronger relationships with customers - they are also really serious about being intentional and respectful of data. It’s a refreshing approach in a world where most retailers don’t really use any data beyond the interaction.
I don’t really have a lot of suggestions on this one. I have seen a few great examples of intelligent, well thought out experiences from Unilever and I am impressed with their strategy and respect for customer relationships.
One thing I would like to see is a bit more integration with their website. It would be nice to find their experiences and data collection on their actual website, but today most of this is driven through email. Their digital brand is still very much focused on ads today - but this is changing!
Other brands should seriously consider thinking about customer data and time the way that Unilever does. Maybe it’s a factor of the position they have been in for the past decade or so. Without much first party interactions with customers, they have been entirely reliant on second- and third-party data to understand their customers. Now that privacy laws are shutting off these data types, Unilever is forced to take a fresh look at zero- and first-party data that they can get. And they are being very creative and smart about it in my opinion.