Unilever reveals how digital transformation improves consumer relationship

Unilever has explained – in its annual report for 2018 — its digital transformation strategy and result from the technology investment.
Unilever digital transformationUnilever’s leadership team understands that digital technology is transforming relationships with consumers. Unilever, one of the leading consumer goods companies, does not reveal the company’s IT spending. Jane Moran, global CIO of Unilever, is spearheading the company’s IT investment plans.

Unilever is making investment in connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to connect its supply chain with partners and consumers. Marc Engel is he chief supply chain officer of Unilever.

Unilever is driving digital through its R&D organisation, introducing new tools to increase the speed, efficiency and quality of our innovation processes. Richard Slater is the chief R&D officer of Unilever.

Unilever reported 3.1 percent increase in revenue to €12.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019 – mainly driven by acquisitions.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope said: “We saw good performance in key growth channels including out of home and e-commerce and benefited from stronger global innovations and faster and more relevant local innovation.”

Digital transformation

The digital transformation plan of Unilever is aimed at building technology and data analytics infrastructure in order to connect directly with a billion of its consumers. Rahul Welde, executive vice president, Digital Transformation, leads global digital initiatives at Unilever.

Unilever has automated over 700 processes in operations – saving time and reducing cos. Its training programs are focusing on the digital up-skilling of people.

Unilever is linking its customers with more targeted and data-driven marketing in order to enhance its influence of customer buying.

The company believes that there is less reliance on big retailers with e-commerce growing 13 percent globally, driven by direct-to-consumer models and platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba.

The proliferation of digital and social media channels resulted in media fragmentation, with digital advertising about 40 percent of the market. Improving standards and tackling fraud to protect the integrity of digital marketing are major challenges.

Unilever is increasing spend in the areas driving growth, such as digital media and in-store, whilst reducing production and promotional spend. Unilever in 2018 generated savings in BMI of over €500 million.

Unilever is creating more content in-house while making existing assets go further. Its 16 U-Studios in 13 countries create brand content faster and more efficiently than external agencies.

Unilever believes that future growth will depend on accelerating the adoption of a new model of marketing focused on brands with purpose, generating great content, delivered via digital channels using advanced data and analytics.

Unilever has launched a digital transformation program across all aspects of value chain. Unilever has 30 platforms which power business using digital technologies.

Unilever’s digital technology team has made investment in AI, machine learning and voice related technologies to deliver personalized and immersive experiences to consumer platforms such as Recipedia and Cleanipedia websites.

Unilever is in the process of hiring more skilled manpower for its digital transformation team. The purpose is to connect with its billion plus customers and improve its efficiency in process building efforts.

Rajani Baburajan

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