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At the 2nd Market Logic Executive Roundtable in London last June, Chet Henderson, VP of Consumer and Market Insight, Foods & Sustainable Business, Unilever, shared a comprehensive case study about the evolution of their world-class PeopleWorld insights platform.

“The consumer and market insight function at Unilever has had a mission to double its impact, at twice the speed, with half the resources, and Market Logic has played a pivotal part of the journey”

The challenges

Unilever’s ambition is to be the industry leader in consumer insights. As a company active in almost every corner of the globe, Unilever needs to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions across every global market. And because consumers are increasingly seeking brands that align with their culture and lifestyle, Unilever needs to be able to develop agile strategies on both the global and local level.

Before Market Logic and CMI leadership collaborated to build PeopleWorld, Unilever’s CMI and Marketing teams were constantly on the hunt to find out what they already knew, because they stored valuable knowledge in so many different places. They focused too much on rewinding whatever past research they had found, instead of fast-forwarding to focus on new insights.

What’s more, similar concepts were tested over and over again, and there was the added issue that knowledge walked out the door when people changed countries, categories, brands, and careers.

The high price of inefficiency

The costs to Unilever of this cumbersome way of working were significant. Unilever estimated that it took 10 hours for marketers to find answers – which required time and patience they did not have. Researchers invested 750-1,650 hours annually chasing past research instead of seeking new insights. Research questions were needlessly repeated, which chewed up 10%-15% of annual spend.

Time for change

Consumers are increasingly seeking brands and products that align with their cultural identity and lifestyle, which means that local firms, particularly in emerging markets, are growing fast and strengthening their competitive positions. It has become increasingly important for brand giants like Unilever to become more agile – on the global and local level.

Market Logic has been a pivotal part of Unilever’s journey toward more agile customer centricity. Against the backdrop of an increasingly competitive landscape, Chet Henderson, Vice President CMI Content, Connect & U-Innov8, had a mission to double the impact of the consumer and market insight function at twice the speed, with half the resources. He called Market Logic to help him to reach these goals and transform the whole Insights organization at Unilever, globally.

Deployment timeline

Since the global launch to Unilever’s CMI organization in late 2013, Market Logic and Unilever have systematically co-created to boost the use of insights in marketing and innovation decisions. Milestones in the journey included:

  • Incremental deployment of the platform to CMI, then CTI and then marketing
  • Co-creation of ad copy libraries to benchmark tests and knowledge zones to promote strategic insights
  • Extension to consumer video research with voice libraries
  • AI program with supervised machine learning so answers to questions are summarized in cognitive dossiers.
  • A global reorganization with full process automation on The HIVE
  • Addition of key secondary sources combined with a primary search function for one unified search experience.

Insights at Unilever: Life with PeopleWorld

Life after PeopleWorld empowers marketers. Unilever’s CMI and Marketing teams can search and find past research, ideas, concepts and ad tests, test outcomes, and product usage videos. They have access to everything that worked, and everything that didn’t work… and why.

Marketers can discover reports about the latest trends, recycle old concepts and create new ones, test concepts in research, and safely store all their knowledge. It is reassuring to have valuable insights and knowledge assets always available and growing, no matter who leaves.

PeopleWorld is a workflow tool, not just a library. It delivers self-serve marketing information at users’ fingertips, transforming and streamlining processes. PeopleWorld includes agency integration for high-quality results, when and how they’re required. Knowledge and findings are summarized to save time and help marketers make winning decisions, fast. PeopleWorld is not a static product – it is in continuous development.

Unilever’s PeopleWorld enjoys high user engagement rates.

PeopleWorld by the numbers

  • 1 million social comments
  • 142,000+ findings
  • 115,000+ projects
  • 76,000+ documents
  • 10,000+ ads
  • 5000+ concepts
  • 3000+ videos
  • 1000+ external sources

With 1900 monthly active users, Unilever employees searched PeopleWorld about 150,000 times in 2016 and extracted over 2500 findings.

Not surprisingly, PeopleWorld has caught some important external eyes as well: Harvard Business Review cited it as one of the world’s best insight engines.