Case Study

Digital marketing at Unilever International

15 pages
December 2018
Reference: IMD-7-2037

SINGAPORE, SEPTEMBER 2018. A Unilever internal venturing effort, UI was started in Singapore by Unilever veterans to substitute the rather inefficient operating companies’ (OpCos) export units with a dedicated group focused on exploiting the group’s “white spaces” – non-core brands, consumer segments (such as diasporas and religious sub-groups), new channels (such as airports and cruises) and geographies – not big enough to merit attention from the Unilever OpCos. The group proved quickly its value proposition, doubling the turnover it inherited in less than four years, with higher margins and growth rates than the mother company. By 2016, Aseem was entrusted with organizing the marketing function, setting up a 15-person team based at HQ. The team managed 10,000+ brand/country cells remotely and had to rely heavily on digital marketing, using 3rd party resources, including open talent platforms, to gain leverage, cut costs and grow faster. It conducted 250 launches in the previous 18 months, while reducing advertising and promotion costs by 20%. Now Aseem had to take digital marketing to the next level. Should he increase spending limits per brand/country?

Learning Objective
  • Discuss the tools and power of digital marketing
  • Managing FMCG sales in a digital world
  • Outsourcing key marketing functions
  • Organizing marketing in a VUCA world
  • Understanding the entrepreneurial mindset
  • Maintaining agility in a large firm
  • Leveraging the power of the internet
  • ESAO framework (Eliminate, Simplify, Automate, Outsource)
  • Intrapreneurs
Operation, Digital Transformation, Digitalization, Corporate Entrepreneurship, Venturing, Marketing Strategy, Growth Strategy, eCommerce, Fast-moving Consumer Goods, White Space Strategy
Unilever, Consumer Goods
Field Research
© 2018
Available Languages
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