image desc
image desc
image desc
image desc

Leveraging Collaboration for Growth - Unilever Case Study

For large global brands operating across multiple jurisdictions the challenge is not only to find the best approach that works in individual locations, but to communicate these findings to the individual agencies they work with, to deliver an integrated and seamlessly cohesive execution of the broader marketing strategy. In our previous article “Technology Driving Activation Marketing” we highlight the importance of quality data to drive growth.  Yet the real potential for multinational brands is to effectively leverage this rich data from individual countries to gain a collective view on their markets and the opportunities therein.

The EFMP Group is a close-knit network of leading independent field marketing agencies across Europe. Our strength comes from our expert knowledge and experience in the individual European markets and how we collaborate strategically on multi-jurisdictional projects. We share insights and best practice to give leading  brands a thoroughly connected European perspective on their consumers.

Unilever – Mapping the opportunity

With representative agencies in over 25 European countries, the diversity of the EFMP group not only comes from the different locations but also from the diverse range of product categories in which we have experience. Several of the EFMP agencies have worked with Unilever, who own over 400 brands, delivering a cross section of services across multiple product ranges.

Unilever is organized into four main categories - Foods, Refreshments, Home Care, and Personal Care. As the world’s third largest consumer goods company the benefits of working with European agencies that collaborate through sharing knowledge, data and country insights, can influence product development and marketing strategies and save Unilever a tremendous amount of time.

Currently Unilever work with 7 EFMP agencies in Europe covering a diverse arrange of products. Below we will explore some of the work our agencies have been involved in.

Unilever in Czech and Slovak Republic

In the Czech and Slovak Republic, Unilever successfully works with PPM Factum since 2007. The agency has serviced 585 stores, with 376 merchandisers. On average, the agency spends over 300,000 service hours per year implementing, monitoring and reporting on products and campaigns for Unilever.

Using state of the art reporting systems, the agency reports on everything from actual prices overview, a dynamic approach executed on a daily basis; to price development analysis and promotional price activities overviews. PPM Factum also conducts Retail Audits which includes monitoring of shelf shares, secondary placements, and distribution and key facts about primary shelf organization; monitoring of distribution, POS materials, POS quality, all according to Unilever targets.

Capturing and analyzing this data is fundamental to producing quality insights.  The data collection process is as follows:

Each day auditor synchronizes PDA for actual activities-orders which are allocated/assigned daily.

• After arrival to outlet, auditor activates appropriate order thus PDA is automatically located through integrated GPS module.

• The auditor selects group for assortment and SKUs to be collected. He collects information and fills all designated cells per each item in PDA.

• After finishing order (full-filling all assortment cells required) auditor executes PDA synchronization and sends all the data collected directly to server.

The data collection process is performed under 3- strict levels of control to ensure accuracy. The advantage for a company such as Unilever is not only the quality of the data but the consistency of the reporting metrics that can be established with the EFMP agencies to make the data more easily comparable and thus yield greater insights.

Unilever in Romania

Unilever and GrupSapte have a long history together. Unilever was the first G7 client, starting our collaboration in 1999.

During this period more than 100 successful campaigns have been implemented. The campaigns include everything from in store samplings, instant win competitions, outdoor events and merchandising, with thousands of promoters & merchandisers. GrupSapte Agency has been involved and interacted with millions of Unilever consumers over the years, with the data to reflect growth..

In 2016 we have already had 360 partnerships through merchandising, creative services,  production, in store activations, POSM implementation and outdoor events. All the campaigns are tracked and reported on in detail.

Below are some details of a few of the promotional campaigns implemented in 2015-2016


Our objective was to attract new consumers by switching them from the competition towards Knorr by developing a visible promotion, reminding our consumers of what Knorr  is all about. We wanted to come up with a different approach for this campaign, to give our shoppers the opportunity to interact with the brand and remember Knorr.  The focus of the campaign was to have a “butler” in leading stores, who helped the consumers who bought Knorr products with their shopping cart, until the cash registers. This novel concept was greatly received by consumers and built brand awareness as well as driving sales.


In this campaign we were challenged by Unilever to bring together 2 brands in one activation in a special campaign DELMA and LIPTON

The concept was simple– Whats the secret to a beautiful morning? A delicious breakfast with Delmamit Butter and Lipton, a drop of sunshine, and a large smile.

Upon arriving at the sampling stand, the shopper’s attention was easily caught by an unusual contraption: The Beautiful Morning Machine. Built out of light materials, the machine will invite the shoppers to pull a small lever and start their morning with a smile and a cup of tea- a special way in which the consumers could interract with the brand.


This year we developed a Rama campaign in which we communicated  the mix of nutritious oils. Premium materials were used for the visual displays, Consumers were attracted to the stand and invited by a hostess to sample the oils for a chance to instantly win a prize. The campagn was carried out on a national level and activated through SMS.

THE COLOR RUN- powered by DERO

2016 will mark the 3rd year of collaboration for The Colour Run outdoor events project(s). Due to the growing popularity of this event, each year more runs are organized. In 2014 there were 3 runs, this grew to 4 runs in 2015, and this year there will be 6 runs.

Together with our production team, the agency is involved in the design, production & implementation to promote the DERO brand at these events.  The stand is usually positioned at the entry to the run, with over 100 square meters of promotional space. On previous occasions all logistic materials were implemented at strategic points throughout the race. In a special corner our consumers took pictures with Clabucel- the Dero mascot.

These are just examples of how 4 different brands have founds ways to engage and resonate with their audiences in Romania. In a climate where consumers’ behaviours are always changing, understanding what works culturally is important, but cross pollinating these ideas in different regions under expert guidance could unlock new consumer markets.  Unilever did just that by identifying a gap in the Pharmacy arena in Ireland.

Unilever Pharmacy Adviser – Ireland

Unilever identified the lack of sales representatives visiting their pharmacies selling specific brands. Wholesalers such as Calco were visiting pharmacies on a regular basis, selling a vast selection of products from various suppliers such as paracetamol, false eye lashes and fake tan.

In order to bring more awareness to and education about the Unilever products, they decided to invest in people on the ground – now known as Pharmacy Advisers. The brief was for FMI to recruit two young, energetic and enthusiastic pharmacy advisers. 

The process was a first round interview in FMI recruitment department, followed by a second round interview & presentation to the Unilever Customer Business Manager & Key Account Manager in Unilever Head Office, Dublin. With two successful candidates selected the project commenced on the 23rd May 2016.

Unilever will compile two journey plans, one in North Leinster and one in South Leinster targeting all of the key pharmacies that are significant to their business. 

The primary role of each pharmacy adviser will be to build strong relationships with the decision makers in each pharmacy they visit. This will then enable them to influence where products are best placed in store. They will complete an availability audit on Unilever’s core 100 lines giving Unilever visibility on what is out there in the pharmacy trade.

Unilever will provide an intense 4 week training plan; this will take place between Unilever Head Office Dublin & Unilever UK. The training will be heavily focussed on learning about the key personal care brands and the ingredients in the products.

The Pharmacy Advisers KPIs are currently to be confirmed but as this is not a selling role but more of an educational and advising role their KPIs will be more focussed on meeting 5 key decision makers per week, conducting training sessions and presenting before and after images of the product merchandising they have achieved in store.

The aim for both Unilever and FMI is that the year to come will be a huge success, and that their sales numbers in personal care and pharmacy products will grow. If this success is to happen, they will look to invest in more pharmacy advisers in various territories across the country.

Not only will Unilever benefit from the relationships created, but the market data captured by the advisors would be crucial in shaping their strategic goals in Ireland, and this could then form a blue print for executing  a similar process throughout Europe.

Adding Value

The diversity of the case studies highlights the potential for companies such as Unilever to leverage the shared network of the EFMP. In this age of digital collaboration it should not just be up to the brands to collate this information but for them to leverage their relationships with their agencies to provide a collaborative, connected and supportive network that delivers insights, encourages excellence and drives market growth.