Automation, seamless tracking & execution, virtual try-on, and keeping your consumer at the center, are some of the key elements behind Unilever's success in the complex and massive Indian market. A market that, on the retail battlefront, is expected to amount to 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars by 2026, up from 883 billion dollars in 2020, according to Statista.
That’s why today we join forces with our partners at eTail Asia to present you with another amazing interview from the cycle of exclusive interviews with industry leaders from the e-commerce world!
Today we talk with Anvesha Poswali, Head of Digital & eCommerce Home Care from Unilever, to learn from her experience how you can keep the customer always in the center, how you can guarantee and improve the future of India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company, and what trends we must keep under our radar in the competitive D2C business.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Unilever?
I am a passionate digital marketer, having been In the industry for over a decade. I started my career with Google & have worked with Asian Paints & L’Oreal in the past. Currently, I lead digital marketing & e-commerce for the Home Care business group for Unilever in India.
With nearly 90 years of heritage in India, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company. On any given day, nine out of ten Indian households use one or more of our brands, giving us a unique opportunity to build a brighter future. We are known for our great brands, the positive social impact we create, and our belief in doing business the right way.
Unilever CEO Alan announced moving to five category-focused business groups in 2022, what are the trends you have noticed to cause this shift, and what does Unilever hope to achieve?
As Alan Jope puts it, “Our new organizational model has been developed over the last year and is designed to continue the step-up we see in the performance of our business. Moving to five category-focused Business Groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery. Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this.”
What are some of Unilever’s D2C strategies to expand your business and reach new customers?
FMCG companies have historically known what & how much was bought, but they did not know enough about the individual consumer that had bought their brand. D2C gives us a great opportunity to interact with the end consumer directly, and closely understand her behavior & needs.
However, the majority of our business is driven via other channels, and it will continue to be like that. We look at D2C as a complementary channel to drive growth & use it mainly to drive our niche & premium products that can provide a differentiated user experience on these channels.
What are the major trends you see concerning the intersection of D2C and technology today?
Consumers are increasingly looking to buy experiences & not just products. Hence, D2C channels need to provide that rich experience to the consumer. Also, the expectation with respect to customer service & last mile delivery is pretty high, hence companies need to excel at the basics first.
Technology here becomes both an enabler & a disruptor. It is inevitable to drive the brilliant basics through automation, seamless tracking & execution & driving media efficiencies. At the same time, technology also plays a massive role in creating distinctive & enhanced experiences on the web, which helps the brand stay ahead of the curve. Few examples bring virtual try-on, immersive store experience & dynamic creative optimization.
What are some offline & online marketing strategies adopted by Unilever?
HUL Home Care invests heavily in building brand equity & driving brand purpose. Building meaningful, purpose-led brands that deliver strong performance & growth is the mantra. Much of the investment goes behind the television to drive brand equity.
There are also media investments made on digital channels for the upper funnel, mid-funnel & lower funnel metrics. We make significant investments in driving reach & frequency and then remarketing to this audience using performance marketing on relevant channels. The crux lies in outlining clear objectives, KPIs, deployment strategy & platform.
What have you learned from the journey so far?
I have worked across different verticals like Travel, Beauty & Home Care & there is one common thread across all – the basics of marketing do not change & it is all about keeping your consumer at the center. The platforms keep evolving & tech innovations keep coming in, but it is about making smart choices about what makes sense for your business & will drive the maximum impact.
One needs to be up to date with the latest developments & think innovatively. The Test & Learn approach is critical if you want to make significant progress in digital. It is all about striking the balance between what you know will work & placing some bets on what might work & learn along the way.
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