Unilever signed a new deal with mobile marketing company Brandtone, which will enable its brands to use the power of mobile and big data to build long-term one-to-one relationships with consumers, particularly in emerging markets, where mobile is a key tool to reach them—and to do so at scale.
Citing India, Indonesia, China and the U.S. to be a focus of new mobile marketing initiatives, Unilever also noted that, as part of the deal, it will support Brandtone’s expansion into these four new markets. Unilever will also build on the existing relationship with Brandtone in South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and Turkey.
Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, explains, “Over half our turnover comes from emerging markets. Mobile provides a direct means of engagement with almost every consumer in those countries, and it is therefore absolutely critical for our brands’ growth. People are willing to share information about themselves in order to get more relevant advertising and offers. So the opportunity is there—if we do it correctly. We need to approach people with respect—maintaining trust and ensuring two-way dialogue. The work we do with Brandtone enables us to do exactly that. By building relationships with our consumers and adding something of value to them we can increase both purchase and brand loyalty.”
At the heart of Brandtone’s business model is meaningful value exchange; based on providing incentives, such as free mobile airtime, to reward consumers for interacting with brands and sharing information via their mobile phones. Campaigns to date have seen over 90% of consumers opt-in to further engagement, creating databases of profiled consumers that brands can build on-going relationships with. The campaigns devised by Brandtone are accessible to all consumers – using USSD (an interactive form of data messaging), SMS and IVR (voice message) technology—and are free-to-enter due to the company’s partnerships with the telco providers in each market. This provides an ideal channel for engagement in markets where mobile is the most reliable and widespread communication channel.
A founding investor in Brandtone in 2010, Unilever Ventures has played an active role in its development and global expansion to help brands to reinvent the way they do marketing via mobile.