Procurecon Marketing EU 2019

11 - 13 June, 2019

Twickenham Stadium, London

Contact Us: 44 (0) 207 368 9465

Unilever are Evaluating their Marketing Procurement Strategy for a Digitized World

In a loft in San Francisco, a group of women describe their appearance to a forensic sketch expert who can’t see them. A day later, the same women are described by strangers who’d met them earlier. Upon comparing the sketches, the strangers’ description of the women turns out to be far more accurate than their own description of themselves.

This went on to be a popular marketing campaign launched by Unilever for one of its flagship products, championing body positivity and self-care.


If there’s even one iota of doubt regarding the relevance of Marketing Procurement and its importance, let’s clarify: no matter how much research and effort goes into product design and development, it’s customer perception that reigns supreme. Unilever are very conscious of this, and channel resources like research and analytics highly effectively into building on their customer perception.

For Marketing Procurement, driving consumer engagement and building a brand means liaising with agencies to implement targeted multichannel engagement programmes. Efficient marketers today are well equipped with modern technologies, and are expanding analytics into more complex data sciences.


Unilever’s data analysis works in tandem with their campaigns to generate actionable insights. An example of this is the complex relationship between women and their self image – a data point used in the campaign above. Once creative professionals have these insights they can pen storylines that really connect with their customers on a psychological level.

The combination of the power of storytelling alongside advances in marketing technology has bought marketers to the edge of their seats. In order to stay ahead of the curve, marketers today have to open up their repertoire to high-end marketing tools like personalisation, social listening and location based marketing.

Bringing Transparency to Marketing Spend

Digital marketing has evolved radically. The rise of predictive analytics continues to act as a disruptive force, dividing companies willing to invest the massive initial implementation cost from those who can’t or won’t foot the bill. Measuring marketing spend in a world of digitization often turns out to be a grey area for procurement. At the end of the day, profitability is not always an immediate and direct consequence to marketing spend, especially when compared with competitor figures. But building a brand takes time and companies need to be able to think and budget for the long term when it comes to customer perception.

Marketing is an investment more than it is a cost. It would be a mistake to underestimate the long-term benefits it brings in light of the absence of profits in the form of short-terms sales. So when marketing takes a direct hit on the profit and loss statement, it’s important to remember that all investments are future assets in the form of higher brand equity and better customer relationships.

The key is to procure marketing smartly. Looking deeper into ROI, companies need to focus on the right parameters for assessment. They need to monitor the efficiency of their existing service providers, assess if they add the kind of value to their brand they’re looking for, and replace them when required. Unilever’s decision to halve the partnership they hold with marketing agencies is a good example of this. Similarly, Ikea kicking off agency meetings with a discussion of their marketing requirements is a smart move from them, and for any company who knows what it wants.


Branding is a long-term endeavour. It’s more about nurturing, and planning for a future trajectory than expecting immediate gains. You can’t sacrifice the future to achieve short-term achievable goals. Force fitting concepts of ROI on a domain which has less to do with immediate quantifiable results and more to do with the qualitative representation of a brand in the eyes of the customer is a mistake.

Make sure to download the ProcureCon Marketing agenda to check out all of the great activities, speakers, and sessions planned for this year.