Unilever

Creating Consumer
Insights at Scale

Leveraging real-time insights and optimizing processes with the People Data Centre

State-of-the-art analytics

Half a decade has passed since the World Economic Forum estimated that bytes of data outnumber stars in the observable universe 40:1. This is a number that continues to grow exponentially.

Meanwhile, the world is changing, and consumer needs and expectations are evolving fast.

It’s up to leading organizations such as Unilever to make sense of data and the accelerating context of consumer needs. The goal is not just to continue to deliver products and services that best serve people and planet, but to raise the bar and go beyond expectations.

Likewise, they must develop their capacity to listen to consumers in real time and tailor their consumer engagement plan accordingly, therefore building trust and protecting the brand.

As a global advertiser, Unilever set ambitious growth targets driven by data to future-proof the organization against an ever-changing market landscape. However, with Unilever's scale came challenges, including difficulty connecting the company's vast consumer data, breaking down research silos, and coordinating insights.

Driven by the shared goal of removing business pain points and utilizing actionable insights in real-time, we worked with Unilever to create a state-of-the-art, in-house consumer analytics solution that would service Unilever’s 53+ markets. By pivoting away from research agencies to an in-house data center, we helped save them € 30 million a year.

The resulting People Data Centre (PDC), delivers consumer trends and product insights as a service, identifying emerging consumer behaviors and attitudes and helping brands to capitalize on related opportunities.

The PDC has the ability to perform advanced analytics on large amounts of data, ranging from internal business data, traditional market research data to social media, search data, blogs, forums, ratings and reviews sites and consumer carelines.

Since launch, frog has continued to work with Unilever to ensure the PDC supports the evolution from silos of research to Harvard Business Review-recognized, global, actionable insights that are at the heart of Unilever’s decision making.

The PDC provides insight not only to marketing, but also to supply chain, R&D, HR and finance. Thanks to the collaboration with frog we now have the capability to provide insight and action all across the organisation

Alex Owens, VP, Global Head of People Data Centres, Unilever

Driven by the shared goal of removing business pain points and utilizing actionable insights in real-time, we worked with Unilever to create a state-of-the-art, in-house consumer analytics solution. 
  • Understanding wants and needs

    Project highlights

  • Challenge

    In-house data powerhouse

    Unilever’s data was being provided and analyzed by different suppliers, they wanted to pivot to in-house data infrastructure as a way of saving resources and generating additional value.

  • Solution

    A collaborative drive

    Following an insights and market research phase, our approach was to start small with pilots in selected markets to demonstrate value, before expanding to multi-functions and multi-markets.

  • Outcome

    Consumer-centric at heart

    By collating data from multiple sources and leveraging a global data science capability, the PDC delivers unparalleled insights and is the heart of Unilever's consumer-centric digital revolution.

Building the service pillars of the PDC

The PDC was developed as a service to help brands within Unilever go to market using the three core categories of digital marketing, advanced analytics and technology. We achieved this with four supporting pillars:

Consumer Trends as a Service: Identify emerging consumer behaviors and attitudes and help brands to capitalize on the opportunities these changes present.

Product Insights as a service: Improve the performance and design of products by generating deep consumer insights into every aspect of a product, including competitor analysis.

Channel Evolution as a Service: Identify each brand’s sell-in strategy and omni-channel engagement approach with retailer differentiation and social commerce.

Brand Affinity as a Service: Engage with consumers and communities more effectively by mining user-generated content to inform messages and content.

These foundational principles result in heightened consumer awareness and real-time insights that are shared between brands and departments, including R&D, marketing, sales and supply chain.

The PDC has the ability to perform advanced analytics on large amounts of data. 
The PDC has enabled Unilever to explore new ways of supporting social causes, such as the Data for Good team.

Exponential knowledge processing

Today, Unilever PDC has enabled one billion consumer relationships, it sees 411 million reviews every day, has processed 500 million social posts and delivered more than 7,000 insights services to date. 

The efficiency of the PDC means insights can be delivered in a matter of hours, with a transparent process which ensures that relevant insights are provided to decision makers at the right time and in the right format.


This is all geared around the goal of elevating Unilever’s understanding of consumers, which continues to grow with every byte processed by the PDC.

Unilever estimate they’re currently saving 30 million euros a year. This means the PDC is half the cost of traditional consumer intelligence—and delivers insights twice as fast.

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