Case study: Unilever new product launch


Objective: Agile Research Community

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Background: Unilever

In early 2017, a member of Unilever’s innovation team approached us here at SPRINT with a simple mission: to gain consumer insight for their new 100% plant-based margarines in several oil-inspired flavours. The product was yet to hit the market.

We were ready for the challenge. SPRINT quickly assembled a scrum team for Unilever to fast track the project and avoid spreading ourselves thin. With a focus on Unilever’s latest innovative food product under the Becel brand, we began to collect vital information by taking an agile market research online community approach. Discover how we achieved results with three-steps…

The Challenge: Accessing Consumers Quickly

Fans of spreadable condiments will know that Unilever are constantly innovating within the margarine market. One trend they are currently bucking is the rising popularity of plant-based products, which they are meeting with several oil-based margarine flavours: Walnut, Coconut & Almond and Avocado & Lime Oil.

In anticipation for the release of their margarine variations, Unilever were keen to further understand how consumers would use and interact with the new flavours. This insight was especially valuable to Unilever, as these products were a fresh take on the traditional ingredients that customers were familiar with.

For SPRINT, our biggest challenge was gaining access to the right consumers for this project in a short space of time preceding its launch. We had to successfully find and invite people to use the product to gain genuine insight for our client. We knew the best approach to take…

The project team at SPRINT provided us with key insights on product usage in multiple countries. The insights have greatly benefitted us in our innovation cycle.”
Joost Verhagen Global CMI Manager - Unilever

Our approach: Market Research Online Community

1. Dairy Study

We accessed one of SPRINT’s Agile Online Market Research Communities. These consumers shared their own experiences with Unilever’s product by describing how they used the margarine and uploading pictures of their margarine-inspired meals.

2. Market Research Online Community

Interaction was encouraged among these consumers. Respondents had the opportunity to view and reply to each other’s experiences with the product, generating even more feedback.

3. Evaluation questionnaire

We wrapped up our research with a few key questions. Respondents were asked to indicate how frequently and on what occasions they would use the product, plus what they thought the product was best suited for. We even collected their opinion on what similar products it could be substituted for.

We even collected their opinion on what similar products it could be substituted for.

Topline output

Our research provided Unilever with the following insights:

  • How consumers use the new product
  • Applications and recipes the product can be used for
  • Other products their margarine might replace
  • Occasions and frequency of use.

Unique Results

SPRINT provided Unilever with professional, top-quality insight into product usage within a short, focused timeline. The insight, which came direct from a community of consumers, helped Unilever’s agile innovation team react quickly and further develop their latest product in preparation for its launch.

In March 2017, Unilever successfully launched its new range of Becel margarine flavours in the Netherlands.

The insight provided by SPRINT shaped the new product line’s launch strategy in various countries, acting as valuable input for future marketing and communications. It proceeded to generate strong internal engagement between teams at Unilever, which is a best case scenario!