5 ways Unilever maximizes the power of UGC to drive purchase intent, search conversion, and innovation
With more than 400 brands across over 190 countries, Unilever is one of the largest customer products companies in the world. Its innovative use of user-generated content (UGC) goes beyond marketing. Here’s how the brand leverages Bazaarvoice solutions to build loyalty and improve customer satisfaction.
1. Review volume is the foundation of UGC success
Unilever knows firsthand the benefits of UGC.
“Reviews instill a lot of trust among consumers and give them the confidence to make a purchase,” says Jenna Spivak Evans, Innovation and Digital Capabilities Manager at Unilever.
For example, customers who read reviews on the Simple Skincare website have a 150% greater intent to purchase and use the store locator feature.
And more reviews mean better results.
“We see a positive correlation between review volume and number of orders,” says Evans. “Increasing review volume can be as simple as asking yourself, ‘How am I already talking to my customers, what communications do I already have planned, and how can I layer on an ask for a review?’ It’s all about integrating your efforts into conversations you’re already having with consumers.”
This approach is also cost-effective because it leverages existing investments. Unilever encourages reviews at multiple touchpoints, from emails to web banners to social media.
Bazaarvoice-powered sampling campaigns are another effective tactic: a recent campaign for Suave generated 5,000 reviews alone, and samples have driven hundreds of thousands of reviews across Unilever brands.
2. Recognizing UGC value beyond conversion
UGC is part of Unilever’s overall brand and marketing strategy. For example, it helps build organic search traffic and engagement.
“Because UGC delivers such rich content, you can see increases in search traffic of 15–25% as a result of using customer-generated content,” says Evans. “You will also see increases in website engagement metrics such as product page views per visit, average time spent onsite, and return-visitor rate.”
Online UGC also influences offline sales. Customers read online reviews before—and during—store visits, building loyalty and engagement throughout the customer journey.
3. Listening to customers and giving them what they want
Unilever acts on reviews to improve products and enhance the customer experience.
“Getting customer feedback provides an ongoing way to gather information about how a product is doing and where there’s room for improvement,” says Evans, who points to an example from the TRESemmé brand.
Reviewers of TRESemmé Keratin Smooth hair care mentioned using a dry shampoo the next day to maintain results—but Unilever had no Keratin Smooth dry shampoo. Unilever used this insight as an opportunity to promote other dry shampoos in its product lines alongside the Keratin Smooth shampoo.
4. Amplifying the voice of the customer
No matter how well a brand crafts its marketing content, it’s never as compelling as consumer content.
“Consumers really need a third party to legitimize the content they read on product detail pages,” according to Evans. “They see reviews as a trusted source for understanding how other consumers like them have experienced the product.”
Unilever’s own research reports that nearly half of shoppers trust user-generated text, video, and images more than brand-created content. In fact, consumers agreed that communication leveraging a review made them trust the Simple Skincare advertisement 38% more than when the same content was framed as a corporate claim.
“When we include reviews in social ads and display ads, we see about a 20–30% improvement in performance,” says Evans. “We also find that those customers are more likely to read other customer reviews of the product when they click through the product detail page.”
Unilever also uses UGC in print ads, inserts, and in-store displays.
5. Broadening the impact of UGC across the larger business
Unilever listens to the voice of the customer in reviews and responds proactively.
“All that customer feedback can provide an ongoing panel for informing R&D, customer service, quality teams, and others about how a product is performing,” says Evans.
In one case, the marketing department identified a trend of complaints about a reformulated product. The quality control department traced the issue to a bad batch, and Unilever provided a replacement to all customers who had reported an issue—along with information about the benefits of the reformulation.
The company is also integrating reviews with CRM for increased personalization.
“Integration of UGC into CRM will give us deeper demographic information and provide an incremental way to understand different customers’ needs,” says Evans.
It’s all part of Unilever’s never-ending quest to make products that people love so much that they want to share their experiences with the world.