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Unilever exec speaks to mobile coupon strategy

August 25, 2009

unileverWondering what Unilever’s take on mobile marketing is? Read this interview with a Unilever executive to find out. 

The company began a trial test of mobile coupons, which consumers can redeem by having a supermarket cashier scan their phone. The coupons are powered by Samplesaint and include discount offers for some of Unilever’s most popular brands such as Breyers Ice Cream, Dove soap, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Lipton tea.

Mobile Marketer’s Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Stephanie Kovner-Bryant, senior integrated marketing manager of Unilever, London, to get her take on the mobile coupons program so far and what she thinks of mobile marketing in general. Here is what she had to say:

What is the strategy behind Unilever’s use of Samplesaint’s mobile coupons?
The reason we wanted to test this it is it is an exciting technology for us. A big part of strategy has to do with providing consumers coupons and we want to be able to do that in whatever way is most convenient for the consumer.

Everyone has a mobile phone these days and providing coupons to a consumer’s handset is a breakthrough.

We are currently doing research to find out whether mobile coupons are allowing us to reach a younger demographic that isn’t really too big on clipping coupons from the paper.  However, we don’t have this demographic information as of yet.

Why is mobile the channel of choice here?
We tried all types of new technology everyone has a mobile phone and we want to be where consumers are with our offers.

It is too early in the program to talk about the redemption rates, but it is pretty much the same as the other digital programs we are testing.

Samplesaint lets brands change promotions while they are running. Has Unilever made us of this?
We are tracking redemption rates and we’ll always have that option of changing or deleting a coupon that may not be doing so well. However, we haven’t done so as of yet. We haven’t and currently do not plan to, but it is nice to have that option. 

What benefits do mobile coupons give brands and consumers?
Mobile coupons are good for the environment as there isn’t any paper involved, so there isn’t any recycling.

They are convenient because the consumer has them right on their mobile phone and when their done with one, it disappears and doesn’t take up space.

The best part is there’s a less of a chance for fraud.

The fact that we can track how the coupon is doing and track its path is great to. The targeting is obviously a benefit. I mean, we can target coupons in a paper by location, but in the end we really don’t know who redeems them. With mobile it’s different, as the consumer gives us demographic information upon download.

How important of a role does mobile play in Unilever’s overall marketing strategy?
Very important, but it depends on the demographic. For many of our brands we use mobile in a multichannel effort to tie all the other mediums in an integrated campaign together.

Also, mobile is becoming increasingly important to consumers and so we want to be there.

As for our mobile strategy going forward, we continue to look at mobile and digital programs and apply them where appropriate.

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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