FEATURE18 December 2017

Best In-House Team: Unilever Research Innovation

FMCG Features Innovations UK

At the MRS Awards 2017, Unilever Research Innovation was named Best In-House Team – the award for the research or insight team that most convincingly demonstrates how it has developed and delivered outstanding work within its organisation.

Unilever best in house_crop

The Research Innovation Foundation (RIF) operates within Unilever’s Consumer and Market Insights function (CMI). With an objective to double the impact of research, while halving the time and cost, RIF covers new research methodologies for and interfaces with CMI across regions, categories and specialities.

CMI created the RIF in 2014 to focus on trialling new methodologies with new technologies and companies, in addition to working with current agencies to improve existing core methodologies.

Since its launch, the team has screened over 1,000 companies, run 200 pilots and scaled 36 new methodologies. Last year, a fifth of CMI’s budget was spent on innovative research.

Rather than sitting siloed to the rest of the business, RIF underpins the work of the wider CMI organisation, running pilots based on current business challenges.

Successful pilots that are significantly different, cheaper or faster are backed and led by CMI to reinforce the role of innovation within marketing businesses and allow the methodologies to be implemented day-to-day within the CMI business.

Laurie Sommer, global strategy manager at Unilever CMI, said: "We, in CMI, are incredibly proud of what the Research Innovation team has accomplished. It is inspiring to see how a small team has been transforming the way we do insights. They have infused a very innovative mindset across our function, leading everyone in CMI to fully embrace experimentation."

John Hicks, head thinker EMEA sales at Watch Me Think, said: “Not only do they strive for best-in-class research, the team are fully supportive of utilising small agencies that have new and exciting research techniques that can bring additional value to the organisation.”

The judges said: “Unilever is flying the flag for the power of research – thinking outside the box to set the agenda and maximise impact across the whole business. Unilever stood out for the scale of its ambition and impressive evidence of real change."