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Unilever’s eCommerce Journey with SKIM on Mobile Ready Hero Image Design

SKIM's research teams helped Unilever establish mobile-ready hero image standards, improving the online shopping experience and driving measurable sales lifts.

Editor’s Note: Every year, participants in the GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report survey vote for the most innovative companies in market research. In Insights That Work, these top companies share the real-life challenges and solutions of their biggest clients.

Research Challenge

Defining a set of marketing guidelines that drive a measurable increase in sales is an incredible feat, never mind doing so for 2.5 billion smartphone users across the globe. As desktop declines in eCommerce, better conversion on mobile is a strategic imperative. However, mobile consumers shop differently and, as a result, experience unique challenges.

Consumer goods giant Unilever recognized this challenge: How can we deliver the same great user experience online, which our consumers have come to expect from us offline?

Unilever’s global e-commerce experience design director, Oliver Bradley, set out to tackle this challenge by developing a consistent and cohesive set of mobile-ready hero image guidelines for all brands, in all countries to follow with all retailers.


Research Solution

“When I first joined eCommerce team, I spent my first summer eye tracking and talking to shoppers and I learned it wasn’t that easy. They were frequently adding the wrong sizes in basket and were frustrated when the “wrong” products arrived at their door,” said Bradley, the man behind Unilever’s mobile-first strategy. ‘It was clear from eye tracking that smartphone shoppers scroll fast, don’t read the product title and were struggling to see the detail.”

Unilever partnered with Cambridge University to create “mobile ready hero images” to address the unique challenges of shopping on a small screen. Unilever conducted further eye tracking and qualitative research to test these concepts and turned to SKIM for the insights needed to standardize the mobile-hero image guidelines.

‘We realized we could never do this journey alone,’ said Bradley. “Along with retailer feedback, we needed to test in a quantitative way what we’d been learning in a qualitative way. SKIM came from a recommendation through the CMI (consumer and market insights) team as the best partner to help. We’ve always had a fantastic relationship with SKIM and knew we could trust them to bring rigor to this eCommerce project.’

Equipped with SKIM’s research insights and recommendations, Unilever’s eCommerce team was able to establish content guidelines for its brand marketing colleagues. These mobile ready hero image standards optimized the most important brand, format, variant and size selection criteria for a mobile screen.


Client Result

Retailers around the world are signing up to this approach too – today more than 83 retailers in over 40 countries are live with Unilever’s approach. Retailers conducting A/B tests online have seen 24% lift on Magnum, and even simple number of washes hero images in Laundry delivered 3% lifts.

By publishing mobile ready hero image guidelines across their marketing organization, Unilever was able to improve the online shopping experience (consumers can instantly recognize the most important selection criteria like pack size) and promote a consistent brand identity in eCommerce – two important ingredients for omnichannel success. Operationally, this made the creative and design process significantly more efficient.

Featuring case studies from ‘GRIT Top 50 Most Innovative’ companies, Insights That Work is your ultimate guide to understanding the process of producing pivotal insights with impactful business results. Download Insights That Work to read more case studies.

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