The Unilever Way to Building a Customer of Choice Brand and Values
October 20, 2014
Alex Short
3 minutes

Unilever are at the forefront of value based procurement. One of the areas they really stand out in, is their approach to being a Customer of Choice and their supporting Supplier Relationship Management programme. In this post I break down how they have developed a Customer of Choice brand and the values which they live and breathe day by day.

Unilever know how to build brands and they used these expertise to develop a well thought-out ‘Customer of Choice’ brand, messaging and communications, all supported by a number of key programmes.

The process of writing this post was very simple, I went through the Unilever Supplier pages on their site  and broke down their wording in the way a marketeer would develop a branding and positing document for a customer. I have also sourced some examples of the senior management supporting this position via traditional press and social media.

Another key element that stands out in Unilever’s approach is their CEO’s commitment to the programme which you can see in their ‘Partners to Win’ video below.

If you like the format, please leave a comment below and I will post some more over the coming weeks. Equally if I can improve the approach please let me know.

Unilever’s Customer of Choice Brand, Positioning and Values


Mission Statement

At Unilever, we have ambitious plans to grow our business while reducing our overall environmental impact, and only through partnering with you, our suppliers will sustainable and profitable growth be achievable.

30 Second Elevator Pitch

Unilever’s ambitious growth agenda means that across the 170 countries in which we sell our products, our Procurement teams are purchasing from a network of around 160,000 suppliers worldwide.

Our suppliers’ materials and services are an integral part of our commercial operations, ensuring our sites and factories in more than 100 countries are capable of manufacturing, marketing and continually improving the thousands of unique items we produce today.

Together we can deliver innovative solutions to meet our consumer and customer needs and achieve the commitments set out in our Sustainable Living Plan.

Values and Objectives

Unilever’s Procurement teams are committed to delivering business results by focusing on:

  • Driving growth through open innovation with suppliers, clear execution, and our commitment to on-shelf availability

  • Fuelling efficiencies through cost savings, improved performance, and payment terms

  • Working towards 100% sustainable sourcing in partnership with our suppliers.

  • Ensuring suppliers adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct

Customer of Choice Message from Marc Engel

There has rarely been a more exciting time to be working with Unilever when you consider the scale of what we are seeking to do in doubling the size of the business whilst reducing our environmental impact. We need to work more closely than ever with suppliers to co-create sustainable practices and bigger and better innovations.

We want to work with the best and create winning relationships with great Suppliers to achieve mutual growth for both partners and so that we can create fantastic opportunities to build our brands, optimise our supply chains and make our business operate as effectively as possible. This in turn will allow all of us to win.

We have to look to the future and continuously evolve to meet the needs of our changing environment – reinventing ourselves for sustained competitive advantage. We’ve set industry leading benchmarks for responsible sourcing and to deliver on our commitments, it’s important to have our suppliers with us on the journey whose values and actions reflect our own commitments.

Thank you.

Marc Engel

Chief Procurement Officer

So how do they support this? 4 Customer of Choice Programmes


1) Partner to Win

Partner to Win’ has enabled the company to create more long-term partnerships in co-creating new capabilities in order to achieve mutual growth for both partners. More on this in the video below:

Customer of Choice - Unilever Partner to Win Programme



2) Innovation Partners

Partner to Win’ has enabled the company to create more long-term partnerships in co-creating new capabilities in order to achieve mutual growth for both partners.

3) Sustainable Sourcing

At Unilever we have set industry leading benchmarks for responsible sourcing to deliver on our commitment to sustainable growth, it’s important to have you, our suppliers, with us on our journey.

Customer of Choice - Unilever's Sustainable Sourcing Programme


4) Invoicing

We’re committed to improving and automating the purchase-to-pay process for our suppliers and electronic invoicing is key to this strategy. Unilever is devoted to ensuring that we provide timely and efficient payment for goods and services to all of our suppliers, whilst supporting our drive towards environmental sustainability through the adoption of e-solutions.


Supporting the Customer of Choice Brand and Messaging through Interviews and Social Media

Here are couple of video’s that Marc Engel has done with the team from Procurement Leaders, you will hear him reconfirming Unilever’s ‘Customer of Choice’ brand, values & supporting programmes a number of times through the video.


Over the coming weeks we will be profiling a range of businesses to track how successful their different approaches to becoming a customer of choice have been. Let us know who you are below and keep up to date on the do’s and don’ts when trying to be a Customer of Choice.

Alex Short is Founder of Old St Labs he is passionate about building the next generation of business software. He is recognised as one of procurements thought leaders.
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