Unilever is applying the learnings from its 2016 acquisition of Dollar Shave Club in some unexpected directions, including the development of a DTC approach to selling mustard, according to Keith Weed.

Speaking to WARC at the recent World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) annual conference in Lisbon, outgoing chief marketing and communications officer Weed professed himself excited by Dollar Shave Club’s brand trajectory since its acquisition.

But he was particularly encouraged by what Unilever has learned from the company’s disruptive business model and can now apply it to its other brands.

“Direct to consumer – whether that be content or direct-to-consumer sales – has changed significantly,” he said. “The opportunity for a company like ours to serve consumers directly is very exciting.” (For more, read the full article: Unilever’s Keith Weed on lessons from direct-to-consumer and the future of FMCG.)

There are various different approaches with the direct-to-consumer model, he noted, of which subscription selling, as practised by Dollar Shave Club, is but one.

“What we were going to do with Dollar Shave Club was engage and build Dollar Shave Club, but also then get insights out of Dollar Shave Club to build quicker direct-to-consumer businesses,” he explained, citing Unilever’s premium mustard brand, Maille, as one beneficiary of the insights.

The mustard, which enjoys a heritage dating back nearly 200 years, has a strong bricks-and-mortar retail presence; its Dijon boutique has been open since 1845. But now it’s also taking off in the lucrative direct-to-consumer space, Weed revealed.

“Our oldest brand, in some ways, is acting incredibly agile in a new way where we’re serving people with quite niche and specialised mustards,” he said.

“What is so brilliant about bricks-and-mortar retail is you can engage people with something like Hellman’s mayonnaise across the world. What you can’t do is post 150 Hellman’s mayonnaises on the store shelf of Walmart or Tesco. You can certainly put 350 on a website,” he said.

“With Maille mustard, the opportunity to give real selection is out there. What we’ve learned from Dollar Shave Club is that data play.

“Subscription selling is part of it, but it’s more than that. I think it’s really exciting, because this is the way brands and businesses like Unilever will remain relevant into the future.”

Sourced from WARC