Unilever aims to ‘reinvent ecommerce’

Unilever is running its first “consumer-facing” hackathon as it looks for new ways to work with the technology start-up community and ensure it is at the forefront of digital innovation.


The event, run in conjunction with events company 3beards, is invite-only and open to people working in the tech sector. It will happen on 6 and 7 August and ask participants to come up with a “100 per cent original” idea on how Unilever can influence the purchasing decisions of someone shopping for personal care products before they reach a retailer’s website.

Unilever executives including Marc Mathieu, global senior vice president of marketing, global SVP of ecommerce Keith Higgins and the vice president of brand building personal care in the UK and Ireland, Mark Bleathman, will judge the entrants. Unilever says it is looking for ideas it can bring to market and so it could commission some of the ideas.

The hackathon is being run in conjunction with The Unilever Foundry, the company’s global start-up platform that offers mentorship and investment opportunities to digital marketing start-ups. At the moment it is looking for start-ups to help with the so-called internet of things, asking them to create technology for smart bathrooms, smart ice cream cabinets, smart packaging and smart wardrobes with successful applicants receiving $50,000 to fund a pilot.

Unilever has run hackathon events before but they were with its marketers and agency partners and were aimed at encouraging collaboration and establishing what Mathieu called a new “Unilever way of marketing”. This time it is hoping to find new agencies or start-ups to work with and is focused on developing products that could be used or seen by consumers.

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