Putting the consumer’s voice at the heart of the conversation around haircare has helped Unilever get far closer to customers via its content platform All Things Hair. The publisher uses a 30-strong team of beauty editors to promote brands and share data, which the business says has enabled it to become a “hair companion” for consumers and brands.
The content publishing platform was founded in 2013 in Canada to provide an authentic way to promote Unilever’s haircare brands and gain customer insights. But it has since been rolled out across most major markets, including the UK and US, as well as the Philippines and Brazil.
Rishabh Gandhi, Unilever’s head of digital transformation in global hair, explains: “It is built on a very simple but important consumer insight, which is when it comes to haircare consumers are very much looking for insight, inspiration and tips from people like them.”
This means the marketing tool needs to function much like an independent publisher working with a network of influencers to retain authenticity and build strong consumer relationships.
“All Things Hair was the way in which we decided to have a consumer voice. That’s why it is an editorial team working with hairstylists, experts and influencers to create the right momentum of inspiration and help for people and creating content on a daily basis,” he says.
The website and YouTube channel provides a wide spectrum of content, from answering simple questions like ‘how often should I condition my hair?’ to more emotional topics such as ‘what should you do when your hair falls out from cancer treatment?’.
Gandhi adds: “Unilever recognised the consumer interest and appeal was quite high, but it’s not from a brand point of view because a brand tends to talk more about its personal objective, so we wanted to start from the consumer.”
Equally, All Things Hair is keen to ensure it is a “companion” to the Unilever brand, so it works across a spectrum of the FMCG giant’s hair brands, including Tresemmé and Love Beauty and Planet, as a key marketing tool.
Gandhi explains: “We understand what consumers really care about and make sure we provide the right insights back to the brand. But on the reverse, we also make sure we recommend the right brands to the right consumers.”
The platform has a deliberately broad target audience with the aim of attracting all genders, however there is a clear gender skew to women.
Despite this, he argues it is “less about a demographic and more about a mindset”.
All Things Hair works closely with marketing teams across the the business, as well as research and development, to make use of expertise, while also ensuring editorial is “well versed” in all brands, from product launches to purpose.
Gandhi says: “Beauty editors authentically produce the content themselves. We make sure they are well versed in the brands, including the products and what the brand really stands for, so they can authentically work out which brand is right for what rather than it being a push.”
While the editorial team works much like a separate newsroom there is a another team working on “connecting the dots” between brand and content to ensure All Things Hair is providing helpful insights back to brands.
The power of Unilever
Despite having the appearance of an independent publisher rather than a marketing tool, Gandhi says All Things Hair is clear about its relationship with Unilever.
“The power of Unilever is [it is] helping the editorial team and influencers be smarter about their information, almost giving them credibility, so we absolutely don’t shy away [from the association]. Consumers actually like it because they find the authenticity and the honesty about the fact we’re powered by Unilever really helpful.”
The platform also works “extremely closely” with the company’s startup platform, Unilever Foundry, with weekly meetings to discuss relevant briefs and emerging brands.
The Foundry analyse regular briefs from All Things Hair and then provide a list of relevant tech startups to be reviewed by the sites team.
Its most recent collaboration was on a chat bot, created by startup HelloAva, which saw the creation of a personalisation app generating personalised hair regimes.
After answering questions on their hair type and care regime on the All Things Hair website and uploading a photo of their hair, consumers receive personalised advice on how best to look after their hair, from washing, treatments and styling, along with recommended Unilever products.
Gandhi views this interaction as the “start of a journey” with customers, which the brand hopes will develop into a longer-term relationship.
“We don’t see it as a one-off touchpoint and then the relationship is over, which is why we want to make sure consumers engage with the rest of the content of All Things Hair,” he explains.
“Based on the information consumers share [we then look at] how we can can personalise their content in the future.”
Consumers are also asked to share their email, which pushes the platform to make sure the content it shares with them is “all linked up so we don’t finish the journey of conversation in one go”, he concludes.