As part of the agreement, Unilever will support Brandtone's expansion into four new markets: India, China, Indonesia, and the US. Unilever will also build on the existing relationship with Brandtone in South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and Turkey.
“Over half our turnover comes from emerging markets," explained Keith Weed, Unilever CMO, "Mobile provides a direct means of engagement with almost every consumer in those countries, and it is therefore absolutely critical for our brands’ growth."
Unilever has already run a number of campaigns with Brandtone, including a promotion for OMO washing power in South Africa, which generated response rates of 30 per cent, far above the industry average.
The new agreement sees the two companies partnering to open up key growth markets, said Donald Fitzmaurice, co-founder and CEO, Brandtone.
Brandtone's business model is built around value exchange - providing incentives, such as free mobile airtime, to reward consumers for interacting with brands and sharing information via their mobile phones. Campaigns to date have seen more than 90 per cent of consumers opting-in for further engagement, building databases of profiled consumers that brands can build on-going relationships with. The campaigns devised by Brandtone are accessible to all consumers—using USSD (an interactive form of data messaging), SMS and IVR (voice message) technology—and are free-to-enter due to the company’s partnerships with the telco providers in each market.
“People are willing to share information about themselves in order to get more relevant advertising and offers. So the opportunity is there – if we do it correctly," added Weed. "We need to approach people with respect – maintaining trust and ensuring two-way dialogue. The work we do with Brandtone enables us to do exactly that."