Unilever and Oxfam: upstream collaboration

by raymanookian

In the past, when upstream collaboration was a rarity rather than the emerging operating model, big firms like Unilever would only feel comfortable partnering with other big (but slightly smaller) firms. “Best practice” in procurement would point to a slimmed down, streamlined supplier base who were sufficiently large to cope with a behemoth like Unilever. The idea of partnering with a bunch of melon seed farmers in southern Africa (as Body Shop did for its Satsuma Body Butter) would have never occurred. Goliath preferred making his bed with other Goliaths. David didn’t get a look in – and for the most part would feel dwarfed by the size of Goliath.

But now this kind of collaboration is becoming more prevalent – and what a brilliant breath of fresh air. The ‘big corporate’ using its scale to aid a raft of  smaller players, earning a bit of kudos at the same time, and (for my money) ending up with the opportunity to create more interesting products.

Does globalisation mean that Flora has to taste exactly the same everywhere? Why? Does global brand = global bland?

By setting up partnerships like this could we see a few variations in Flora, and – who knows – maybe some brand recognition for some of the farmers involved?

(Nick Keppel-Palmer)

Wolff Olins.

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