Snapshot

Knorr is one of Unilever’s sustainable living food brands and a market leader for pork seasoning in Vietnam. To address a sales slide in pockets of the country, they needed to communicate a convincing story differentiating themselves from the competition while supporting claims of a superior product. Knorr’s use of premium ingredients, including shinbone, tenderloin, and marrow, had to be tied to being sourced from clean pork farms which links quality to flavor and taste. Trust in origin statements doesn’t just appeal to current buyers, but also to potential new customers. That made it especially important to add a layer confirming those origins.

Scantrust started with serialized, unique QR codes for every seasoning packet, creating a gateway to online product information including farm-to-fork details. We also developed a Hyperledger Sawtooth blockchain connector to minimize trust issues around the claims assuring superb quality and the ingredients’ origin. Knorr rolled out a marketing campaign along with updated packaging artwork, drawing attention to the superior quality ingredients story.

Sales among the targeted segment improved soon after the project launch, and scans of the QR codes continue to provide Knorr with new insight into their customers’ preferences.

INTRODUCTION

Knorr is a German food and beverage brand owned by British-Dutch fast moving consumer goods company Unilever. The Knorr product range includes dehydrated soup and meal mixes, bouillon cubes, and condiments. The brand has invested significant resources on sustainable sourcing commitments and the production of high quality food products. They needed a way to communicate this unique selling proposition and tell their story in response to growing competition in key regions. Scantrust is a connected goods platform for companies that depend on selling physical products and that require solutions to just these types of challenges. By using Scantrust secured QR codes and a blockchain connector solution for storage, Knorr had an ideal solution to deliver their story about superior quality pork product ingredients.

THE CHALLENGE

Knorr has enjoyed market leader status in Vietnam for over fifteen years with their seasoning products. This can be attributed, in no small way, to producing from shinbone, tenderloin, and marrow that is carefully selected from clean pork farms. Despite this, Knorr still saw their market position being eroded in a few regions with the motivating factor being competitors’ lower price point. To complicate things, the competition was highlighting the exact same ingredients that Knorr emphasized in their product. The obvious fear was that with lower prices successfully appealing to consumers, turning to cheaper options could become a bigger trend. Knorr recognized the need to take action and doubled down on actively differentiating themselves and their product. Market research surveys confirmed that the quality of pork meat ingredients is still important to purchase decisions and that consumers associated superior quality with superior taste. Armed with these findings, Knorr concluded that they would showcase the pig farms that supplied their ingredients. The high standards and commitment to hygiene and quality on the farms would be the supporting differentiator for that superior taste in their pork products. Knorr knew the story they wanted to engage consumers with. They just needed the right way to tell it. How could they convincingly deliver the story of suppliers’ high standards and quality?

Without this initiative, we would continue to lose market share. The investment is justified by winning back the shares in the targeted areas, and it has been delivering.

Phuong Nham,
former Unilever Regional Brand Manager, SEAA Foods

THE SCANTRUST SOLUTION

Knorr took a bet on a blockchain-powered traceability solution to deliver their superior quality story. To find a solution provider, they evaluated members of the Unilever Foundry program. Scantrust previously presented a digitalization solution in the foundry program, so we already stood out among the options. Once selected for the tender, we worked with Unilever packaging and printing suppliers in Vietnam to print the QR codes in a two-phase process. First, an offset press printed the uniform Knorr packets while reserving an empty space for the unique codes. Next, a digital printer added the unique codes to the empty space on each product packet. When millions of QR codes are being associated with dynamic supply chain data in this way, automation is not an option: it’s a requirement. To bring millions of codes online, scanning cameras were installed onto packing lines for automated inline activation of the product codes, bringing the Knorr story to life as the products made their way to market. Data generated and bound to the products include the name and location of the originating farm, the type of meat used, the butchering date, and details from the meat processing plant such as receiving date, processing date, and mixing ingredients. These are accessed via customized and branded microsites when consumers scan the products. Hyperledger Sawtooth blockchain was chosen as the data storage solution to mitigate questions of trust in the data.

RESULTS

Knorr connected packaging QR codes were introduced to the market through TV commercials and other media channels including a call to action encouraging consumers to scan the “clean pork farm” sourced products. Results came quickly: sales in the region turned in favor of Knorr soon after the project launched, justifying an investment in planning and setup for what was a pioneering use of blockchain with serialized QR codes.

Putting transparency for consumers as a top priority continues to deliver for Knorr’s premium product narrative and their price point versus the competition. Further, they’ve been able to show that this is a way to develop consumer trust – an especially vital sentiment for food producers. Scan interactions continue to be gathered in the Scantrust connected goods platform and available in real-time and on demand to the Knorr team through our business intelligence dashboard. Knorr Vietnam now has a live stream of data that informs their sales and marketing teams and everyone is pleased with ultimately having a strategy against aggressive competitor pricing.