Unilever Food Solutions: Unilever Food Solutions Uses Killer Recipes to Support Restaurateurs During COVID


Campaign Summary

With the goal of improving the standing of its brand among Chinese chefs and restaurateurs, Unilever Food Services (UFS) leveraged its Killer Recipes content and the word-of-mouth of key influencers to drive young food lovers into partnering restaurants, which only needed to provide contact information to participate in the promotion. UFS then used this contact information to promote products designed for restaurants.



At the start of 2021, Unilever Food Solutions (UFS) had an ambitious goal to take its "Killer Recipe" to the next level. Across the business, UFS wanted to improve sales and increase product penetration by 45 percent.

Target Audience:

UFS is a professional condiment brand serving restaurant owners and chefs. The brand exists to deliver service and solutions to support catering customers' growth. In 2021, however, the business faced two key challenges:

  • Restaurants across the globe were hit hard by COVID-19. While China managed the pandemic better than most, there were still lingering effects felt by the industry. Despite China's overall economy bouncing back to achieve a 2.3 percent increase in overall growth by December 2020, consumer spending on meals was still down 17 percent.
  • Young diners, who account for 65 percent of overall restaurant business in China, had tastes that were changing faster than ever before, making it difficult for chefs and restaurant owners to keep up.

Creative Strategy:

In response to these economic conditions, UFS developed a new marketing ecosystem to reach professional restaurant operators and the diners they were seeking to attract, turning UFS into a partner for these restaurateurs. With its two targets in mind, UFS decided to link its B2B campaign with a B2C element. The strategy consisted of two key pillars:

  • On the B2C side, UFS would build an appetite for its Killer Recipes among young Chinese diners to drive them to dine at participating restaurants.
  • On the B2B side, UFS wanted to convert chefs into customers through recipe inspiration, amplifying diner experience and transforming data gathered during this effort into a sales tool.

Running concurrently, these two undertakings made up a strategy that supported a holistic marketing ecosystem wherein UFS could promote its Killer Recipes and support its restaurateur partners.


Since 2017, UFS had been helping restaurants adapt to the changing tastes of Chinese foodies through its "Killer Recipe" campaign. This campaign inspired restaurant operators with on-trend recipe ideas to attract young diners and showcase the quality and versatility of the UFS products.


Overall Campaign Execution:

To find the recipes that would attract young Chinese diners, UFS collected and analyzed big data from China's leading mobile social platform, Weibo, as well as from the word-of-mouth app Dianping.

Then, working with four top chefs from across China, as well as more than 70 of the brand's own chef consultants and top gourmet influencers, the brand developed dish concepts based on UFS ingredients. These concepts were tested by inviting 600 high-value young diners to vote on their favorite dishes, with the best performing dishes being used in the final campaign.

To launch the "Killer Recipes," UFS unveiled the new dishes at four top restaurants in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou. These events, attended by 60 influencers, who were the first to share the dishes online, generated more than 59 million impressions of the recipes on the social media platforms Weibo and Douyin.

To create further hype, UFS partnered with famous talk show host Li Dan to create a short, branded film, which was shared across Weibo to drive social buzz among young diners.

After launching the "Killer Recipe" dishes, UFS shifted toward converting interest into in-restaurant conversions. To achieve this, UFS promoted the dishes on mobile platforms Dianping, WeChat, and Douyin, targeting young foodie audiences. On China's top lifestyle app, Dianping, users could download dish coupons that they could redeem directly at participating restaurants, linking content directly to foot traffic.

Mobile Execution:

As restaurant owners and chefs saw the demand for the Killer Recipes' take off online, UFS targeted them with key messaging that encouraged them to download the Killer Recipes and include them on their own menus. UFS worked with Tencent to create a specific chef target audience based on look-a-like modeling from its two million WeChat fans. The chefs were targeted with mobile ads, which drove to a mobile page where they could download the Killer Recipes and join the initiative in exchange for leaving their contact information for the UFS sales team.

In addition to passing on key contact information, the brand also informed the sales team which Killer Recipe dishes had drawn the most interest in which restaurants. This approach ensured that the sales team could start relevant conversations with decision makers at partnering restaurants.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The campaign effectively delivered positive results for UFS across its two main objectives.

  • The Killer Recipe topic on Weibo was viewed 200 million times within ten days of launch, a 193 percent year-over-year improvement.
  • The brand video was viewed 19 million times.
  • More than 255,000 consumers downloaded coupons on Dianping within six days, which was 88 percent above forecast.
  • More than 24,000 restaurants served Killer Recipe dishes, leading to a 2.7 times gain in sales conversion compared to normal leads.
  • This led to a 460 percent increase in UFS' sales, outpacing market growth 6.8 times.
  • Market penetration improved 118 percent versus the goal of 45 percent.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Consumer Promotions | Awards: X Silver Winner