Unilever takes steps into rural China through Alibaba deal

British-Dutch consumer giant hopes to reach new audiences

Consumer products giant Unilever and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group have entered into a strategic partnership to help Unilever target more consumers in China.

The deal will see Unilever use Alibaba’s data-driven system to reach new consumers with a focus on rural China. Unilever will also focus on cross-border e-commerce, consumer protection and big data via the partnership.

Kicking off during Unilever Week (22-24 July) on Chinese etail site tmall.com – owned by Alibaba Group – the new move represents a “major milestone” for the partnership, which started five years ago with a single Tmall store.

Marijn Van Tiggelen, Unilever North Asia President, said: “Alibaba has changed the shopping habit of Chinese consumers. Its mission is to make it easy to do business everywhere and its vision is to build the future infrastructure of commerce. This meets Unilever’s development needs in China. Alibaba is the leading internet company in China, with the most innovative thinking. It’s not only an online store, but also a solution platform for online payment, e-finance, and e-commerce logistics. In cooperation with Alibaba, Unilever can provide more convenient services to consumers in China.”

Unilever China opened its first Tmall flagship store in June 2011 and, most recently, a Tmall Global flagship in September 2014, leveraging the free trade zone and bonded warehouse model.

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