Maths for vitality

The Smith Institute helped Unilever identify new opportunities for improvement across its business functions.

The problem

Mathematics is relevant to many parts of Unilever’s business – from consumer analysis to supply chain management. It used mathematical modelling to save £150m on its laundry business in the 1990s, and adaptive algorithms to develop its award winning interactive, adaptive service iShakti, which helps stimulate development in rural India.

The solution

The Smith Institute has been helping Unilever find ways to apply mathematics across its business for more than five years – to solve product design problems, analyse markets and manage its businesses.

The benefits

Unilever has sought advice from the Smith Institute on how mathematics could be used more strategically across the organisation. In 2004 the Institute consulted on a project to identify areas of Unilever’s business which could draw benefit from the application of ‘new’ mathematics such as agent-based systems, networks, and game theory. Two key areas identified were marketing and sales.

There isn’t another organisation like the Smith Institute. It helps us think through how we use mathematics across the business. It facilitates debate and drives new mathematics into industry, so that Unilever can consider and test ideas.

Shail PatelPlatform Leader at Unilever Corporate Research
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