Colgate-Palmolive's digital transformation journey with SparkOptimus

21 September 2023 3 min. read
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Over the past several years, Colgate-Palmolive has executed a major digital transformation in its European business. In an exclusive interview, Alexandra Jankovich (Founder & Managing Partner at SparkOptimus) sat down with Prabha Parameswaran (Group President of Growth & Strategy at Colgate-Palmolive) to discuss how the consumer goods giant went about that change and what it has helped deliver.

Seeing a real need to proactively address digital disruption and enhance its online acceleration, Colgate-Palmolive worked together with digital strategy consulting firm SparkOptimus in developing its new digital strategy. That included assessing the current digital maturity level and identifying points of possible improvement – aligned to a future-proof online commerce strategy.

After the initial assessment, Colgate-Palmolive set up a center of excellence for ecommerce and digital, which helped the company scale up its online initiatives with new teams.

SparkOptimus helpt Colgate-Palmolive met digitale transformatiereis

“Our thinking was, why not get ahead of the trend? So we went to the experts [SparkOptimus] and asked them to help us with external benchmarking, to conduct a capability assessment of where we were from a digital maturity standpoint, and also to look at how other companies had organised themselves to unlock digital,” explained Prabha Parameswaran, Group President of Growth & Strategy at Colgate-Palmolive.

The company’s digital transformation program “really helped build momentum in the organisation and helped our people understand the importance and the impact digital can have,” she continued.

The new digital strategy also includes adopting data-driven ways of working through better data insights on ecommerce and stepped up digital marketing efforts. To that end, Colgate-Palmolive set up and trained 10 separate local teams and supported them with plans to engage with over 30 retailers in multiple countries.

The digital transformation efforts paid off – “our e-commerce shares tracked consistently higher than our brick and mortar shares – and our brick and mortar shares are pretty high,” said Parameswaran.

Throughout the journey, SparkOptimus operated as a “true partner and an integral part of our digital transformation journey, from detailing the strategy to actually doing the implementation work side-by-side with our ecommerce and digital teams,” said Parameswaran. She added: “SparkOptimus helped challenge our thinking about digital, and then worked with us to set up the right team to lead the transformation.”

But it was not just digital that Colgate-Palmolive has been focusing on in the past few years of transformation. Along with the shift, the company’s sustainability goals and initiatives, like recycled tubes and health programs, also help to drive positive impact. A set of ESG imperatives, including meeting a goal of net-zero by 2040, has helped the company reduce its carbon footprint and move forward in an increasingly sustainable world.

“We were the first company to launch recyclable toothpaste tubes … Our product comes in plastic tubes that were not recyclable, so we made that switch, made a commitment to that technology and we’ve also made that technology available to our competitors,” said Parameswaran.