MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Todd Tillemans and Chris Conley

Todd Tillemans
General Manager, Skin, Unilever

Todd Tillemans is the General Manager for Unilever's North American Skin Business, comprised of leading consumer brands including Dove, Caress, Lever 2000, Axe, Vaseline, Suave, Ponds, and Q-tips. Before that, he spent three years leading Unilever's North American Deodorant business, leading a team to deliver sustained double digit growth in sales and profits by bringing disruptive product innovation, leading-edge brand activation, and innovative retail shopping solutions to market.

Chris Conley
Associate Professor, IIT Institute of Design

Chris Conley's teaching and research at ID is focused on a creative, multi-disciplinary approach to business innovation called Integrated Definition, which integrates research and design to create meaningfully differentiated new products and services that drive business growth. He also practices what he preaches as a Director of Gravity Tank, a rapidly growing consulting firm that delivers Integrated Definition to Fortune 500 clients including Unilever, Goodyear, Samsung, Office Max, Motorola, and McDonald's. He is the 2006 Chair of the IDSA/BusinessWeek IDEA Awards.

Chris acted as an interviewer, to have Todd discuss aspects of the collaborative relationship between Gravity Tank and Unilever.

Todd spoke about "erasing the boundary lines in the value chain." He said that, for them, collaboration does not begin at the "brief" but at what they call "phase zero" defining what it is they are trying to accomplish.

He outlined the Unilever retail design process:

  1. Address a business problem
  2. Broaden your perspective
  3. See it with fresh eyes
  4. Work on it together
  5. Prototype and pilot
  6. Seek results

He spoke of the importance of category growth, no just product growth. It was sort of an Art Gensler thing--the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats, to contribute to the betterment of the retail environment for all products in the Unilever lines as a way of differentiating their product!