The FMCG giant has asked the consultancy to track online opinion about Unilever spreadables, including brands such as Flora and Becel.
Using keywords such as 'margarine' or 'Flora', the agency will run global online listening and insight searches across social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The work will last for six months and will cover 12 markets, including the US and Canada.
Lucre Social was unable to confirm whether the exercise would lead to a PR campaign in 2011. But Jono Marcus, group director of social marketing and online strategy at Lucre PR, said it was the first time Unilever spreadables had used this type of activity: 'This is a fishing exercise because Unilever is looking to grow its products globally.'
Digital experts said the exercise would be useful. Beth Carroll, head of social media at Threepipe, said: 'It's about keeping track of what people are saying about you. It lets brands know who their audience and demographic is and allows them to find the key blogs and forums to look at, so they can hone their communications.'
Carroll added: 'It also teaches brands the positive and negative things consumers are saying, and allows them to plan how to mimic the tone of voice of their audience when talking to them.'
According to Mintel's most recent market intelligence report into the 'yellow fats' market, which measures butter and margarine, Unilever has the second largest chunk of market share (26 per cent), after Arla Foods (29 per cent).
But the report suggests that Unilever has been losing ground in the market. This is mainly due to Flora being negatively affected because of a move in consumer demand from margarine to butter.