Sensory Signature: Lotion

MMR helped a personal care client to rationalize a single product’s multiple brand names, formulations and fragrances across different markets, while retaining brand equity.

By uncovering detailed drivers of product performance at a sensorial, emotional and functional level, we were able to isolate core brand equities and produce a clear R&D brief that allowed them to shape the optimal formulation.

Our client found themselves in a highly complex situation with their key moisturising product available under different brand names, formulations and fragrances in different markets.  They needed to reduce the range of formulations in order to improve local sales opportunities by better matching formulations to both consumer preferences and the brand. The problem? The brand and product are iconic, and any formulation change posed a serious risk to brand equity.


To establish what makes the brand ‘iconic’ around the world and drives such strong commitment (despite variations in formula).

This was established via emotional and functional profiling of the brand and key competitors across core markets of interest, to gauge which equities have a strong association with the brand and which help to differentiate, thus giving an advantage vs. competitors.

A host of functional equities were expected and it would be vital to maintain these to avoid dissatisfaction. However, many of these were also associated with competitors, giving little scope for differentiation. Most of the brand’s positive equities (and those that helped provide a competitive edge) were found to be emotional in nature in all regions.


To create a statistical model for each local market to understand which attributes drive both liking and perceived efficacy.

To do this, products representing the market space were assessed blind on key measures and a full diagnostic assessment was completed. A number of product attributes combined to deliver overall efficacy perceptions.


To identify which specific sensory, emotional and functional attributes contribute to the key efficacy drivers.

This enabled us to establish what the product needed to deliver to maximise efficacy – and how / if this differed by market. We were able to isolate core brand equities in each market and where similarities and differences exist plus understand what the optimal product should look like to maximise potential in all markets.


Understanding which of the efficacy drivers are also strongly linked with the brand itself (ie. are ‘functionally or emotionally active’)

This detailed understanding of conceptual linkages enabled us to build a product brief for the unified formulation – focused on driving efficacy perceptions whilst developing (or maintaining) attributes contributing to the brand’s core emotional equities – building consonance and thus engagement.

Individual market models were used to ensure that the recommended changes in unified formulation would not alienate / negatively impact perceptions of efficacy.

The results indicated that a common base formulation would be appropriate for all markets, however, that the optimal fragrance for one market was of a floral nature (to portray comforting equities) whilst a medicated undertone was required for another.

The output was a clear brief for R&D that allowed the client to produce one formulation for all markets – with the added benefit of reduced production.

Using the results from this research, our client-­­­ has progressed with the recommendation to adopt a consistent base formulation at a global level and use fragrance to increase brand fit and category advantage at an individual market level.

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