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Susannah Croucher, Research Director
12 Feb, 2018 | 2 minute read
Communities matter! In this article, Susannah Croucher reflects on the impact of MMR’s Online Community for the development of YourGoodSkin.
As part of my job, I’m lucky enough to be involved in the development of many new and exciting products and brands. It’s always immensely satisfying to see many of these creations hit the shelves. In recent times, there is one brand which really stands out for me – YourGoodSkin – the newest complete brand launch from Walgreens Boots Alliance.
I first started talking to the team in December 2014. The room was buzzing with excitement, with a strong desire to develop a complete new and ‘top secret’ range – and they were seeking our support.
Their plans were ambitious to say the least, but like all major investments, identifying a clear consumer need was uppermost in their minds.
Our proposal was to go beyond the obvious attitudinal surveys and truly get under the skin (excuse the pun) of how women thought about their skin, and the changes it undergoes over time. We passionately believed that the answer was the set-up of a long term online community – and the team agreed.
We passionately believed that the answer was the set-up of a long term online community – and the team agreed.
And so the Skin Matters Community was born – with a sizable number of women for whom skin matters. As anyone in market research will tell you, such communities live or die based on the level of stimulation. Running communities is hard work, but our dedicated team nurtured something rather special over the course of the first year. It’s fair to say that we got to know some real characters.
However, no journey is complete without its ups and downs - and the road was definitely bumpy at times. That said, there is no substitute for prolonged engagement with the consumer. Our women on Skin Matters proved a fantastic source of inspiration, realism and grounding. Long before their role in telling us about the skin perceptions came to end, the team realised they were on to something: the community had become a powerful tool in really understanding the consumer, inside and out. This is gold dust for any brand - and even more for a brand that didn’t even have a name!
Such was the impact of the community with the team, they allowed it to continue well beyond the original planned end date. It became the heart of the development process – providing reaction to any question or suggestion; reviewing and critiquing iterations of each aspect of the emerging brand and trying and testing every product with the range. As time went on, the focus shifted to execution, and again it was the community that provided the guiding light. Indeed, by this time the community had elevated itself from research tool to a vibrant collective of women, united in their attitudes towards skin and a real desire to make an impact on the world. I could not think of a more fitting end to the longest project I have ever worked on.
The fruits of the community are now available for us all to see. I must confess, I danced down the aisle of my local Boots store when I first caught sight of the new range on the top shelf in all its glory.
The community had elevated itself from research tool to a vibrant collective of women, united in their attitudes towards skin and a real desire to make an impact on the world
WBA were clearly confident about their new baby – an additional promotional end tempted me to invest in the Balancing Skin Concentrate. From the moment I picked it up it felt perfect – from the gold writing, to the matte, luxurious look and feel of the box - which was seamlessly flowed into the matte silky feel of the serum in your hand.
Pick up any pack and you’ll discover a seal of approval: ‘Co-created with 1000s of women’. Several other touches, like the magnetic seal closure or the ribbon the helps lift the product out of the box, combine to generate total conviction that this product will work. And if anyone needs further proof, we have the real words from our community women themselves (see below).
FMCG innovation is tough, but my first hand of experience of the power of communities tells me that in an age of co-creation, we need to be doing more of this stuff! The vividness of the process is far more likely to hit upon the things that really matter to consumers, and in an age where recommendations outclass advertising for impact, products that can claim to be co-created by real people must have a competitive edge.
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