Beauty Industry Embraces Crowd-Led Innovation

4 Min Read |

As consumers become more interested in the processes behind the beauty industry, they are increasingly becoming involved in the product development process by voicing their opinions and ideas to any beauty brands who are prepared to listen. Transparency has become an imperative, and when it comes to their favourite beauty products, consumers are seeking more active involvement.

Brands and customers have become increasingly connected through a variety of platforms, but also through crowd-led feedback, which provides valuable insights via social media or their platform of choice. Although crowd-led feedback isn’t a revolutionary concept, it has received a lot more attention recently, with a growing number of brands turning towards this model.

Corporates have the budget resources for market research, but start-ups have to find alternative ways to gather valuable feedback. With little or no capital for R&D, emerging brands have been turning to using crowd-led models. By connecting with their consumers they can establish trust and gain customer loyalty, while at the same time gathering information on which products to invest in and develop.

Crowdsourcing is a highly effective marketing asset for a start-up seeking a better understanding of product demand. It provides an opportunity to include their customers in the process of product development and get direct insights from their audience. Not only does connecting and listening to their audience help develop products, but it enables start-ups to identify potential problems that could hinder product success. And the feedback can help to engage with customers; a key element for success.

In November 2017, Unilever acquired Sundial Brands, a multicultural personal care products company that embraced crowdsourcing customer feedback to serve their customers better across product development, marketing and merchandising.

This approach to reaching customers was a key factor in their overall success as a brand and led to the development of one of their largest lines, Jamaican Black Castor Oil products.

Larger beauty brands, such as Wander Beauty, Glossier and Peach & Lily, also place great emphasis on crowdsourcing to garner customer feedback on potential products by using surveys, consumer product-testing, social media communities etc.

A crowdsource analyser such as Questback, an online survey and software feedback company, assists companies by offering online data collection and analysis solutions. This greatly reduces the risk of failure when it comes to the development of new products. Crowdsource-led feedback analytics can, if successfully implemented, lead to a boost in sales as well as increased customer satisfaction.

By asking the consumers for their input, listening to consumer preferences, hosting social media contests and incentivizing consumers to create their own product ideas, companies are giving the customers what they want and are eliminating many of the risks when it comes to launching a brand or new products.

But collecting information on its own doesn’t guarantee success; leveraging insight into action is crucial. By turning the information collected into action and reality, brands can make their customers feel valued and satisfied.

In 2015, Brandy Hoffman and Patricia Santos founded Volition Beauty; a fully crowdsourced beauty brand that puts emphasis on solving real problems of real consumers. At the very core of the company lies an innovative vision of transparency and collaboration, which is achieved by letting customers create their own beauty products. Customers can submit their own ideas, or browse through the community database of suggested products, to vote for their favourite. Then they develop product ideas that have gained the most votes from the community in collaboration with top beauty labs and experts who bring these products to life.

Julep is a brand that relies on crowdsourcing and social media to gather valuable, real data from real customers and uses the feedback to develop products that customers are looking for.  It claims to be able to develop new products at a rate ten times faster than other beauty brands. By calling on their customers to vote and test out everything from product names to the shade range, customers feel more in-control and appreciated, which in turn associates the brand with trust and value. Sephora recently followed this crowdsourced model and initiated the distribution of the brand’s best-selling products in some of their select stores, in August 2017.

Not only is crowdsourcing an extremely valuable asset for companies seeking new ideas, identifying problems and connecting with their target audience, it’s also a way for them to outsource customer service. Megan Neale and Roger Beadle founded Limitless technology in 2016, a company that uses cloud-based mobile technology and AI,  and rewards brand ambassadors for on-demand customer service.

Businesses benefit by providing faster responses to their customers and having a more cost-effective way to scale their resources, while customers get a better, more authentic experience. Recognizing this innovation, Unilever Ventures seeded funding for the company and are using the technology for their own brands, such as their haircare line TRESemmé.

As the beauty industry embraces crowd-led models, expect to see brands introducing products more finely tailored to the needs and desires of customers.

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