Brandwatch resumes its posts with a new objective: share with its readers some fundamental issues of 21st century marketing and applying them to a real life case study - Le Jardin Retrouvé, the family niche perfume brand we are relaunching with a unique online business model. Twice a month I will post on topics like Customer Engagement, Choosing a digital supplier, Reinventing Direct Sales.. Today I have decided to discuss Customer Co-creation
I remember in 2000 saying to my boss, the CEO of Bally (I was then Global HR Director) that the future of luxury marketing would be in forms of customer co-creation. He told me I was wrong. Of course in 2000 he was right: luxury brands have always been built like oracles driving believers to their retail temples. But times have changed and customer co-creation is now (should be) on the agenda of marketers! Why?
Because competition has increased fiercely and new product development (NPD) has become - in all industries - a major issue: how can a brand be sure that the new products launched will be in line with customer expectations, customer needs, customer wants? How many products launched per year can be considered as successful (40%? 50%?) and how much money is spent on unsuccessful NPD?
In fact for a new product to be successful two essential types of information are needed: (1) information about customer needs & expectations (2) information on how to best answer these needs and expectations. The fundamental problem here is that customers have been changing rapidly (think Millenials! Think dwindling brand loyalty) - and that brands have insufficient knowledge about them. Traditional marketing (and luxury brands) considers customers as passive entities. Customers now consider themselves as active and relentlessly want to be known as a person and respected as such. What do they want? They want to share their ideas both with the brands they love and with their peers (brands do not imagine how much is said about them and their products out of their reach!).
The 21st century is also the time where creation is paramount: we glorify the creative process and customers want to be part of it. An increasing number of customers have become experts - they have acquired skills and knowledge that sometimes are superior to the brands' internal teams. And they share this knowledge and this expertise with like minded persons on the internet: never forget the internet is where people share passions.
Personalisation, expertise, communities: these are the 3 reasons why I think that customer co-creation is the new marketing paradigm of the 21st century (including luxury brands of course).
Now let's see how we can apply this to the perfume industry! This industry is highly competitive, with hundreds of new launches each year and no known formula for success (the standard business model being the 'tent pole': a successful perfume pays for the unsuccessful ones!).
The Le Jardin Retrouvé team has decided to apply their knowledge of the 21st century customer to rethink completely what a new perfume launch should be. Let me recap our current Perfume Revival Project in 5 phases:
- Everything started when we found that my father, perfumer Yuri Gutsatz, had left us 2000 perfume formulas! His lifetime work. And that some of them were so modern we had no idea which to relaunch! (Business case: this is phenomenal added-value to the brand equity. No creation costs).
- So we decided to rebuild 4 of them - and to offer to our brand community (and their friends, and friends of their friends) the possibility to be the ones that choose the one to be launched. We therefore produced 500 sets of the 4 perfumes in sample size sprays, targeting the perfume experts on Facebook - with whom we have been discussing for over a year.
- Personalization: We talk with each one, ask them to register on a special website www.perfumeparty.paris and send the 4 perfumes to them. (Our major finding: the more the relationship is personalized, the more the customer tends to register.)
- They are now entering the voting phase: they will share these perfumes with their friends, groups will meet to smell the 4 fragrances and then each person will be able to vote. This is a perfect example of co-design where the brand offers to customers the products among which they will select the one they prefer (for a complete typology of Customer Co-creation see M.O'Hern & A.Rindfleisch: "Customer Co-creation: A Typology and Research Agenda", 2008). The voters are thus building a Le Jardin Retrouvé community around the choice of the new perfume to be launched.
- The winner fragrance (or winners?) will be announced in May and all those that participated will have the possibility to pre-order this perfume in a Limited Edition version available 3 months ahead of the official launch.
As a bonus you will find here our third teaser video - #PerfumeRevivalProject - Episode 3: