Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards winners L’Oréal and InSites Consulting

Editor’s note: L’Oréal and InSites Consulting are the winners of the 2022 Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards Client/Supplier Collaboration category. To find out more about the awards click here.

L’Oréal has a strong commitment to keeping the consumer at the center of all future innovations and has chosen to partner with InSites Consulting to harness the power of the consumer through a community of highly engaged beauty-loving participants. With a “one team” approach, featuring iterative processes, consecutive learning and extreme consumer engagement, L’Oréal has been able to get product prototypes into the hands of more consumers, expediting its product iteration cycles.

What is the nature of your collaboration?

L’Oréal and InSites Consulting have a longstanding relationship globally, and this award recognizes the partnership with L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation (R&I) team. In March 2021, L’Oréal and InSites Consulting began piloting a community approach to integrate consumer feedback directly into product development. The Beauty Co-Lab community was created from this pilot, hosting over 1,200 participants interested in beauty products, ranging from hair care to skin care to make-up and all dimensions in between - such as product fragrances. 

The consumers in the community represent a range of interests, from general beauty-product lovers to niche category users, ensuring the right participants are on standby, no matter what type of product feedback is desired. This mix of consumers allows for multiple simultaneous tests, with several product tests running at any time with many participants involved, giving labs a real-life understanding of prototype performance. 

The speed and agility of the community approach match the needs of rapid product innovation, getting more products into the hands of more consumers. Prototypes can be quickly shipped out and reviewed with participants at the ready, with detailed findings back to labs in as little as three weeks.

How do you uphold each company’s mission while collaborating? 

At L’Oréal, more than one billion euros is invested yearly in R&I. The goal is to invent and revolutionize the beauty of the future while preserving and protecting our beautiful planet, keeping the consumer in mind and being one step ahead to offer personalized beauty.

This vision of human-centricity is where L’Oréal and InSites Consulting have found each other. There is a shared goal of getting a holistic understanding of consumers and their experiences and empowering them to shape the future of brands and beauty. The best way to assess an innovation is to put it in the hands of consumers as soon as possible. Participants are actively co-creating products with the labs: they test make-up, skin care or hair care prototypes over several days or weeks to guide our scientists on areas of improvement.

Although we strive to make every project our best one yet, quarterly review meetings allow us to get a helicopter view of the partnership and how we can continue to improve.

What skill sets do you find most valuable in a client/supplier collaboration?

Multiple research projects with rapid timelines require a multidisciplinary team approach. The L’Oréal teams of scientists and consumer insights are in close contact with the InSites Consulting project teams, which can scale to meet project needs. Ultimately, the teams help create a direct line from labs to community moderators and participants. The labs ask detailed questions about prototypes that moderators can answer directly. Deliverables are iterative, further customizing and building on consecutive learning to enable labs to make immediate decisions and actions regarding prototypes. We are in it for the long run, and all parties thrive on positive energy and open communication to improve continuously.

How has collaborating impacted each company?

With a ‘One Team’ approach featuring iterative processes, consecutive learning and extreme consumer engagement, L’Oréal has been able to get product prototypes into the hands of more consumers, expediting their product iteration cycles. Compared to traditional methods, this partnership has allowed L’Oréal to accelerate consumer engagement while reducing costs. With this highly communicative and trusted partnership, InSites Consulting’s consumer communities have become a cornerstone of L’Oréal’s product development process.

At InSites Consulting, the teams are passionate about the program and the further development of the product. Team members are eager to test out the product themselves to contextualize participant feedback and celebrate product launches. L’Oréal facilitates the direct connection with the labs and scientists, which shows value in projects from start to finish. This results in the agency also trying to broker similar connections in other collaborations.