Picture this – a team of five beauty professionals are sitting in a conference room discussing what products they will be launching in the following year. Someone from marketing mentions what the upcoming trends are going to be. Another person highlights what gaps they have in their current product line and that an overnight mask is needed since it is missing from the brand. The head of sales mentions a certain product that “killed” this year and is pushing to do something similar. Product Development speaks up about an ingredient “such and such” that is new that they saw at a trade show (along with 100 other brands). This is a typical discussion that thousands of brands have. It is how so many products are launched. Yet, there is something missing.
Being enveloped in the beauty industry for so long, you begin to see a repetitive nature in almost everything, even if it’s nuanced. It is a comfortable place to be. Beauty experts have seen a lot and know so much that they should be the ones directing the industry, right?
My co-founder, Patricia Santos, and I always joke that when we met, we bonded over two things – our unparalleled love for food and our gripes about the beauty industry…an industry that we love notwithstanding. We would ask, “Why are there so many product failures? Why are customers only brought in at the end to try a product? Why are product decisions made by a small team in a conference room?”
Out of frustrations with the standard process came a realization for us that the customers should be brought in at the very beginning. A light bulb went off when we thought “Why don’t they [beauty consumers] decide what is made?” That was the birth of Volition, an incubator and community of Innovators that executes our very own beauty process revolution. By giving beauty consumers a voice and a platform, they can create, support and purchase individualized specialty products they’ve always wanted. We can guarantee at least one woman at some point has thought of a “what if” or “why doesn’t this exist” when being subjected to the same beauty routine and products. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, an idea comes out of left field that almost makes you think, Why didn’t I think of that?
Here’s the deal. When you start with what their skin concerns are and what issues they are experiencing, you are not basing decisions on what you think they want to buy but actually building from what they need. This is not a focus group. This is customer-driven product development. It is inclusive, diverse and democratic.
We decided to use our beauty expertise to support these ideas instead of dictate them. By leveraging our vast network of labs, we’re able to partner the Innovators (people who come up with the ideas) with the right chemist to bring their product to life. Expert formulation ensures results and superior experience.
Not only did we want the ability to make a product, we want our Community to be able to vote on these ideas to tell us what to launch. We started our own democracy to give beauty consumers a voice like they’ve never had before. Volition allows our community to submit product ideas, vote for products and purchase these community-validated breakthroughs.
As our industry evolves, brands must move to transparency. We believe in the fundamental importance to be open and decided to build that into our company. The people behind the products are highlighted and our platform covers our entire process. Ingredient positions will be key for consumers to know what the brand stands behind. Beauty brands are going to be forced to reveal more about their process and products. The process revolution is coming.
Now, don’t get me wrong, deciding to give up control of product decisions to the masses is scary. Yet, we decided if we are going to be a transparent and crowd-sourced beauty company, we must “walk the walk”. We cannot just poll the customers on what to name a product or what color of lipstick they like better. That is beneficial, but that is not true crowd-sourced beauty. We believe that the people experiencing the needs are the best equipped to solve the problem. When we took this leap of faith, great things happened. Only when you challenge the process status quo, does innovation reveal itself.