From The Editor's Desk

Could Unilever’s ‘Tinder for ideas’ app reinvent beauty R&D?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images
Unilever’s recently announced an app aimed at simplifying concept phase development and it has got beauty professional’s tongues wagging.

Cosmetics Design brought news of this development to our readers in an article written by Natasha Spencer​, and it was little surprise that it became one of our top-hitting stories in recent months.

Called Idea Swipe and developed in house, the app can be easily downloaded by consumers and beauty professionals alike to present new ideas associated with product development to discover how popular they are.

Swipe right for a yes!

Based on the Tinder dating app concept, where users swipe right on a profile they like, and left on a profile they are not interested in, Idea Swipe can be used to accumulate very useful data to determine whether or not a product development idea is likely to be a winner or not.

In an age where personalized beauty products are pushing the boundaries on how detailed a product specification needs to be, the feedback will provide instant, fast and highly specific data that could help the development team to cut time and costs.

The concept has already helped transform the world of dating, where it is currently one of the most commonly used tools for people to find romance in the Western world, thanks to a very simple concept that presents users with photos and a very short bio.

Similarly, the Unilever app allows both consumers and R&D professionals to swipe a broad selection of ideas, including new product suggestions, improvements, adaptations and marketing concepts to see if they get the thumbs up or thumbs down.

What this means to the industry

For the enormous team charged with product development at Unilever, and also developers of beauty products all over the world, what this means is faster, more effective and more detailed feedback on consumer needs, wants and dislikes.

Understanding consumer behavior is crucial in the fast-moving cosmetics and personal care industry, as beauty product buyers are influenced by social trends, fashion and a desire to keep switching out products when they get bored of them.

On top of this, as any beauty marketer will tell you, often what a consumer says they want does not translate into the product they will pick up from a retailer shelf or online.

Often buying decisions are split second, so for all the intention to buy products with ethically sound claims or organic certified, for example, price, packaging design or a celebrity endorsement might seal the final decision.

What is remarkable about Unilever’s swiping app is that it tunes into these quick purchasing decisions made by consumers, giving a more accurate representation of the thinking process behind that decision.

The bottom line is time, money and accuracy

The problem invariably faced by most development teams is that they often have no end of data, but limited time and resources to extrapolate and process all that information.

Unilever’s app means that all the consumer data can be processed almost immediately, leaving development teams the time to dig deeper into the more important reasons as to how and why consumers reach purchasing decisions.

Idea Swipe is certainly a simple and novel idea, which is why the industry will be carefully watching to see if this technology has a tangible impact on the company’s innovation pipeline in the future.

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