Nivea Co-Creates with the Crowd to Eliminate Stain Problem

Published Jul-28-12

Co-creation with consumers to develop a revolutionary new deodorant that puts paid to a stubborn stain problem.

Nivea, Germany

The Story:

Nivea Co-Creates with the Crowd to Eliminate Stain Problem The concept of co-creation, seeking ideas and information from a group of people to help develop a product is an offshoot of open innovation and crowdsourcing, and typically involves consumers in niche topics that are of interest to them.

Nivea, the multinational skincare corporation is no stranger to open innovation and for the development of a new deodorant wanted to include the consumers’ voice beyond the conventional market research techniques.

Ugly Stain Problem

However, before engaging the crowd it conducted some netnography research to find out what consumers wanted more of in the field of deodorants. This involved analyzing consumer conversations and concerns in more than 200 social media sites in three languages. Everyday thousands of people are talking about products in Internet forums and this can provide companies with rich sources of information.

Problems and Opportunities

The research allowed Nivea to identify problems, needs and opportunities as they discovered that deodorant stains were the biggest issues for consumers. As a result of this analysis Nivea compiled a staining manual encompassing the many types of stains perceived by consumers, the supposed causes and user remedies.

The company then zeroed in on the problem in more detail. What it found was that when it comes to white textiles stubborn yellow discoloration appears in the underarm area after several washes. The discoloration is the result of a chemical reaction. Sweat and deodorant ingredients in the washing machine react with the surfactants in the detergent and together with skin sebum leaves yellow-coloured deposits that remain stuck on the fibres of clothes. It was a huge problem looking for a solution.

Nivea decided to focus on protecting the textile from the stain components and so the search went out for a suitable ingredient that could be used in the deodorant formula.

Evaluating Ideas

Following the ideation phase involving the company’s scientists, users were once again invited to help. They participated in an online study where they evaluated, modified and enriched deodorant ideas.

In addition, leading-edge users such as the Undershirt Guy who had been identified during the netnography stage were asked to experiment with stains and possible remedies. And more than 700 user ideas and suggestions were condensed to further shape the idea.

A New Product is Born

Hundreds of formulations were tested in the lab and from consumer feedback and workshops Nivea also obtained novel product and marketing ideas. The end result was Nivea’s Invisible for Black and White, a revolutionary new deodorant which is now in the marketplace.

It provides 48-hour antiperspirant protection and at the same time counteracts white and yellow deodorant stains. According to Nivea it is the only deodorant that reduces the appearance of yellow stains on white clothing. The technology also prevents white marks on black clothing.

Benefits of Co-Creating with Consumers

This open innovation success story is a perfect illustration of some of the benefits of co-creating with consumers:

• Fresh insights
• Better products
• Innovations
• Engaged consumers
• Word-of-mouth about a forthcoming product or service

Throughout this entire process Nivea's R&D department worked with consumers, not against or separate from them. It's a demonstration of how co-creation can become a valuable part of a business's innovation strategy.

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