Providing Your Beauty Fix
Julep first made headlines in 2008 when it entered the cosmetics industry as an e-commerce delivery startup, providing a monthly box of Julep-branded cosmetics to subscribers’ homes. Subscribers are referred to as “Julep Mavens” and can be described as your typical beauty junkies, who spends a significant portion of discretionary income on nail polish, makeup, skincare products, and haircare.
Not every JulepMaven receives the same box each month; the subscription model is customized based on the customers’ preferences to increase likelihood of satisfaction, while providing the delight of a personalized experience.
In addition to the subscription model, Julep also manages an online store at Julep.com where Mavens and non-Mavens can purchase the wide array of Julep products at any time.
Giving Beauty Junkies a Voice
In 2014, this Andreessen Horowitz-backed cosmetics company launched IdeaLab, an external-facing crowd that allowed Julep Mavens to join their product-development process. According to the company’s website, they have a team of 5,000 product developers sourcing new ideas for Julep products. The IdeaLab crowd then provides as a sounding board giving feedback on top ideas from Julep’s team.
To join the crowd, customers simply have to add their email to the IdeaLab distribution list. Then, Julep R&D is allowed to reach out to the crowd for feedback as needed.
IdeaLab participants receive no additional products or services through the program. Instead, the strategy capitalizes on the fact that their customer base is passionate about beauty, and with that passion comes a desire to have their opinions on beauty products heard. Julep Mavens simply have an insatiable appetite for the topic, so opening up and responding to a second Julep email about their favorite pass-time is a pleasure, not a burden the company needs to compensate for.
Managing Their Mavens
IdeaLab crowd management is a simple task for Julep, as it relies on their existing capabilities of:
- Communicating to their Julep Mavens via email,
- Uncovering insights from large amounts of Maven data,
- And delivering prototypes to Mavens’ doors.
There are no added complexities of managing a community that interacts with each other; all communications are between Julep and the IdeaLab crowd.
Lead Junky Innovation
The IdeaLab is a lead user innovation strategy that provides tremendous value for Julep at minimal cost. The program:
- Provides the best product solutions via beauty junkies who are not only deeply aware of the pain points in need of product solutions, but also are likely to have thought of or invented product workarounds themselves given their lead-user status
- Quickens the product development process by providing real-time feedback without the need for slower more traditional market research techniques such as focus groups
- Reduces product development cost through software-driven scale through the elimination of aforementioned traditional market research techniques
- Keeps Julep Mavens deeply engaged with the company, thereby allowing Julep to stay top of mind with its best consumers, who are therefore more likely to supplement their monthly Julep box deliveries with additional purchases from Julep’s online store
IdeaLab’s First Product
After its one year in existence, the IdeaLab has lead to the market entry of one product, the Plié Wand, which is ergonomically designed to allow users to more easily paint their finger nails with their non-dominant hand.
Anyone who has painted their nails knows how hard it is to do so with your non-dominant hand. One can clearly see how this product innovation is customer-centric and pain point-driven. According to the company’s website, 4 out of 5 women said that the design of the Plié Wand makes it easier to polish your nails.
“Why was this not invented sooner?” – DaniG
Now the company is free to capture the value of its new IdeaLab product development process through sales of the Plié Wand on Julep.com and in its monthly Julep delivery boxes. I am sure we will see more such innovations out of the IdeaLab in the future.