It is obvious to anyone starting a business now that data is crucial in evaluating your product, go-to-market strategy, market trends, and customer response. As more and more consumers turn to the Internet to buy products they have previously purchased in physical stores, data collection and analysis is becoming increasingly important as a way to evaluate the stickiness of your offering and sustain your vision. I am preparing to launch my own e-commerce company this year at HBS, and I have used data analytics every step of the way.
My company, RAW IS EVERYTHING is attempting to disrupt the skincare industry. The problem my company is addressing is the fact that the European Union has banned 1,373 chemicals from skincare and cosmetic products, and the FDA has banned 8 and restricted 3. Product safety legislation has not changed since 1938, and many of the ingredients in our cosmetics and personal care products have been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive harm. The average woman puts 515 chemicals on her body every single day. Up to 79% of women report having sensitive skin, and 97% of women believe personal care products should be regulated.
The corporate beauty industry is one of the biggest and most powerful industries in the world. The global beauty care market is anticipated to reach $461 billion by 2018. The U.S. market for organic skincare products is expected to grow at a rate of 10.2% per year from 2014 to 2018. Though there are no barriers to entry and competition is fierce, there is a growing need for safer and more accessible products made by women, for women.
RAW IS EVERYTHING is pure, powerful, unformulated skincare. We have searched the globe to find the highest quality organic oils extracted from nature. Our oils are so powerful they can stand alone, untouched, without any additives or preservatives. Each product contains only one cold pressed, unrefined, multi-functional oil sourced sustainably from communities around the world. These ancient beauty secrets have been used and tested by women for centuries, prized for their ability to heal, moisturize, and protect all skin types for women of all ages.
So how have we used data to drive value creation and value capture? During FIELD 3, we conducted a beta test of five facial oils with 160 women, across 25 states and 7 countries. 146 customers filled out a thorough survey describing their skin types and concerns in exchange for one free product sample. We used customer data to match users with a product that would benefit their skin type the most. Customers were told the product’s function and were given instructions on how to use it and when, but they did not know the product’s ingredient for three weeks, or that the product only contained one ingredient. 80% of our testers found the product to be highly effective, and 80% said they would buy the product.
These surveys provided valuable data and feedback for our design process, as customers shared advice for alternative packaging, reaffirmed our commitment to oils in an unrefined state, and confirmed our hypothesis that raw, single-ingredient oils can serve every function in a woman’s beauty routine. We used this invaluable customer feedback to pivot and switch out two of our oils to more luxe, exotic offerings. We also hired a professional design team to redesign our logo and branding in order to achieve a higher-end brand perception.
Data has also helped to clarify our marketing plan. Instead of following the corporate industry standard and hiring passive models to pay to publicly endorse our products, we partnered with four RAW “role models,” real, inspiring women who love our products and want to authentically represent our brand. We could not decide which model should be on the homepage of our website, so we decided to crowdsource the options and use customer data to help us choose. We posted the photos on Facebook and Instagram and put the power in the hands of our followers to “like” the one they liked the most.
As you can see, the photo of Atima received the most likes, so her photo will be on the homepage of our website. We plan to do the same evaluation with future product launches, packaging decisions, and strategic partnerships.
Data has been at the forefront of our development of RAW IS EVERYTHING. Moving forward, we plan to use the data we have collected to guide our decisions and drive our understanding of what women really want.