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Beiersdorf's Digital Transformation:
The Journey to Agile Innovation testing

This article was first published in the planung&analyse magazine
As a consumer-company, our credo at Beiersdorf is: consumer first, second and third. Consumers are the heartbeat of our brands and
at the core of everything we do.
The mission of the consumer insights department at Beiersdorf is to be as close to our consumers as possible and to foster consumer-driven business decisions. With innovation cycles becoming shorter, there is also increased demand for faster & more agile market research methods.
The latest digital developments are a key enabler for agile consumer iterations along the innovation process. We therefore dedicated a team to scouting, piloting and scaling new technologies and methods within Beiersdorf.
Anna Fordkort, Global Head of Consumer & Market Intelligence at Beiersdorf

Beiersdorf's Response to Market Challenges: Riding the Agile Wave

According to the GRIT report, agile research adoption is on the rise. It grew by 30% between 2021 and 2022. This jump means that 73% of companies utilised a swift, iterative testing approach in 2022.
The idea behind agile research is simple: as you develop a product and its marketing, make sure to check in with your consumers at each stage, learn from the feedback and continue developing, taking new insights into account.
We took on the challenge of developing an agile consumer-focused screening method for our innovation pipeline, without making any bigger changes in our innovation process.
Anna Fordkort, Global Head of Consumer & Market Intelligence at Beiersdorf

Bridging the Gap:
Beiersdorf's Search for the Right Tech Partner

Appropriate tech is a basic necessity to overcome this challenge - and there are numerous agile research platforms available on the market, all providing similar research solutions and helping to deliver results in only a few hours. However, Beiersdorf was looking for more than just a platform.
  • Sophisticated tech to deliver consumer insights faster, in an iterative consumer feedback loop, providing consumer insights at their fingertips.
  • Automatic and fast platform with standardised solutions, but customisable to Beiersdorf needs to match internal KPIs for successful innovations.
  • Building a strong partnership as a key for success: collaborating and challenging each other, bringing in best practice from both sides and fostering a 'learn & grow' optimisation mentality.
  • The knowledge and ability to operate at the business process level to support tool integration, not only providing tech 'know-how'.
Fastuna became this partner for Beiersdorf. The 'human interface' of the platform - a team of experts on both sides, travelled the journey together:
Meike Geelink, Laura Strandberg and Bronwyn McPherson du Plessis, Global Consumer Intelligence at Beiersdorf partnered with Maria Soroka, Client Director; Elena Kolocharova, Customer Success Manager and Artem Tinchurin, Visionary CEO at Fastuna to drive the transformation.
To accomplish the task set by Beiersdorf, we used the systems approach. When dealing with complex systems – and NPD is a complex system indeed – you normally analyse the existing process and then start reengineering it, creating a new one.
Artem Tinchurin, Visionary CTO at Fastuna
Watch Anna Fordkort (Beiersdorf) and Artem Tinchurin (Fastuna) present this collaboration at the MRMW event in Berlin, October 2023.

In this particular collaboration, Beiersdorf used Fastuna's standard framework as a starting point, working closely together to customize it to match the business needs.
A pre-requisite for successful implementation was to engage the agency as an expert sparring partner, helping us to design something to fit our Beiersdorf-specific business needs. Together co-developing a solution that not only leverages the latest digital technology, but also asks the right questions and measures the right KPIs to drive consumer centric innovation.
Bronwyn McPherson du Plessis, Head of Global Consumer Intelligence Discovery, Beiersdorf
To put it simply, the roadmap looked like this:
1. Depicting the chain of existing stages within the current NPD process.
2. Specifying each stage within the chain:

Input: All the prerequisites, such as hypotheses, insights, concepts, etc. Business context and objectives.

Output: What the internal customer is expecting to receive as a result.

Methodology: The easiest and most reliable way to successfully accomplish the task.

KPIs and action standards: The metrics and benchmarks that will be used to make a decision.

Transforming Innovation Research at Beiersdorf: Driving Consumer-Centricity and Efficiency
in the NPD Process

The result? A more iterative and consumer-centric innovation testing approach, powered by a standardised, automated, fast-turnaround toolkit and customised to the existing business processes.

You may ask: "How can this new process be faster if it has more steps?"
While it's true that more steps were added along the way, these validations happen literally overnight. And small steps make a big difference in terms of efficiency. Early screening, early effort prioritisation and iteration loops contribute hugely to the quality of the end product, by allowing Beiersdorf to receive and integrate seamless consumer feedback at each stage of NPD with minimal disruption to current processes.

Speaking of disruption, the Beiersdorf team admits that if the tools cannot be easily integrated into existing processes, they are never fully adopted. There is only so much change that can be sustained, making a smooth integration essential to success.

If you are an insights professional trying to adopt an agile research method and working closely with a research platform, here are some recommendations:

  • 1
    Think holistically: Framework, Processes and People, not just a 'toolkit'.
  • 2
    Give power to the people: Dedicate human resources to the project. Also ensure your supplier can operate at a strategic level: look for a supplier who possesses a deep understanding of both technical capabilities and market research, as well as processes and frameworks.
  • 3
    Foster collaboration as 'One team': Prioritise transparency in both directions. Expect your supplier to clearly communicate their capabilities and limitations, while also being open about how much information you are willing to share. Establish a strong partnership with your supplier, aligning them with your internal processes.
  • 4
    Expect some turbulence during the implementation period, as adapting to new processes can take time. However, it will pay off! And it is possible to fully accommodate these changes within just a couple of months with dedicated effort and focus!
  • Anna Fordkort
    Global Head of Consumer &
    Market Intelligence
  • Bronwyn McPherson du Plessis
    Head of Global Consumer Intelligence Discovery
  • Artem Tinchurin
    Visionary CTO at Fastuna
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