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How Unilever Used Vurvey to Launch an Award-Winning Consumer Brand

Posted 26 Jul 2021

Chad Reynolds

unilever mele vurvey case study
Image via Allure

Until only a few short years ago, most people of color accepted that beauty products would generally fail their skin, hair, and personal needs—especially those with deeper skin tones—as a fact of life. Then, change swept through in the form of a movement that brought with it an acceptance of and appreciation for the beauty of melanin-rich skin and natural hair.

With an influx of new products meant for naturally textured hair and darker skin tones, buyers experienced excitement, but products often received mixed reviews when they hit the market. An entire faction of content creators across any and all social media streams exists mainly to help buyers of color find what products actually work.

Unilever saw the gap and changed its process to fill the need.

Breaking the Traditional Beauty Mold

The traditional model involved creating a product that was meant to work for shoppers, placing it on the shelves at some stores in the “right” neighborhoods, and hoping content creators would have something nice to say after the fact.

Understanding that they needed a deeper understand of African American experiences in the beauty industry, Unilever reorganized their traditional mold and went straight for the science.

Vurvey’s video insights helped Unilever create Melé, a product that touts the science of melanin-rich skin. Both co-created and backed by dermatologists of color, Melé has been heralded by Essence, Cosmopolitan, and Bazar. Most importantly, they have the Black community’s ownership of and buy-in for a product created for their own skin.

Using Vurvey, they partnered with a multi-cultural community of melanin-rich consumers through their entire product creation to ensure their new line of products addressed consumer needs and delivered on the promised benefits. They also constantly evaluated how the go-to-market experience resonated with consumers. 

Over 18 months, these passionate beauty care experts shared their current product habits, tested product innovations, evaluated branding and packaging, and gave feedback on everything in Unilever’s process—even down to strategy.

The process helped Unilever work through setbacks in production where the community noticed that though the product went onto their skin smoothly, it ultimately didn’t meet expectations. This allowed them to not just launch a product, but an entire movement.

Only The Beginning of Understanding

Melé joins a growing shortlist of beauty products and companies created by and for shoppers of color from Fenty to The Lip Bar, but the industry is still only in the opening notes of a revolutionary change in beauty products for people of color.

With Melé, Unilever took this disconnect with an entire segment of the beauty consumer base and did their best to meet their consumers right where they were. Unilever gave them a venue to speak and when they heard heard the concerns voices clamoring to be heard, they responded, “We see you.”

Do you know if you see your consumers’ true needs? At Vurvey, we believe in making feedback more human. The only way to do that—and create opportunities for innovation like Unilever did—is to open a new communication stream with your consumers. One that encourages honest feedback and then applies it to innovative solutions and products. 

Chad Reynolds

About the author

Chad Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Vurvey, an innovative co-creation platform that empowers companies to partner with consumers to build, test, and launch winning products. Chad is a serial tech entrepreneur, often speaking at industry events about human-centered design, co-creation, and disruptive innovation, as well as serving as a mentor and board member for high-growth start-ups.

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