Today people use social media to interact with one another regardless of geographic boundaries, easily sharing information, discussing common interest, collaborating on ideas, and building a network of relationships. Consumer are also using their social networks to seek advice, discuss and offer recommendations on products and services.
Companies who are engaging in social media strategies aimed at facilitating engagement and two-way conversations (crowdsourcing) with customers provide insight that can and does impact product design, development and even the production of goods and services. This ability to gain product feedback in a relatively inexpensive way is quickly becoming one of social media’s biggest benefits.
Monitoring social networks is a good first step to using social media in product development. Product designers and managers can not only learn what customers like an don’t like about their products but can also get ideas on improvements as well as what new features and functions might appeal to consumers in the future.
A company that is not only using the wisdom of social listening for product development but was also built on crowdsourcing is Sundial Brands. Sundial Brands learned early on that listening and acting upon what was said was one of the clearest ways to show that the brand cared.
The Sundial Brand Story
Born in Liberia, Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from deep traditions born out of his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from his grandmother, Richelieu incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother – Mary Dennis – and Nyema.
Sundial remains true to the deep family legacy and inspiration of Richelieu’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker. Building upon her foundation, Sundial’s products are inclusive, serving all people to address underserved issues such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots and the special needs of textured hair, as well as consumer demands for efficacious natural products.
How Sundial Leverages Customer Feedback
An example of utilizing social listening for product development is Sundial had women coming to them on social media saying they used Jamaican Black Castor oil, but could not find it or a product that could serve as a viable substitute anywhere. Sundial researched it, sourced it and created products around this need. The resulting collection of products has become one of Sundials largest.
Another example is Sundial created a new product which contained rosemary as a secondary ingredient. The products were due to ship when a customer notified the brand that rosemary might be problematic for pregnant customers. Sundial listened and was able to switch to peppermint.
Sundial’s experience has been that people overwhelmingly welcome, expect and reward opportunity to have direct engagement with brands they support and appreciate when their feedback is acknowledge. This acknowledgment can come in the form of actual implementation of the feedback or simply demonstrating that the brand generally cares about their needs and are continually working to meet them.
CEO Richelieu Dennis points out:
“Our mission is to make high-quality products with efficacious natural, organic and fair trade ingredients that people want to use and meet their needs and given that, there is probably no one who can better provide feedback to Sundial than the people the brand serves”.
Ways Social Listening Can Benefit Brand
In addition to be used in product development social listening can benefit a brand by:
- Increasing Customer Engagement & Awareness
- Identify Strategic Wins or Missteps in Real Time
- How You Are Perceived In Comparison to Your Competitors
- Uncover Pain Points in Industry so You Can Be the First to Address
- Identify Influences & Advocates
Tools to Assist With Social Listening
Lessons for Others
- Social Media Channels provide companies with real-time access to a marketplace from which to gather valuable feedback about their products.
- Social Media provides an inexpensive way to gain product feedback.
- Companies using social listening have live access to unprompted consumer input from multiple social channels on everything from brand strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to new product development ideas.
- No one better to provide feedback on product than that people the brand serves.
Industry: Beauty Products - Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Richelieu Dennis, CEO
Authored by: smcguire2018
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.