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Predevelopment: An Innovation Advantage—A Natura Case Study

By: Sabrina Clepf, Vânia Passarini Takahashi, Flávio Bueno Camargo Junior and Patrícia Maria Berardo Gonçalves Maia Campos
Posted: October 26, 2012, from the November 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The development of new beauty products that will satisfy consumer desires requires knowledge in areas such as dermatology, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, etc.—as well as expertise in several technology and scientific fields specific to the product.

There are, typically, six stages in the beauty product development process, according to recent studies.

  1. Planning: Identification of market tendencies and opportunities in line with the commercialization plan adopted by the company. Evaluation of available technology and resources for the development of a new product.
  2. Concept Development: Establishment of the product profile based on market opportunities and available technology. The product concept must include information about its functions, benefits, presentation, aesthetic aspects, packing characteristics, estimated cost, the targeted market segment and a proposed launch date.
  3. System-level Design: Investigation of packaging, ingredients and other physical components and the means of production that answer the established requirements for the product. This includes research on equipment, ingredient suppliers and scientific publications, and then elaborating on the preliminary list of components with cost requirements, production and regulatory concerns in mind.
  4. Detail Design: Prototypes are built, and testing is undertaken toward improving the prototypes.
  5. Testing and Refinement: Performance tests on volunteers is undertaken to evaluate the formulation performance and its gauge acceptance by the consumer. Formulation improvements are still underway.
  6. Production/Scale Up: After proper testing and legal approval, production of the first product units begins, and trials are undertaken to evaluate and improve the conditions of product performance.

In summary, to develop beauty products that fit consumer desires, companies should effectively execute all stages of a development process that embraces distinct scientific and technological fields.

Conclusion

While product cycles have been shortened and the technological and competitive environment has changed rapidly, companies must be able to quickly convert technology into new products and, at the same time, answer the demands of consumers. In this context, the predevelopment phase is essential to innovative companies, considering that it is in this phase where new opportunities are identified and ideas are transformed into concepts with increased potential for success.

The objective of this study was to analyze and describe the activities of the predevelopment phase adopted by Natura, which averages 300 product introductions over a two-year period. Its product innovations are both incremental and radical, and the latter are developed, primarily, inside the company.

Product innovation ensures the company does not remain stuck in traditional technologies, though it works in the context of a sustainable innovation. The company focuses on the technologies that make it possible to introduce a group of attributes totally different from those already recognized by consumers, and the search for new attributes/claims is constant.

In recent years, too, Natura developed new products in partnership with research centers as well as national and international universities. The search for partners demonstrates that the company is aware it is necessary to develop new technological abilities to increase its innovation capacity. When new capabilities are developed, it allows the company to understand the waves of innovation and even anticipate them, increasing the potential to fulfill future market needs.

Natura’s predevelopment activities, analyzed according to the NCD Model (from the identification of opportunities through product concept), are highly influenced by marketing and technological tendencies. Searching for the best way to identify these tendencies, the company has developed a management model based on funnels. From simple ideas to the complex activities, the initiatives that may result in a new product go through the innovation funnel and the product funnel—two processes with different focuses but aligned to create constant dialogue. The funnel models allow the elevation of market competitiveness and differentiators through a strategic analysis and meeting consumer needs.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the financial support of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). Also the authors gratefully acknowledge the Natura Cosméticos.

References

TV Bonoma, Case research in Marketing: opportunities, problems and a process, Journal of Marketing Research, 22(199), 208 (1985)

C Briney, State of the industry, Global Cosmetic Industry, 172 (2004)