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Transferring Innovation to Global Markets

By: Michael Doyle
Posted: April 6, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Consider the example of a company working to introduce a sunscreen formula originally developed for European consumers to Asian markets. There are a number of variables that need to be considered.

First, there’s the original formulation. How did it test under different temperature and environmental conditions? What are the solubility profiles? Can this mixture be modified easily in order to change its color or texture? Which ingredients that make up the chassis are available locally and which can be cost-effectively sourced in from the global market?

And then there are local considerations. How does the climate and geography impact the efficacy of the product’s UV blocker? Will Asian skin (due to differences in genetics or diet) absorb the product differently? Can additional ingredients (such as an active that will enhance the product’s ability to penetrate the skin) be mixed safely and effectively with the original formulation?

With a system in place that enables regional sites to easily find, access and use any type of existing R&D knowledge related to the sunscreen formulation (as well as information on suppliers, processing data, test results and more) a brand owner can greatly speed the local development process. For instance, data about the original formulation’s solubility profile and computed irritancy indexes can be used to create models that predict how the product might perform on different skin types or with different ingredients added. With modeling, additives that may cause an undesirable reaction or that are simply ineffective can be ruled out before clinical trials are required. This can mean the difference between having to test four or five ingredients in vivo instead of 20—which can reduce costs significantly and potentially slash weeks from the development cycle. In an industry where getting to market first is so critical, this “rapid response” approach, aided by shared organizational knowledge, offers a huge competitive advantage.

Encourage a Collaborative Culture

But just because people can share knowledge, doesn’t mean they will.