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Consumer&U made Anita & all of her colleagues at the Vlaardingen plant go over 3 stepstones towards having in-depth consumer understanding & creating more impactful products:- In step one, they engaged with the consumer world by playing games;- Step two inspired them and triggered questions in their minds;- And step three made them dive into the assembled learnings and take action; Let’s take a closer look at each of the phases, illustrated by the project we conducted about the UK consumer...
During the ENGAGE phase all R&D employees were invited to play games about one specific consumer they were connected with – like David – & facts & figures about the UK consumer in general: In total there were 90 consumers who have given us an insight into their daily lives via photos & diary stories; The general data were eye openers coming from other, older, pieces of research; We had 3 of these games over the course of 3 consecutive weeks. Each quiz tackled different topics, linked to one of the product categories that are researched and developed at the Vlaardingen plant.
By playing a game, the R&D executives unlocked new information about the consumer they were connected with on a Facebook-like profile page of ‘their’ consumer. Allowing them to play the next quiz even better!
To motivate the employees to take part and to take all 3 of the games, we made use of 3 techniques:1/ offline promotion and special events at the plant: posters were distributed, video’s were played & ‘consumer lunches’ were organised;2/ within each of the different departments the team leaders were given the tools to explain to their team what the importance of the project was & they were asked to keep on motivating their teams;and 3/ we applied ‘gamification’ principles to it: after playing a game well, badges were aerned. Next to that, we worked with both an individual leaderboard and an aggregated one on team level. Playing on the competative aspect and the team spirit!
By analysing the results of the games we discovered what R&D employees still not know well enough, were there blindspots lie. And they were there, knowing that the average score in the games was 4,7 on 10. Next to that, being confronted with consumers daily live and some eye-opening facts, figures and stories triggered questions. In order to close the knowledge gaps and to get an answer to the triggered questions we invited the 90 UK consumers from the consumer diaries into an online research community called ‘InSpireUs’ of 3 weeks.
Also at the participant side, in our InspireUs community, we applied gamification techniques. This time to motivate our research participants to take part more often and to think harder. Game dynamics were introduced on 3 levels:1/ on an individual level: consumers could earn badges/status by contributing high quality comments;2/ on the level of certain subgroups: for specific questions we created 3 subgroups within the community each of them working on a specific product category. We challenged the different groups or teams to battle against oneanother in coming-up with the best insights and ideas. The winning team, unlocked access to a ‘secret room’ in which the Unilever innovations could be seen in avant-premiere; 3/ on a community level: if a given number of high quality posts was reached in the community, all members who participated actively unlocked an extra incentive;
Answers to the questions and additional information on the knowledge gaps were reported to the organization in real-time, while the consumer community was running, on a news-website.2 fresh articles were shared every working day during the 3 weeks that the community was in the air. Making use a lot of pictures, quotes and consumer stories.After 3 weeks of games & 3 weeks of community and news articles, each team leader got a summary slide deck and the task to organize a workshop within his team to discuss the learnings and to define actions.
What was the impact we created within Unilever R&D Vlaaringen by running this project?Well we measured by combining 3 sources of data:Objective figures: subscriptions to the games, visits on the newswebsite, etc.;A pre- and post-survey was conducted among participating employees, to see our progress on certain items;And last but not least, in-depth interviews were conducted among a selection of them to understand what happened on the workfloor.Let’s take a look at some of the results!
In terms of participation:640 R&D executives subscribed to play the games;58% played all 3 gamesThe main reason why we were able to engage some many employees is that it was relevant to them, it was something new and different and it was fun to do, because all was gamified! Perfectly illustrated by the following quote: “The goal of the project was to get to know consumers’ lives better. We don’t do this enough. The project succeeded by doing this in a fun and different way”.
We managed to create IMPACT on different 3 levels:Firstly, on an individual level: out of the pre- and post test we know that the self-declared level of consumer understanding had a relative increase of 81%. We generated this impact by the fact that executives were also connected with one individual consumer (giving a 360 degree view on an individual) and that the games and learning effect were spread over a longer period of time. Well explained by this player: “The way Consumer&U was organized makes you spent time and makes it sticky, you really had to dive into the world of your consumer to score in the games”. Again we see that the fact that we gamified it, played an important rol in getting this high figures.
Secondly, we saw that the project triggered a lot of conversations about the consumer world internally:“Eye openers evoked astonishement in the team”“Sometimes we were with 3 behind one PC”“We printed consumer profiles of consumers to generate conversations in the coffee corner”Offcourse the team leaders and the way they were briefed play a big role in getting this result!Next to that we are happy to see that employees also interacted more with the consumer world than they did before. Having conversations about products and their features with family and friends went up from 12 to 55% of the executives doing it frequently.
And finaly, we also createda certain mental and behavioral change:R&D executives say that due to the project they pay more attention now to how people behave in their daily live and when they go shopping they pay more attention to products of other companies and what they have to offer.Secondly, they indicate that this ‘community’ way of working is really valuable and that this way of connecting with consumers should be applied to day-to-day projects too.
We have seen that the fact that we applied game techniques played an important role in the success of this project. What about the effect it had on the consumers participating in our online research community?In total they generated 4547 posts in 3 weeks time. Resulting in on average 17 contributions a week per member. Which makes it one of the most successful projects we ever did. After coding the number of unique insights coming out of the posts and compairing bencmarking it with non-gamified projects, we came to the conclusion that a gamified community delivers up to 7 times more insights than a non-gamified one! So, also at the consumer side it is of great value!
Consumer really like it:Some of them are surprised by the fact that they are really hooked on it;Others braged to their kids when they got their expert badge;So, Stan, what’s your final end conclusion?