Firstly, there was the revelation that Chris Dawson - the owner of discount homewares business ‘The Range’ with 70 stores throughout the U.K. - is dyslexic and left school without being able to read or write. That’s a good lesson in itself, and again illustrates that having a disadvantaged background of one sort or another is no barrier to success
Peter Jones then went on to meet Mark and Mo Constantine who own the ‘Lush’ cosmetics empire (running 850 shops worldwide). In 2012 they made £368 million in sales, and all this whilst running an environmentally friendly business where recycling and waste reduction are paramount.
A ban on animal testing is also central to Lush’s product development. But what interested me most was their approach to ‘Market Research’ – or rather lack of it.
Mark Constantine told Peter Jones that they actually don’t do ‘Market Research’ as such. They do ‘market testing’. They never ask their customers upfront what products they would be interested in buying. What Lush does do is to dream up new and unique products, manufacture them – and then ask customers for feedback and tweak accordingly, either continuing with the product range, making adjustments, or abandoning it if unsuccessful. Each product only has a 12 month lifecycle.
The Constantines think it is important to educate their customers to new possibilities and say that if you only ever produce what customers say they want, customers will only suggest the types of products they already know about and they will never be introduced to anything new.
In some ways this is also used as a marketing technique, because customers eagerly await the new creations to see what Mo Constantine (the product developer of the partnership) has come up with, keeping the product ranges fresh, innovative and eagerly anticipated.
This is a creative way of approaching market research and in my opinion a very brave one. I guess if you have the economies of scale which the Lush manufacturing process offers you can afford to make a few mistakes with the product range. I’m not sure I would recommend this to smaller businesses, but it is an interesting concept and elements of the idea could be incorporated.
If you run, or are setting up, a creative business – supplying perhaps a cosmetics range, or a handmade, craft or food product - see this blog for ways to market your business on a budget using very visual, creative ways on the new social media platform ‘Pinterest’.
You can also use ‘community’ Pinterest boards for testing new ideas before bringing them to market
There is a free video showing how all businesses – but specifically creative businesses - can benefit from using Pinterest.