Uniting science with nature
This trend for products that taste more natural has led us to create two new products – a toothpaste with a herbal flavour and a remedy for indigestion and heartburn that combines science with nature.
Our research showed that people in India and China really like the distinctive flavours you find in traditional herbal remedies, in their toothpaste.
“In India, our consumers like eucalyptus and fennel because of their traditional uses. Eucalyptus is known for its purifying properties and fennel is traditionally used as a natural way to freshen the mouth,” explained Adam Sisson, Head of Oral Health R&D. “We added the actual extracts of these plants to the toothpaste and worked with a flavour house to incorporate the familiar flavours of eucalyptus and fennel in order to create a product which our consumers will love."
Because we know that people like the look of their toothpaste to match the flavour, we also added a pale green colour. The result is our Sensodyne Herbal Multi-Care toothpaste, specifically developed with our Indian and Chinese consumers in mind.
When it comes to indigestion and heartburn, ajwain (a herb) is traditionally used in homemade remedies in India to alleviate these symptoms. But our typical consumer wouldn’t normally make their own remedies at home. So we have developed an ajwain-flavoured version of our Eno antacid, giving consumers a product with the taste they want using our proven science.
Similarly, in Brazil, chamomile has been used as a home remedy for heartburn for hundreds of years, so we produced a chamomile flavoured Eno.
On the flip side, in the US, consumers prefer products which don’t make them think of medicine at all – and they like to have minimal downtime when they’re ill. So our heartburn remedy, Tums, has fruity flavours specific to the US so it fits with a consumer’s normal routine.
The right package
It isn’t just taste that differs. Practical considerations, such as how a product is packaged, are important to consumers too.
Take the US – we found that electric kettles are rarely found in US homes. This is due in part to the lower household voltage. This means brewing hot drinks is far from convenient and therefore a barrier to use. They do, however, tend to have coffee pod machines: 30% of American households have a Keurig machine – a beverage brewing system most famous for its coffee-pods.
So we found a way to put our Theraflu cold and flu remedy into a coffee pod. It might sound simple, but it took several years of work to develop and ensure the product would be compatible and safe.
The future is still face-to-face
Nicolas explained that technology such as smart phones and social media are giving us opportunities to reach consumers in different ways and understand their needs. “This has opened up a new world of possibilities for consumer scientists, helping us to be closer than ever to our consumers,” he said.
But face-to-face is still best so that we can understand consumers in the context of their own environment.
“The foundations of consumer science will always remain: they are about showing empathy towards our consumers, understanding who they are, what their needs are and then creating and testing product prototypes to suit them.”