A global haircare and hair product brand looking to break through to the Black market with products targeting the specific gaps Black/African-American women faced when looking for products to care for their hair. Concerned about the optics of a general market brand reaching out to Black American consumers, we wanted to make sure that both the product and the messaging surrounding it were high-quality, authentic and spoke to the real needs of the target audience.
Our preliminary research uncovered how deeply connected stylists are to each other and to their clients, so we started there. These are real, oftentimes long-term relationships and highly personal, so it would be important for us to take that sentiment into consideration and get it right the first time. We sought to understand the support stylists need to feel confident in the products they recommend to clients and the role our client could play in delivering that support. We then talked to the consumers directly over a series of IDIs where they shared their stories, we listened and came back to ask more!
We developed a 2-pronged approach to research, targeting influential stylists and clients/consumers. And, because the nature of this work is so personal, we crafted an approach to research designed to free people to talk and share on an individual basis, without the pressure to perform that can sometimes happen in group or focus group settings.
Through the course of 40+ interviews conducted over a 4-week period, we were able to deliver an actionable set of insights to the client that we used to inform a robust messaging framework, brand framework and creative concepts to launch the product on time in the U.S. market.
AARP had been painted with this brush of being "just for old people", when in fact, the organization is open to all people and has resources, tools and advice that are helpful at any stage of life. We worked to identify current trends among Black and Hispanic communities related to work and work opportunity. Our social listening work uncovered an opportunity in the entrepreneurship space. Our research plan collected data via online focus groups and discussion boards with people contemplating a second career, entrepreneurship as a first career, and those who were already in the work, to help AARP understand how they could operationally deliver to these targets and what the messaging strategy would look like for each segment.
This is not our typical work, but it's work that speaks to our heart and mission. We were honored to have the opportunity to work with two organizations, Museums Are Not Neutral, and ArtStuff Matters to be a part of building an event centered around a critique of the ways in which black and brown bodies are depicted in art, specifically at museums. Rather than developing our own research protocol, the team looked at the wealth of existing research available from both organizations to develop a plan for speaker recruitment, grants and donor funding, and participant recruitment to make the inaugural event, "Visual Ethics" a success heralded by participants, sponsors and in the press. Over 500 participants showed up daily over four days of virtual programming.