How Beautiful Lives Uses Community Insights to Power Design Thinking
Beautiful Lives don’t just offer insights, they offer insights based innovation. The work of this Netherlands based creative insight and innovation agency spans many sectors including consumer goods, mobility, health care and financial services. In this article we take a look at how they use online conversations to power design thinking.
Arno Buurman has been a partner of the company for 9 years. Insights expert Fabian Baumer has been with the company for 2 years. Thanks to their human-centered, design thinking-led, ethnographic research approach, they reveal profound insights on people’s needs, motivations and translate those into valuable and tangible innovations for companies and brands.
Being a boutique consulting firm, for Beautiful Lives it’s important to be at the cutting edge of innovation. Because of this they wanted to build an “ongoing and continuous online community” for research. While they initially built their own community research platform, this was not the ideal solution for achieving their goals anymore.
Buurman explains: “We started building our own (platform) and it became too expensive to update. The investments were not in line with the revenue we could get from it”.
Finding the Right Platform
Finding a new platform proved challenging. They needed something that provided the right community insights. But as they discovered, many platforms don’t pay enough attention to the qualitative side of things. Another challenge… research participants often responded to surveys and activities with their rational minds, instead of their emotional hearts. And that’s where the real insights for innovation gets uncovered. The platform needed to be supportive of that.
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How could the team find the right platform for the job? They needed one that cost less to maintain. One that allowed them to facilitate research for their clients and gather emotional responses from research participants.
Beautiful Lives had recently hired Maurice Palmen who recommended CMNTY Platform which he was already familiar with. The team was hesitant at first to use an out-of-the-box SaaS solution. How could any platform adequately replace theirs, which was custom-made? However, they soon realized that CMNTY Platform could help them achieve their desired results. Furthermore, it would save them money at the same time!
The implementation of CMNTY Platform was virtually seamless for Beautiful Lives. It took some getting used to, but that was to be expected. Especially when you’re switching from your own custom designed platform.
Arno was surprised by how good the implementation process went. The team rated CMNTY’s customer support as good. And they liked that “a lot of information is on the site itself”, referring to CMNTY’s online help center.
Apart from some initial “getting used to”, CMNTY ran smoothly. It was exactly what Beautiful Lives were looking for. And whenever a problem did surface, support was responsive and “overall very good”, according to Fabian.
After the switch, Beautiful Lives and their clients experienced significant results. Here are the top benefits the team identified from using CMNTY:
#1 International Field Research Became Simplified and Less Costly
The team can now conduct field research while also saving on the costs of traveling to different countries to conduct the fieldwork themselves.
“The platform is very easily scalable and manageable from a central point to different countries. The tool gave us an innovative way to get the insights we sell to customers. It saves us costs from flying to different countries and doing fieldwork on location ourselves. It also helps us do international fieldwork all over the place at the same time.”
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#2 It’s Easier to Unlock Creative Insights & Add Personal Design Touches
From initial market research to testing prototypes on the platform, Arno and Fabian love the adaptability of CMNTY. They particularly like the Challenge module. It allows them to create contests and competitions to ideate and co-create with their community.
“We have our own way of uploading our exercises. The Challenge module gives us the broadest bandwidth to work on our creative insights.” They also love the customization features of the platform. Which allows for a better branding experience. “What’s great about the platform is that you can add your own personal design to it – so it looks like our platform.”
#3 Community Insights + Innovation = Better Products
Through CMNTY Platform they were able to help Asics, a leading global sports brand, to design better products by combining community insights with their innovation process. They then tested the product prototypes on the community platform and found further insights and engagement with their customers.
This insight campaign ran in the US, China, Netherlands, and Japan, and was a real success in the eyes of Beautiful Lives and their client.
#4 Helping Communities Better Understand Themselves
Beautiful Lives also helped Q-dance, one of the largest hardstyle dance organizations in the world. Q-dance wanted to better understand what the role hardstyle plays in the lives of their customers. Beautiful Lives will use the insights for a white paper – so Q-dance can get a better understanding of their target audience.
#5 Increased Engagement with Research Subjects
When asked how community members interacted with the platform, Arno responded: “I don’t think they do. They interact with the content. The platform is almost invisible which is great for our needs.”
It’s easy to forget the power of an invisible platform like CMNTY. It makes it possible for users to interact directly with the company. It removes barriers to effective communication and mutual learning. Which allows for maximum engagement with users.
By now it’s clear that the team at Beautiful Lives are delighted that insight communities help them focus on what they do best. Finding valuable insights and innovations for their clients.