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Insights That Work

Selfies & Smartphones: How an Online Community Helped P&G Engage Consumers

[Insights That Work - Case Study] Ipsos used an engagement-driven, social approach to test Olay's Skin Advisor with online communities.


As any beauty consumer can tell you, shopping for skin care can be an overwhelming proposition. With thousands of brands crowding the shelves and new ones gaining in influence by the minute, it’s no wonder shoppers are increasingly going online to seek advice.

In 2016, Procter & Gamble Co. responded by developing the Olay Skin Advisor, a web-based technology platform aimed at helping consumers identify a personalized skin care regimen best suited for their skin type and needs. Consumers use their smartphone or tablet to take a selfie and answer a few questions regarding skin concerns, product preferences and current skincare habits. With the help of some clever AI, Olay Skin Advisor then provides feedback on the visible skin condition and generates a recommendation for a customized P&G skincare regimen.

In early 2017, prior to the global release of the app, P&G approached Ipsos to help test an enhanced version of the technology to evaluate its effectiveness in providing an even more personalized experience in the eyes of the consumer. The chosen research method needed to ensure engagement throughout a multi-phased product trial, while also providing a holistic assessment of performance, believability and purchase consideration.


As the world’s largest product testing advisor, Ipsos is dedicated to designing research that leverages innovative technology and platforms to drive engagement. Through the years, we’ve evolved our core product testing capability to focus on contextualizing content through text analytics, mobile-first approaches, and “in the moment,” multimedia tools.

For the P&G product trial, an online syndicated community proved to be just the vehicle to spur this type of engagement-driven, contextual learning, offering a few unique opportunities to elevate and enhance the research:

  • Built-in member engagement – for intrinsic, consumer-driven motivation through multiple phases of a study
  • Rich, visual, mobile-optimized tools – for an intuitive, immersive experience from both the researcher’s & consumer’s perspective
  • Social environment – collective discussion to better understand the potential impact of the social dynamic on a product launch or update

Of these benefits, establishing a strong foundation for engagement is key. We do this by applying the tenets of social media – sharing, discussing, connecting, etc. – to build an environment of trust and transparency. Furthermore, we work to define an intrinsic value proposition encouraging community members to engage in productive and constructive ways, beyond the opportunity for financial reward.

Simply put, we believe better engagement leads to better insights, opening the door to in-depth consumer understanding and discovery.


Leveraging a community for the P&G product trial allowed us to tap into an active and engaged consumer base, which ultimately resulted in exceptionally high compliance and authentic feedback. After a 4-week trial that required members to submit selfies and answer in-depth usage questions, we learned that the new algorithm’s recommendations did indeed instill more confidence and higher purchase intent as compared to the old one. Our engagement-driven approach also resulted in an impressive 86% response rate, with over 150 total members completing the full process. On both counts, the results allowed our client to move forward with conviction.

To date, the Olay Skin Advisor has generated more than 2 million visits and continues to provide value to consumers through a truly personalized brand experience.

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Lisa Yu

Lisa Yu

Vice President, Ipsos Social Media Exchange