I’ll never forget that feeling – the team and I sat waiting at the entrance to the new EYE DEFINE STUDIO by ACUVUE® in early February at 5 p.m., silent. We all shared the same thought: “What if we built this and no one comes?”
Finding new ways to connect with our consumers is never as easy as it seems, and when you consider the beauty contact lens category that is even truer. Our beauty enhancement product, 1-DAY ACUVUE® DEFINE™ Brand Contact Lenses, had been available in South Korea since 2004. So when we found ourselves in a situation where our ability to reach people had stalled in South Korea, we knew we needed to find another way.
We asked ourselves: “Could Business Model Innovation (BMI) help to stimulate growth?” BMI has been a buzz word in the industry for quite some time. We knew the only way to truly learn was to get out of the building and actually do something. So we set out to create the perfect test pilot. It started with a very simple mission: Let’s get to know our consumer in ways we never have before. Let’s ask her what she wants and build something just for her.
In listening to her, we quickly understood it wasn’t just about selling the benefits of beauty enhancement contact lenses; it was also about helping her overcome her preconceived notions about contact lenses in general and meeting her expectations of a beauty experience. This insight sparked an idea.
We envisioned a pop-up store within a beauty store in the central shopping district of Seoul, South Korea – ultimately integrating contact lenses directly into her beauty routine. At the heart of our idea were our proprietary EYE D Reader and EYE D Creator. These technologies would provide a scientific understanding of her eye size, color, shape, whiteness, and shine, which would in turn be the basis of a customized analysis, contact lens consultation, and makeover. In Korea, you are not required to have a prescription to purchase contact lenses, but we had an eye care professional (ECP) on hand. If a patient did not have information on their required power for visual acuity, the ECP provided a refraction test.
Opening day arrived, and when we walked in that morning the feeling was inspirational, even magical. The store was beautiful. But once the doors opened, our emotions quickly changed and the waiting commenced. A few shoppers looked curious, another couple stared in the window, but no one ventured inside. The hours passed by, still no takers. I left the team in place for a few scheduled conference calls. I vividly remember the long walk through the Myeong-dong shopping area, asking myself “What happened? What should we have done differently?”
During the first call, my cell phone kept breaking up and beeping. I glanced at it assuming a bad connection – but I was wrong. It was a slew of text messages: “Boss, you won’t believe it.” “OMG, it’s packed.” “COME BACK.”
We saw 53 people that night in only four hours. Since then, we have interacted with more than 2,700 contact lens considerers. Of these, 80% tried our lenses, including 37% who were new to wearing contact lenses.
As a team we learned that innovative thinking and risk go hand in hand. A big part of our success is because of the support from our courageous leaders who told us to “go and make it happen.” We felt part of our company’s entrepreneurial spirit at its best.
All we had to do was make it through the wait.
Manoj Raghunandanan recently completed his assignment in Singapore in our International Development Program where he served as the Senior Director of Global Emerging Innovation for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. He has now taken on a new role within Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Division. .content