Written by: Megan McDowell
Recently at a market research conference in Bangkok, Vanessa Oshima gave a great speech, as she talked about adapting to change rather than fighting it, and that as market researchers we have extraordinary skills that can be used to adapt to change and thrive. One of the examples she used was a reference to Fujifilm, and she prefaced it by saying something like, “and everyone knows about the story of Fujifilm and their skin care products.” I made a note to Google it because I didn’t know about the story. The following article is what I researched and found on the Fujifilm website, for those like me who hadn’t heard, and how adapting to change and embracing it can be a great way to grow your brand.
Digital Cameras Killed The Film Stars
Film sales for Fuji peaked in 2000 and suddenly began falling fast. With the rise of digital cameras, film was quickly being used less and less. The impact for Fuji was massive, imagine Ford in it’s heyday all of sudden experiencing the fact that no one was buying cars anymore. Fuji scrambled as they looked for new ways to keep from going into bankruptcy. They combed through their technologies and research archives to see if anything that was once used and developed for film could be salvaged and used for another business. Fuji had always spent a lot of money and energy on research. One of the ideas they had come up with before was to use the technology created for film to make a skin care product.
Leveraging Prior Research
For those wondering how the two link, film and skin, they actually have lots of similarities. Collagen is a key substance in both film and skin. It is what gives resilience and a healthy appearance. They also had spent time researching antioxidants and nanotechnology. Seeing this new potential, the team quickly began making progress in research and development. The company had previously amassed lots of research on antioxidants, and had researched over 4000 compounds. One of which was astaxanthin, which is found in salmon and shrimp. It’s antioxidant power was 1000 times greater than the most commonly used skincare antioxidant Q10. The reason why companies hadn’t used astaxanthin was because it was too sensitive to heat and light and oxidized quickly.
The company began researching ways to produce nano-level astaxanthin and then keep it from oxidizing. Through their nanotechnology research they were able to break the compound down, and then found a way to create an emulsifying agent to protect the compound from oxidizing. These advancements allowed the company to gain the upper hand over the existing skincare companies. They began to market the company as a technology based skin cream developed from the research done on film which many thought would never work. The company quickly took off and now is one of the most successful divisions of Fuji.
We Store it and Help You Search It
Hopefully your company will never face the extinction of a product like Fuji did, but there are key principles that companies can use to gain competitive advantage. The first being that research is important, and even the research that might not seem important now can come in handy down the road. One of the key features of our online community software is the ability to store previous qualitative and quantitative research, and at anytime make a search in the software for a keyword that may not have been key back when you conducted the research but is key now. You can type in a word and the software will perform a search through all of the data and compile who and where that term was said.
If you would like to find out more about how market research online communities can help you, please feel free to contact us.