When Canadian hair-care giant AG Hair Cosmetics decided to create a curly-hair styling product four years ago, the company turned to NaturallyCurly.com.
"We were drawn to it," recalls John Davis, AG's co-founder. "We got involved in discussions online, and the curly community let us know what they were looking for in a product."
Samples of the company's soft-hold cream were sent out to NaturallyCurly members to test, and adjustments were made based on their feedback.
"The rest is history," Davis says.
Re:coil Curl Activator launched Sept. 1, 2003, and has quickly became AG's superstar. Within 18 months, it became the company's No. 1 seller, outselling the former bestseller, Fast Food leave-in conditioner, two to one.
"It was a total surprise," admits Davis. "I expected it to be a well-performing product -- maybe in our Top 10. But the response has been incredible everywhere. I don't remember the last time we had a product that had double the sales of our No. 1 product. Re:coil really is something else."
Davis attributes Re:coil's success to several factors, including a hot market for curly-hair products. But at the top of the list is the fact that the company listened to the customer and gave them what they wanted.
Now AG is turning to NaturallyCurly members again to develop two new products in the Re:coil line: a shampoo and conditioner for curly hair. The idea for an expansion of the Re:coil line first arose last year during research and development discussions.
"We always look to our best products to see what we should develop," Davis says. "So we thought 'What about a Re:coil shampoo and conditioner that enhance curls at the cleansing an conditioning stage?' It was a no-brainer."
NaturallyCurly readers will be a part of the product development process as well as the final testing process. They will get to weigh in on product performance as well as price.
The new Re:coil shampoo and conditioner will be launched in late 2008.
While NaturallyCurly's involvement in the development of Re:coil Curl Activator wasn't formally planned, AG made the decision early on to bring in NaturallyCurly readers in the development process of the new products.
"What a great opportunity to get them involved and to get direct feedback from the end user to help us develop a great product," Davis says.
Davis concedes that this isn't traditionally how his company -- or most companies, for that matter -- have developed products. In the past, AG would develop and test products in house. Then, when the product was at a desired stage, it would be sent to AG educators around North America to test it in their salons.
While parallel testing will be taking place in salons, Davis wants to hear from the curlies of the world on the new Re:coil products.
"It's unusual to have an opportunity to have direct interface with the end user," Davis says. "They will have a direct influence on a product. We will listen to them. If they don't like it, we will change it."