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This post is sponsored by P&G.
I recently had the incredible opportunity to visit the Procter & Gamble Innovation Centre in Singapore.
P&G have a longstanding dedication to science, so I was very excited to be able to go behind the scenes. And I’ve documented some of the underlying work that goes into making mass market consumer products for you all!
The P&G innovation centre is Singapore’s largest private research facility, covering 6 floors and 32 thousand square metres in Biopolis, an international biomedical research and innovation hub.
The Innovation Centre’s construction reflects P&G’s dedication to sustainability. It’s Silver LEED and Greenmark certified. Impressively, zero waste went to landfill during the construction of the centre. There are solar panels on the roof, cooling louvres to reduce energy consumption, and the centre uses recycled water.
(One of P&G’s 2030 goals is for 100% of their packaging to be recyclable or reusable – they’re currently at 86% globally.)
The Singapore innovation centre focuses on product development for P&G’s beauty brands, including Pantene, Olay, SK-II, Head & Shoulders and Herbal Essences. 500 scientists from over 20 nations work in the centre.
The centre covers end-to-end innovation, which means that they research everything from what consumers want, to how well the finished formulas work, environmental and human safety, and developing advanced packaging for the final products.
Singapore has a very diverse population, which makes it the perfect place for conducting face-to-face consumer insight research. 2000 consumers pass through the consumer research hub each year, and P&G use these interviews to work out what consumers want. There’s even a little model home that they use for conducting consumer interviews.
P&G also have a strong focus on actually quantifying what consumers want, and how well their products meet these needs – for example, how do you measure “radiant skin”?
Unsurprisingly, there’s a VISIA machine in the skin lab to quantify the effects of products – the VISIA was actually developed in partnership with Procter & Gamble. Clinical tests are conducted on 10 000 volunteers a year, and P&G scientists have published lots of studies in peer-reviewed journals.
Some very cool technology has come out of the P&G labs. In some countries (not Australia yet), there are smaller handheld devices at Olay counters that can measure the aspects of customer skin like smoothness, spots and firmness.
The device has a specially shaped shield that removes the influence of lighting and controls the camera angle, and the resulting image is matched to a database and scored against skin of other people of the same age. Skincare products are then recommended based on the results. (The Skin Advisor app is a less precise version of this.)
P&G’s detailed approach to skin carries through to hair. Again, there’s a lot of emphasis on creating the right tools for diagnosing what your hair needs.
Head & Shoulders in Japan has a microscope-based tool that scans the scalp and hair, then determines the best haircare products for you based on the measured characteristics (flakes, oil, hair thickness, moisture etc.).
I also had the opportunity to visit the haircare and skincare development labs. I wasn’t allowed to take many photos since there are some heavily guarded trade secrets in there.
For example, P&G make custom instruments for testing their hair products – there was a machine called the Pendulum that specifically measures hair bounciness. And of course, there was an unimaginable amount of hair samples that scientists were using!
P&G also use lots of different approaches in developing their skincare products. At the Singapore innovation centre, they conduct cell biology and genomics research to try to understand the entire picture of what’s happening within the skin, not just the more straightforward measurements of skin characteristics (although they study that too).
I’ll be talking a bit more about P&G’s latest product innovations – watch out for that post soon!
This post is sponsored by P&G; however, the content is all based on my independent research and my honest experience. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.