In the long run, the technology saves time and money. Variations in design and display can be made quickly and easily. “Before, new product testing typically took eight months to two years. Now, that time is cut in half,” says Ramin Eivaz, K-C vice president focusing on strategy.
After the initial investment the technology saves money in marketing research from the traditional physical design and construction of a store or display prototype.
By helping customers (retailers) determine optimal design, placement, packaging, etc., the technology encourages increased sales, not only for the KC products but for the retailer overall. As a result, this strengthens relationships and reinforces customer enhancement and retention with retailers.
“The new design center will not only drive innovation, but also help the company become a better partner to consumers and retailers, the manufacturer says,” states Jill Jusko in her Dec 2007 article New design studio uses advanced technologies to drive innovation and strengthen customer relationships.
“For the 130-year old company—a world leader in health, hygiene, and other personal-care products—the answer translates into faster, smarter product planning and strengthened relationships with its retail partners.”
New market research can offer new ideas, lending itself to further strengthening of relationships with vendors and other partners.
“The facility is part of a working environment that gives K-C partners fast time-to-insight about consumers and how they shop and ways to positively affect purchase decisions. Additionally, it allows collaboration on new product concepts and innovations.”
“We need to be an indispensable partner to our retailers and show we can do more for them, says Eivaz.
The more market research can emulate reality, the more accurate the results will be. This reduces the amount of guesswork. According to the article, “Fast Innovation At The Shelf: How Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi Co., General Mills Speed Up The Launch Of Their Innovations Via A Virtual Store,” This minimizes the risk of conditioning the consumer. Those companies that can observe their consumers without them noticing it do have optimum preconditions.
The technology is proprietary and state-of-the-art. This can have a strong impact on K-C’s brand position. It reinforces K-Cs image as a cutting-edge, leader in its field. "We are one of only a few companies in the world to have an innovation design studio with an integrated virtual reality system, and we believe ours may well be the most technologically advanced system anywhere," said Eivaz.