Keeping the user in the centre of innovation. Always. – Julie Soley
Julia in Dubai_Daniel&Carsten auf Kreta
International hotel study by Julie Soléy
January 14, 2018
SPF and UVA – what does it mean for me and my skin type?
June 5, 2019
Reading time: 3 min.

Keeping the user in the centre of innovation. Always.

A German phenomenon? In the first step, when on idea or product concept is born the concrete focus is set up on product development. And then, when the product is finally developed by engineers or technicians, it’s time to look to find the right markets. Not so with Julie Soléy. Because apart from technical innovation, we have one thing in mind: the needs of our users. That's why we rely on user studies, because they provide us with important information for our product and business model development in a very early stage.

A anthemn on your own product - or not?
As a founder, the intense belief in your own idea or product is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you absolutely need this deep basic trust in your own abilities and convictions, in order to face the daily headwind and to stand up again and again during thousands of setbacks. Yes, it takes strength to counter arguments such as "You are neither experts in the hotel or the cosmetic market!" or "You have no experience in mechanical engineering" and even worse "Leave it to the people who are able to do this!". In addition, there are many setbacks technical-wise: malfunctions, hardware and software damage and much more. That's exactly why you need a lot of intrinsic motivation to implement your own idea, no matter what it will costs.

On the other hand, however, these abilities and convictions make you lose sight of the market and you do not sufficiently take care of the needs of the users or the target audience. Like a bad whispering, which tells you: "If I think that's good, then the world has been waiting for it for a long time!" Unfortunately, often this proves to be a fatal mistake, that kicks already thousends of inventions right out the markets. An invention only becomes an innovation when the product is not technically completely new, but also prevails on the market. But how do you know what is going on? You would be blessed if you knew it, but you can approach the market.

Shaking off the misconception, that your own inventive genius must be correct
While market research is only uncertain if customers actually buy or use the product, nevertheless it is a wonderful tool for finding out about attitudes and opinions. Not just about the product itself, but more about the context in which it will be used. For us as Julie Soléy in concrete: gathering statements about the attitude of potential users towards sunscreen. E.g. is sunscreen and its manual application perceived as annoying or pleasant? But also questions that discuss whether our users are sensitized to the subject of sun protecting and caring their skin against the harmful effects of uv rays and do they consider this as an important aspect? All of them questions and motives, that we as founders consider appropriate, otherwise we would not develop a sunscreen shower. But do our target group really think and feel equal?

If scientific methods prove to be practicable
"There is no right decision. You are always searching for the error-low alternative.“ (based loosely on Karl Popper, a German philosopher), so we tried to filter out the largest blunders in the assumptions about our product. The probate means: a questionnaire. These insights were of special importance for us, beside information concerning our productz directly:

  • Where and how do I spend my holidays? How much do I pay for this?
  • What emotional consequences effects me, having a sunburn during my vacation?
  • How important is skin protection for me?
  • How often do I use sunscreen and what kind of feeling do I associate with it?
  • And then, after figuring out all expactations and attitudes, we focused the survey on product usage and payment model. In total, we interviewed 357 potential users within three weeks via our online questionnaire. We do not want to withhold the highlight results. But one thing in advance: our inventiveness has proven to be low in error and congruent with the market's opinions.

    „There is no right decision. You are always searching for the error-low alternative.“ (based loosely on Karl Popper, a German philosopher)

    For quick readers (study results in a nutshell):
  • 77%consider skin protection as important.
  • 62% use sunscreen several times a day.
  • 78% perceive aaplication of sunscreen as annoying.
  • For67%, a sunburn affects the holiday negative
  • 64%use sprays instead of creams
  • Valid results, highly impressive
    "Never trust a statistic, that you have not falsified yourself," it says in the vernacular. We did not even have to fake this survey, because we could not have done that better! Let's look at some particularly interesting results (the entire user study, could be downloaded at the end of the article). 77% of the respondents (male and female participants are almost equally represented in our study, 49 to 51%) consider protecting the skin from sunburn as important or even very important. Sensitization about skin damage has arrived in the broad masses of the population and people are absolutely aware of the importance of skin protection. Consequently, it is logical that after all 62% of respondents use sunscreen daily, especially on vacation. Another 24% apply sun cream at least once a day. If 86% of the study participants see the benefit of the sunscreen, this could be a good sign for the market success of our product.

    However, we continued asking how does it feel applying sun cream and how do the participants perceive the ease of use. 78% of the respondents don’t like the uncomfortable ease of use. The reasons of these results are, in addition to the impossibility of applying sunscreen alone seamlessly to the body, especially the greasy feeling on the hands and on the body. How could the sunscreen applied best with sandy hands? A good question if you've just made yourself comfortable on the beach. Especially parents want a quick and playful way to protect their children better from uv rays. Nevertheless, our respondents currently see no other way than using conventional products. For 67% of the respondents, a sunburn significantly affects the holiday in a very negative way.

    Even though the majority of respondents already use aerosol-based sunscreens (about 64%), this application is considered to be less than ideal, especially on windy beach. In reverse conclusion, it’s important for us, that sunscreen in misted form as a spray arrived in the market and is absolutely prefered by our target group. As a result, we do not have to enforce a new type of application on the market and change user behavior, but merely change the application context: faster, seamless and comfortable.

    "As a result, we do not have to enforce a new type of application on the market and change user behavior, but merely change the application context: faster, seamless and comfortable.“

    A product design that appeals and encourages use
    Not only the context of attitudes and motives were the focal drivers for us in the survey, but also feedback to the product itself. So, we tested the shape and also if the participants want to use the sunscreen shower with or without swimwear. And how would the perfect location of the sunscreen shower would be in a hotel and on a cruise line. All results were consistent with our considerations as we startet developing the product concept. Yes, the round design of our sunscreen shower is most likely to match the feeling of security. For the seamlessness of the application, it is also important for the target group to use the sunscreen shower textile-free, which in turn speaks clearly for a lockable product. Although the number of future users should be treated with caution, 70% of respondents said they would use the sunscreen shower several times a day if the capsule price won’t exceed 2 euros.

    These study results continue to drive us on developing our invention, and create a product that will resonate and be relevant to the market. Please also read our hotel study. We are excited about the further product testing that will follow in q1/q2 2018.

    If you want to dig deeper into our user study download our study here as a PDF.


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