After Jane Park left an executive position with Starbucks, she launched Julep, a collaborative beauty company. Julep models an interesting strategy of combining marketing with the customer experience resulting in stronger customer relationships. Reporting in Fast Company, Taffy Brodesser-Akner describes Park’s approach (“Minting Julep” February 20014, pp. 36–37):
“When she launched Julep, Park’s first move was to open a small chain of beauty parlors. These brick-and-mortar outposts—carefully designed to encourage social interaction via communal spaces with movable furniture—function as mini labs in which to test products on actual customers. Park trained facialists and vernisseurs . . . to listen closely to reactions and report back. Julep uses that info to tweak details such as colors, packaging, and scents.” (p. 37)
The customers feel as though they are operating more within the company rather than just coming to the company. This is a brilliant move by Park because when you invest in something, emotionally you become an owner. Who better to gain product insights from than your frontline customers? As Park summarizes the strategy:
“‘Product development and marketing are one step.’” (p. 37)
I have seen myriad situations in which company management was so far removed from what its frontline customers were experiencing. In those situations, everyone suffers. Park has ingeniously flip-flopped that dynamic to make it work for both her company and her customers. It seems to me this is a model that can teach some lessons to many other companies.