Unilever launches co-creation online "community" for women.

Unilever is set to launch an online “collaboration community” in the UK to encourage women to contribute ideas for new products. At Mindbubble women between 25 and 50 years old are invited to collaborate and discuss new products and advertising in exchange for cash remuneration.

It’s cool that a big company like Unilever embraces a new innovation methodology. At the same time I wonder how different it will end up being from a traditional research panel.

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud all attempts to increase consumer engagement with brands. And I definitely believe blogs, forums, diaries and polls are powerful new digital tools to generate consumer insights.

But I wonder how many ordinary people will feel excited about being part of a “community” of women between 25 and 50. The 25 year clubber may have more in common with a 25 year old male counterpart than with a 50 year old fellow female. Anyway, my point is that behavioral targeting and self segmentation are more relevant these days, especially if you want to “engage” people to collaborate in a “community”.

My guess is that the biggest benefit of this panel will prove to be the generation of rich qualitative insights faster, cheaper and at a larger scale than previously possible. Still very useful.