For all its faults, social media does have one massive plus: It gives us unparalleled consumer control. Never before have we had this direct line to the decision makers at our favourite brands. And it's brands that aren't scared to embrace this new age of influence that are reaping the most rewards.
There are brands like membership service Beauty Pie, allowing fans to have their say on new formulas via Instagram comments, and companies like Glossier that crowdsource ideas from dedicated Facebook communities (while we're on the topic, you should join ours!). But there's a brand taking this consumer involvement to a whole new level: MDM Flow.
Having already nailed punchy lip products that suit all skin tones and a killer mascara, the brand realised now is the time to answer the recurring requests of its consumers to launch a base product.
Set to launch later this year, despite having the cosmetic scientist credentials, Adepoju wasn't willing to rest on her laurels to create a foundation she thinks we'll all love. She wants us to be a part of it. And that's why tomorrow, MDM Flow is launching a massive crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to not only build the funds to create this new wonder product but to also form the ideas, names and requirements to make sure its a success.
I got a sneak peek at the current formula and learned that there are some things that are already locked down. It will be called Flawless Base Foundation, it will feel like a serum and it will contain vitamin C, resveratrol, hyaluronic acid and creatine—but we'd have requested that anyway, right? But this is where you come in.
Of course, brands have crowdfunded their products in the past—Foreo raised money for its new mask device, UFO, on Kickstarter, and even Outrivals gym crowdfunded its new flagship gym in London's soho via Crowdcube. But we're pretty certain its the first time a brand has asked for consumer input in this way.
By investing varying levels of financial support, ranging from a fiver to £1000, you'll get your own little slice of the action. £15 will get you two bottles (when the foundation finally goes into production), whereas £200 will buy you and five of your friends the opportunity to make your own lipstick with Adepoju herself. I've tried this and it's incredible—believe me. And £1000 will bag you a lifetime supply of the finished foundation. Each of the rewards is outlined on the Indiegogo page here. And whatever you donate, Adepoju will be asking for your input—more on that later.
Intrigued to hear more about this innovative way to launch a product, I caught up with Adepoju to find out what it's all about.
Why have you chosen to crowdfund this product launch?
For the last five years, we have been selling MDMflow through retailers but also direct-to-consumer from our platforms. On the direct-to-consumer side, there has been such huge demand from customers to see us bring out new products and make updates and developments based on their feedback. But on the retail end, it is really difficult to make retailers commit to ordering volumes that enable us to bring new concepts to life. By crowdfunding, we give the power back to my customers. They are able to be as involved as they want to be in the process. Some of my customers just want to financially support and share the campaign, while others are deeply involved already in the development process and in bringing the product to light.
Why do you think it's important to put the power into consumers' hands?
It's important to do it because we finally can. The beauty industry has never been able to be so connected with customers, and it doesn't make sense to not take advantage of that. MDM Flow is a brand built on community. A customer can order something from my website and send me a DM giving their opinion when it arrives. I want to empower my customers to continue giving me their opinions so that I'm creating products people actually want and need.
The foundation is going to be pretty affordable, at only £10—what made you choose that price point?
Diversity is deeper than skin tone. An area of diversity that people don't really talk about is price point. So as well as creating a high-quality product, it is important to me to that my foundations are affordable.
So how much are you looking to raise all together?
We want to raise £60,000, as that the minimum viable amount needed to produce the foundation. But as the saying goes, the sky's the limit!
And so anyone that invests via the crowdfunding project will have a say in the final formulation, right?
Every single person who preorders through the crowdfund will be sent a sample kit to wherever they are in the world along with a follow-up form. I'm also hosting in-person focus groups and my next one will be next week with Black Ballad, a group of British black and mixed-race women, as they are the most underrepresented group when it comes to foundations. I am also running drop-in focus groups in collaboration with WAH London.
It's not a case of a random focus group [which many traditional brands host], as I will be getting insight from women who are invested in the success of the product. Customers will be asked to notify me of shades from the range that suit their complexion and where there are any gaps, I'll get back in the lab. So far I've selected 16 shades so there's room for at least four more. But depending on the success of the campaign, I'm open to producing as many shades as necessary.
And what about the shade names—I noticed supporters have the opportunity to name one. That's so amazing.
A lot of women wear foundation every single day. I felt that having a thoughtful and personal naming process is way more fun. I am so bored of the usual generic shade names that don't even consistently match up across brands.
If you want to invest in the foundation, see MDM Flow's Indiegogo fundraising page here—the campaign opens Friday 2 March.