Alibaba is helping companies reduce their product development cycle using big data. Source: Shutterstock

Alibaba is helping companies reduce their product development cycle using big data. Source: Shutterstock

Alibaba helps Colgate, L’Oréal, P&G, and others innovate for China

MANY think of Alibaba as either an e-commerce giant or a technology company. However, new areas of business that the company is exploring pushes Alibaba into the research and development space.

According to local news sources, Alibaba is working with Colgate-Palmolive to help shorten the product development process using big data.

The collaboration enabled Colgate to launch a new bead-based toothpaste for men, in just six months, compared to the 18 months the company ordinarily takes to develop a product.

While the US-based personal care products company initially ran a few trial batches for sale in China via Alibaba’s Tmall, but the local bureau suggests that production has now been scaled up to meet interest and demand from the market.

Although this is reportedly the first time that Colgate-Palmolive has used big data to enhance and shorten its product development process, Alibaba has helped other companies such as L’Oréal and P&G.

With L’Oréal, Alibaba’s partnership dates back to 2010, with the brand making a debut on the e-commerce giant’s Tmall to meet demand from customers in China.

However, over the years, as the duo increased the scope of their partnership, Alibaba provided more support and services to the French luxury-personal care brand.

Recently, L’Oréal extended its partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Innovation Center for a pilot project involving male-grooming, enabling L’Oréal to activate data-based consumer insights to drive innovation in products, marketing, and retail.

While the Chinese giant’s involvement with Colgate-Palmolive is evolving and with L’Oréal is quite old and progressing quickly, its relationship with FMCG brand P&G has been quite unique.

Alibaba and P&G have an omnichannel partnership that covers several of the former’s businesses including Tmall Supermarket, LST, Tmall Global, Lazada, AliExpress, and Cainiao.

However, like Colgate-Palmolive, P&G too works with Alibaba to use big data to shorten the product development cycle and create exciting products that better appeal to the market.

P&G works with Alibaba’s Tmall Innovation Center to develop new products tailored to the Chinese market.

One of the products that resulted from the joint efforts of the two businesses is P&G’s fragrance shampoo series.

The product only took nine months to develop from concept to launch — less than half of the normal product-development cycle. In fact, product design was refined at an early stage using consumer insights and feedback, largely reducing market risk.