Last week, we asked our Instagram community to send us their questions for Hana and Helen, our product development team. Questions about our processes, how we formulate products, how we bring the idea of a product to life, etc. Read all about it below!
how do you decide which products to bring to market?
Hana: We want to continue to grow cocokind, so we try to think about what our customers need from us in order to do that. What’s missing from our line? How can we fill in those gaps? From there, we dive into a ton of technical research. We also analyze the competitive landscape to try and figure out what’s already out there. What works for people and what doesn’t?
There’s also an element of learning to identify and forecast trends and figure out what’s on the rise and what hasn’t been tapped into at all. And of course, we research the efficacy and cleanliness of all of the ingredients we’re considering on the way.
At the end of the day, what we want to achieve is a benefit and conceptual story, but in a format that’s easy and intuitive to use, while also being different from what’s already out there; and we need to do all of this with accessibility in mind the entire time.
how do you find and test new ingredients?
Helen: We have access to industry-exclusive ingredient databases; we also work closely with a myriad of suppliers who connect us with new materials, which we get samples of so that we can actually play with formulas ourselves.
Any ingredient that we make a claim about has to have proof of that claim. Oftentimes, it already exists, if the material is well studied and has already had clinical in vivo or in vitro testing done on it. If an ingredient hasn’t been thoroughly tested and studied, we do it ourselves.
We do all of the research so that the customer doesn’t have to. We look into where our ingredients come from, from which part of what plant, from which country or origin, etc. We also do a lot of research into additives and incidentals, which other brands don’t always do or disclose to their customers.
what types of testing do you do on your products?
Helen: We test for safety, effectiveness, PET (preservative efficacy testing), stability, micro (testing for the presence of pathogens in the formula, making sure it hasn’t been contaminated with bad bacteria) and compatibility with the packaging. We’ve also started holding consumer testing panels, so that we can test products on a wide variety of skin types.
when and how do you decide a product is *done*?
Hana: We never fully close the door on any product - no product is 100% perfect and will work perfectly for every single person. We make the best product that we can, but after it’s released, we make sure to scan reviews, CX feedback, comments, etc. to find out what is or unfortunately isn’t working for our consumers.
Some product weaknesses indicate white space and the need for another product in our portfolio. For example, our community loved the turmeric stick but wished it wasn’t so visible on the skin, which led to us creating the turmeric tonic.
any thoughts on making your packaging *more* sustainable?
Helen: We’re always researching and evaluating virgin plastic alternatives, like Ocean Waste Plastic for example - this recycled material is made out of plastic taken straight out of the ocean.
We’re also always looking for ways to use less in general. We’re currently exploring making larger sizes of some of our products to cut back on waste there.
how many products are in the works at the moment?
Hana: Over a dozen!
how do you determine which ingredients are safe to combine?
Hana: At cocokind, we don’t use any ingredients that are unsafe, so there’s not a huge risk there. Also, when formulating a skincare product, you don’t know what other products the consumer in question is gonna use it with, so in general, we just use the safest ingredients possible.
Helen: It’s also all about use level. We make sure to limit the amounts of essential oils, acids, and the like that we use in our products, to decrease the risk of sensitivity or irritation.
what’s been the hardest product to make so far?
Hana: Our vitamin C serum was pretty difficult. It was tough to balance the pH, the type of vitamin C we were using, and our preservative system. Project Sip was also challenging because it was our first time developing something ingestible.
how long does it take to develop a product?
Helen: Depends on the type of product! The time between the research and inception stage to launch can be anywhere between 6 and 24 months. I’ve even worked at companies before where beauty products regularly took 3-4 years to formulate, which is wild.
are there any products you’ve decided not to move forward with? why?
Hana: There are a few! We toyed with the idea of sheet masks for a while, but anything single-use was hard for us to get on board with. At one point, we considered making tablets of our sea moss exfoliator, but we’d only move forward with it if its packaging wasn’t single use. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t a way to do that given the nature of the product and the likelihood of it being exposed to water.
do you add products to development based on the market?
Helen: Sometimes - innovations at the raw material level have prompted us to explore ingredients that we might never have paid attention to before.
are there any ingredients that you think are all hype and no substance?
Hana: Once again, it’s more about use level. If you’re using an ingredient that’s proven to be effective at a certain level, using it at that level will always be good. What we don’t agree with is just jumping on the bandwagon and using a buzzy ingredient at a negligible level, where it won’t even affect the skin.
we hope you found this helpful! any other questions for our PD team? drop em’ below!