Guest Post: Competition Brings R&D Closer to the Customer

From Jennifer: I simply love it when companies in this industry do cool stuff and want to share. So when my friend Joel Van Kuiken over at Amway reached out and told me about a successful campaign they ran, I invited them to share it here. You all know I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our parties and product demos. So this really smart campaign that Amway ran was something I thought we all could learn from. There is so much we can learn from the sales force on the front lines of our businesses. Add some gamification elements, and you’ve got a campaign that’s exciting and trend-setting! Thanks to Amway for reaching out and being willing to share. What do you think of this campaign? Please share in the comments!

Competition Brings R&D Closer to the Customer

joel van kuiken_AmwayGuest Post by Joel Van Kuiken, APR

Something I’ve discovered is that in big companies, there’s often no clear path between R&D and the front lines. R&D experts are usually thinking months or years ahead, while people who deal with customers every day have more pressing needs. This gets compounded even further in global companies that also have to consider differences of culture and geography.

We’re no stranger to this phenomenon at Amway. It’s why we’re always looking for ways to help close this gap between R&D and the customer. And recently we came upon an idea to connect our global distributors, who represent our customers, directly to our R&D staff – literally and figuratively.

Our Home Care R&D team has evaluated hundreds of ideas and developed dozens of product demonstrations. They’ve learned throughout the years is that nothing beats a memorable product demo – the kind that makes customers smile, and nod. They demonstrate the efficacy of our products and, when done well, build credibility for the larger Amway family and brand.

While brainstorming new product demo ideas, our R&D team had an ‘ah-ha’ moment: Why not let distributors show us their best product demos?

amway legacy of clean bundle

Amway Home Legacy of Clean Bundle Products

R&D’s idea gained momentum and they partnered with Amway Home Care brand marketing, sales, and PR teams to launch a competition for distributors. The AMWAY HOME™ Demo Contest debuted in five European countries – Austria, Germany, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. We simply asked distributors to show us their most convincing product demonstrations, which were reviewed and judged by the Amway R&D team.

Our distributor sales force doesn’t lack for enthusiasm or creativity and R&D was quickly flooded with product demo ideas. We promoted the contest online, via email and in print. In 60 days, 234 video submissions were received. The entries were narrowed down to 50, and then to the final three, which best fit the criteria of relevance, simplicity and novelty.

The top three winners were flown to Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Michigan for a week of meetings, tours and a professional video shoot recreating their demonstration. They toured our Home Care product labs and met the scientists who judged the contest. This three-minute video tells the story and shows the collaboration and education that resulted from this effort:

(Can’t see this? Go to:

Overall, the videos shed new light on our Home Care products and demonstrations for Amway teams across the enterprise, including R&D, marketing, and sales.

We designed the contest as a model that could be expanded and hosted by a variety of Amway product groups and locations. The first effort was a test that exceeded expectation. Plans are already in the works to launch the Home Demo Contest globally in 2013.

joel van kuiken_AmwayIn his public relations role at Amway, Joel Van Kuiken supports the Nutrilite and Amway Home brands. Much of his work is focused on brand storytelling through social media.  When he can fit it into his busy home life and the time he spends with his wife and three kids, Joel likes to ride his bike, ski, and exercise as much as he can. He’s an avid fan of the Nutrilite story and the concept of Optimal Health. Joel studied English Literature at DePaul University and then spent time in China teaching English and gaining appreciation for cross-cultural communication issues and theory. He gained his M.S. in Communications from Grand Valley State University, and recently attained his APR in public relations. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to “Building Community Through Media” in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area. 

2 Responses to Guest Post: Competition Brings R&D Closer to the Customer
  1. Barbara Holm
    February 21, 2013 | 9:36 am

    somehow this morning the initials R and D are escaping me….thanks for the slow to wake up ones

    • Jennifer Fong
      February 21, 2013 | 1:15 pm

      Research and Development Barbara! 😉

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