LONDON: Axe/Lynx, the personal care brand owned by Unilever, is relying on its consumers for the new identity of its next variant launch in 2010. "It will be the first product to be co-created by young people who can truly say 'that was my idea'," Andrew Needham from research agency Face told a youth research conference last week.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Market Research Society – a report from which can be accessed by WARC subscribers here – Needham discussed how the "co-creation" process worked.

A group of 16 young people – selected from Face's "Headbox" online research community – have devised five possible names for the new fragrance, as well as can designs, press ads, digital solutions and activation plans.

The eight-week process began with a three-day workshop in Spain and culminated with final presentations to senior Unilever executives in London.

The sustained success of Axe/Lynx has been underpinned by new launches most years. 2008 saw the release of the chocolate-scented "Dark Temptation", which went on to become the brand's fastest-selling new variant.

The boldly creative "Chocolate Man" launch ad was validated by members of Headbox, but next year's variant will be the first time the brand has adopted co-creation to this extent.

The move reflects fundamental changes in the way young people are interacting with each other and with brands.

"Youth self-expression is about tribal fusions and mash-up culture," Dougal Dunn, managing director of research agency Tuned In, told the conference. 

"Brands still play an important role in self expression, but it's changing and it's physical as well as virtual brand consumption that plays a role."

Data sourced from WARC Online