China’s Tmall online shopping service has struck a partnership with ten international market research companies, as Alibaba extends its offering yet again in a fiercely competitive e-commerce market.

Tmall Innovation Center (TMIC) has linked up with the likes of Nielsen, Ipsos, Kantar TNS, GFK, Euromonitor International and AdMaster to analyse its rich stream of shopper data and inform new product development for partner brands.

“Product development is critical for the consumer goods sector, where the success of a new product can mean a greater win for the respective brand or category,” said Liu Bo, president of Tmall Marketing and Operations.

“For most leaders in the field, when it comes to their annual strategic product launches, failure is not an option,” he added. “They need to hit targets.” The TMIC team aims to help with that by generating precisely targeted market awareness, he explained.

The TMIC launched in 2017, and 81 companies, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Mars, Mattel, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal and Samsung, have partnered with it on innovation projects specifically for the Chinese market.

One example of the results: a Snickers chilli-flavoured variant, to satisfy Chinese consumers’ appetite for spice.

The thinking behind the latest development is that specialist analytics by the research companies will deliver more finely tuned consumer insights early on, so reducing the time and cost involved in developing and launching new products.

The main e-commerce players – Alibaba, and Tencent’s WeChat stores – are engaged in a constant battle to win consumer loyalty, whether that’s through ever-faster delivery, more friendly drivers, or – in this case – more innovative products.

Connie Tao, director of consumer and market intelligence at L’Oréal China, said timely and rich consumer insights could go beyond informing new product development.

Based on TMIC research, the beauty specialist recently distributed close to a million samples to potential customers online and offline, as it rolled out Tmall’s scan-to-pay sample vending machines at university campuses and shopping centres across China.

“We hope our collaboration with TMIC goes beyond incubating new products together, but also to drive innovation for our brands in both product marketing and new retail experiences,” Tao said.

Sourced from Alizila; additional content by WARC staff