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Happy New Year everyone! Continuing my series of posts showcasing our Community Panel of the Year finalists, I'm traveling back to North America for the remaining three success stories, starting with Allure. Due to the ongoing success of their community panel, it's not a big surprise that Allure was named a finalist in 2009 as well.

Similar to the IoD and Kimberly-Clark Australia, Allure's Beauty Enthusiasts community panel was one of the first of its kind, launched in 2007. In the past 5 years the community panel has evolved in many ways, even changed its branding to resonate more with members, but the original intent has remained the same: research is focused on the business/advertising side of Allure, not the editorial. The panel has enabled the Allure marketing intelligence team to get buy-in from many internal stakeholders as well as external partners in the beauty industry.

Beauty is a key interest area for many women and as such, it is a subject that generates a lot of opinions and comments. Since Allure's content is dedicated to beauty, readers are passionate about the topic and view the Allure Beauty Enthusiasts community panel as an ideal forum to share their feedback. Through the surveys they complete, members become the voice of the beauty consumer speaking directly to Allure and the beauty industry at large. Results are reported back monthly and one lucky member is chosen as the "Allure Beauty Enthusiast of the Month," complete with their photo and beauty tip appearing in the newsletter and on the member portal.

Jennifer Friedman Perez, Senior Director of Marketing Intelligence at Allure, has been working on the community panel since its inception in 2007 and refers to it as "the cornerstone of everything we do on the business side of Allure." By increasing awareness of the panel through sharing results internally and externally, Jennifer manages approximately 50 surveys a year to the Allure Beauty Enthusiasts.

What really makes the Allure Beauty Enthusiasts stand out and be selected as a Community Panel of the Year finalist is Jennifer and her team's commitment to making members feel valued through various interactive activities and creative ways of engagement. Members are frequently asked to upload photos and share their views in a more personal way, so while the community panel is larger than most (over 35K members), the experience is more tight-knit and exclusive for all the women taking part. The most popular activities are the product trials where members are sent a product (one that is usually not available on store shelves yet) to try out and complete surveys based on their opinions - those projects usually see 90% response rates and really go a long way in strengthening the commitment that members have to Allure's research efforts.

One of the reasons the Allure Beauty Enthusiasts community panel has thrived for almost 6 years is the Marketing Intelligence team treats each member as an individual and does what they can to make them feel special. This sounds simple but anyone who has managed a panel while juggling many hats in their role as well as many research projects all at once will agree that it takes dedication.

In my next post, I'll take a look at the Guitar Center, the biggest supplier of musical equipment in the world, and how they have evolved their My Music Nation community panel into what it is today.

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