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Last week I started a series of posts showcasing our Community Panel of the Year finalists with our European winner, the UK's Institute of Directors Policy Voice panel. For this week, I'm going to shift my focus to another part of the globe and showcase our Australasian winner, Kimberly-Clark Australia and their Huggies Online Panel.

Like the IoD, Kimberly-Clark Australia is also a pioneer in the community panel space. In 2010, they set up one panel that was split into four separate brands - a very cost-effective solution for them. Their largest segment, and the panel that they have been recognized for this year, is their Huggies Online Panel, made up of over 3,000 mothers with babies.

Kimberly-Clark Australia knows all about having heart - spend a few minutes on the Huggies website and you'll see how much they care about mothers; providing them with helpful information on pregnancy, activities for kids, even a baby names database. The Huggies Online Panel is an extension of their  "Baby Club" community and carries through the special treatment of members into their research.

Alla Nock is Market Research & Analytics Manager with Kimberly-Clark Australia, and has been working on the Huggies Online Panel since its inception. Their primary reason for starting a community panel was to connect with their Baby Club mothers and learn more about what they like and don't like, to help Kimberly-Clark Australia move ahead with new products and consumer promotions.

The Baby Club already attracts 40% of Australian Mums, so recruitment to the Community Panel hasn't been difficult, and as long as they continue to engage their members with short, frequent surveys, they continue to enjoy high response rates going into their third year.

The consumer is at the heart of everything Kimberly-Clark does for the Huggies Brand. The "HOP Mums" as they are affectionately referred to by the marketing team, are responsible for choosing designs for Limited Edition Nappies (diapers) and providing valuable feedback on products for newborns. In the past, research with mothers of newborns has been very difficult and expensive, but now Kimberly-Clark Australia can conduct multiple studies a month and get insights delivered overnight.

And because the "HOP Mums" are such trusted advisors, they are also asked for feedback on consumer promotions - what prizes do they find appealing? Kimberly-Clark Australia then uses that feedback to decide what prizes to give away. These research activities not only help the business, but they are rewarding to members too. The "HOP Mums" are sent regular newsletters that update them on results from surveys they have participated in, as well as interesting information about the community itself, such as members' top 3 New Year's resolutions and sharing experiences with their babies' sleep patterns.

Their membership has written in with comments about enjoying the short, easy to complete surveys when they are on the go. With average response rates of around 46%, the Huggies Online Panel has proven to be cost effective and very valuable to the business.

From what I learned about the Huggies Online Panel, and the ongoing strategy that Alla and Kimberly-Clark Australia have put together, I definitely believe the consumer is helping to shape the future of both the panel experience and the brand evolution overall.

In my next post, I'll travel back to North America and showcase another community panel pioneer - Allure Magazine. Like Kimberly-Clark Australia, Allure has built a strong community of members that are very passionate and like sharing their opinions, because they know they are being heard and appreciated. I'll share some examples of how they have done this in my next post.

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