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March 26, 2019

Procter & Gamble-Nara Logics partnership leads to breakthrough for Olay Skincare

Daniel de Wolff

Jana Eggers
Nara Logics

When Procter & Gamble (P&G) wanted to innovate in a crowded market, they turned to a nimble tech startup in the MIT ecosystem: Nara Logics. The result was an Edison Award for Innovation and a Constellation Group Supernova Award for Digital Transformation. The collaboration also led to a doubling of Olay’s ecommerce conversion rates, and gave the brand a platform to engage millennial consumers. Importantly, it helped reduce a key pain point for skincare shoppers—confusion at the shelf—by helping them choose products tailored to their individual needs.

In 2015, P&G was seeking fresh ways to develop its latest product in a skincare market dominated by increasingly tech-savvy customers expecting ever-greater levels of personalization in their shopping experiences.

“We went looking for the best and the brightest,” says Damon Frost, P&G Beauty Chief Information Officer (CIO). “We needed a team capable of truly complementing Olay Skin Advisor with a state-of-the-art recommendation engine.” The decision to engage the services of Nara Logics would prove fortuitous in P&G’s quest to harness the potential of data-driven marketing powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence.

“You’ve probably heard that AI is a black box,” says Nara Logics CEO Jana Eggers. “Well, ours isn’t. This is one cutting-edge aspect of our technology.” Eggers refers to this as providing “The Why’s” or the reasons behind the recommendations. Nara Logics’ Synaptic Intelligence Platform, inspired by recent research in biological neural networks, quickly merges disparate, siloed data to provide recommendations for decisions that are easy to understand for enterprise and consumer alike.

In fact, this ability to provide “The Why’s” was noted time and again by P&G customers during the pre-launch testing phase as an essential aspect to their appreciation for Olay Skin Advisor. On the strength of a 90 percent approval rate for recommendations and products, it was no surprise that P&G moved from proof of concept to a worldwide launch in such a short period of time.

“P&G is really well known for their consumer testing, so to have them validate our platform’s ability to provide hyper-personalization, and then see such a successful global rollout—that’s big for us,” says Eggers. To date, Olay Skin Advisor is available in countries throughout Asia, Europe, and North America and has amassed over 5 million visits from women around the world.

While Nara Logics’ AI platform is supporting Olay Skin Advisor around the world, Eggers insists that maintaining offices in Cambridge, MA and being members of the MIT innovation ecosystem is an important aspect of how Nara Logics operates. “We’re proud to be affiliated with MIT Startup Exchange and the MIT innovation community in general. Our exposure to Fortune 500 companies through the Startup Exchange has been extremely beneficial.”

“If you’re invited to be one of the companies that gives a presentation to industry members of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program [ILP], it’s always a relevant conversation. ILP programs and events are high quality and productive for us,” says Eggers.

For their part, ILP member P&G sought out a recommendation engine and emerged with a groundbreaking partnership. “After a global search to identify a company leading in their field and a perfect match for this project, it’s no surprise that we wound up partnering with a startup in the MIT innovation pipeline,” says Kevin McCarthy, P&G Associate Director, Global Business Development/Startup Innovation.

Now that P&G and Nara Logics have teamed up to bring the world the first successful application of AI to skincare personalization, they’re expanding on their partnership, initiating new innovation projects together, which means that other personalization platforms like Olay Labs and Gillette’s Shave Advisor are benefitting from the Nara Logics platform.

About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.