Innovating for good with UNICEF UK

Learn how UNICEF UK relied on consumer insights to innovate for good with the help of Zappi's Concept Test solution to quickly pivot and launch a successful product during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key outcomes

  • Moving faster than the competition

    With the help of fast and reliable consumer insights, they moved from ideation to in-market launch in just 8 months to capitalize on a time-sensitive opportunity.

  • Finding the winning idea

    Rich consumer insights delivered at speed gave the team the opportunity to select the most promising concepts and optimize based on consumer reactions to hone in on the one that had the most potential for success.

  • Subscriptions for a cause

    Sold enough subscriptions in less than 3 months to pay for PPE for 1,161 health workers, 225,000 bars of soap, 105,000 measles vaccines or clothe 1,714 babies in the winter during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Growing subscriptions to support a great cause

Coming off the successful launch of Paddington’s Postcards (a monthly gift box service that teaches children about the world), UNICEF was looking to develop another monthly subscription product. There were a few drivers of this opportunity: 

  • Subscriptions are growing globally, not just for charities but across many sectors

  • Supporters of charities expect some form of value exchange for their donation 

Differentiation is critical as charities are now competing not just with each other, but with the many businesses that make giving back part of their purpose


Moving fast to help parents in a pandemic

Following an internal ideation challenge, the teams narrowed their ideas down from over 60 concepts to a top four. 

UNICEF was about to embark on concept testing using traditional face-to-face research methods to select the winning concept —  but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit

Demand immediately increased for Paddington’s Postcards as parents were looking to keep kids entertained in lockdown. The race was on to launch another subscription product to capitalize on this unexpected opportunity sooner than originally planned. The team needed a new way to gather consumer feedback and validate ideas — a way that was fast and reliable.


Using data to illuminate the best path forward

Two of the four ideas had to be eliminated as they were no longer appropriate in a pandemic. That left two concepts remaining: 

  1. A sports subscription box full of activities that could be done at home, in the garden or in the park

  2. A bedtime box with stories and activities to help make bedtime easier and more fun

PJ Masks, a children’s cartoon, had already been selected as a partner for the bedtime concept — but UNICEF did not yet have a brand partner for the sports subscription product. Since popular brands drive increases in survey scores, they were worried the bedtime concept would score higher based solely on the partnership. 


Choosing the right concepts

For the best comparisons and benchmarking, they settled on the following concepts to test: 

  • Unbranded sports box

  • Unbranded bedtime box (for a fair comparison with the unbranded sports box) 

  • Branded PJ Masks bedtime box

  • Paddington’s Postcards box (for benchmarking)

UNICEF used Zappi's Concept Test solution to get its concepts in front of 1,250 parents remotely, with each seeing only one of the concepts. 

All of the ideas tested well, but the analysis indicated that the PJ Masks branded “Bedtime Heroes” subscription was a clear winner — even beating out the successful Paddington’s Postcards box on several metrics such as appeal, behavior change and relevance.


Getting the data that matters

Zappi's Concept Test solution also provided additional data to help the team build out the product. 

Verbatims, automatically grouped into themes on the Zappi platform, gave the team more color around what people liked in the concept. And a heat map showed what aspects of the concept were most appealing so the team could make sure those elements were present in the final product.

They discovered that the UNICEF and PJ Masks brands were a big draw, so both needed to be prominently displayed in the final subscription box. 

The aspects of “fun,” “reading together” and “routines” in the concept were all particularly appealing to parents as well so they wanted to make sure those elements were highlighted. 


The concept that made a difference

UNICEF went on to develop and pilot the “Bedtime Heroes” concept and it was launched in October 2020. The team was pleased with the results, and sign-ups by the end of the year had raised enough to pay for one of the following:

  • 225,000 bars of soap

  • PPE for 1,161 health workers

  • 105,000 measles vaccines

  • Winter clothing for 1,714 babies


The power of platform research

While historically the UNICEF UK team would spend a lot of time facilitating in-person research, they learned through this process that research and product development could be done remotely — and quickly

Going forward, they plan to test future concepts with Zappi now that they’ve begun building a database of concept tests to compare against. 

The Zappi difference

  • Reliable results at speed

    Our agile methods mean we can turn around testing in days, or even hours, instead of weeks. This allowed UNICEF to test their innovation concepts quickly and cost effectively to create a product people love, during a time-sensitive window.

  • In-depth analysis

    We helped UNICEF to look beneath the top level of results, digging into the data to find the metrics that mattered, to pull apart concepts that appeared to have tested equally well, and find the clear winner.

  • Benchmarking for the win

    It can be hard to make sense of data without a benchmark. Zappi's Concept Test solution has a norms database of over 6,000 tests to provide the context they need. Or in this case, also compare with their existing Paddington product for a more meaningful comparison.