Ayton Global Research has had to take immediate measures to protect its clients and volunteers from exposure to Covid-19. The launch of a new SKU is highly dependent upon the validity of advertising claims and advertising space is often booked up months in advance of a development and often costs millions of dollars.
Let’s make no mistake about it, cancelling the launch of an SKU or entire range of cosmetics is both costly and risky. Therefore the companies that supply the necessary independent research must be highly robust in terms of business continuity during a raised threat of an epidemic or pandemic disease.
Ayton Global Research is one such company which physically handles prototypes and formulations made by NPD and R&D facilities all over the world.
Where the movement of prototypes goes from laboratory to research facility and into homes via a courier and then all the way back again in the other direction, there is a considerable risk of cross contamination that may weave its way all across the globe if a sample is contaminated.
AGR often receives samples from multiple countries and distributes them to up to 35 other countries.
Susan Ayton explains “In any one week at AGR, samples may enter our facility from Europe, be re-packed and sent to individual homes in China, Italy or South Korea and then get sent back to us after use.
"The samples may have been coughed upon, handled manually and had fingers poked in them before coming back to our facility at the end of the study period. Although we have always had strict hygiene procedures we have now created a quarantine area and a new set of staff procedures, in order to eliminate the risk of cross contamination as far as is humanly possible.
"We retain the samples for a set period of time and then release them in accordance with the latest advice. We always review general advice from the British Government, ACAS, industry lead bodies and the NHS in order to continue to maintain our Minimum Service Level Agreement."
She continues to add that "Ayton Global Research processed around 50,000 individual brand new SKU’s in 2019 and has a 20% uplift in orders from all round the world and expects to see all sorts of disruptions to the NPD process that may not even reach broadcast.
"Disruption to the supply of raw ingredients, the movement of Formulation Chemists from country to country, the cancellation of major events in the cosmetics calendar, including In-Cosmetics and Cosmoprof, all have an effect on the usual high speed of NPD and the growth of the cosmetics and personal care sector.
"It’s likely that we will see bottlenecks of incoming orders followed by influxes. We have introduced some remote workers to our team and they are currently being trained as International Study Managers and will create the necessary elasticity for peaks and troughs in demand.
"I’m very proud of our team and the way in which they have embraced the change; without panic and with the necessary pragmatism that this situation requires.”
Susan estimates that the cost to her customers will be a slight delay in printing packaging, publishing digital media and signing the deals that they are eager to achieve in the retail sector.
Ayton System Software has real-time statistical analysis which will predict, to a given level of confidence, the likely outcome of reports once a study has received a certain number of responses and this will mitigate against any unnecessary delays.
Susan continues, “The minute we heard about the outbreak of the virus in China we knew we had to act swiftly. Almost all of our clients are huge well-known international household names, and their trade spans many countries.
"We immediately put a think-tank together involving our entire Management Team, three of which were abroad in the Czech Republic at the time. They were immediately put into self-isolation and worked from home.
"Nearly 400,000 scheduled international passengers travelled through Bristol International Airport in January alone so, as far-fetched as it may seem, this was our staff’s incoming airport and was a sensible measure to take.
"It’s just as easy for our Team to work at home as it is to come into the office and the majority of our team are now working from home. In fact this recent outbreak could be a great way of assessing our ability to cut down on carbon emissions in the long-term too!”
Ayton Global Research has been releasing a weekly webinar series which includes advice for businesses with regards to COVID-19.
Follow their LinkedIn for updates and to find recording of previous webinars https://www.linkedin.com/company/ayton-global-research-ltd/.