Make the Most of Mistakes.
When Lush introduced its bubble-bath bar Solid Gold Bath, it came in loaf form on large bread racks. But customers had to wait for an employee to pull a loaf down and cut a slice, depressing sales. Lush repackaged the product in the shape of sausages — complete with little lips at the ends — and stacked them in crates, making it easy to grab one. Sales of the bar improved dramatically. "We reserve the right to make mistakes," says Constantine. "I believe that's a great privilege."
Drink In Customer Feedback.
Lush's online company forums are home to tens of thousands of company fanatics, called Lushies, who speak their minds when designers change something they love. "You don't have to wait until the next focus meeting; I can ask them a question, and they'll respond immediately," Constantine says. "We're far more challenged by our customers than we ever are by our competitors."
Look Outside the Company.
Lush gets inspiration from local businesses (shaping products like bread, or stacks of fruit). Many products start merely as words suggested by customers (on the chalkboard in the lab: "smitten," "whoosh," "aurora," "flitter") and they inspire products to match.
A version of this article appeared in the July 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.