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Proactiv Mobile Insights

How do acne sufferers find their solutions on their phones and how can Proactiv build trust with the mobile generation?


Proactiv products are sold online through a continuity program as well as one-offs in mall kiosks and

The mobile team pushed for a series of tests to determine the key target segments, barriers to purchase, and how the marketing messaging should be communicated.

The reason for the tests was to determine the effectiveness of Proactiv’s marketing campaigns across different mediums and if they should be holistic using the same content or have the brand’s interaction with their potential customers be reworked per screen.

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study.  The information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Proactiv Company.

Project Team

Mark Kusek — Creative Director
Mike Faivre — Design Director

Erik Bjarnason — UI/UX Designer
James Scariati — Front-end Developer


My role

For the scope of this project I worked collaboratively on research and user testing with the product manager. I also worked on the UI/UX design, execution guidelines and consumer segmentation.

Planning & Scope Definition

I worked with a product manager and a brand stakeholder. The project manager partner acted as a soundboard for ideas and an evangelist for the entire process.

We adopted a lean approach by bringing wires into a prototyping stage as needed.

Strategy, Vision, & Execution

I built out wireframes based upon the brainstorming session with the product manager. The Omnigraffle wires gave us a simple way to explain the overall vision and end goal to the stakeholders.

The product owner and I went from sketching and wires to prototyping then getting user feedback.

Trust, Goals, and Moving Forward

Establishing trust with our stakeholders was tantamount to the success of this project.

There were risks in performing traffic altering tests because the campaign was inconsistent between TV, online media, and larger viewports.

The Challenge

The overall goal with our mobile tests were to determine the differences between our users engagement with Proactiv content across various viewport sizes and the media they respond to on each device.

Main goals

Motivation to Purchase

The emerging retail culture is characterized by the extensive use of mobile technologies, high connectivity, ubiquitous computing and contactless technologies, which enable consumers to experience shopping differently.

We want to know how the prospective customer becomes a buyer using their phone and in what context.

Finding the Key Target Segments

Just like everyone having different acne treatment problems every consumer is different. Our goal here is to understand the various segments of the acne suffering community.

Who they are, what are their specific concerns, what is their age, income, and ethnicity and gender?

User Roles and Messaging

Acne treatment is expected to be individualized and Proactiv is becoming a holistic treatment system for a multitude of individual cases. With that in mind we need to determine not only who our customers and potential buyers are, we need to know how they interact with acne purchasing decisions, do they buy for themselves or others?

What emotional aspect affect purchasing and how do we tailor our messaging to those concerns?

Getting to Know You

To understand our current customers and potential buyers we dived into an exploratory discovery phase. We researched user needs, behaviors, pain-points, and segmented them based upon age, gender, income, ethnicity, and type of acne they suffer from. Our findings showed that users’ motivations and needs differed as well as their ability to trust Proactiv as their acne treatment source.

What We Found

Our personas consisted of five different groups of Proactiv potential customers and/or current users. These personas were used to facilitate discussions about each user’s needs and our desire to find a common ground amongst the four to create a marketing funnel that casts a focused but wide net.


We created wires for each test to communicate to stakeholders the ease of use, conversion paths, naming of links, navigation placement and as well as placement within the site architecture.

Test A

Test B

Test C


Our findings

  • From our findings we found that both long form and short form commercial and how-to videos do not translate for Proactiv’s userbase at the time.
  • Celebrity endorsements were met with skepticism.  Users did not believe that the celebrities featured suffered from acne or that they didn’t use the products at all.
  • The lack of ethnic diversity made a segment of our users assume Proactiv was not aimed at them.
  • Users did not believe the before and after photos – initially. “How can Proactiv eliminate the acne that was initially so severe?”
  • Regarding price drops and special offers. Customers didn’t believe the large drop in cost. “How can something worth $90 be sold for $20?”
  • We found that parents and their kids are both involved in the purchase decision but the kid makes the overall decision and the parent purchases for them.

Visuals and data

  • The mobile version of the site we reworked to be upfront regarding the cost of the basic Proactiv 3-Step Kit.
  • Before and after photos were placed front-and-center.  They contained real Proactiv users who had real results with the products.
  • The before and afters contained males and females of various ages and ethnicities.
  • Once a user moves into the product funnel each kit is shown clearly and if one is selected a doctor’s quote reinforces it’s qualities.
  • Each kit page expands to show the details and usage of each item in the kits.


It took us two months to get our tests out and results in. We were able to prove to the company stakeholders how our users perceive our marketing, especially on the phones, as well as how they purchase and what they are specifically looking for.

The good stuff

  • We increased traffic and engagement onto the site by 62%.
  • Users let us know that the before and afters felt far more believable and relatable.
  • We added to the overall quarterly sales cycle by 14%.

A learning experience

  • We found that small wins can have a big impact! Even though the tests are mobile-centric, the data gathered was holistic and affected many parts of the Proactiv brand and it’s perception.
  • We found that testing and planning is important but a clear and concise reason for the testing cycle is what will get buy-in form upper management.
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