The market research enables these huge companies that are operating extensively in several countries, meeting the needs of diverse customers and enjoying the reputation of producing high-quality products to cater to the needs of individuals. Understanding the internal technical feasibility of the firm is important combined with the market needs and wants. By through market research, NIVEA developed a product which is different from those of that of the competitors. It had a unique point that differentiated it from others, enabling it to add an essence in the product that other firms missed.
Relationship Between Consumer Insights and Product Concepts
The end users of any product are the consumers of that product who pay a price and fulfill their needs and wants by purchasing the product. These consumers may be the final consumers who buy shoes and handbags for themselves or they maybe the indirect consumers who purchase raw materials to be used in the production of the final product. In either case it is the consumers using the product.
So for a product from its initial design to its delivery, the entire process is customer oriented i. e. it is based on the consumer insights. Till the consumer insights are not highlighted the product concept cannot be developed. Once the consumer insights were found through market research, product concept was developed. The product concepts were initially just random thoughts that were a result of brain storming. The latter steps that followed including product concept screening and refinement were based on the consumer insights. Without the consumer insights, no company can set criteria against which concepts can be measured.
In the case of NIVEA, consumer’s insight was first identified. There was a need for a female beautifying, caring deodorant. Decisions on the following factors were taken on this consumer insight: The entire product concept was based on what the consumers were willing to buy. Even when the product testing was done it was done on actual customers to see if it met the expectations of consumers. Decisions taken on the above factors were taken by keeping in mind the target market and their needs.
Had the consumers identified different needs, NIVEA would not have developed such a product concept. Qualitative research focuses on words, observations and not on numbers like quantitative research. It takes into account stories, visual portrayals, interpretations and other such expressive descriptions. Secondary Research is an economical and quick source of information. Hardly any research is conducted without first going through the secondary research. This is data at hand-collected for some other purpose than the current project.
Market potential is mostly estimated with secondary data. This way not only time but also money was saved. Many of the steps associated with primary data are eliminated by using secondary data. In the case of NIVEA two got the flowing information from secondary data:
A consumer Usage and Attitude study. This was conducted a few years back in UK France and USA
An external study by Fragrance Houses which highlighted the importance of fragrance and smell to the mood and well being of consumers.
Electronic Point of Sale and Consumer Panel Data
This was made use of to monitor the effectiveness of the product as it passed through the Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline stages of its life cycle. However, some of the data collected from secondary research may be out dated, biased and therefore unreliable. There may be variation in the usage of terms and units of measurement. There is no particular way to check the accuracy of information. Also there were other issues that needed clarification and so NIVEA went ahead with other techniques of research such as focus groups that come under primary research.
Primary Data Analysis
Pilot Studies A pilot study is used to generate primary data and it is usually for qualitative data. The primary data is collected from employees, consumers like in the case of NIVEA. Focus group is one of the techniques used by NIVEA. Focus Group Interview A focus group was conducted by NIVEA. It is an unstructured, free-flowing interview with a small group of people. Since it follows an unstructured pattern it tends to be flexible and encourages discussion. Focus Groups are an effective way of conducting research.
They are brief, easy to execute, inexpensive and can be easily analyzed. Consumers feel comfortable participating in discussions. Focus Group was used by NIVEA for concept screening and refinement. Concepts are modified and refined and retested till the team felt that the concept is acceptable. Focus group enabled NIVEA to benefit from synergy which results from the combined effort of the team that produces a wider range of information and ideas. It has a snowballing effect as it triggered a chain of responses from the team members and the customers.
Customers respond spontaneously and feel more secure and do not feel obliged to defend or elaborate an idea. Group compositions in focus group mostly range between six to ten people. Too large a group may not permit participation by each individual. The environmental conditions can be such to encourage healthy discussion. The presence of a moderator ensures that the topic is well understood by all. Also points that are not clear can be easily clarified as topics can reopened. A good rapport between the group members and the moderator promote interaction.
Although it has not been stated in the case study but it can be assumed that the moderator of the group discussion had a discussion guide ready with the outline of the topics to be discussed. This way things more are organized and it can be made sure that nothing is left out. The following were some of the findings from the primary research:
Women looked after their underarms all seasons
Women cared more about their underarms than it was thought
Women desired neat underarms as they added a touch of sensuality and femininity.
The deodorant available in the market just focused on the functional features.
The competitors did not provide any deodorant that focused on the beautifying attribute.
The qualitative did not end there. It was continued to check whether the advertisements correctly conveyed the message to the target audience. Pictures and story boards of how the ads would look were shown to the consumers to see their responds to them and which advertisement had the following factors:
Stood out and was exciting
Relevant to the consumers
Communicate the right things about the product
Persuasive enough to motivate consumers to buy the product
Consumers were tracked to check whether they use the product or have switched to a substitute brand. I feel that the qualitative research was very helpful in revealing the unexplored market of deodorant. NIVEA did not develop a product like the other competitors but provided the consumers with a unique product.
Cooper, Robert G. (2001) Winning at New Products - Accelerating the Process from Idea to Launch, Third Edition, Product Development Institute, 2001.
Crawford, M. (1977) Marketing research and the new product failure rate, Journal of Marketing, vol 41, April 1977, pp 51-61.