A careful market segmentation is critical to successfully selling products; you need to understand what makes different consumers tick and how best to reach them. Skincare giant Nivea conducted an impressive market research campaign that can be modeled by other firms.
First, a little background: Beiersdorf is an international skincare company with leading brands such as Nivea and Eucerin. They have expanded significantly in the UK market through effective segmentation that matches consumer needs. The company has become the value leader in the field, meaning people spend more on Nivea sun protection products than any other brand.
One important product line for Nivea is sun-related skincare products, worth upwards of £173.6 million in the United Kingdom alone. Nivea’s reputation in this broad segment is bolstered by robust scientific research and development focused on providing the best protection possible from the sun’s skin-damaging rays.
The key was to further segment the sun protection products market by two important factors: Skin type and the climate where the products are used. Skin types include very light, fair, normal, dark and children (who tend to have thinner, lesser developed skin) while the climates include moderate, hot and very hot. The level of protection is measured by SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor. The lighter the skin and the higher the temperature, the higher the SPF that is needed. SPF 20 may be adequate protection for a fair-skinned person in the UK, but SPF 40 might be recommended for the same person if they were in a more tropical environment.
The company’s market research revealed significant demographic differences between men (who go for convenience), women (who gravitate towards more luxurious products) and children (a market reached through adult parents, mostly mothers). Through the use of surveys and focus groups, Nivea was able to determine the attitudinal differences between distinct segments of consumers.
They discovered concerned consumers who were not at all concerned about getting a tan but instead were more focused on protection from sun damage. Sun avoiders don’t buy these products at all because they avoid high-exposure situations, although with education they may be convinced of the need for sun protection product purchases. Conscientious sun lovers love being out in the sun but are concerned about protection. Careless tanners, on the other hand, don’t worry about the sun at all and buy low-SPF products if they buy any at all. Finally, the naïve beauty conscious people are the ones who want to have a good tan but don’t adequately understand the relation between SPF and protection.
Nivea used this research to develop their unique brand positioning that includes making sun care as simple as possible, providing education about the importance of protection and finding ways to reinforce that protection message. One product innovation that came from this research was a product that offered full and instant protection from both UVA and UVB sunrays because many consumers fail to apply such products in the necessary timeframe for effectiveness (20-30 minutes before exposure). Other product innovations have included sprays that are easy to apply, colorful products for children and water-resistant products for both children and adults. Advertising for children’s products targets the mothers of children with a protection message.
Interested researchers can get an important insight from the Nivea case study: a sophisticated market segmentation strategy goes beyond simple demographics. Through targeted research, firms develop an understanding of customer segments that takes buying habits and motivations into account. Using this segmentation, product development and messaging both become more effective and sales and revenue increase.