Vienna, April 2008
Market Research in CEE
The Lesson Learned From the “Champagne Effect”
What makes consumers tick in the CEE region? Why must products for the Czech Republic, Turkey or Russia be designed differently? Andrea Mislik, head of the market research department at Henkel CEE, knows the answers.
Households continue to be dominated by women. Whether or not one agrees with this conservative role perception is beside the point. Advertising in the CEE region featuring a man washing dishes in the kitchen sink is not very appealing. Yet this claim is not completely correct. “Each of the 31
countries coordinated by Henkel CEE is different, has its own history, mentalities and differences in the markets which must be taken account of”, says Andrea Mislik. There is some degree of
standardization due to the globalization process, nevertheless these differences remain. It also goes without saying that Henkel can not manufacture separate products for each domestic market. The way to overcome this supposed uniformity dilemma is by setting up so-called country clusters. Accordingly, consumer needs within the Adriatic Region are similar, as they are in the conglomerate consisting of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and the Baltics. Russia and Turkey are each special cases. Mislik explains the differentiation by giving several examples. “In the more northern countries of Europe, fragrances are more subtle, and the colors of green and white symbolize the desired effect of freshness. In contrast, in Turkey people prefer heavier fragrances. In our Adriatic Region, consumers often associate the color blue with freshness, which reminds them of the sea”. However, the choice of people who appear in ads must be carefully considered.
Russian women want another Russian woman to make a recommendation on washing to them, whereas Hungarian women rely on the opinion of a seemingly Hungarian-born product presenter, also female. For this reason, the visual appearance and demeanor of people giving TV testimonials is painstakingly tested. Moreover, great importance must be attached to the optimal synchronization of the commercials, to ensure that lip movements perfectly correspond to the national language heard in the ad.
Henkel CEE, Corporate Communications Seite 1/3
In addition to such preferences, there are differences in the technical devices found in households, an even greater challenge to Henkel’s product developers. The percentage of automatic dishwashers, which can be found in 70 percent of Austrian households, only reaches a level of 25 percent in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, and one percent in Romania or Russia. The share of Western-type washing machines owned by households also declines the farther east one travels. And there are fewer toilets suited to the use of hygienic products such as Blue Star in Romania, Turkey or Russia than in countries directly bordering on Austria. The next crucial point affects marketing, sales and our market research work. Low household income serves as a purchase barrier for some premium products. In this case, Andreas Mislik and her team must know what to really make of the “champagne
effect”. In surveys, consumers often declare their preference for top brands but later actually buy less expensive alternatives. “After a glance in one’s pocketbook, a consumer may then choose Rex instead of Persil”, Mislik adds. The responsibility and the art of Henkel’s market researchers involve correctly interpreting this market research data and submitting recommendations (such as: “How can one evaluate the disposition to buy voiced by 70 percent of Romanians, and what about the figure of 37 percent for the Czech Republic?). Decades of expertise which nothing can make up for provide the optimal basis to master these challenges.
In 2007, Henkel carried out approximately 370 market research studies for all three business areas within the CEE region. The surveys were almost completely carried out orally, more or less on a face to face basis. Telephone polls or online panels are not a key issue in CEE. Interviews take place in rented studios or in the interviewer’s residence. Visits are also paid to people’s own homes, which provide increasingly important “consumer insights”, i.e. a closer look into the inner workings of consumers. Recently, our market research organized about 120 such visits, which naturally also aimed at generating new product ideas derived from the long discussions on major problems. Furthermore, such surveys are also a means for marketing experts to stay in touch with the customer base, frequently linked to sudden experiences of understanding on our part known as the “wow” effect.
For example, such consumer insights “tipped off” Henkel about the Russian propensity for using soda as a household aid for washing purposes. As a result, soda was soon integrated as an ingredient used in the Rex detergent brand or in Pur dishwashing liquid. And now, the fact that the new Persil Gold successfully removes stubborn stains, in particular caused by hair colorants and rust, can ultimately be attributed to a series of household visits and comprehensive market research studies. Henkel Central Eastern Europe (Henkel CEE) with its headquarters in Vienna coordinates the company's business operations in 32 countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Central Asia. Henkel CEE is a top provider of detergents, cleaners and cosmetics products. It is also market leader for hair cosmetics and adhesives as well as in the surface treatment segment. In the year 2007, Henkel CEE employed a work force of over 10,000 people, posting revenues of 2.214 billion Euro. Henkel products have been available in Austria for more than 120 years. The company has been manufacturing at its business location in Vienna since 1927.