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  Surprising Consumer Product Usage in
China Leads to New Marketing Opportunities
for Foods Company
 
 
 
" We understood a lot about this market after the NuVista study.
We finally understood why our current positioning ideas were not working out because the consumer’s usage behavior was completely different than what we had in mind. A big learning
for us!”
 
 
 
Situation
An international food and beverage company was dissatisfied with its beverage sales in Asia. After many years in the market, our client was experiencing sales and share declines and increasing its reliance on price promotions. While ready-to-drink beverages were considered the competitive set, competition in the category was fierce and our client’s product line was unique because of its form.

Our client had a number of questions: Was there an opportunity to improve the product’s positioning? Were there adjacent categories where new volume could be sourced? What about carbonated beverages or dairy? How likely were several new products in the pipeline to succeed?
 
NuVista’s Approach
A highly customized design was needed to extract behavioral nuances in this country; a standard research approach with standard usage questions could not have revealed the insight required by our client.

Ethnographies were first conducted for users and non-users of our client’s products. Our researchers carefully observed how consumers used the products in their daily lives – how the products were purchased, how they were prepared and when and where they were consumed. These meticulous qualitative observations were then used to develop a transactional research conducted with 3,000 consumers who recorded their usage over an initial week and again during their repeat usage.

The data was then modeled using NuVista proprietary (patent pending) tools to identify relationships in the data and to quantify the markets across geographies. Results from our research could be described as groundbreaking for our client.
 
 
 
Key Findings
 
The initial hypotheses that the team had set up were rejected. Instead of competing with other cold, ready-to-drink beverages, consumers were using the client product to make a hot beverage. It was competing with teas and other hot beverages. Even in warm geographies the product was mostly being consumed hot or warm. This meant that its most important consumption day part was the afternoon tea occasion rather than afternoon replacement for ready-to-drink beverages.

These findings had fundamental implications for the product’s marketing and product development. From a positioning standpoint, these warm products were not considered “fun, frolicking and refreshing”. The findings also meant that new product development efforts focused on the ready-to-drink category and dairy section were not consistent with the way consumers had positioned the products through their usage over the years.

In addition to these groundbreaking insights, the power of NuVista’s models was in our ability to quantitatively determine the size and proximity of the market segments and competitors to these products and quantify the size of the categories. We were also able to accurately predict the market size of the new products under consideration.
 
Actions
In light of these findings, our client made several fundamental changes to their marketing efforts in the market.
Repositioned the brand.
A positioning around “aromatic” was much more relevant and motivating to consumers.
Completely changed new product development efforts.
Plans to enter the highly fragmented RTD beverage category were reduced. New product efforts instead focused on single serve pouches and tea bags that supported the consumer usage behavior.
Modified the packaging and advertising.
Packaging designs were changed to support the new positioning and usage insight. Ad themes focused on the winter consumption seasonality instead of summer.
 
 
Results
Two years after the implementation of recommendations from the NuVista study, our client has reversed declines of 18 to 20% and is now enjoying modest category growth.
 
 
 
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