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Author's profile photo Mark Osborn

Sunscreen Meets Brand Promise in the New Digital Economy

This week I’ve had the great pleasure of attending the annual CGT Business & Technology Leadership Conference and, yesterday, I had the opportunity to see a fascinating presentation from Asif Khan, Founder & President of the Location-Based Marketing Association, or LBMA. 

In his presentation, Asif’s asserted that, today, 85% of all data has a location element included, that location is the only piece of data that allows us to track people across devices and media types and that, as a result, location-based marketing is the intersection of people, places and media (not just mobile).

Asif offered one great example from the skincare and sunscreen company Nivea.  Focusing on where consumers used the company’s sunscreen products, it imagined scenarios to extend the brand experience across media types for mothers that take their children to the beach.  Nivea has already established a strong brand position as a product that protects children from the sun and sunburn, but they wanted to identify other opportunities they could address by extending the Nivea brand promise.

To that end, the company printed ads in a variety of women’s magazines on humidity-resistant paper. Included in the ad is a tear-out bracelet with an embedded sensor that, when activated and paired with the mother’s smartphone, can then be worn by a child.  Through the process of pairing the sensor-enabled bracelet with her phone, the mother can determine the distance she feels the child can safely wander away from her while playing on the beach. 

Then, while wearing the bracelet, if the child wanders beyond the distance allowed, the sensor triggers an alert delivered to the mother on her phone.  The child’s mother can then use the app’s interface to locate the child, visually monitoring distance from the sensor as she approaches the child’s location.

I’m speculating, but I would imagine the incremental cost was likely minimal to change the paper type, include a cutout pattern and embed a sensor into the printed ad, as well as develop the app for the consumer to register the bracelet and pair the sensor to the consumer’s phone.  But the subtle way the outcome delivered transforms the Nivea brand promise from “help me protect my child from sunburn” to, “help me protect my child” is profound. 

And, by moving from a product the consumer buys and uses to a product combined with a service that together delivers an outcome, that transformation of brand promise establishes a basis for entirely new levels of consumer engagement for Nivea that would have been previously impossible.

Here’s a link to a video Nivea produced showcasing how the bracelet works.  To be sure, this is a highly innovative example of location based marketing across media types.  But, more than that, it’s also another great example of how a consumer products company is leveraging digital to transform to a consumer outcomes company and, in the process, fundamentally transforming and dramatically expanding consumers’ perceptions of brand value and brand promise. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.  We’d love to hear from you.

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