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Innovation Award 2020: Award-winning cooperation goes beyond brands

What makes people buy a certain product? Understanding consumers and their decisions is one of the biggest challenges for companies. Florian Renz, Lasse Wolfarth and their teams have now taken the analysis of the customer journey to a new level and for that reason won the German Innovationspreis (Innovation Award) 2020 for market research. In this interview they are describing their new approach “ConPat Journey” and they are explaining why this project would never have been realised without the full trust of superiors, flexible structures and teamwork.

Florian Renz, Head of Consumer & Market Intelligence Eucerin Germany and Lasse Wolfarth, Market Research Specialist Health Care
Florian Renz, Head of Consumer & Market Intelligence Eucerin Germany and Lasse Wolfarth, Market Research Specialist Health Care

Beiersdorf, together with EARSandEYES, recently won the Innovationspreis for market research with the so-called “ConPat Journey”. Can you explain the concept behind it to us?

Florian: Sure! But let me start by explaining the original challenge: Before consumers make a purchase decision, they often get in contact with the brand or product many times before. The consideration of all these touchpoints is called customer journey. Analysing this journey helps us to understand patterns and motives of the consumer’s behavior. This in turn enables us to align our communication measures with their individual decision-making processes. This is particularly important in budget planning because obviously we want to invest efficiently. But that is easier said than done. I work for Eucerin, which in Germany is only available in pharmacies. The recommendations of dermatologists or pharmacists are important touchpoints for our consumers. However, since this does not apply to the mass market these factors are usually not considered in classic analysis concepts. At Eucerin, we agreed that the existing approaches were simply not sufficient to adequately understand our consumers behavior. We therefore teamed up with EARSandEYES and created our own solution.

And the ConPat Journey offers this solution?

Lasse: Exactly! Because this approach considers not only the consumer’s perspective, but also their role as a patient. That’s where the name comes from: consumer and patient. In this way we include all relevant touchpoints for the purchase decision of pharmacy products. Our approach is based on the random forest methodology. This approach uses machine learning to develop a four-digit amount of decision trees and compare their similarities and differences to find a common denominator. A great basis to draw appropriate conclusions – precisely tailored to Eucerin’s various products and target groups. In market research this is a truly progressive approach!

And this progressiveness was also recognised by the jury of the Innovationspreis. Congratulations! How do you feel about winning this award?

Florian: Great! And of course incredibly proud! The Innovation Award is practically the Oscar among market research awards.

Lasse: I can only agree with that! In fact, I was responsible for the project on the institute side and now I am part of Beiersdorf so I am not only happy about the prize. This project was also one of the reasons why I wanted to join Beiersdorf as my impression was that it is a truly agile, innovative company with an open mindset. As it has turned out, it really is.

A big award ceremony could not be realized in times of Covid-19. But the team celebrated in a small group with physical distance
A big award ceremony could not be realized in times of Covid-19. But the team celebrated in a small group with physical distance

So aspects like an open mindset have been relevant for this project?

Florian: Well, of course we have to invest a lot to realise a project like this. But at the same time we couldn’t know whether we would actually achieve the desired result. Truly understanding consumers is not an easy task. But my leadership team fully believed in our concept and had complete confidence in all those involved. Without such strong trust, this project could never have been realised!

Lasse: But of course we are not stopping at this point. We are continuing to work on understanding consumers even better and are also using our findings for other brands. I work for healthcare brands like Hansaplast and Florian for Eucerin Germany. So we both work for well-known brands that are available in pharmacies. It goes without saying that we will therefore continue to work closely together beyond the brands! Silos are often formed in large companies. But our Derma and Health Care brands are very flexible and not bound by team boundaries.

Florian: Exactly, we exchange information regularly and keep ourselves up to date. Using synergies is the be-all and end-all, and by developing ConPat Journey we have already built up a trusting relationship. We know that the best way to promote each of our brands is to share our knowledge. Obviously we are also in a regular and trustful exchange with our NIVEA colleagues.

That sounds great! Especially your close collaboration. Does it mean that you always agree with each other or do you sometimes have different opinions?

Lasse: As a true HSV (Hamburger Sport-Verein) fan, I disagree with Florian mainly when it comes to football. Because for some reason he decided to be a Stuttgart fan.

Florian: [laughs] Yes, so we clearly don’t come to a common denominator. But we can put that aside quite well in our work and in the end we could not complement each other so well if we had the same opinion on everything. Differences are important - that’s how you can always challenge each other.

Well said! Thank you very much for the interview and the insights into the ConPat Journey!

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Carolin Schreyer

About the editor: Carolin Schreyer

Carolin is responsible for our Pharmacy and Selective Brands within the Corporate Communications team. In this way she takes care of international communication projects of brands like Eucerin, Aquaphor, Hansaplast and La Prairie.