Did Nivea use the right with their whitening lotion billboard?

According to the Oxford dictionary, data can be described as; “facts and statistics collected together for reference and analysis”. Data is used and collected in various ways and its use differs from one company to another. A type of data collection is survey data, survey data consists of asking questions and getting answers. A predominant form of survey data is consumer data, such that many large FMCG companies collect every day. Consumer data involves getting feedback on new products, product perceptions and what customers think of existing products. Skin lightening creams are used to lighten skin pigmentations making one fairer. Many companies sell these creams and soaps that lighten the skin, popular brands include Caro light, Luminate, and Idole. The benefits of the having lighter skin outweigh the health risks and perception.

Existing data shows plainly that skin lightening creams are in high demand in West Africa. And high demand spread as far as the diaspora overseas in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Sudan. A study done by Anwar E. Ahmed and Mohamed E. Hamid surveyed Sudanese women show that 7–10 women have tried skin bleaching products to lighten their skin. Another study conducted by a student at St George’s University shows that highest use of skin- lightening creams were used daily by Black- Africans first then those from an Indian background based in the UK.

Qualitative Research consumer data tells us that consumers feel that lighter skin gives them more confidence and, confidence and believes it enhances their beauty compared to darker skin. This topic has been widely discussed and has many factors which relate to the how beauty is seen in the media globally and what is the standard of beauty. A lighter standard of beauty does not only have its footing in Africa but can be found in numerous countries worldwide. In China pale skin is perceived as more beautiful, commonly in India, darker skin individuals are victims of discrimination to a harsh degree. There embed perceptions in cultures that allow for this type of behaviour to be explored which in turn leads to commercial gain for companies such as Nivea. Can we blame them for wanting to provide a product there is actually demand of?

The demand for lightening creams is highly present and the data proves this, but the foundation of this demand is routed in the wrong motivations. The questions that need to be asked in such a controversial and sensitive topic include; was it right for Nivea as a global brand to commercialize on skin-lightening creams? Can data without context be used in the incorrect way? Does Nivea have a duty as a global brand and influencer to contribute to eradicating such perceptions of beauty?

How can large companies make better data-driven decisions including the stories behind them?

These are the questions that need to be explored what can large companies do to change perceptions which are not contributing positively to society.