Beiersdorf may not itself be a household name, but its lead brand certainly is. Nivea claims to be the world's #1 personal care brand, sold in more than 200 countries and encompassing a vast range of products ranging from skin creams to deodorants, and from shampoo to cosmetics. Nivea was one of the first personal care brands to extend itself into numerous different personal care segments, a process first begun in 1930s, and now copied by all of its competitors. As a result, the brand now operates across more than ten different segments, with an astonishing collection of well over 400 different products. Combined sales are somewhere in the region of €4.5bn. Nivea has a dominant position in its home country of Germany and a strong following throughout most of the rest of Europe as well as in selected other global markets. In Japan it is marketed through a long-standing joint venture with Kao. Out of the major personal care markets, only the US remains a real challenge, with Nivea substantially outflanked by Olay, Dove and Neutrogena. Nivea is supported by a collection of other skincare brands, ranging from prestige La Prairie through premium Eucerin to mass-market Labello lip balm, Atrix handcream and 8x4 deodorants. In China, the group controls local hair care brands Slek and Maestro. In 2019, the group acquired iconic American sun care brand Coppertone from Bayer. Oscar & Paul is a newly established brand incubator unit, which plans to launch edgy niche brands. The first is Skin Stories, a skincare brand specially designed for tattooed skin. Separately the group has a collection of market-leading consumer woundcare products under the Hansaplast and Elastoplast brands, as well as a division making adhesive tape for the consumer, professional and industrial sectors under the Tesa banner. After several years in the late 1990s as a potential takeover target, control of Beiersdorf was acquired in 2003 by the Herz family of Germany, also owners of Tchibo. It is now majority controlled by them via holding company Maxingvest, though a small number of shares are publicly held. The strength of its core Nivea brand has allowed Beiersdorf to hold onto its independence at a time when many other medium-sized personal care marketers have been snapped up by the likes of P&G and L'Oreal. Assuming Beiersdorf's sales continue on their current growth path, there should be no need for the company to sell up, and it is protected from hostile takeover by its family-dominated shareholder structure. Stefan de Loecker became CEO at the end of 2018. Revenues that year were €7.2bn with net profit of €745m.
Capsule checked 15th October 2019
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Who are the competitors of Beiersdorf? Nivea's main multi-segment competitors are Dove, Neutrogena and Olay. The first two have an especially close match in terms of product variety. In hand and body care, Nivea also competes with Vaseline (Unilever), Jergens (Kao), Cetaphil (Galderma) and Aveeno (Johnson & Johnson). In sun protection, with Ambre Solaire (L'Oreal) and Piz Buin (Johnson & Johnson); in hair care with Procter & Gamble, Unilever, L'Oreal and Henkel; and with Unilever in deodorants. See Personal Care Index for competitive companies. In adhesive tape, Beiersdorf competes with Henkel and 3M.
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Historical profile information for Beiersdorf
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Nov 2019: Publicis Groupe is tipped to have been selected as winner of global Nivea creative, with WPP awarded Beiersdorf's supporting brands Eucerin, Hansaplast Labello and so on. Confirmation is still awaited. Publicis had been competing in a final shoot-out with WPP's Thjnk and Wunderman Thompson agencies. FCB is the departing agency. It's the latest in a series of strong gains for the French group. Also this week, Publicis retained global creative for Axa and gained media in the insurer's four key markets of France, the UK, Germany and Italy. (WPP's Wavemaker got the rest of the globe). The French group also won EMEA creative and media for McCormick spices, and recently collected a big win from Disney. The key question, though, is how much Publicis is prepared to give away in fees to achieve these wins. It has already racked a succession of significant wins during the first nine months of this year, and yet organic revenue growth for the latest quarter was the Groupe's worst ever, and it is firmly in the red for YTD growth. Judging by the headline wins alone, one might reasonably have expected better growth numbers.
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Oct 2018: "Sensitive". There's a new spirit of creative excellence making its presence felt at global skincare giant Beiersdorf. After many years in which, for the most part, flagship brand Nivea was notable for its generally bland cookie cutter advertising, there's a refreshing intelligence and sense of humour to more recent fare. That process seems to have started in Latin America, and is gradually spreading across the company's international operations. Witness this excellent campaign from FCB Mexico for Nivea Men, which leavens the heart-on-our-sleeve political correctness adopted recently by rivals Gillette and Axe with a wittier, more self-deprecating lightness of touch.
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Jun 2019: A rift has developed between Beiersdorf and long-time global Nivea agency FCB. According to a confidential internal memo sent by FCB CEO Carter Murray to staff, the agency will resign the account at the end of the current contract, due to expire later this year. FCB and its predecessor agencies in Europe, orginally known as Wilkens, have managed the business for more than a century. However, friction has apparently been rising since 2017. According to AdAge, it boiled over earlier this year when a creative execution from FCB which showed "two men's hands touching", planned to run during the current LGBTQ+ Pride Month, was rejected by Beiersdorf. "A person on the client team allegedly remarked, 'we don't do gay at Nivea' on a call with FCB creatives," reported AdAge. Murray's memo says that FCB will retain smaller Beiersdorf brands including Eucerin and Hansaplast, and that it may be possible for some regional FCB agencies to continue to manage local Nivea business. FCB Germany, for example, is actually now an independent agency which uses the network brand under license. However, the main FCB network has already informed Beiersdorf of its decision to resign the global account.
Beiersdorf issued a statement in response to the story, acknowledging that this is "the right time for a new beginning in Nivea's brand management and creative work". However it appeared to deny the homophobic allegations: "We understand that emotions and news interest are intensified when a longtime business relationship comes to an end – however, we ask for understanding that we don't comment on unsubstantiated speculations around this matter. Nonetheless we wish to express our concern on the reported allegations as they do not reflect the values of Beiersdorf, Nivea and our employees worldwide. No form of discrimination, direct and indirect, is or will be tolerated."
Adbrands Daily Update 14th May 2019: Beiersdorf is bolstering its portfolio with the acquisition of iconic American sun care brand Coppertone from Bayer. The price tag is $550m, equivalent to a little over twice the brand's annual sales of around $215m. First introduced in 1944, Coppertone was America's first homegrown sun cream. It was acquired by Bayer in 2014 as part of the Merck & Co consumer health portfolio.
Adbrands Social Media 16th Apr 2019: "There's Only One Sun". I posted a spot earlier today that was the epitome of everything we expect from Thai advertising: surreal, sentimental and slightly abrasive. Well here's one that's the epitome of British advertising: droll, deadpan, slightly odd and pleasantly old-fashioned. We're used to more straightforward Euro-pudding advertising from Nivea, made in Germany but designed to appeal to any regional audience. Well, now FCB Inferno gets the chance to put a distinctively small island spin on that marketing, probably because only the pale-skinned British would ever be foolish enough to consider going out in the noon day sun without any protection. It's like the sun baby from Teletubbies grew up and is now a lanky teenager.
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