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With a global audience in around 100 countries, beauty and skincare brand Olay is one of the biggest properties in Procter & Gamble's beauty portfolio, and a global best-seller in facial skincare. In 2020, P&G claimed Olay had 6% share of the global facial skincare market, which would put its retail sales at around $5.6bn. That marks an impressive turnaround from steady decline in the first half of the 2010s. Even so, despite its recovery since 2016, WPP's Brandz study still ranks Olay below rivals. It estimated a brand value of $3.8bn, significantly lower than key rivals Nivea, Clinique and Dove, all of which were over $6bn. The Olay range now extends to a broad range of different moisturizing and cleansing products. Key sub-brands include Regenerist and Total Effects for ant-ageing, Pro-X dermatology products, and lighter-weight 'Whips' variants of all its main products. It's a very long way from the brand's origins as a treatment for wartime burn victims, and this growth has been achieved despite fierce competition from rivals, each of which has rolled out a similar host of brand extensions. In an attempt to shrug off its competitors, P&G pushed Olay aggressively into the upper end of the market with a series of premium-priced anti-aging and regenerating products. Performance stumbled from around 2010, but the brand benefitted significantly from P&G's decision to sell off of much of the rest of its beauty business in 2016. Olay's most aggressive competitor since the mid-1990s has been Unilever's Dove. Until 1995, Dove was the US's leading soap brand, and Olay the best-selling moisturizer; but since then both products have launched a series of spin-offs designed to capture first the middle ground of feminine cleansers, and then a string of other market segments. Olay's latest push is into high-tech complementary devices and AI-enhanced advisory services. An electromagnetic wand introduced in 2018 partners with a smartphone app that allows customers to monitor changes in their facial skin over time. More recently, the brand has adapted its positioning to focus more directly on female empowerment, especially in the field of science and technology. Among other initiatives, it has pledged to adopt "zero skin retouching" in all advertising in North America by 2021. Chris Heiert is SVP North America skincare & global Olay. Stephanie Robertson is brand director, global Olay.
Capsule checked 11th December 2020
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Who competes with Olay? Olay's main competitors include Dove, Clinique, Nivea and Neutrogena and related products. From 2010 onwards, the brand began moving into the premium sector where it competes with the likes of L'Oreal Paris and Estee Lauder's Clinique. See Personal Care Sector index for other companies and brands
Historical profile information for Olay
Adbrands Social Media 21st Jul 2018: Nice change of style for Olay's advertising. Instead of the usual pack shots and studio close-ups, P&G have gone out into the world for their new campaigns, featuring women who are breaking barriers. This one - from regular agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York - features airline pilot Tristan Mazzu. Yes, it does look a bit like one of those spots where a model pretends to be a real person, but actually Mazzu is a genuine pilot for US regional carrier SkyWest, and she already has quite a significant online presence in her own right, including 8,500 followers for her official Insta account (as TristanThePilot). She's a really good pick for Olay. More like this please.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Aug 2013: Slipping sales at Procter & Gamble's mammoth beauty division prompted fashion trade bible WWD to relegate the group to third place in its annual Beauty 100 ranking, slipping behind the revitalised Unilever. WWD estimated total beauty revenues of $20.08bn for P&G in calendar 2012, compared to $20.7 for Unilever. L'Oreal remains firmly at the top of the table with $28.9bn. Rounding out the top five were Estee Lauder and Shiseido, some way behind at $10bn and $8.4bn respectively.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Aug 2013: Procter & Gamble's newly reinstated CEO AG Lafley reported annual figures for the year to June 2013, and the results were perhaps a little better than some had expected, despite a poor final quarter in which net earnings almost halved. For the full year, however, earnings were up 5% to $11.3bn, better than last year but still well below past results. Revenues edged up by just 1%, but still hit an all-time high of $84.2bn. The weakest performances were from the group's giant beauty and grooming businesses, both which reported a decline in full-year revenues. Lafley acknowledged problems at the Pantene and Olay brands, which have been outpaced in recent months by competitors. He admitted that P&G's beauty business had "stalled", but reassured investors, "We know what we need to do and we're on it." Gillette too, core of the men's grooming division, faces multiple challenges, including less frequent facial shaving and a rise in popularity in body shaving, a segment where the group remains weak. Those declines were offset by modest increases at other group divisions, notably health care. Lafley said he has spent the two months since he was reappointed as CEO on a "deep dive" into P&G's business, "trying hard to see things as they are, not as we want them to be." The group is, he explained, pushing forward urgently to increase productivity and efficiency. "We've got to get to a much more agile, a much faster, a much more decisive culture." However he warned that the process wouldn't take effect overnight. "We're threading a needle here... It's going to take a couple of years before we've got everything in place so that we're hitting on enough cylinders to perform to our full potential."
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