In 1882, pharmacist Paul C. Beiersdorf established his company with a patent for medical plasters. Beiersdorf sold his company to Oscar Troplowitz in 1890. By 1911, Oscar Troplowitz had developed the world’s first stable skin cream based on a water-in-oil emulsion. He named the product Nivea, derived from the Latin words nix, nivis, meaning “snow” or “of snow.” With this brand name, the core benefit of Nivea was being highlighted: Nivea protected the skin so that it stayed white as snow—the ideal of female beauty in Europe at the beginning of the last century.
By 1914, the company had already generated 42 percent of their sales outside of Germany and was doing business in 34 countries. Fourteen years after its market introduction, Nivea underwent what we would today call a relaunch. Before 1925, Nivea creme was sold in an off-white tin with the brand name written in green cursive lettering. With the relaunch, the package design was modernized. The dye of the tin was changed to blue, a color that is today
associated with the brand, and the typography was changed to a more modern font. Furthermore, the positioning strategy was switched to keep up with the social changes of that time. Nivea now allowed its consumers to get a “healthy suntan” to reflect the changed ideals of beauty. After a difficult period during World War II, Beiersdorf started anew. In many countries, the Nivea trademarks were lost since they had been seized by the victorious nations. Soon after the war, Beiersdorf started buying back the trademarks. In 1963, it introduced innovative products like the world’s first “liquid cream,” Nivea Milk. With Nivea Men After Shave Balsam, Beiersdorf introduced in 1980 the first aftershave product that soothed the skin. By the 1990s, Nivea was the world’s leading skin care brand with a standardized global brand policy. It had expanded its product line into new areas, like makeup, men’s facial creme, and deodorants.
In only 10 years after standardizing its global brand policy, sales had quadrupled and Nivea became Beiersdorfs largest brand. But not all product line extensions were successful and several of the company’s international ventures were failures. The purchase of C-Bons in 2007, China’s number two hair care brand, was a flop. Even in Western Europe, Nivea sales dropped for several years in a row. Nevertheless, Nivea continued its international expansion strategy with a series of local product adaptations while the brand appearance was standardized. In Asian countries, for example, facial products sold much better since they contained ingredients promoting a fair complexion whereas in the Middle East local fragrances like musk were used.
In 2011, Beiersdorf started to restructure Nivea’s product portfolio and brand appearance. Above all, Nivea’s current square logo was redesigned to resemble the classic Nivea logo. It now mirrors the famous tin packaging with a round blue logo with the brand name Nivea placed prominently in the middle. All Nivea products underwent these logo changes to reconnect the brand to its core product, Nivea creme. Tests showed that with the new logo Nivea’s visibility at the points of purchase had improved. In addition, the package design of most Nivea products was changed. For example, the cap of all body lotion packages was reshaped. It is now tilted toward the ‘ user, and has a more inviting look and feel.
Nivea for Men was renamed Nivea Men to strengthen the brand’s position in the fast growing market for men’s cosmetics. Also, the product line of Nivea was rearranged. Several products and categories, that were less successful and not enough in sync with the brand’s slightly reshaped core values—trust, care, and closeness—were abandoned. All in all, the product portfolio was reduced by approximately 25 percent, especially in over-segmented categories like deodorants. Beauty was dropped as an additional core value of the brand that had been added in the 1990s. Consistently, makeup products were withdrawn from the product line. But the innovation process still continued. With In-Shower Body Moisturizer, Nivea introduced a highly innovative and successful product to be used on wet skin that is faster and more convenient to use than traditional body lotion.
Today, Nivea is one of the strongest face care brands. Around 30 percent of all women around the world use Nivea products. The global brand awareness for Nivea is 93 percent. Nivea is the market leader in the skin care segment in 46 countries, and has repeatedly been voted the Most Trusted Skin Care Brand by consumers in 12 European countries.
Source: Kotler Philip T., Keller Kevin Lane (2015), Marketing Management, Pearson; 15th Edition.