NIVEA Case Study
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NIVEA: MANAGING A MULTI-CATEGORY BRAND1 NIVEA, one of the oldest and biggest cosmetic brands in the world has
by the entire family. NIVEA Crème was introduced throughout Europe in 1912; in the
successfully transformed itself from a single skin care brand to a trustworthy
United States in 1922; and in South America and other parts of the world in 19262.
and contemporary personal care brand for all family types. The brand stretched itself by sub-branding to many new segments, always nursing the core mother
Throughout this period, NIVEA Crème remained the company’s primary product and
brand NIVEA and its “Gestalt”.
the carrier of the NIVEA brand name. The famous NIVEA Crème blue tin with white lettering, standardised in 1925, was a familiar sight in millions of households world-
wide. In addition to NIVEA Crème, the brand’s other primary products included body
soap and powder and two sun care products—tanning lotion and oil.
As 2005 drew to a close, executives at Beiersdorf’s (BDF) Cosmed division [Brand DNA] NIVEA, the largest cosmetics brand in the world, had successfully defended its
Understanding the NIVEA Brand
position during intense competition in its major European markets. Additionally,
By the early 1990s, it was clear that BDF had succeeded in extending the NIVEA brand
the company had expanded into many new markets in South and Central Ameri-
from skin crème to a skin care and personal care brand.
ca, Eastern Europe, and Asia. NIVEA had created a number of new sub-brands that BDF’s success in establishing NIVEA as a broad skin care and personal care brand primarily driven by NIVEA, grew from €1.4 billion in 1995 to €3.8 billion in 2005.
now presented the company with a new set of issues and challenges. In the process of establishing sub-brands, there was concern that the NIVEA brand image—in
During the 1970s and 1980s, BDF’s Cosmed Division had successfully extended the
particular, the NIVEA Crème image—had been weakened through all the product
NIVEA brand from a limited range of products—NIVEA Crème, Milk, Soap, and Sun—
product lines had established their own identities as ‘sub-brands’, independent of
Kunisch, former CEO of Cosmed, believed that in preparing to develop a new NIVEA
and yet still connected to the NIVEA Crème core brand.
communications strategy, a formalised brand philosophy was necessary. Kunisch explained: “NIVEA is the most fascinating brand in the world, second only to Coca-Cola.
Executives at NIVEA believed that growth would continue to come from product
The company had done a tremendous job over the last 50 years to keep the NIVEA
innovation. In 2004, Beiersdorf spent €38 million on its new and improved research and development center in Germany, making it the largest and most modern skin
was a lack of conscientiousness of what it meant to be a brand. In the good old days,
research center in the country employing over 650 scientists.
BDF had a brand relationship that was highly personalised. Only three people knew how it had all been done—one retired, one left the company and one died. In ad-
dition, there were three advertising agencies that did not talk with one another. I
Start of the NIVEA brand
began with the basics and asked: What is NIVEA? The data was all there, the feeling was there, but no one had put it on a piece of paper.”
industrialisation led to the emergence of mass markets and branded articles. Society—women in particular—began to appreciate to a greater degree physical
appearance and look for products to both care for and beautify the skin. NIVEA
NIVEA Crème Brand Identity and Values Over the years, NIVEA—primarily through NIVEA Crème—had acquired a unique,
protection at a reasonable price. The NIVEA name came from the Latin word, nives,
This case was made possible through the cooperation of Dr. Rolf Kunisch and Cosmed Division
widely-understood brand identity as a ‘caretaker’ of skin. Throughout Europe, most was a product that could be used by the entire family to satisfy all kinds of needs.
management, including Norbert Krapp, Franziska Schmiedebach, and Inken Hollmann-Peters for Beiersdorf AG in Hamburg, Germany. Leslie Kimerling and Keith Richey prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Kevin Lane Keller as the basis for class discussion.
While NIVEA Skin and Personal Care products are sold in over 140 countries worldwide, this case study focuses primarily on NIVEA’s European market position and brand strategy.
Because of consumers’ own personal history with the brand and the company’s
ticular product class associations to reinforce and elaborate on the image of NIVEA
advertising, NIVEA had become strongly associated with shared family experiences
as a skin care specialist. Because facial skin care represented 75 percent of the Eu-
and had a rich set of other brand associations such as ‘care’, ‘mildness’, ‘reliability’,
ropean skin care market and was very closely related to NIVEA’s strong association
‘gentleness’, ‘protection’, ‘high quality’, ‘feeling good’, and ‘reasonably priced’. Over
of ‘general skin care’ from NIVEA Crème, NIVEA Visage was considered the primary
time, the NIVEA name became synonymous with protection and care for the skin.
sub-brand to upgrade NIVEA’s image into the 1990s.
By 2005, the NIVEA brand portfolio had grown from six product groups in 1993 to Í
Skin Care—NIVEA Body, NIVEA Visage, NIVEA for Men, NIVEA Sun, NIVEA Baby,
sub-brand experienced sales growth and gained market share. By 2005, NIVEA was a leading international skin care company and voted the most trusted brand in Germany by Reader’s Digest from 2001–2004.
NIVEA Crème, NIVEA Vital, NIVEA Soft, NIVEA Hand, and NIVEA Lip. Í
Personal Care—NIVEA Deo, NIVEA Beauty, NIVEA Hair Care, NIVEA Bath Care, and NIVEA Intimate Care. NIVEA Crème.
[Brand Extensions] water-in-oil emulsion available in the world. Original NIVEA Crème tins were pale
Extending the NIVEA Brand
yellow with “NIVEA Crème” in blue print in the centre and a red and blue Art Nouveau
In addition to strengthening the brand image of NIVEA Crème, BDF’s second objec-
Looking to the future, NIVEA executives pondered how best to manage the NIVEA
border, but were changed in 1926 to the now-familiar blue and white design. The tin
tive was to use the recognition and reputation of the NIVEA brand name to introduce
In the mid-1990s, NIVEA began standardising its advertising formats to establish a
hierarchy and from where the next surge of growth would come. There were many op-
new products—both in categories where NIVEA products were sold currently as well
consistent look among its sub-brands.
portunities geographically, through product innovation and new target consumers.
simplicity and caring embodied by the brand.
as in related categories. Cosmed worked with agencies FCB and TBWA to develop the marketing concepts
The company’s long-term objective was to evolve NIVEA from a skin crème brand
and ad executions. In each market, they implemented ‘perfect local execution’ with
into a skin care brand by providing a range of new products that would both complement NIVEA Crème and broaden the meaning of the NIVEA brand name. steadily. By 1970, NIVEA held over 35 percent of the multi-purpose crème market in Germany and a majority market share in Europe. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, competition in 60 years.
NIVEA brand appears local but the content remains consistent. As Norbert Krapp, NIVEA’s Vice President of skin care, stated: “Pictures travel, words don’t”.
To clarify the new brand extensions, the company established a set of guidelines that any possible new products had to satisfy:
The company also printed a booklet for internal use detailing its brand philosophy,
NIVEA strategic brand management models:
called the ‘Blue Bible’. This Blue Bible contained basic information about NIVEA’s
[NIVEA CBBE Pyramid]
Meet a basic need: clean and/or protect
brand identity, vision, mission, success factors, and the role of its sub-brands. The
Concerned with new competition, BDF performed a study of the NIVEA brand image
in the German market. The study found that the NIVEA brand enjoyed a high degree
of goodwill and represented reliability, quality, and honesty. Yet, the brand had an
‘older’ image and was not viewed as young, dynamic, and modern, as was the case
anchor” for all brand decisions3.
NIVEA also built a NIVEA Club in Austria in 1995. For an annual membership fee
Be simple and uncomplicated
Blue Bible also provided guidelines for products, packaging, communication, promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and pricing. Norbert Krapp referred to
Maintain a leading position in terms of quality
the Blue Bible as “the best [branding step] we did in recent years”, calling it the “key
with many of the recently introduced competitive brands. BDF introduced larger sized units, altered its distribution strategy by shifting from special-line outlets to food outlets, and increased its level of promotional activities
with the trade and within stores. The primary means to revitalise NIVEA Crème’s
NIVEA for Men
product samples, and a birthday gift. Similar to the NIVEA Club, NIVEA opened the
in Hamburg, Germany in 2006.
brand image, however, was the introduction of a very aggressive ad campaign aimed directly at the competition.
of about $10, members received a quarterly magazine, between four and six new
market—an after-shave balsam. The product embodied the NIVEA brand extension
The brand philosophy centered on maintaining the association of ‘universality’ for
product to provide both an alcohol cleanser and a moisturizer to care for the face.
Overall Brand Health
NIVEA products. Now that the NIVEA brand represented comprehensive skin care
From the beginning, the NIVEA for Men ads emphasised the mildness and caring of
At the beginning of the 1990s, NIVEA was already a global brand with a wide range
and personal care, the company wanted to develop a marketing strategy that would continue to nurture core NIVEA associations while widening their applicability and
balm carried the tag line, ‘Less alcohol, more care’.
of products catering to the full spectrum of consumer segments. The company
had a widely recognised and respected brand, which it leveraged across a range of
enhancing their meaning via sub-brands. Kunisch explained, “We want to build on the
sub-brands. Throughout the decade, NIVEA nurtured its existing sub-brands and
image of the blue tin where we are number one almost everywhere in Europe.”
moved into additional market segments by adding new sub-brands. The company’s
Mild & Gentle Caring & protective Pure
For family Universal applications
sub-brand strategy yielded remarkable results: between 1990 and 2000, every NIVEA Salient - Multi-forms and purposes personal care needs of their target market segments and contribute back their par-
NIVEA CASE by Kevin Lane Keller
Norbert Krapp. Personal Interview
[Hypothetical nivea mental map] Scent/Feel
Trustworthy/ Reliable Simple
Kevin Lane Keller is the E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Keller’s academic resume includes degrees from Cornell, Duke, and Carnegie-Mellon universities, award-winning research, and faculketers for some of the world’s most successful brands, including accenture, American Express, Disney, Ford, Intel, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks. His textbook, Strategic Brand Management, (see models above) has been adopted at top business schools with Philip Kotler of the all-time best selling introductory marketing textbook, Marketing Management.
NIVEA CASE by Kevin Lane Keller