By  on June 24, 2011

For the better part of five years, Nivea has talked about creeping up on its U.S. skin care competitors in sales and market share. Now, as Nivea turns 100, it seems the largest global skin care brand is making major headway here.

Under the leadership of Magnus Jonsson, who took over for Nicolas Maurer in September as vice president of marketing, Nivea is well on its way to another year of double-digit increases. Already Nivea has made great strides since entering the U.S. in 1921. Its most forceful push has occurred over the past five years, resulting in double-digit growth year-over-year since 2005. For example, in 2010, Nivea’s body wash business grew 52 percent and Nivea’s U.S. household penetration tripled to more than 10 percent. Worldwide, Nivea is the number-one skin care brand with a 20 percent global market share of the hand and body lotion category; it is also the leader in global sun care and ranks third globally in women’s face care, said Jonsson.

For now, the brand is using its 100-year birthday as a way to educate consumers about its skin care history, especially its latest innovation, Hydra IQ. The technology is based on Nobel-prize-winning science that, in a nutshell, opens water channels and penetrates water into deeper levels of skin. Hydra IQ is being infused into existing Nivea lotions and body washes, hitting shelves now. Nivea’s body lotion business is the largest sales generator for the brand in the U.S. For the latest four weeks ended May 28, the brand had a 9.5 percent dollar share and ranked number two overall.

A brand partnership with Rihanna came into effect in March, yielding brand prominence throughout her summer tour. The singer also dedicated a song for the brand, “California King Bed,” which serves as the official soundtrack of Nivea’s birthday ad campaign, including TV commercials, that began airing May 16. Rihanna, who has great mass appeal, was chosen for the “opportunity to leverage her power in digital media. She has 30 million Facebook fans,” said Jonsson. The singer also may help Nivea reach a younger consumer as its current shopper averages 35 years old and over. Nivea also has very strong Hispanic and African-American followings, added Jonsson.

One of Nivea’s most successful campaigns, Touch & Be Touched, has spawned Kiss & Be Kissed, the current campaign for Nivea lip care. A change in visuals will make “skin the primary actor in displays and images” and is being launched to coincide with Nivea’s 100th anniversary. Nivea’s lip business carries a 4 percent dollar market share with just three years in the category. Last year, Jonsson said, sales grew 45 percent because of increased distribution and stockkeeping unit productivity.

Nivea for Men ranks fourth behind Axe, which has a 6 percent dollar share; Olay, which has an 8 percent dollar share, and Dove, which leads the category with 18 percent, according to industry sources. Nivea for Men Care ranks third, with 12.8 percent share for the year-to-date period. Nivea for Men has a 35.4 percent share in face care and is number one in aftershave with a 21.8 percent share year-to-date. To lure men to the men’s category, Nivea launched a new campaign, “Look Like You Give a Damn,” which “scratches at their pride with humor,” said Jonsson. The message officially launched in partnership with Esquire magazine on June 3.

Looking forward, new opportunities, i.e., new categories, will begin to emerge in 2013 and 2014, Jonsson said.

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