BEIERSDORF’S GROWTH BOLSTERED BY NIVEA
Byline: Melissa Drier
BERLIN — There’s been no sign of a let-up in the beauty business of the Hamburg-based Beiersdorf Group.
For the sixth consecutive year, global sales of the group’s leading Nivea brand achieved double-digit gains. The brand reached sales of $1.38 billion (2.3 billion marks) last year, up 12.3 percent over 1995.
Total group sales of Beiersdorf’s “cosmed” or beauty division grew 5.7 percent to reach $1.84 billion (3.08 billion marks) compared with $1.74 billion (2.91 billion marks) in 1995.
Domestically, Beiersdorf continued to outperform the market, with cosmed sales hitting $616 million (1.03 billion marks) compared with $570 million (953 million marks), a gain of 8 percent.
Internationally, sales were up 5.3 percent at constant exchange rates. Translated in marks, the plus was 7.1 percent, with sales totaling $1.19 billion (1.99 billion marks).
At a press conference Wednesday, Uwe WUlfer, a member of Beiersdorf’s executive board with responsibility for the cosmed division, forecast continued growth in all regions this year.
“We’re not euphoric, but realistically optimistic that our business will continue its positive development in 1997,” he said.
Beiersdorf is certainly not the largest beauty company worldwide, WUlfer acknowledged, though he noted that Nivea is the world’s largest personal care brand, with leading market positions in many countries.
In Europe, for example, Nivea Visage holds the number one spot in seven out of 13 countries, and Nivea Body leads in 11 out of 13 markets.
The brand’s growth extends to all market segments. In 1996, Nivea Body grew by 10.5 percent; Visage by 7.2 percent; Vital — a skin care line for mature skin — by 38.7 percent; sun cosmetics, 9.1 percent; Nivea for men by 14.2 percent, and deodorant by 26.2 percent.
Last year’s launches in selected markets of the Nivea baby range and Nivea hairstyling products have performed “to plan,” WUlfer said, and the hairstyling range will be further expanded in 1997.
Although he noted that it takes eight to 12 months to determine if a launch is successful, “we’re optimistic.”
Similarly, he said it was too early to comment on the status of the Nivea Beaute makeup range, which Beiersdorf launched eight weeks ago in France.
“The acceptance of the industry — that is, in terms of appropriating shelf space — has been excellent,” he said.
Nivea Beaute will be introduced in Belgium on April 4, but further rollout plans are on hold. The domestic market has its hands full, he said, with the Nivea baby and hairstyling introductions.
In the prestige beauty sector, turnover was flat for Beiersdorf’s Juvena/La Prairie division, with sales reaching $132 million (221 million marks), compared with $131.7 million (220 million marks) in 1995.
There’s been falling demand for prestige cosmetics in Europe, partially due to the success of lower-priced lines, including Nivea, WUlfer noted.
Juvena’s sales were down about 10 percent, whereas La Prairie, as an expensive, top-of-the-line global brand, was unaffected by the market situation.
“What’s going on here is normal business,” Wolfer said. “Juvena has to struggle, but that’s good. We’re in a competitive industry. We don’t intend to give up so quickly.”
Regionally, Beiersdorf made substantial gains with its personal care products in Europe. Sales, excluding Germany, rose 9.3 percent, to $75 million (1.26 billion marks). Scandinavia, Belgium, Austria and Turkey chalked up double-digit increases, and in Eastern Europe, sales in the Czech Republic and Hungary were up 29.2 percent.
At $92.8 million (154.9 million marks), sales in the U.S. and Canada were slightly ahead of last year, whereas Mexico achieved a sales gain of 23 percent.
Developments in Asia were highly varied. In Japan, a sluggish consumer market and the discontinuation of price maintenance contributed to an 8 percent fall in sales in terms of yen. Calculated using marks, Japanese sales reached $134.7 million (225 million marks).
Growth in other Asian markets, however, was often dynamic, with sales in Indonesia leaping 40.9 percent and Thailand 25 percent.
Sales figures for the entire Beiersdorf Group, including profits for the cosmed division, will not be released until late spring.