Byline: Kim-Van Dang

NEW YORK — Beiersdorf, a dominant force in Europe with its Nivea moisturizer franchise, is looking to raise its U.S. profile. And the Hamburg, Germany-based company plans to do it by building on another moisturizer, this one initially developed in America: Eucerin.
Currently, both Nivea and Eucerin are enjoying a surge in sales. For the 52 weeks ended Aug. 10, A.C. Nielsen rated Beiersdorf number two in the U.S. mass market hand and body moisturizer category with an 11.2 percent market share, behind Chesebrough-Pond’s. It is the first time the company has held the position for more than a few months.
In the period, Eucerin generated sales of $44.7 million at retail, a 21 percent increase from the previous year, according to Nielsen.
Moreover, Eucerin — marketed by Beiersdorf’s medical division — is the number one doctor and pharmacy recommended product, according to an annual survey by American Druggist and the Institute for Medical Statistics, a nationally syndicated medical tracking service.
The strategy to keep the momentum going involves the introduction of new bath and body products under the Eucerin label, a revamping of the marketing force, an increase in sampling and retooled advertising.
Additionally, the company is looking to further penetrate the European market and increase its business in South America. Within the next 12 to 18 months, Beiersdorf products sold abroad under the Eucerin PH5, Laceran and Skinceran labels will all be renamed Eucerin.
Beiersdorf Inc., the company’s U.S. arm, is launching three new Eucerin bath and body products, with two of the items being lighter formulations of the original 80-year-old cream. The third item, Eucerin Shower Therapy, is the company’s entry into the hot-selling body wash category. All are fragrance-free and pH-balanced.
“These products represent new technology,” said Susan Savoie, vice president of marketing for Beiersdorf Inc.’s Medical Consumer Products division, based in Norwalk, Conn. “We believe there is a therapeutic user out there who doesn’t need the heaviness of the existing products. The original cream is occlusive; it protects the skin so that it can repair itself. The new lotion and cream mimic natural lipid action and help to repair barrier functions.”
Eucerin Light Moisture-Restorative Lotion, in an 8-oz. bottle, and Eucerin Light Moisture-Restorative Creme, in a 4-oz. jar, and the 7.5-oz. shower gel are all priced at $6.99.
Arriving in 30,000 mass market doors this month, the new products will be supported with a $20 million promotional budget. Much of it will be spent on 7 million 0.5-oz. and 0.25-oz. product samples, to be handed out by doctors and pharmacists.
In total, Beiersdorf Inc. expects to distribute about 40 million samples this year. Company-wide sampling was equally aggressive last year and at the 25-million-bottles level in 1994, Savoie said.
In January, Beiersdorf executives made another strategic move by merging the marketing staffs of its medical division and Jobst, a therapeutic stockings company it also owns.
“We have doubled in size, with 100 full-time people and 24 part-time people out making presentations to physicians now,” Savoie said. “It is a powerful way to market.”
While Eucerin has always advertised heavily in medical journals (it is running ads in a dozen magazines this year), Savoie said the ads are more custom-tailored today.
“We are sending out more specific messages,” she said. “We are talking to dermatologists differently than we are talking to pediatricians.”
The company is also testing the waters of consumer advertising and marketing. This month, it is teaming up with a host of companies to target diabetic consumers with an in-store coupon-booklet promotion.
“There are 12 million to 15 million diagnosed diabetics in the U.S. and they need more than just insulin and bandages,” Savoie said. “Skin care is a big issue for them. They have especially dry skin in the lower leg areas.”
Ads touting the promotion are also currently running in five consumer diabetic journals with a combined circulation of 1 million.