Right from its beginnings in 1911, the NIVEA brand was fueled by a positive mixture of research, creativity, and business know-how. In 1890, Dr. Oscar Troplowitz had purchased Hamburg-based company Beiersdorf from its founder, Paul C. Beiersdorf. Troplowitz’s scientific adviser, Prof. Paul Gerson Unna, who would go on to become one of the most prominent dermatologists in Germany, had an eye for innovations. He brought Troplowitz’s attention to a completely new kind of emulsifying agent called Eucerit (lit. “beautiful wax”). Using this, it was possible to develop the world’s first stable – and therefore industrially producible – oil-and-water-based cream: NIVEA.
The name NIVEA alluded to the creme’s pure white appearance, derived from the Latin word “nix, nivis” meaning snow. Apart from Eucerit to bind the oils with water, it also contained glycerin, a little citric acid and, to lend it a delicate scent, oil of rose and lily of the valley. Even though NIVEA Creme has been continually updated in line with the latest scientific developments, the essence of the recipe has changed little in almost 100 years.
The Blue Tin
However, NIVEA Creme's image underwent a change only 14 years after its market launch. The "Golden Twenties" were a period of social change that led to a new spirit of the times. After their drastic wartime experiences, people had a zest for life, "youth" and "leisure" were popular concepts, and technical innovations increased the pace of living. NIVEA responded to this feeling of a new lease on life – and adapted its brand profile to fit.
The dainty art nouveau design of the original NIVEA tin was replaced by a much simpler look: The blue tin with the word NIVEA in white celebrated its debut in 1925.
The NIVEA range was expanded substantially in the 1930s. Products such as shaving cream, shampoo, and skin oil were added and NIVEA also became a real sales hit at an international level.
Elly Heuss-Knapp, the wife of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, was largely responsible for NIVEA's advertising in the 1930s. Thanks to her, the brand's claims remained largely untainted by Nazi ideology.
Heuss-Knapp recognized the positive associative power of the brand colors, blue and white, which she deployed in a masterly fashion in her advertising spots.
In the 1950s NIVEA Creme had long since achieved classic brand status and a large number of skin care products were launched under the NIVEA umbrella.
The "economic miracle" period and growing prosperity in the 1960s enabled more and more people to travel. Beach and sun holidays in Southern Europe were the rage. NIVEA responded to this trend, expanding its range to include NIVEA Sun Protection and Sun Care products. The advertising was tailored to sun worshippers and increasingly showed people on the beach.
The supermarket boom, the abolition of recommended retail prices, and new market players led to increased competition in the 1970s. Beiersdorf responded with a challenging advertizing campaign that underlined NIVEA's historical leadership claim. The campaign centered around NIVEA Creme and differentiated it from the competition by emphasizing its unique quality, unrivalled effectiveness and honesty.
The Umbrella Brand
In the 1980s Beiersdorf recognized the growth potential offered by the NIVEA brand. European studies had revealed that NIVEA enjoyed a high level of trust and that consumers would accept new products under the umbrella of the NIVEA brand. In line with these consumer expectations, NIVEA introduced a large number of products offering its customary high level of quality.
This expansion strategy in the 1980s was systematically continued in the 1990s with the launch of subbrands such as NIVEA Hair Care, NIVEA Beauté, and NIVEA Bath Care. As globalization increased, NIVEA's focused brand management allowed it to develop into the largest skin care brand in the world.
Today, NIVEA Creme is a large brand family with more than 500 different products. The NIVEA umbrella brand successfully unites product lines such as NIVEA Visage (since 1993), NIVEA Vital (1994), NIVEA Beauté (1997), NIVEA Hair Care (1991), NIVEA for Men (1986), NIVEA Sun (1993), NIVEA Hand (1998), NIVEA body (1992), NIVEA Bath Care (1996), and NIVEA Deo (1991).
In Germany, NIVEA enjoys brand awareness of almost 100 percent. And at European level it enjoys a level of trust in the "skin care" product category that is unmatched by any other brand. Consumers in more than 170 countries worldwide use the NIVEA brand.
NIVEA commercial classics: