International development

Troplowitz, Beiersdorf and Unna
Dr. Oscar Troplowitz, company founder Paul Carl Beiersdorf (above right), Dr. Paul Gerson Unna (below right)

Beiersdorf had already achieved a certain international name recognition even before the young pharmacist Dr. Oscar Troplowitz purchased Paul C. Beiersdorf’s laboratory in 1890. Numerous doctors and pharmacists from around the world became aware of Beiersdorf's products thanks to the scientific works published by Prof. Paul Gerson Unna, who had worked with Beiersdorf ever since the Company was founded. Orders arrived and were dealt with individually by Paul C. Beiersdorf and his eight employees.

Contract with the American trade Lehn & Fink 1893
Cooperation agreement with US trading company Lehn & Fink from 1893.

With Dr. Troplowitz at the head, the company’s international orientation is fundamentally changed. He quickly recognized the potential of Beiersdorf brands internationally and systematized business abroad. Troplowitz makes an agreement with the New York company Lehn & Fink for the U.S. according to which P. Beiersdorf & Co. agrees to supply its preparations exclusively to the American trading house. Beiersdorf is required to obtain the registered trademark in the U.S. while Lehn & Fink took over advertising and sales.

Left: affiliate in London in 1906; right: affiliate in Vienna 1914
From left to right: Beiersdorf affiliates in Great Britain 1906 and in Austria 1914.

In the course of the next 20 years, Troplowitz founded representative offices and affiliates on all continents of the world. These brought Beiersdorf's branded products to international customers.

34 representative offices had been founded by the beginning of the First World War and two affiliates registered in the United Kingdom and Austria.

NIVEA package in 1911
Starting in 1911 NIVEA Creme conquered the international cosmetics market

The new cosmetic brands like NIVEA and Labello and the plaster brands, Hansaplast and Leukoplast, were an engine for the international success of the company in the 1920s and 1930s. NIVEA’s business especially made outstanding progress in this time. With numerous new product introductions, NIVEA became the most successful Beiersdorf brand. One result of the positive development of the brand on the international market was a large expansion of manufacturing capacities.

Beiersdorf international manufacturing 1929
Beiersdorf production plants 1929

In 1930, there were Beiersdorf production plants in 23 countries around the world. A company brochure from 1929 stated that representative offices could be found in "nearly every civilised country of the world". All Beiersdorf products sold on the international market had packaging in the local language, most of which was produced in the printing plant in Hamburg and then shipped around the world.

By the beginning of the Second World War, a network of international companies had been created around the world. After the war, almost all of these companies were seized as enemy property and the NIVEA trademarks were sold in the individual countries – a serious blow for Beiersdorf's international business.

Along with its efforts to rebuild its business, Beiersdorf tried to recover its trademarks in each individual country concerned. In many cases, this was achieved by reacquiring interests in former subsidiaries. The overview shows when the rights were repurchased in which countries:

1952 Netherlands
1958 Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil
1961 Sweden
1963 Mexico
1966 Finland
1966 Denmark
1968 African Commonwealth countries (except South Africa)
1973 USA
1974 France including former colonies (now Chad, Mali, Cameroon, and The Congo)
1977 Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Malta, Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago
1985 Norway
1992 The United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Israel, Australia
1993 Romania
1997 Poland

 

This process was completed in 1997 with the repurchase of the NIVEA trademarks for Poland. Beiersdorf now owns the NIVEA trademarks throughout the world again. In addition, new markets were established and affiliates founded from the 1950s onwards. As a result, the Company had 74 international affiliates by the end of the 1990s and generated almost 70% of its sales outside Germany.

above: Board signing reacquisition of NIVEA trademark in Great Britain; below: NIVEA polska building in 1997
Marking the end of a long process: the reacquisition of trademark in Poland in 1997.

Today, the number of international affiliates has increased again to over 160. The successful NIVEA, Eucerin, and La Prairie brands are the key to this international success and allow Beiersdorf to be at home throughout the world.

Global brands: NIVEA, Eucerin and La Prairie
The global Beiersdorf brands: NIVEA, Eucerin and La Prairie