The battle for the men's grooming category is burgeoning, with such major players as P&G, Unilever, Colgate and Johnson & Johnson all seeking to claim what in 2010 has become a $19 billion market. Nicolas Maurer, vp-marketing for Beiersdorf, comes clean in a Q&A about how Nivea is using beach volleyball, the World Cup and the Summer Olympics to claim more face time with men (and women).
By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
(Posted April 13, 2010)
In a category long dominated by shaving cream and razor blades, Vaseline, Old Spice, Gillette and Dove are among the brands that have recently unveiled full line extensions devoted to men's grooming, with products that include body washes, gels, shampoos, not-your-girlfriend's moisturizers and not-your-father's deodorants. The global market for men's grooming products is projected to exceed $33.2 billion by 2015, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts. Packaged Facts said the U.S. market was $19.7 billion in 2009, and estimates it will grow to $28 billion by 2014. According to the analysts, this growth is "primarily driven by a rapid rise of metrosexual male, innovative appealing products, growing middle class population, increased Internet connectivity and universality of prestige across the world."
Beiersdorf, an international company with U.S. headquarters in Wilton, Conn., has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of the grooming revolution. Among its multitude of products, perhaps its best known is Nivea, which has numerous skin care and grooming lines for men and women. As part of the company's strategy to drive growth in the grooming category, the brand in March signed a five-year deal to become title sponsor of the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour, filling a slot vacated last year by Crocs. The pact includes marketing, on-site experiential activation and what ultimately may be the key driver - product sampling to fans who generally spend a lot of time in the sun and on the beach. As a sign of solidarity, AVP is changing is official color from yellow to the deep blue used on Nivea packages.
The length of the deal, which was handled by The Leverage Agency, New York, also ensures that Nivea will have a presence during the 2010 Summer Olympics in London. At the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, beach volleyball was given prime time status by NBC and drew solid numbers as the teams of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh and Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers both won gold medals.
To help grow its men's line products on a global basis, Beiersdorf also recently signed a deal making Nivea the first official grooming supplier of England's national soccer team and has a deal with Germany's national soccer team, meaning the the product will get "face time" during the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The brand also is an official partner of London's TalkSports 2010 World Cup coverage.
The 2010 season begins April 16-18 with the AVP Nivea Tour Gatorade Ft. Lauderdale Open. Other tour partners include KFC, Bud Light, Rockstar Energy Drink, Paul Mitchell, Power Balance and Barefoot Wine. The season opener is also scheduled to mark the return of May-Treanor, who missed the 2009 season with a torn Achilles tendon suffered in late 2008 while competing on Dancing with the Stars. And the women's finals on April 18 will usher in the new alliance between AVP and ESPN/ABC, which signed a two-year deal replacing NBC as broadcast partner.
Nicolas Maurer, vp-marketing, Beiersdorf Inc., spoke with NYSportsJournalism.com about gaining a competitive marketing edge in the grooming category on the beach, at the FIFA World Cup and at the 2012 Olympics.
NYSportsJournalism.com: Was Beiersdorf looking for a U.S. sports deal for Nivea, did the opportunity with AVP present itself at the right time, or was it a mix of both?
Nicolas Maurer: Basically we were looking for a way to create an exciting program in the summer to support the launch of our Touch of Happiness and Happy Sensation products. It's about having an engaging summer, being in a happy mood. In thinking about opportunities, AVP came along and we made a deal with them.
NYSJ: How does this fit in with your marketing strategy for Nivea?
NM: The way we have been marketing the brand to date was to try to find engagement platforms, which we define as pillars in our marketing plan. We always try to own something, some share of mind. For example, we had a big initiative on New Year's Eve in Times Square that we kicked off two years ago when we launched our line of lip care products. The idea was to own the territory of kissing on New Year's Eve.
NYSJ: Was becoming title sponsor always part of the agreement or did that evolve from other discussions?
NM: For the new products we were looking for a property and engagement that would fit. So if you look at beach volleyball, obviously there are men and women showing a lot of skin, and skin that is well taken care of, especially by the players. It's a very energetic lifestyle. A lot of energy. A lot of happy personalities. We heard a lot of very good buzz around the beach events. So we saw a good platform to help launch the products and also to promote the entire Nivea brand. So from a discussion that began with focusing on a way to launch the products we evolved in to a multi-year partnership that would enhance and grow the Nivea brand and AVP over the long run. We don't do things that would be called "dipping our toe in." We try to own the space. So we saw that it would be appropriate for us to become not just a sponsor but the title sponsor. That strategy is what has made us one of the global leaders in the skin care and grooming category.
NYSJ: Were you aware, or was Beiersdorf and Nivea aware, of AVP before this deal was discussed?
NM: Yes. We knew the players, many of whom were in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. And we knew of the buzz in the U.S. surrounding AVP and the players. So in our initial discussions with Leverage and [AVP CEO] Jason Hodell and [AVP commissioner] Mike Dodd we were looking for a way to use Nivea to help elevate the profile of the events. We also wanted to find an opportunity to incorporate Nivea into the lifestyle not just of the players but also the fans who attend the events or watch it on TV. We were not approaching this like a Speedo or Oakley, where we would just target the sports fanatics. For us, we are looking at bringing sport, entertainment and the right mood altogether to create a celebration where attendees, consumers, viewers all would be part of AVP in a very positive manner.
NYSJ: Is this Nivea's largest sports-related deal?
NM: In the U.S., yes. But without going into finances, we also have deals in Europe in beach volleyball and also with the national soccer teams in England and Germany that are major.
NYSJ: How do you see Nivea supporting the AVP deal with marketing, both on-site at events and nationally?
NM: First we mutually decided to change the official color of the AVP from yellow to blue, which is on all Nivea packaging. What we really are looking forward to is the engagement side, where on-site we will be very involved with the attendees and the athletes. It is a great opportunity for us to have very high-quality one-on-one interaction. So there will be product sampling. Music will be a big part of the way we communicate. But there will be signage at each event with billboards on-site and also in the communities, working with the media in each city to let them know we are there. Internet will also be a big part of our communications.
NYSJ: Some of the AVP players, such as Misty May-Treanor, are known nationally and have appeared in commercials. Are you considering using AVP players in print or TV campaigns?
NM: Right now, that is not part of the plan to kick off the program. But it could evolve to that. If you look at the profiles of some of the AVP players, they also have a status on the Internet social media sites. So we definitely see opportunities there. We just have to find out which are the best ways to go.
NYSJ: Anything out of the ordinary we might see in Nivea's AVP activation?
NM: We are promoting the Nivea Body Wash For Men, and the beach is one of the few places where there is public showering. So we will see if we can do some engagement along that line. For us, it will be a little bit of learn as we go. I know there were other [title] sponsors in the past. But we are bringing something new, something exciting and interesting for the people who will be attending the events.
"If you look at beach volleyball, there are men and women showing a lot of skin. It's a very energetic lifestyle. A lot of energy. A lot of happy personalities."
NYSJ: Personal grooming for men is a booming category. So do you see this as a good way to put Nivea ahead of some of the competition?
NM: Definitely. For example, we have a body wash for men called Active 3, which is a shampoo, body wash and also good to use for shaving while in the shower. We know there are a lot of athletes who shave their bodies. So these are the types of things we are looking at now, looking at ways to leverage and maximize the partnership for athletes beyond AVP.
NYSJ: This season will be the first with new broadcast partner ESPN/ABC. What role did that play in helping Beiersdorf sign the deal with AVP?
NM: Having ESPN really fits in with our strategy of having mass reach while also offering us the opportunity to have one-on-one interaction. We have seen what [ESPN] can do to reach many different types of sports fans, so we see this bringing in new fans and also giving fans of beach volleyball good reasons to watch the events.
NYSJ: Although it is early in your relationship with AVP, do you see having a strong presence at the 2010 Summer Games in London?
NM: It is too early for us to comment on where that will go, but we definitely see the Olympics as a good opportunity for us to elevate the brand. We have been involved with beach volleyball in Europe, so it would be comfortable for us to use the brand to establish [our presence in 2012]. Looking at the way beach volleyball was covered in Beijing, I think it is set up for us to have consumer engagement in the sport in 2012.
NYSJ: What are you looking forward to as far as Nivea and the FIFA World Cup in South Africa?
NM: We have a partnership in Germany with the national soccer team and with England's national soccer team. We will have a logo on their jerseys. There will be activation in the home countries to support the partnership during the World Cup. There will be activation on the ground [in South Africa] but I don't have all the details right now. We will have a lot happening.
NYSJ: Overall, how far do you think the partnership between Nivea and AVP can go?
NM: Beach volleyball is a great sport. So we will get the athletes and attendees involved and get them accustomed to seeing the Nivea brand at the events and on TV. We have a five-year deal so obviously we will build the relationship and plan new engagements as we go along. If we can raise the profile of the sport and the Nivea brand, it will be a great opportunity for everyone.