Inken Hollman-Peters is just 37, but she is raising the profile of women over 50, long ignored by cosmetics marketers in Europe.As marketing manager for facial products at German skincare marketer Beiersdorf, she led the July 1995 rollout of Nivea Vital into Germany, Europe's largest market, and the surrounding countries. The five-product range of night and day creams, tinted day cream, facial wash and a regenerating concentrate is aimed at women over 50.Niv ea Vital's instant success in creating a new product category-without taking sales away from the main Nivea brand-inspired rapid me-too launches by rivals Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal. By October 1996, 15 months after the launch, B eiersdorf's Nivea Vital had a 4.5% share of the $700 million German facial care market. P&G's and L'Oreal's own line extensions for older women, Oil of Olay Vital and Plentitude Revitalift respectively, each had a 1.5% share.Ms. Ho llman-Peters predicted Nivea Vital's market share will grow to 7%."We did know from the start that two things had top priority: first-class products with a limited product line and communication," she said. But most agency creati ve teams are not used to targeting older age groups, she observed."It took endless efforts and discussions with our agency, TBWA
Hamburg, until we found the right approach," she recalled.That approach-a campaign featuring 50-ish model Susanne Shoneborn, with her gray hair and wrinkles, to sell skin cream-was so strikingly unusual that it became newsworthy. Nivea Vital garnered 30 newspaper and magazine articles and 22 TV reports.During the first six months of the launch, Beiersdorf spent about $6 million on print and TV advertising. Ms. Hollman-Peters bolstered the paid ads and the free media attention with a direct marketing campaign through Sale, a Hamburg agency. Sampling include d sending 55,000 women little packages showing pictures of the ads and containing samples, an explanation of the products and a questionnaire. The reply rate was an amazing 8.2%.Nivea Vital's launch has not cannibalized market share from the Nivea Visage range, which is aimed at young women and leads the German facial care market with a 17% share."We will continue to develop the Nivea range, not necessarily with additional products-maybe one," she said. " Women who are 40 today and who may in 10 years switch to Nivea have some more expectations of skincare brands than women who are 50 and over, who grew up during World War II or in the postwar period."