Women in Asia traditionally flock to products that will lighten the color of their skin. Light skin is preferred because it conveys higher status and suggests an affluent lifestyle spent indoors, not working outside in manual labor or agriculture.
Although it is a departure, Beiersdorf believes Nivea Visage Oxygen Power's health benefits will appeal to Chinese women just as it has in other markets. Oxygen Power in now available in more than 25 countries, including most of Europe and South America and Russia, but the German company has been eager to introduce the brand in the mainland, where skin-care products are exceptionally popular among men and women.
It will also help Beiersdorf expand into new areas. It became the top performer in China's facial cleanser segment last year with its Nivea Visage and Nivea for Men product lines. In the first half of 2008, Beiersdorf's global sales rose by 11.5%, largely through sales growth in China, where sales grew nearly 44%. But its other products, like moisturizers, are less established.
Starting point for new Nivea products
"The product is all about boosting skin renewal," said Shanghai-based Ismene Grohmann, Beiersdorf's marketing manager of Nivea Visage line in China.
"We think Oxygen Power will especially attract nonusers of Nivea. People here know we are strong in facial cleansers but with the first product in the market that includes oxygen, we want to introduce Chinese consumers to our moisturizers as well. This will be the starting point of a whole range of product launches for Nivea Visage in China."
The company claims Oxygen Power's formula boosts the brand's renewal process by infusing 15% more oxygen into women's skin, boosting cell renewal, so skin is more resistant to daily stress factors. The day cream version also carries a UVA and UVB protection filter with vitamin E. Beiersdorf plans to eventually offer a whitening version of the brand as well. Oxygen Power's formula claims to help hydrate skin that is dried out from high levels of air pollution or strong air-conditioning. Both conditions apply to large numbers of white-collar, middle-class office workers in first- and second-tier cities, the primary target market for Oxygen Power.
"Air quality is a big issue for Chinese," said Eugene Chew, general manager of Agency.com, Shanghai. The digital-marketing arm of TBWA Worldwide developed the online marketing strategy for the Oxygen Power launch, while its parent company created above-the-line creative.
Media buying has been handled by Carat globally, but Beiersdorf is currently reviewing its media business in China. The pitch has narrowed to the Aegis Media incumbent as well as WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia and Omnicom Group's OMD.
"Many office workers have humidifiers on their desks sending out steam. There is an obsession with the quality of the environment in China and also with skin care," Mr. Chew said.
Beiersdorf "is starting to include online advertising in pretty much every campaign now. For this product launch, online is one of the few media formats where we could really explore the oxygen angle," he said.
Campaign revolves around online media
Beiersdorf created a website, nivea-oxygen.com.cn, to introduce the skin-care range. It also created an online campaign, "Healthy Living," that will run on portals and women's lifestyle websites in China such as Sohu, Onlylady, MSN and Tianya.
Instead of focusing only on the product benefits, Mr. Chew said, Beiersdorf widened the conversation to focus on the product's role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Content created by Agency.com for the website promotes oxygen-rich foods, exercises that enhance your breathing, outdoor activities and oxygen-enriching spa treatments.
Beiersdorf also partnered with a popular women's fashion magazine, Rayli, which will also promote the product line on its website, Rayli.com.
The Oxygen Power website has a customizable e-magazine that allows women to upload their photos and become the "Rayli Beauty" cover girl. The magazine provided several magazine cover templates. Each e-magazine has 10 content pages, of which six can be customized by consumers.
The e-magazine customization process requires women to answer questions related to their health and lifestyle, such as their exercise regime and eating habits. Their answers determine which "healthy living" advice columns populate the e-magazine.
The articles are personalized with the user's name and additional photos uploaded by the user. Web visitors are able to view all user-generated e-magazines and can forward their magazines to their friends.
The campaign site also offers online quizzes that rate consumers' health, a health expert's blog where visitors can have their skin-care and lifestyle questions answered, product facts, massage techniques to maximize the attributes of the Oxygen Power product range and a weekly lucky draw promotion for Nivea Oxygen products.
Data captured from the e-magazine customization, health quiz and lucky draw will be used for future promotions for Nivea products.
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