Beiersdorf generated €5.2m total sales for the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, down 8.5% on the previous year in nominal terms. Sales in its consumer business unit represented €4.2m, down 8.9% on the previous year.
A closer look at Beiersdorf’s consumer business showed that every region, except North America, saw sales decline versus last year, most notably in Africa, Asia and Australia where sales dropped 15.2%. By contrast, sales in North America were up 32.6% during Q3 in nominal terms.
Across Europe, consumer division sales declined 10.4% to €2.07m – down equally across Western and Eastern Europe.
Skin care strength – ‘we held our ground well’
Stefan De Loecker, CEO of Beiersdorf, said: “We held our ground well in a skin care market that remains difficult and won market share in all skin care categories.”
Beiersdorf’s flagship brand Nivea performed better in Q3, with sales down just 1%; the brand also added market share in all categories, particularly in Brazil, Australia, India and Indonesia, the company said.
“The dermocosmetics market has proven particularly resilient in this crisis and we achieved strong double-digit sales growth across all regions with our Eucerin and Aquaphor brands thanks to successful innovations,” De Loecker said.
Speaking to analysts on the company’s earnings call yesterday, he said this was largely due to sales channels like pharmacies being “less or not affected” by COVID-19 lockdowns and Beiersdorf therefore being able to cater to consumers’ continued need to “address real skin problems”.
Beiersdorf reported a similar strength in dermocosmetic for the first half (H1) of 2020.
Derma brands resilient, La Prairie continues struggle
Q3 sales of Eucerin and Aquaphor were up 15.5%, driven largely by double-digit growth rates in North America and by the “continuing success story” of the patented ingredient thiamidol, the company said.
De Loecker added: “Powerful innovations such as the successful thiamidol range drive our business and make our brand one of the leading providers of medical cosmetics for skin care. We will not rest on our laurels. Indeed, we constantly strive to continue our success story.”
Eucerin’s hyaluron-filler and elasticity 3D serum, for example – a product that went on sale in August – offered the first holistic anti-ageing product for mature skin, he said.
Beiersdorf’s luxury brand La Prairie, however, continued to be hard-hit by COVID-19, with sales down 16.9% for the quarter. “Business here continues to be very adversely affected by lockdowns and travel restrictions,” De Loecker said.
The company had started to overhaul La Prairie’s positioning in Europe, he said, aiming to close more than 1,000 doors that had “failed to meet the brand’s exclusive standards” – a move to be completed in 2021. Beiersdorf would also maintain its position on forgoing discounts for the luxury brand, despite the “short-term competitive pressure”, he said.
COVID-19 is ‘changing consumer behaviour’
De Loecker said Beiersdorf would continue to adapt to changing consumer needs during COVID-19.
“The coronavirus is changing consumer behaviour. We see fundamental trends such as sustainability and responsible consumption [that] will not disappear, while the importance of digital consumer engagement and online shopping have [grown even] stronger.”
Consumers were increasingly using online to search for suitable skin care products, he said, and many were also buying online. In the first nine months of 2020, Beiersdorf’s e-commerce sales boomed 45% and the company would continue to improve its digital offering to cater to this, De Loecker said.