It had been reported that the French commercial court had ruled in Unilever’s favour; however Beiersdorf has informed CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com that having received the initial decision criticizing the product designs it came to an agreement with Unilever to allow both products, with a packaging amendment, to remain on the shelves in France.
The initial complaint was made to the tribunal de commerce de Paris, concerning Beiersdorf's Nivea 'pocket' deodorant and Unilever’s 'compresse' versions of Rexona and Dove, both 100ml; the former launched in January this year, the latter has been on the shelves in France for a year.
The issue, according to French publication Le Figaro.fr, was that Unilever believed consumers would think that all of the deodorants used the same technology.
This means they would believe that both would equally be as effective as conventional deodorants of 200ml size - which is Unilever’s green tagline – giving the Nivea product a significant price advantage against its rivals.
Beiersdorf explains that the Nivea Pocket, which does not include similar technology to Unilever and does not claim to have the same performance in half the size, was created in response to a distinct consumer need and in response to a growing demand of its consumers for ‘on-the-go’ products, including deodorants.
“The claim ‘pocket’ has been very popular in France for many years and widely used for consumer goods which easily fit into a handbag for ‘on-the-go’ usage,” a Beiersdorf spokesperson tells CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com.
“Studies and the first sales figures from other markets show, that the 100ml size really matches this consumer need.”
Beiersdorf tells us it has taken up the issue with Unilever and both agreed that after a minimal amendment of the packaging design, both products can be sold in the same shops as two different products competing on the same market, but based on distinctive concepts.
“There won’t be any recall of our current Nivea Pocket products,” continues the company spokesperson. “It goes without saying that compliance with legal and ethical standards, including competition laws, are a prerequisite for this success.”
“They are one of Beiersdorf’s core principles – not only because we’re a responsible company but because it is very important for our everyday business – not least to fulfil our consumers’ expectations.”
Deodorant category booms in Europe
Deodorant has become one of the hottest sections in Europe, which has seen manufacturers increasingly investing in new technology both in packaging and formulation to keep up.
Major players like Unilever and Beiersdorf are investing heavily in new technology which increases sustainability, whilst others are also developing innovative products designed to address particular new customer needs.