KOTRA Express talks to Endrik Hasemann and Jacek Brozda at Beiersdorf Korea to hear about Korea’s skincare industry and their experiences doing business here.
German-based Beiersdorf AG is a leading provider of innovative, high-quality skincare products with over 135 years of experience in its field. 20,000 employees-strong across the world, the company’s product portfolio consists of international skincare bands including NIVEA, Eucerin, La Prairie, Aquaphor, Atrix, and more.
Beiersdorf Korea entered the Korean market by establishing a local company called NIVEA Seoul in 1997. With the success of its NIVEA product line, the company introduced Eucerin to Korean consumers in 2012, and as of 2018, holds the No. 1 market share in the lip care, deodorant, and body sun care categories in Korea. Last year, Beiersdorf Korea launched a startup accelerator program called NIVEA Accelerator (NX) with the objective to empower Korean beauty startups by forming strategic partnership agreements with them, and made its first venture investment in Korean beauty startup, LYCL Inc.
Read on to learn more from Endrik Hasemann and Jacek Brozda at Beiersdorf Korea about Korea’s skincare industry and their experiences doing business here.
First things first—can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Endrik Hasemann: Hello, my name is Endrik Hasemann, I am the general manager of Beiersdorf Korea, co-founder of NIVEA Accelerator (NX), and external director at LYCL Inc., a Korean beauty startup. Next to being responsible for great brands like NIVEA in Korea, my aim is to fully understand and leverage the Korean beauty ecosystem for Beiersdorf to drive innovation, new business models and investment opportunities.
Before coming to Korea, I worked in different marketing and sales roles at Beiersdorf HQ, in Germany, in Europe and in Africa. Before joining Beiersdorf, I worked at Unilever, where I started my professional career. As startups and new business ideas always were my passion, I also co-founded a startup for marketing and advertising in Germany.
Jacek Brozda: Excited to meet you. My name is Jacek Brozda and I am the head of Ventures and New Business for Beiersdorf Korea, as well as co-founder of the NIVEA Accelerator (NX). I joined the Korean business two years ago with the mission to drive new initiatives and growth opportunities.
My career at Beiersdorf started in 2015 with cross-functional assignments in e-commerce, digital marketing, brand management and in-house consulting. Before joining Beiersdorf, I worked for Reckitt Benckiser as well as a digital marketing consultancy for P&G and Nestlé. In summary, I have spent my entire career in the FMCG industry.
How did you become interested in Korea?
Endrik Hasemann: The Korean market is among the largest beauty markets in Asia and at the forefront of innovative skincare products and digitalization. For me, it was exciting to see how Korean beauty or K-Beauty has influenced the beauty industry beyond its own borders. Today, many of the latest trends and innovations in the beauty industry originate in Korea before spreading globally. To first-hand experience this rapid innovation in Korea is very interesting for me.
Jacek Brozda: Korea is an exciting country, from a business as well as cultural perspective. During my time in Germany, I gained the opportunity to make a global analyses for Beiersdorf on skincare startups. We especially looked at rising trends like beauty tech and personalization. During this time it was fascinating for me to learn that Korea is globally a front runner for innovative beauty startups. This insight made me very interested to learn more about Korea and the local market dynamics.
Can you tell us about Beiersdorf and its history?
Endrik Hasemann: Beiersdorf was founded in 1882 in Hamburg, Germany. In 1911, the famous white NIVEA Creme was invented. “Nivea” actually derives from the Latin word for snow white. Today, this cream is being sold all over the world, and millions of consumers grow up with our products, including me.
So, with our long history, we were able to build trust with our consumers and at the same time we keep developing innovative products tailored to their needs.
What made Beiersdorf establish a branch in Korea?
Endrik Hasemann: We established our branch in Korea in 1997. It was very important for us to build a long-term perspective on the Korean market.
We are proud to see the continued growth over the past years and established leading positions in several categories including deodorant, as well as hand and lip care. Based on this, we expanded our brand portfolio with German brands like Eucerin, Hansaplast, Atrix and 8x4.
What moved the company to launch its NIVEA Accelerator (NX) program last year?
Jacek Brozda: We believe the beauty industry will change more fundamentally in the next 10 years compared to the changes in the past 100 years. Due to this disruption, Beiersdorf initiated the C.A.R.E.+ strategy in order to leverage future-proof competitive advantages. We see open innovation and entrepreneurship as core elements of this strategy and part of a larger venture ecosystem.
We decided to make Korea the flagship location for our NIVEA Accelerator, because it is a frontrunner in beauty and digital technologies. So we want Beiersdorf to be where the future of beauty begins. In fact, no other location in the world has the combination of a leading edge startup ecosystem, technology ecosystem and beauty ecosystem. This brings Korea into the best position to develop new skincare trends.
How is Korea’s skincare market different from that in other parts of the world?
Endrik Hasemann: Well, from my belief, the main differences are the sophistication of consumers, speed of innovation and its global scale.
Korean consumers really are fascinating. They are among the most sophisticated users of skincare products, with the famous 10-step routine and their willingness to try new skincare formats.
Based on this local demand, an extremely sophisticated beauty ecosystem of strong local established players, rising beauty startups and high quality ODMs have developed. This ecosystem— empowered by the high degree of digitalization in Korea—accelerates innovation and the rise of new beauty trends, which are very popular around the globe especially among millennials and Gen Z. Today, Korea is one of the largest exporting countries for skincare products in the world.
What are the advantages of doing business in Korea?
Endrik Hasemann: As said before, next to being a significant market for skincare, Korea is also one of the countries where the impact of the digital disruption is most progressed in our categories.
One of the core objectives of Beiersdorf and a key pillar of our corporate C.A.R.E.+ strategy is to lead and to win in this digital disruption as a company and with our brands. With NIVEA Accelerator, we have the possibility to closely work with potential beauty disruptors of tomorrow. This is a great opportunity for us as a company to identify long-term partnerships for skincare innovations, new business models and investment opportunities to secure long-term success for Beiersdorf.
Next to the business, I personally really think it is a privilege working in Korea, having the chance to get to know this fascinating culture as well as to work with so many great people.
What are some strengths of Korea’s startup ecosystem, especially in terms of skincare and beauty?
Jacek Brozda: Korea is definitely among the leading startup hubs globally. It has been a significant achievement of the country to create the whole startup ecosystem systematically over the past years. Last year’s venture investment size was over KRW 4 trillion (EUR 3 billion). This is about twice as large as two years ago and demonstrates the continuous growth.
Beauty startups are additionally one key strength of the Korean ecosystem. This is unique in global comparison, because even popular startup hubs like San Francisco, Tel-Aviv and Berlin, all lack a well-developed beauty ecosystem. For instance, we know from our own database that there are at least over 500 beauty startups in Korea, but the number might be even higher.
How does the NX program aim to strengthen your company’s business partnerships in Korea?
Jacek Brozda: The NX program is expected to further strengthen the business partnerships of Beiersdorf within Korea and beyond. During the program, we share our skincare expertise with the startups and create mutual business projects in alignment with our Beiersdorf headquarters.
The NX program is quite selective—every year, we only choose the top five startups from over 200 candidates. We focus on quality and not quantity when it comes to acceleration. Hence, our program is designed for a one-year period to maximize potential collaboration projects with the startups.
Today, NX is the first global beauty accelerator program in Korea and we are now on the journey to become the leading beauty accelerator in Asia-Pacific in the years to come.
What are some future goals that Beiersdorf plans to achieve through the NX program in Korea?
Endrik Hasemann: Our goal is to establish a complete win-win partnership between beauty startups and Beiersdorf. Compared to their potential, Korean beauty startups seem to lack chances to expand their capabilities. In order to step up the Korean beauty startups to the next level, NX is trying to deliver global business opportunities to the startups, while bringing innovation to the existing businesses of Beiersdorf.
By Grace Park
Investment Public Relations Team / Invest Korea
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)
1) C.A.R.E.+ strategy: Courage + Aspiration + Responsibility + Empathy