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Beiersdorf R&D head says it’s OK to appreciate external innovations

By Andrew McDougall+

21-Mar-2014
Last updated on 21-Mar-2014 at 16:48 GMT

Nivea's In-Shower Body Lotion has been one of the past year's success stories
Nivea's In-Shower Body Lotion has been one of the past year's success stories

Traditionally cosmetics companies have adopted a ‘not invented here’ attitude, but big benefits can be gained from changing to a ‘proudly found elsewhere’ mindset and being open with external partners, says Beiersdorf’s head of research and development.

More than 3 years after launching its Pearlfinder Open Innovation network , CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com speaks with Dr Klaus-Peter Wittern about how this has led to numerous additional opportunities to interact with external partners in an open and trusted way by encouraging external input of ideas and proposals.

This has meant adapting traditional approaches and questions by crowdsourcing or collaborating to ensure that innovation stays on track and is relevant, explains Klaus-Peter.

“Insights on our consumers’ skin requirements and wishes are the basis for our innovation activities and therefore also an integral part of our Open Innovation efforts,” he tells us.

“We generate these insights through modern consumer research methods. For instance, tests on early-stage ideas and prototypes incorporate feedback from testers.”

Open innovation

Klaus-Peter informs me that this kind of direct dialogue between consumers and developers allows Beiersdorf to optimize ideas early on and directly integrate that into the product development process, no matter whether the idea was generated internally or externally.

Dr Klaus-Peter Wittern speaks to Cosmetics Design

This collaboration can be seen in the last year when the Germany-based company identified a trustworthy partner in China who cultivates Magnolia, after Beiersdorf’s initial tests observed interesting anti-ageing effects of magnolia bark extract.

By using its external network, this partner was able to extract the relevant components in the desired quality from the plant, and the active was incorporated into the different product formulas of the new Nivea Cellular Anti-Age face care and Eucerin Volume-Filler ranges.

“These two product examples belong to the respective brands’ most successful launches of the last year,” states Dr Wittern.

Proof is in the pudding

Other open innovations that have considerably helped the company in the last year include the Nivea brand’s Deodorant Stress Protect, In-Shower Body Lotion, Cellular Anti-Age face care, and Eucerin’s Volume-Filler product launches off the back of this network.

“Moreover, we have continued to support previous innovations with further growth potential such as Nivea Deodorant Invisible for Black & White,” says Klaus-Peter.

“It is not only the most successful deodorant launch in Nivea’s history but also a great example for cross-industry Open Innovation as we have developed the concept and technical solution together with textile experts from the renown Fraunhofer Institute.”

Looking ahead, we are told that Beiersdorf will further expand its activities with external innovators under the umbrella of the Open Innovation initiative Pearlfinder.

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