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Exclusive interview

Beiersdorf heralds social media as key to communication as its innovation drive continues

By Andrew McDougall , 08-Mar-2012
Last updated the 08-Mar-2012 at 12:34 GMT

Andreas Clausen, responsible for Open Innovation at Beiersdorf
Andreas Clausen, responsible for Open Innovation at Beiersdorf

The way people connect and communicate with each other through social media has affected the way business is done and is a great source of innovation, according to Germany-based Beiersdorf.

The Nivea skin care maker made this announcement as part of its first birthday celebrations for its Open Innovation Initiative ‘Pearlfinder’, a platform which aims to drive growth by capturing new ideas from external players.

Industry exclusive

In an exclusive interview with CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com, Andreas Clausen, responsible for Open Innovation at Beiersdorf, explained that the trend to connect and communicate within social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook influences, in many ways, how business is done today.

It is something that many other of the big players have caught on to, as L’Oreal announced its focus on digital media  and Procter and Gamble declared its online focus , and Klausen explained that it is no different for Beiersdorf and its ‘successful’ initiative.

“The Pearlfinder is our opportunity to connect within one community with thousands of smart, creative minds all over the world as a basis for a joint collaboration,” Clausen said.

The Beiersdorf man continued to explain that the initiative, set up last year, has been a great success and has led to some promising research collaborations.

Strengthening innovation opportunity

“In the past we were not able to stay in frequent contact with all of our external partners on a broad basis.  Now, due to Pearlfinder, they have the opportunity to stay close to us and get insights of directions we would like to go with them,” he explained.

“Pearlfinder has shown that it can strengthen our innovation ability and that our approach to a continuous exchange of ideas with creative people and companies outside of Beiersdorf works.”

According to Clausen, the initiative helps to get faster access to innovation due to broadening the horizon of ideas and reducing time to work on a scientific challenge.

“Furthermore, you increase the opportunity to enter new technologies or business fields with partners you would never have spoken to in the past.”

Following Pearlfinder’s successful first year, and Nivea skin care’s dominance as the company’s main brand in 2011 , Beiersdorf now wish to open the platform up to attract more external partners from other industries for further innovation.

Crossover is key

Many of the ingredients used in cosmetics were originally used in completely different industries, such as Q10 which has its origin in the food industry.

“Beiersdorf wants to tie in with the successful first year of Pearlfinder. This year we are increasingly focusing on attracting more external partners, also from neighbouring industries, to get even more valuable ideas from innovative partners for our research and development work,” said Clausen.

“Nowadays, to stay a successful Research and Development organization the integration of ideas and knowledge from external partners becomes key. In Beiersdorf Research & Development alone the number of collaborations with external partners has tripled over the last three years.”

The Germany-headquartered company designed the web platform to be open to all innovators, from university spin-offs and one man inventors, to larger organisations.

In an exclusive interview with CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com  last year, Beiersdorf explained this helps understand needs better than in the past and allows companies to introduce new ideas which they most likely would not share in an open network.

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