Mr Andrès, the GfK Consumer Panel analysis reveals that approximately one in four German adults bought natural cosmetic products last year. What do you think are the key drivers of the natural cosmetics market, and how do you see it developing in the future?
Natural cosmetics mirror the trend toward nature and all things natural. They reflect the zeitgeist. Using natural cosmetic products is not just good for you, but also gives you the feeling of doing your bit for the environment. These are reasons that the market will develop further. The success is also attributable to the quality of products improving significantly in recent years: in respect of aroma, texture and application. At the same time, we have reached certain limits here. There are rarely any real innovations in certified natural cosmetics, which is in part due to the limitations imposed by the certification process. Yet innovation is key to further growth.
Manufacturer and store brands are equally popular among consumers. Do you see store brands (e.g. those of German drugstores such as dm and Rossmann) as competition to your own products, or do they perhaps even help you (such as by attracting new potential buyers to natural cosmetics)?
From a consumer perspective, successful store brands have in part established themselves as a brand in their own right via effective brand management. They certainly do attract new buyers to the market, and in this respect support it. We observe these brands and are taking them seriously. However, we believe that we stand out from them markedly.
Alongside natural cosmetics, the shelves of grocery stores and drugstores also contain “near-natural” cosmetics. Consumers may not be aware of the difference. What do you make of such products? Are there efforts underway to make the differences between natural and near-natural cosmetics (more) transparent for consumers? If so, what are these?
Most consumers do not understand certification – and tend to be indifferent toward it as well. At the same time, many are now so well-informed and interested that they can identify those products which are just pretending to be natural.
This means that we are continually adapting and improving our product, while always maintaining a focus on achieving the corresponding level of quality. Our maxim is “Kneipp. Works. Naturally.” Our mission is to produce high-quality products made with natural ingredients which are rooted in the natural world. They must also always have the desired impact. This and our holistic five-pillar philosophy (water, plants, exercise, nutrition and balance) are what make us stand out from our peers and at the same time increase our relevance to the consumer.
In your view, what role does the internet play for the natural cosmetics industry and for Kneipp GmbH specifically? Do you see it as a means of gaining new customers or as a tool for customer retention?
We see the internet as a customer retention instrument. Consumers have become more engaged and often ask questions, sometimes quite critically. The internet means that this information is quicker to find. Moreover, it is easier to enter into direct dialogue with the end consumer.
To end, a personal question: What are your three favorite products from the Kneipp natural cosmetics range, and why?
I love jasmine, so the jasmine and argan bath oil. I also like our bio skin oil, because it’s a nice family product, and the ancient see bath salt “Urmeer Badesalz”, because it is a very pure and authentic product.
Thank you for your time!