NEW YORK — At 112 years old, Kneipp believes it’s high time to take on the U.S. market.
The Würzburg, Germany-based marketer of mid-priced bath and body care products, which was founded in 1891 by Sebastian Kneipp, has undergone a global facelift, according to executives, and has emerged with a major focus on the U.S. The company has changed its logos and packaging; restructured its product assortment into four collections: Classic, Active, Care and Spa, and has slated a raft of product launches.
Two years ago, Kneipp received a cash infusion from Heidenheim, Germany-based Paul Hartmann AG — when that company purchased 80 percent of Kneipp.
“We are in an important and exciting phase,” Ute Ströhm, Kneipp Group’s head of international business, said during a recent interview in New York.
Currently, 60 percent of Kneipp’s total revenues, which have reached 80 million euros, or $93.7 million at current exchange rates, are generated in Germany. “Within two years,” Ströhm said, “more than half of the business should be outside Germany. Within that, the U.S. will take a big share.” Ströhm declined to discuss Kneipp’s current U.S. sales volume, but sources projected it would reach $4.5 million during the next year, a figure that’s expected to triple in the next three to five years.
Part of Kneipp’s reinvention has included shifts in corporate philosophy. In addition to a globalization of the company’s vision, there’s now a fast-track mentality, according to Ströhm, which has affected product development. To wit: Kneipp has scheduled 26 launches for the next year, an unusual step for the company.
On the personnel front, the firm has hired Peter Billig as head of sales and marketing for the Kneipp Corp. of America, which is located in Northvale, N.J. Billig, a fashion and accessories veteran of 20 years, will focus on developing Kneipp’s retail distribution here. In addition to the U.S., Kneipp also considers Spain, Japan and China as target markets. The brand is distributed in a total of 25 countries and has international subsidiaries in Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Currently in the U.S., Kneipp is carried in 53 Nordstrom doors and independent specialty boutiques such as Fred Segal Essentials and Stanley Korshak. The brand has put emphasis on targeting different channels — like upscale department stores, specialty boutiques and spas — equally.In an example of product launch initiatives, Kneipp is currently introducing two almond-based items, an oil and a lotion, under its Care line. The brand is also planning to introduce three more almond-based oils and lotions, as well as at least two primrose-based items, within Kneipp Care next year. Kneipp is also currently launching 15 spa products grouped into three fragrance families: wild rose, sea buckthorn and ylang-ylang.
Kneipp is focusing on three product lines — Classic, Care and Spa — for development in the U.S. The Active collection is expected to remain understated here pending further market research. “We didn’t change the recipes or concepts,” Ströhm said, discussing the realignment of the product assortment. “The problem was [products] didn’t have a proper identity.” Items were therefore given a new look to “increase shelf impact and [be] more appealing.”
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