With a countrywide literacy rate of 99 percent and an innate love of books, opera and music, German consumers demand knowledgeable service and the chance to try before they buy. “Sampling is key,” says Estée Lauder’s Gabriele Medingdörfer, adding that German women have read about products in magazines and online before they hit the stores.
This story first appeared in the November 13, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tim Fischl of Departmentstore Quartier 206 adds, “We have very enlightened customers who are very well informed and well traveled. They know what’s available in Asia, the States, Paris, London.”
But too much information can be a bad thing, say some. Several in the industry point to what they see as the dangerous power of the influential magazine Oko Test,
which ranks products for their effects on health and the environment rather than wrinkles and gray hair, therefore, they say, favoring natural brands over their more high-tech counterparts. What’s increasingly popular, though, is a happy medium, says P&G’s Maximilian Conze. “Consumers are looking for natural-based products
which at the same time offer scientific proven efficacy.”