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[Herald Interview] Chaul: How Beiersdorf’s Korean tea-inspired skin care brand came about

General manager of Beiersdorf Korea talks about launching new skin care brand, supporting Korean beauty startups amid pandemic

Endrik Hasemann, general manager of Beiersdorf Korea (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Endrik Hasemann, general manager of Beiersdorf Korea (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
In November the South Korean unit of German personal care giant Beiersdorf, the company behind brands such as Nivea and Eucerin, launched skin care brand Chaul. Its first lineup is inspired by the tea that grows in the southern part of the country -- in Hadong County, South Gyeongsang Province.

Chaul, the first Beiersdorf brand to be exclusively developed and launched in Asia, was created in Korea with plans to branch out into other markets as the company recognizes the country’s famous K-beauty trend and its role as a skin care powerhouse.

“I think Korea has one of the most sophisticated and educated consumers in the world and the market stands for extremely high beauty standards,” said Endrik Hasemann, general manager of Beiersdorf Korea, during a recent interview with The Korea Herald at the company’s office in Yeouido, Seoul.

From the design of the package to its inspiration, Hasemann said the brand tried to encapsulate peace of mind, comparing its identity to “this feeling of a warm cup of tea in your hand.”

“This is also reflected in its philosophy which is ‘Own Your Moment. Own Your Beauty. It is a belief that true beauty is not only external but really needs to come from within as well, self-confidence-driven,” he added.

Hasemann explained that Chaul is also the product of Korea’s rich tradition: It is made with locally sourced ingredients such as jaekseol tea leaves, which are naturally fermented with sunlight.

“We source our tea from the Hadong area with a history of over 1,200 year. One interesting anecdote is that, in the past, it was only accessible to the royal family.”

While the brand appears to lack marketing efforts where television and social media are concerned, he said the company is adopting a long-term strategy.

“We started this brand for the first time as a company launching a new brand outside of Europe. Our ambitions are really high so it’s really important to make it right for the long term, not for short term growth,” he said.

Hasemann is also a co-founder of NX Nivea Accelerator -- a program designed to incubate beauty startups -- and the same team in charge of the program is also behind Chaul.

Against this backdrop, Chaul will be developed in a way that differs from how branding is normally done by Beiersdorf.

First launched in 2019 with five startups, NX Nivea Accelerator comes at a time when the beauty industry is going through a dramatic change, with the rise of new sales channels such as live commerce during the pandemic and the increasingly closer relationship with influencers and celebrities. And the program is designed to nurture startups in various sectors of the beauty industry, ranging from indie brands and beauty tech to platform business models.

“I think it all started with the belief that the beauty industry will more dramatically change within the next five years than probably in the past decades, which is driven by digitalization and more companies coming to the space,” said Hasemann.

Having chosen Korea in consideration of the combination of emerging startups, the ecosystem and the technology with a focus on beauty, the program has over 200 startup candidates to begin. It will have to cut that number down to just five.

The startup incubation team works with each company for a year, providing a customized program to help it realize its goals.

The support includes investment, a strategic partnership, opportunities to collaborate on projects, and training and mentoring sessions led by experts in research and development, marketing and skin care.

The program also provides office space in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood, which has a photo studio, a lounge and a storage area.

This year is the second year running for the program and the second batch of teams is scheduled to graduate in July, with plans to launch a similar program in China.

Lycl, one of the five startups chosen during the first round of the program, known for its beauty review and content platform Unpa.me, secured equity investment from Beiersdorf AG in 2019, making the German consumer goods firm its second-largest shareholder.

“We helped one of the startups by going to our affiliates in Thailand to connect them to our local business partners there so they could accelerate their business in, for example,” Hasemann said.

“Another company Reziena developed a smart mask, which is sheet masks run with microcurrent to accelerate the efficacy of the product, which I think was an amazing invention and they are about to market this,” he added.

As the pandemic accelerates digitalization and spawns new businesses, he said NX Nivea Accelerator is proof of Beiersdorf Korea’s efforts to take the initiative and stay ahead of the curve.

“We see the need for faster and trendier products, maybe even more personalization. And I think that is where our accelerator comes into play to ensure that we understand what is happening that we are also ready to act on those consumer needs as a company.”

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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