Authenticity and Connection Lead to Double-Digit Growth

Founded in 1967, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care is today recognized as the pre-eminent natural skin care brand in the U.S. Although ahead of its time in terms of its ingredients, approach to skin care and sustainable gardening and farming practices, Dr. Hauschka had yet to make a dent in the United States market by the early 1990s — while well-respected and successful in Europe, Dr. Hauschka was known only to a small (but quietly growing) cult of enthusiasts in America.

While well-respected and successful in Europe, Dr. Hauschka was known only to a small cult of enthusiasts in America.

At the same time, the natural products movement was hitting its stride, with more and more consumers hungry for all things natural. Consumers were looking for personal care companies whose products were nonsynthetic. They were also craving skin care that actually worked. Dr. Hauschka addressed that gap in the market but was having trouble actually connecting and engaging with the American natural products consumer. It was a classic case of European quality, aesthetics and positioning that were not translating across the Atlantic.

This is a story of people working together for a common cause, leaving their egos behind and trusting in the process.

Repositioning from the Ground Up

Susan and Clifford Kurz took over the distributorship of Dr. Hauschka in the U.S. in 1992. Working with Pure Branding’s marketing and research director, Peter Littell, they began exploring how to express the authenticity of Dr. Hauschka and its parent company, WALA Heilmittel, in a way that connected with American audiences.

Until that point, there had been a reluctance on the company’s part to be fully transparent about Dr. Hauschka’s anthroposophic and biodynamic roots, but Susan and Clifford wanted to find a way to bring the brand closer to its spiritual roots. We began working with them on positioning and identifying the opportunity for the brand. As we came closer to the brand center, WALA decided separately (but fortuitously) to repackage Dr. Hauschka for Europe and the U.S. This meant we had an opportunity to incorporate our U.S. rebranding into the packaging. We tested different options with focus groups to see if the international packaging would work in America.

“The reactions to the German aesthetic were good, so we could work with what they had,” says Peter, “but what our research told us was that the product naming was more problematic. And that’s where we were clear and forceful.”

A working group comprising Pure Branding and Dr. Hauschka’s U.S. leadership and sales team developed the new brand architecture and product nomenclature — and WALA listened.

The launch of the new packaging and positioning was orchestrated around Natural Products Expo West, with careful attention to creating the right degree of excitement and clarity. We supported the launch with an educational seminar featuring collateral that celebrated the new brand positioning and provided the rationale for the naming changes. A product rollover strategy was developed so that in June, Dr. Hauschka would clear out the old inventory from the stores and replace it with the new.

“There was clearly a risk in terms of profitability, but by announcing the new packaging and the date for launch, we were able to manage the inventory so that when we made the switch, there was little in terms of loss,” says Clifford Kurz. “And the impact it made was worth it.”

Working with Pure Branding, the next stage was to support the U.S. market expansion through new Brand Strategy and brand expression. “We knew that Dr. Hauschka’s price point pitted them against commanding luxury brands like Clinique and Estée Lauder,” says Yadim Medore, Pure Branding’s founder and CEO. “However, in the natural channel, consumer price sensitivity was greater. Research informed us that natural shoppers had little trust in the natural personal care category and would ‘cross over’ to food, drug and mass channels for their skin care needs.” We saw the white space opportunity in the category to be “prestige natural,” and to capture this market, we raised the bar for how natural skin care was communicated to the U.S. audience. To express Dr. Haushka’s unique point of differentiation, the communication platform of “Purity. Therapy. Luxury.” was developed.

Beauty Begins in the Garden

To give credence to the platform, Pure Branding simplified and clarified the somewhat esoteric story of Dr. Hauschka’s biodynamic and holistic roots, including the alchemical spagyric processing of its plant material. We also knew the value of showing the U.S. participants the gardens where the ingredients were grown. “We encountered an interesting reaction when we suggested a photo shoot,” Yadim remembers. “Because those who worked in Germany saw the gardens every day, they took them for granted. They asked, ‘Why would you care about photographing the farm?’ Needless to say, we convinced them of the value.”

A new verbal and visual toolkit was developed that captured the magic and day-to-day operations of the gardens where the plant ingredients are grown and harvested. The brand storytelling was unafraid to feature the complexity and sustainability of biodynamic agriculture, the homeopathic and holistic qualities of the products and the luxuriousness of the entire experience. Sacred to the core of the Dr. Hauschka brand is raising consciousness. All outgoing messaging celebrated nurturing inner health to inspire outer beauty, and that natural beauty comes from inner well-being, harmony and the rhythms of nature.

The results were nothing less than spectacular. Within three months of launch, sales were up 30 percent — and for the next two years, significant double-digit growth was the norm. Dr. Hauschka began to focus more on public relations. Within a year, more celebrities were seen using the product and more magazines were writing about the brand. Dr. Hauschka became a destination product for thousands of natural stores and salons. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Branding personal care is like a moving target. One year it’s ‘natural’ and the next it’s ‘organic.’ The key is to identify what makes your brand of skin care unique in a way that can’t be copied. The team at Pure Branding worked with us to dig deep. In the process, we created a brand identity that changed the way people saw Dr. Hauschka and made it the leader in its category of holistic skin care.”

Susan Kurz
Former President, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Inc.

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