Interview about Digital Adverting, w/ Dr. Wolff CEO Eduard Dörrenberg
Eduard R. Dörrenberg is a CEO and Managing Partner at Dr Wolff where he is responsible for marketing, sales and development. We met him for a chat about Dr. Wolff’s plans to take its brand to the digital space.
For the past 18 years, the great grandson of the company founder, Dr. Kurt Wolff, has been the head of the company which is headquartered in Bielefeld. Before joining the company, he worked at the international management and consulting firm A.T. Kearney. Eduard is currently based in Singapore.
EDUARD, TELL US ABOUT DR. WOLFF. WHAT DO YOU DO?
We are a traditional fourth generation German family business. We develop, produce and market cosmetic and medical products, especially for hair and skin. Our most well-known brands are the shampoo brands ALPECIN and Plantur as well as Linola, which is a lotion for stressed and dry skin.
WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND OF THE COMPANY?
The company was founded in 1905 in Bielefeld, Germany, by my great-grandfather, Dr. August Wolff who was a pharmacist. Since then we have focused on functional evidence-based cosmetic and medical products which have a noticeable effect and can help preventing hair loss, dry skin, and other dermatological problems.
WHAT IS YOUR KEY MARKET AND WHERE DO YOU SEE THE BIGGEST FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE DR. WOLFF PRODUCTS?
Our key market is still Germany, our home market. However, the uniqueness of our products means that there’s a global potential. This goes in particular for ALPECIN in Asia and the U.S.
HOW HAVE YOU TRADITIONALLY PROMOTED THE PRODUCTS OF ALPECIN AND PLANTUR?
We always need to educate our consumers about the product benefits, and traditionally we’ve used TV and print advertisement together with some PR activities.
WHAT HAS MADE YOU FOCUS ON DIGITAL ADVERTISING MUCH STRONGER?
I’ve been living in Asia, in Singapore, for the past 2 years now. Last year, I visited Silicon Valley and recently we launched our business in China. This has finally convinced me that there is no choice. We need to have a strong digital presence to grow in these new markets.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU SEE FOR ALPECIN TO BUILD BRAND AWARENESS AND DRIVE SALES THROUGH DIGITAL ADVERTISING?
I would say the opportunities are much the same as in traditional media. It’s about educating consumers and we can now do that via online TV and smart advertisement in social environments like Facebook and Wechat. In addition to this, increasing our advertising activities in the digital space enables us to better compare in real time our advertising efforts with sales results.
DO YOU SEE ANY MAJOR DIFFERENCES WHEN IT COMES TO ADVERTISING IN ASIA, YOUR NEW MARKETS, COMPARED TO EUROPE? AND HOW CAN A STRONGER DIGITAL PRESENCE SUPPORT YOU IN REACHING YOUR MARKETING GOALS THERE?
Not really, because problems are the same, such as hair loss. Only difference is that doing it every day is more difficult – and the thing is they do care a great deal, the Asian men. Our slogans in regards to the ALPECIN Shampoo are “doping for your hair” and “German engineering for your hair” and these slogans are truly globally understood. Digital is essential, since people live in this new environment and sometimes do not even know the old world media, such as newspapers or traditional TV.
HOW IS ALPECIN’S STRONG ENGAGEMENT IN SPORTS (CYCLING, FOOTBALL) AFFECTING AND SUPPORTING YOUR BRAND MANAGEMENT AND ADVERTISING STRATEGY?
Our goal is to globalize ALPECIN and later on our other brands. Cycling is a global sport and features the world’s biggest annual sport event, the Tour de France. Cycling is growing tremendously and it’s sometimes called the new golf as you see more and more men in our target group from the age of 25 and up taking on the sport themselves as well as following the major cycling events. It’s just perfect for a product like ours. We have over 60 years of history in cycling which makes our involvement even more authentic and credible.
IS CYCLING – OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SPORT ACTIVITIES – AN AREA WITH WHICH YOU WANT TO ENGAGE YOURSELF IN ORDER FOR YOU TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD, TOO?
Yes, of course. The interest in cycling is picking up in the U.S. and Asia, especially. For this reason, we will have more activities in those markets in the future. In addition to this, you have related sports like triathlon with a similar audience that is male-dominated and above 25 years of age which fits well with our latest and new product, the Alpecin Sport Caffeine Shampoo.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE RELEVANCE OF DIGITAL ADVERTISING WILL CHANGE THE WAY RETAIL BRANDS ARE PROMOTED?
Not everything will be new, but of course you will have much better targeting opportunities and ability to connect online activities to direct sales results to a greater extent. However, the almost unlimited possibilities in digital advertising can also be a threat. For this reason, the quality of campaigning will be very important as well as the ability to anticipate and understand sudden changes in digital behavior or capitalize on new opportunities.
IS ECOMMERCE A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF YOUR FUTURE GROWTH? IF YES, HOW ARE YOU ADDRESSING THIS MAJOR CHALLENGE?
Absolutely. I don’t think you will be able to survive without a presence in the online marketplace. You can already witness how this is the case in China and soon in other markets. In fact, we just founded our own digital unit, called ‘eWolff’, and are working hard to offer our products through more and more commercial channels all over the world.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR BEST ADVICE TO TRADITIONAL OFFLINE COMPANIES CONSIDERING SHIFTING, OR ALLOCATING, BUDGETS TO DIGITAL ADVERTISING?
My advice would be to build a separate unit and report directly to the CEO. If you want to catch up with the rest of the competition, you will have to start now and keep a mindset of continuously learning and testing to find out what works best for you online. Also, together with the Bertelsmann foundation and other great people we will soon start a project called “Silicon Valley“ in Bielefeld in order to bring the digital world closer to the many successful family businesses in our home town and region.
EDUARD, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR SPEAKING WITH US.
This blog post is an adapted version of an article that featured in Leverate Media’s company magazine ‘Leverate ONE‘.