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Tell me where you live, and I’ll develop what you need

Dr. Nills Hoffmann
Dr. Nils Hoffmann (l.) at a Beiersdorf support event for the Smile Foundation.

Not all skin is the same, as many people know very well. But there’s more to it than you might think at first glance: what care our skin needs and what cosmetic needs we have depends very much on our genes, environment and culture. Which products do consumers use in Africa or Asia, for example? How do these needs differ from those that Europeans have? Geocosmetics researchers are occupied with these and similar questions. 

One of them is Dr. Nils Hoffmann, R&D Director Near East at Beiersdorf. Born in Hamburg, for three years he has lived and worked in the Indian affiliate 600 km north of Mumbai. One of his main tasks is studying what consumers want in skin care products in India, Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and Russia in order to then bring corresponding products on to the market.

But what exactly is Geocosmetics?

“Broadly speaking the term geocosmetics describes products that appeal to diverse consumers around the world,” explains Hoffmann. Indians, for example, love hair oils and Arabs intense fragrances. Dark skin tends to dry out quickly, which is why in Africa people like to use lotions that are very rich. In Asia on the other hand, due to the moist and humid air, people like a lotion that is quickly absorbed. That is why it is advantageous for geocosmetics researchers to live on location. This way, like journalists, they can research up close who has what needs in the world and develop special products for them.

Geocosmetics Beiersdorf India
The Beiersdorf affiliate NIVEA India PVT. LTD. in Ahmedabad.

“A bathroom in India for example, looks a lot different from one in Germany. People often shower with a bucket and a scoop to save water. Thus, the fact that people in India want a different product from those in Germany where you can just stay in the shower for another five minutes, is clear. And something like this is all more obvious when you experience it in person,” says the Beiersdorf researcher.

The deodorant “NIVEA Body Deodorizer”, developed for India by the Beiersdorf lab Near East.
The deodorant “NIVEA Body Deodorizer”, developed for India by the Beiersdorf lab Near East.

Different Countries, Different Markets

Among the greatest personal successes for Hoffmann in the last three years is a deodorant that was specially developed for the Indian market by him and his team that has unique properties: available not as an aerosol, but as a pump atomizer, it is distinguished by an intensive fragrance that just wouldn’t find a market in, for example, Germany. The reason is that in India deodorants are more often sprayed as a perfume on clothing than on the skin. “So, we had to develop the product completely differently from a deodorant that we have in Europe. In addition to a much stronger scent and a regionally typical fragrance, this deodorant must not damage clothing by leaving behind stains,” says Hoffmann. In India he can now admire his deodorant on shelves and “that sure makes you proud,” says the researcher.

After his service in India, Nils Hoffmann already knows that he and his family will be taking a new behavior home to Germany: “When you come back from a country where drinking water is scarce, it changes your own behavior with water. You’re just not as wasteful with it.”

Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since autumn 2019, Diana has been responsible for corporate communication related to HR and inspiring people at Beiersdorf. These include the areas of Diversity, Learning & Development, Career, Leadership, and Health. Previously, she was in charge of R&D Communications and explored the exciting world of our research and development.