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“Freedom to Innovate”: Working in a Startup Atmosphere


Kirsten Morgenstern’s eyes light up when she looks at the five products on her desk before her: there, in high-quality packaging sit the NIVEA massage oil “wellbeing” and the four fragrances “relaxing,” “revitalizing,” “calming,” and “energizing.” For the product developer it was a little dream come true. “A massage oil from NIVEA – I thought that that was always missing. Especially because we offer these great massages in the NIVEA House.” 

Kirsten was able to realize her idea with a small product team – although the quantity of the products is actually too small for the big innovation process for new NIVEA products because they’re sold exclusively in the NIVEA House and online.

Startup feeling guaranteed

“Freedom to Innovate” is the name of the initiative from Beiersdorf’s Research & Development, which makes projects like this possible. If an employee has a convincing idea for an innovation he or she gets to devote ten percent of his or her work time to realizing it – and can put together a cross-functional team of volunteers with whom he or she then works with like a small startup under the guidance of an idea coach.

Alexandra Liese from NIVEA Marketing, and Yvonne Neumann and Jacqueline Zorn from Research & Development, were also immediately excited by Kirsten’s idea to create a massage oil for NIVEA. They form the core team who made the massage oil, including the four fragrances, ready for market within 10 months. 

To some extent, in order to achieve this goal, the four comrades had to break new ground. “Instead of relying on the standard processes for big innovations, for the development of the massage oil we creatively connected individual steps, many we had to work for ourselves – and we had excellent support from all kinds of areas like Purchasing and Packaging,” Alexandra says. “It was an exciting time and it feels like we know half the company here at the headquarters now,” Jacqueline confirms.

A hit at the NIVEA House

The team is especially proud that the massage oil has been so well received by consumers in the NIVEA House. “We just couldn’t wait to get the sales numbers in the first few months and kept asking for the latest update,” said Yvonne. And Fabian Siek, NIVEA House Manager, was happy to share them: “The massage oil is an asset for us. Our expectations were wildly surpassed – and just in time for Valentine’s Day, business was very good,” says Fabian.

A visit to the Hamburg NIVEA House

That was reason enough for the project team to pay a quick visit to the Hamburg NIVEA House and be shown personally by massage therapist Thomas Gartmann how the products are presented on shelves and how they are used in the wellness area.

This homemade short film (in German) will take you to the Hamburg NIVEA House and show you a few impressions from their visit.

Diana Lühmann

About the editor: Diana Lühmann

Since 2014, Diana has been responsible for R&D Communications at Beiersdorf. Prior to that, she was editor-in-chief of the Beiersdorf intranet and responsible for various HR, Brands, digital and strategic communications topics and projects. For our blog, Diana dives into the fascinating world of research and development and takes us with her to peek behind the scenes of our skin research.

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