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3D product models: Digitalization beyond the epicenters

For us at Beiersdorf, digital transformation is above all a cultural change that can only succeed if it happens decentrally and at all levels. That's why we also want to give a stage to innovation projects that take place away from the digital epicenters around Big Data and artificial intelligence. In this blog story, our colleague Jasmin Quellmann, Head of Studio NX and thus Manager Digital Content Creation & Distribution, tells us how she and her team are contributing to digitalization and cultural change at Beiersdorf with a current project, while also setting a new benchmark for visual digital content in the industry...

Jasmin Quellmann, Head of Studio NX

Dear Jasmin, first tell us what exactly you do at Beiersdorf.

Gladly. My team – which consists of seven people – and I are responsible for everything to do with developing digital content for our products.Content here not only means visual material such as product photos, but also user-generated content and the creation of texts that we need for product descriptions, for example.. The goal is to use this content to create a unique consumer experience. One of the key questions here is: How do we get our beautiful content to our consumers and/or to our retail partners? So, we are also responsible for the various tools and processes behind it, which accordingly, we want to improve continuously.

Your current innovation is the so-called "Packshot Creator". Is this a content or a process topic?

Both. The Packshot Creator is a tool that helps us generate product photos, digitally and fully automated. Since we sell our products all over the world, we have an incredible variety of products as well as requirements for these so-called "pack shots": different formats for the most diverse channels and purposes, and everything in turn adapted to the local markets. That's why the product photos have been produced hundreds of times in every country in which we are represented. With our new Packshot Creator, we can now produce any product photo - regardless of the country, angle or product and background required. The whole thing is based on 3D models of our products, which allows us to generate not only photos, but also videos, animations and 360° packshots.


3D models and 360°-degree product views are not really new...?

Yes and no. There are industries and markets in which this has been used for a long time, for example in the automotive industry. In the FMCG sector, however, these 360° packshots are a real novelty. We are setting a new industry standard for fully automated packshot creation, making our products even more tangible for our consumers online. 


How exactly does the product become more tangible and why is that important?

The pandemic has given online shopping even more momentum - and we at Beiersdorf are feeling the effects of this on a massive scale. In the first quarter of this year alone, our eCommerce business grew by over 70 %. Everyday life has simply changed, and consumers have adapted their behavior accordingly. So today, more than ever, we need a unique digital shopping experience, a perfect digital shelf, so to speak. 

Online, however, we have many more opportunities and space to describe our unique selling points, provide skin care advice, or provide more detailed information about products and ingredients. Personalization of all this information also plays an important role in creating unique consumer experiences. In the future, however, we will only be able to map this if we digitize and automate our processes. Our Packshot Creator is therefore a key success factor for localizing and personalizing our products without diluting the overall image of our global digital brand presence.

What does this process look like in practice? How do you have to imagine it?

Basically, no manual step is necessary anymore. Once the first step, i.e. the artwork of the product, has been approved, the whole machinery starts: a complete 3D model of each individual product variant is created in several steps. Based on predefined local requirements, for example, customer-specific packshots are then created and made available. By storing this centrally in our global DAM (Digital Asset Management) and linking it to the respective product in Beiersdorf’s global PIM (Product Information Management), we are able to distribute this automatically to the various channels and retail partners. So, we are very fast in production, much more cost-efficient and much faster to market because we can produce lots of localized, customized content for our consumers. Today we are at a point where we can say: There is currently nothing better in our industry, technologically speaking, than the product images from our Packshot Creator.

How did you come up with it and how did you approach the project?

With the exponential increase in demands due to digitalization, we need to create more content and do it as efficiently as possible. This Packshot Creator sets us up perfectly for this now and for the future.

You have to think of the entire project in terms of several stages. At the beginning of 2020, we started working closely with the NIVEA design team and our global marketers to define the styles for the products. Subsequently, we created the 3D models for the different products. We now have over 500, so we were able to generate all possible product images at the push of a button.
Then, based on the different requirements of the countries and the respective trading partners, we defined collections of product images to be automatically generated per country. We then started to connect all our tools and automate the whole process, from the finalization of the artwork, to the creation of the packshots with the Creator, to the storage of the packshots in our systems, including the product information, to the delivery to the retailer.

What was the biggest challenge for you and your project team?

The technologies in the systems as we are using them now - especially in process automation - did not exist to the same degree before. That's why this project was very complex. Each individual tool ultimately had to be ready to be completely automated. Despite our expertise, developing the respective systems and coordinating the timing between these developments was a challenge in which we all learned a lot. But it was our common goal and we were determined to achieve it. This team spirit is what turned an initial idea into a success and saves us a lot of time and energy today.

And what does the future look like now? What happens next?

Definitely exciting! In addition to NIVEA, we will next roll out Packshot Creator to other Beiersdorf brands, such as EUCERIN and Labello, and to even more countries. Of course, the technologies will continue to develop in parallel, so we already have our sights set on the next project, which will simplify the compilation of product sets in one image. Additionally, I'm looking forward to seeing what other possibilities there will be.

Thank you, Jasmin, for this insight. 

Here you can find our new packshots and 360° packshots already in action.

Ready for the challenge?

Then apply now! One last tip: if the right opening isn’t available right now, simply activate our job agent. It will keep you informed and let you know as soon as there is a new opening in your desired area.
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About the editor: Laura Bieler

After studying digital communications, writing her master's thesis together with Beiersdorf, and gaining experience in journalism, marketing and corporate communications, Laura joined Beiersdorf's Corporate Digital Communications team in March 2021, where she is responsible for a wide range of communications projects related to digitalization. As befits a digital communications strategist, however, areas such as social media and digital employee communications are not neglected.