The Henkel Innovation Challenge (HIC), in its sixth year, and third in India, was initially geared towards the company’s cosmetics division but now incorporates its entire business line.
Seeking the consumer of tomorrow’s perspective
Students of all subjects, including economics, engineering and natural sciences are invited to form and present their concepts to a national jury for evaluation, after receiving on-site mentoring from Henkel managers. National winners from that round will then be invited to the international final, which will take place in March 2013 in Shanghai.
According to the global manufacturer, the team with the winning concept will receive an around-the-world ticket worth €10,000 euros, those in second place will be awarded €4,000 and third place €2,000 euros.
This year teams from nine Asia-Pacific countries, 12 European and four Latin and North American will compete for their final place in China.
"We started HIC in Germany in 2007, then extended into US and Asia-Pacific in 2009, and into India a year later. Students are tomorrow’s customers, and when the challenge was initially kicked-off, the idea was to tap into the youngsters of today, to see how they perceive our brands and products of the future,” says Ranjan Das, HR director, Henkel India.
India stepping up...
Last year, the finals were held in Poland, and Das reports that of the overall 980 teams (each having two students) that took part, 86 of those were from India and that "this year, the number of case studies and idea submissions from India has already crossed 311."
Henkel will take the winning ideas to the research and development stage, provided they meet the basic criteria that the company sets, both in terms of innovation and branding.
“There are already two projects that we received from last year's event in the evaluation stage," the HR director reveals.
"These will be taken for further evaluation and later to the R&D stage. The intellectual property of these innovations, however, will remain with Henkel. Of the eight finalists that we had last year, we have invited four students to do an internship with us,” he adds.
A shampoo with the ability to cleanse without using water and a special process designed to culture algae are some of the winning submissions in recent years.
Henkel faring well in emerging markets
In May, the Schwarzkopf hair care maker posted its first quarter 2012 results, revealing sales and profitability to be up in all sectors, with the cosmetics division more than pulling its weight.
According to the results, the cosmetics and toiletries business sector continued its long-term upward trend, with sales exceeding the prior-year quarter by 4.9 per cent, reaching €861 million.
And, as with many finished goods manufacturers, the strongest momentum for the company came from the emerging markets, particularly the Africa/Middle East region and the growth markets in Asia, which achieved double-digit growth.