Digital innovations and consumer relationships: Henkel lays down plans to advance business in ‘crucial’ SEA market

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Hair care company Henkel is stepping up efforts to connect with consumers in South East Asia.
Hair care company Henkel is stepping up efforts to connect with consumers in South East Asia.
Hair care company Henkel is stepping up efforts to connect with consumers in South East Asia, which it regards as a vital market for the company’s growth.

But the region is not without its challenges, including diverse set of markets, increasingly demanding consumers and a rapidly evolving and fragmented retail landscape.

However, Davin Leong, Head of Expansion and Regional Sales, Asia-Pacific, Henkel Beauty Care Retail, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ the firm saw these as massive opportunities for the company.

“Our ambition remains consistent that we want to be the fastest growing hair care company in the region,” ​said Leong. “We want to firmly establish our footprint in the premium segment of the mass retail environment by providing innovative and trendy products that are able to meet consumer demands across the region.”

Connecting with consumers

With the emergence of new brands and the development of e-commerce, Leong emphasised that developing a rapport with its consumers was becoming increasingly important.

“We have put a great emphasis on connecting with consumers on various platforms, online and in-store. Our focus is to provide relevant and engaging content such as hair tips, how-to’s and even fashion trends because we see beauty as a holistic concept.”

To reach consumers, the company launched the #AskSchwarz, an online platform that allows it to educate and engage with consumers through ‘live’ conversations. Henkel also hopes to reach out to consumers through influencers.

“These influencers have been carefully selected to best represent our brands. They are users of our products and believe in our brands, and as such, their endorsements are authentic,”​ said Leong

Additionally, the company also reinforces its relationship with its consumers by reaching out to them offline.

Leong elaborated: “We are putting a lot of effort into driving visibility and making sure that when consumers visit the stores, they are able to get some information about the brands before they make their final purchase and that they are able to contact us after the purchase. In many ways, we are aiming to be part of the whole shopping journey.”

By understanding its consumers, Henkel hopes to create bespoke products for the market.

“Our ability to customise to certain needs and demands sets us apart. We have success stories in other markets, such as China and Australia, where we have co-created products and campaigns with retailers that overall grew categories such as coloration and styling. We aim to do the same in South East Asia.”

Focus on digital landscape

Leong said the company aims to capitalise on exciting new opportunities that come with the emergence of e-commerce.

“We are continuously introducing new concepts to the market, allowing retailers to come to us as disruptors to the market place,” ​said Leong.

For instance, it has launched online exclusive products tailored for its e-commerce consumers.

Leong said: “An example of this is Freshlight, which we launched under the Schwarzkopf umbrella. It targets young consumers from 18 years onwards with a very extensive range of colours that arguably are a bit more provocative. To make our online brands easily accessible, we also collaborate with key e-commerce retailers such as Lazada and Qoo10.”

As it continues to work with e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon, Henkel aims to replicate the learnings into its own operations in Singapore.

“The long-term plan for us is to develop Singapore as our digital center of excellence for the region,” ​said Leong.

Strategic partnerships

Since its entry into Singapore with Schwarzkopf, Henkel has collaborated with notable offline and online partners such as Watsons, Guardian, Lazada and Shoppee to develop its business.

Most recently, it has partnered with Singaporean e-commerce company, Synagie, which owns the platform.

“To drive growth in the region, we have set our focus on combining traditional marketing activities and point-of-sale activation with exciting new opportunities that come with the emergence of e-commerce and social media. Hence, we have teamed up with Synagie to drive our business model,”​ said Leong

Synagie serves as the agency for Henkel, said Leong. The firm manages it go-to-market strategy across the entire value chain from logistics, warehousing, customer management, to brand advertising.

Leong elaborated: “Synagie is an enabler for our brands, helping us to grow our presence across different channels. Our partnership remains an important lever for us to accelerate our e-commerce presence in the region as well as our offline footprint. Through their ecosystem, we aim to leverage their expertise to grow our footprint and brand equity with consumers across the region.”

The companies worked together to relaunch Schwarzkopf’s Beology range in Singapore.

Synagie helped Henkle managed its media initiatives, negotiations with Watsons, implementation of store displays and social media engagements.

According to Leong, the company intends to extend its collaboration with Synagie to other regions.

“We started with Singapore and have now expanded our collaboration in e-commerce to Malaysia, looking at options across the SEA regions in the coming months.”

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