Weleda AG has filled the chief position in the largest market on 1 April. As Regional Director Market DACH, Nadja Holland is responsible for the Natural Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals business. In an interview she explains which product groups benefit from Corona, how Weleda intends to further increase the organic content and why sustainable packaging is a particular challenge in natural cosmetics.

How is the corona crisis affecting Weleda’s business?

We will certainly see a slowdown in growth due to the corona-driven recession in some countries. Nevertheless, we look positively into the future, because our positioning and high product quality will continue to gain in relevance due to the special consideration of the ecological footprint. We are in the fortunate position of having an omni-channel presence and are therefore less affected by the lockdown worldwide than other industries. We also do not currently see or expect any supply chain bottlenecks.

Does Corona have consequences for the expansion plans of Weleda City Spas?

We are sticking to our expansion strategy, planning and looking forward to the new opening in Stuttgart in autumn 2020.

How are the Natural Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals segments developing in the German-speaking markets?

We expect the DACH market to gain market share in natural cosmetics in our core categories. Due to the corona pandemic, the hand, all-purpose segment is developing particularly strongly with our successful skin food series, body lotions and shower products.

Our medicines are developing differently depending on the category. Our cold portfolio is showing good sales due to Corona, while other areas, especially our extensive service range, are underperforming the market.

The pressure on the shelves is increasing due to the large number of new natural cosmetics brands, and major consumer goods manufacturers have entered the market. What does this mean for industry pioneers like Weleda?

We are happy to take up the challenge here of becoming even more attractive for the end consumer and will come onto the market with exciting new products in 2020 and 2021. Our work on consistently responsible supply chains, transparency with regard to the origin and production of the raw materials, as well as our UEBT certification (UEBT = Union for Ethical Biotrade; certificate for ethical raw material procurement), of which Weleda is the first European brand, will continue to show a clear positioning in the future.

Weleda has recently significantly increased its marketing expenditure.

However, we have also geared our expenditure more strongly to our growth ranges, so that we can strengthen awareness with a holistic approach to end consumers across the relevant touchpoints. We also have a new brand campaign: One with nature.

This brings us to the topic of sustainability: Can the organic proportion of ingredients in Weleda’s natural cosmetics (around 80 percent) be increased even further?

Wherever possible, we try to use raw materials from organic or biodynamic cultivation. For some raw materials that we do not cultivate ourselves or obtain from long-term partnerships, we are dependent on availability on the world market. In such cases, it is of course possible that a raw material is not always available in organic quality in the required quantity. Take organic almonds, for example: Here, primarily the food market is served.

Nevertheless, even raw materials that we do not use in organic products are subject to the highest quality standards, which are strictly monitored along the supply and production chain. Our new partners comply with the organic requirements and the social and ecological standards of UEBT. In this respect, it remains our goal to further increase the organic share of our raw materials from the current 80 percent in the coming years. By 2022, we also want to increase the proportion of raw materials from even more stringent biodynamic cultivation to 30 percent.

The proportion of recycled material in our packaging is to double by 2022. Could you be more specific?

By 2023, 65 percent of our primary packaging will come from recycled sources. To achieve this, we will increase the proportion of recycled PET and, in the case of glass, switch completely to glass with a very high recycled content.

This is a challenge for natural cosmetic products because the packaging must protect the product from oxygen, light and contamination. We process particularly sensitive and valuable raw materials, but of course we do not use synthetic preservatives. Therefore the packaging must provide the preservation and we have to check very carefully how we reconcile the protection of the contents with the ecological aspects and the wishes of our customers.

Finally, a personal question: Looking at your professional career, you will find big names from the pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries. What attracted you to Weleda, a company inspired by anthroposophy?

In every company, it’s all about the brands that you develop as a team, and here Weleda is particularly noteworthy as the number one in natural cosmetics. Furthermore, it is important for me to be able to make my contribution in a value- and employee-oriented company. Here, too, Weleda is a pioneer.