Successful IfM Project Seminar: Brand Management at Henkel Beauty Care

Despite this challenging digital Summer semester, the Chair of Marketing Management (IfM) and Henkel AG & Co. KGaA agreed to stick to their plan to provide 30 Marketing major students the opportunity to participate in a project seminar. Five current and relevant topics around “Brand Management at Henkel Beauty Care: How to Transform Strategy into Growth” required the students to connect both, scientific methodologies and marketing-related practical skills.

In April, the seminar was initiated with an online kick-off meeting via Zoom in which the Henkel team around Philina Alberts, Board Office Manager Henkel Beauty Care, and Peter Reichmann, Senior Manager Henkel Beauty Care, introduced the audience to the company and presented the diverse marketing challenges they invited the students to provide solutions for. Subsequently, the groups met their respective supervisors in individual breakout sessions to clarify immediate questions and discuss initial thoughts on the assigned topic.

All groups adjusted rapidly to the exceptional circumstances to work together only online, for example planning to conduct focus groups via Zoom and providing the participants with product material in advance to still enable a haptic experience. Similarly, the students regularly scheduled alignment meetings via Zoom with their respective Henkel supervisors and Dipl.-Kffr. Janina Wiebringhaus, the accompanying IfM research assistant who mentored the students of this seminar. During the virtual interim presentations end of May, in which the students gave a brief update and an outlook on their project plans, a Q&A session with the Henkel HR team was integrated to inform about career opportunities at Henkel.

Although Henkel initially invited all groups to Düsseldorf to present their findings and recommendations in the Henkel headquarter mid of July, everyone stayed flexible and embraced to meet virtually again. Both, IfM members and the Henkel advisors, appreciated the high quality of the presentations: “All groups managed to create real benefit for the brands and the company. The students became ‘experts’ in areas initially unknown to them within a very short period of time. We are very happy to see their systematic approaches and hands-on-mentality to solve practical issues”, Peter Reichmann, Senior Manager at Henkel Beauty Care, summarized. Closing the final presentation day, Henkel shared some very interesting insights with the students about “Brave Marketing” and initiated a vivid discussion.

To conclude, this year’s project seminar can be acknowledged as a real success since all parties showed flexibility, motivation and engagement. The Master student Kathrin Regier sums up: “We are very grateful for having had the opportunity to work on solutions for such timely and current marketing challenges during our Master’s program since it prepares us in the best way for our job entries. We learned more about working in teams and further strengthened our social, scientific, and practical skills by learning from each other in a very intense but also very creative and fun way. We all had great expectations on the project’s outcome and we managed to deal with a high workload in a limited amount of time, and finally grew with the project. Although the highlight of the seminar would have definitely been a final presentation and company visit in Düsseldorf, we are very happy with the digital organization of the seminar and are very thankful for Henkel’s offer to stay in contact via LinkedIn, and for sharing samples in goody bags.”

Philina Alberts, Board Office Manager Henkel Beauty Care and Peter Reichmann, Senior Manager Henkel Beauty Care, fully supported the idea of the seminar being held digitally.

Prof. Dr. Manfred Krafft welcomed the students and the Henkel team via Zoom for the final presentations.