Mareike von Postel, Marketing Manager, Weleda North America, www.usa.weleda.com
Weleda doesn’t have the background of a typical personal care company. Founded in 1921 by Rudolph Steiner, and based on anthroposophy—a 20th century philosophy that advocates inner development through exploration of the individual’s relationship with a spiritual world—and biodynamic agriculture, the global company remains driven by these founding principles. Mareike von Postel, marketing manager for Weleda North America, sums the mission up simply, “We are a different company. Our farmers and partners are where it’s at. Our products don’t start in the lab—they start on the farm.”
For von Postel, marketing is less about promoting the product and more about communicating the benefits of both the products and the manner in which they are cultivated. In addition to the founding principles, Weleda also relies on a number of global fair trade partnerships to obtain natural ingredients.
Von Postel explains, “We pay fair price for the raw materials and educate our suppliers on organic and biodynamic farming. We’re empowering the individual. It’s a company ideal.” In addition to reinforcing its principles, these endeavors also present challenges for von Postel and her team in communicating to the North American market.
Her approach to creating an effective marketing message is based less on marketability and more on open communication. Von Postel notes, “There are so many messages we are conveying, but the concept [of the message] never changes. We are trying to stay authentic and honest and communicate what we are doing. We never change it; we just grow and evolve it.”
Evidence of this is found in the fact that the company’s logo and philosophy—“In harmony with nature and the human being”—have not changed since inception. Von Postel notes, “We’ve tried to communicate cultivating beauty as part of our message since 1921; it’s an important fact. We also take into consideration consumers’ needs to grow, and are constantly working to remain relevant in their lives.”
Weleda’s most recent effort to maintain relevance while moving the message forward in the North American market combines digital and social mediums with experiential methods. “We re-launched our Web site in April to include e-mail, blogs and banner ads to continue to drive consumers to our site and educate them on what Weleda does,” says von Postel. “We will also do some experiential and guerilla marketing to get consumers to try our products. Once people try them, the more sampling initiatives we do, they become hooked. It’s helpful for us to get the consumer to try the product.”
Additional challenges for von Postel include making Weleda stand out among the current flood of natural and organic products in the U.S. marketplace. “We were around before natural and organic were trendy, and we want to be around after,” she says. “It’s not about jumping on the wave, it’s about evolving. We will continue to maintain a universal message.” Weleda is also currently working to expand its mass retail presence by now selling products at Target.
“Whole Foods was our first mass natural food chain, Walgreens was our first mass-market account and now Weleda is available at Target,” says von Postel. “We’re focusing on updating our packaging to communicate the natural and organic nature of our products in addition to educating Target on expanding its presence in the natural care market.”