When Marlies Möller, a hairdresser from Hamburg, opened her first hair salon in 1962,
she could not have envisaged that her modest, family run business would become a market leader in hair styling, not only in her native Germany but beyond, as Katie Middleweek reports
When Marlies Möller, a hairdresser from Hamburg, opened her first hair salon in 1962, she could not have envisaged that her modest, family run business would become a market leader in hair styling, not only in her native Germany but beyond, as Katie Middleweek reportsShe was one of the first hair stylists in Europe to put her name to a brand and she set a precedent which many followed. As a hairdresser, Marlies Möller had always held the dream of launching her own range of premium hair styling products which would embody style, luxury and above all would be transferable from the salon to the consumers’ own home.
Nearly 50 years on from when this dream began, the product range she masterminded for her clients, the ‘premium hair care line developed by a woman for women’ is the hair styling leader in every market in which it operates, with the number currently standing at 14 countries worldwide including Switzerland, France, Spain, Austria, France and of course its native Germany.
Explains Axel Hofhansl, brand director for Marlies Möller Beauty Haircare: “From when Marlies Möller was a child she knew what she wanted to do for a living and to open her own salon was the obvious conclusion for the young and ambitious hairdresser that she was. Her overall dream was to create hairstyles for her customers that they could replicate at home on their own and with equally good results. But to achieve these results she needed high quality hair styling products. The products that existed on the market at the time did not satisfy her high standards. She had herself been searching for years for the ideal styling agent for her rather thin hair as nothing she used provided enough hold or volume. It was during this search that she decided to create a line of her own in 1988.”
Möller’s search for quality was paramount and the brand now boasts a wide range of products with innovative formulas and luxury ingredients which retail in the selective and premium part of the market.
Hofhansl says Europe remains the key focus for the group. “The main focus distribution-wise is on Europe by building awareness of the brand and category through constant promotional activities, long-term trading relationships and good support at the point of sale. Professional styling knowledge and good training are also crucial for our salon business.”
He says that since the acquisition of Marlies Möller by the La Prairie Group in 2001, the ability for first class research and development has ensured that “the highest quality, innovative products can be made which are then distributed to selective and specialised trade outlets”.
While Marlies Möller prefers not to go into detail on figures, Charlotte Vollmuth, vice president Juvena, Marlies Möller Beauty Haircare and SBT Skin Biology Therapy does admit that 2009 and the recession it brought did present the company with some challenges.
“In general it was a tough year for the luxury products industry of which we are a part,” she comments “but I am pleased to say that Marlies Möller performed in line with market developments, kept its market share and is looking to improve its results, particularly in southern European markets going forwards. Its planned annual growth is predicted to be significantly above the market average for 2010. Our overall objective as a brand is to qualitatively grow within existing countries and doors by increasing support, service and category awareness.”
Data from the La Prairie Group’s financial statement in late 2009 shows that as a company it weathered the financial crisis in Europe quite well, even showing a 10.5% growth in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2008. Projected results for the four brands in the stable (Juvena, Marlies Möller, La Prairie and SBT Skin Biology Therapy) were said to have been “clearly fulfilled” while it achieved stronger growth than the market average in the premium cosmetics segment. The statement showed that total sales for the La Prairie Group in 2009 amounted to CHF375.2m, with the Marlies Möller Beauty Haircare division “finishing the year as forecast after a strong relaunch in 2008”.
These results prompted the ceo of the La Prairie Group, Dirk Trappmann, to comment at the time: “The past year has been really tough for the entire luxury sector but our results have exceeded the forecasts of our revised 2009 plan with sell-through figures above the market average. During 2010 the La Prairie Group will once again target growth in a slightly shrinking cosmetics market.”
As for Marlies Möller, and with increasing focus in the C&T industry on online sales to boost business, is the brand missing a trick by not selling its products online? Vollmuth comments: “The brand is not sold via our own internet platform as currently our focus and service in terms of our website is to deliver product information, general knowledge about hair care and to provide our consumers with useful tips and tricks about styling their hair.”
Indeed, it seems to be this personal approach to its consumers with which it has always maintained a strong relationship, especially in its home markets of Germany and latterly Switzerland, that has ensured that Marlies Möller has topped the polls as market leader in its field for a number of years. Möller herself is still involved with the company and despite the 2001 acquisition, those at the helm have always tried to maintain a family focus and an informal approach.
Hofhansl believes the loyalty it enjoys is also down to the high quality of the products that Marlies Möller produces. “In general we observe a high consumer loyalty for our products because of their high quality. The assortment is balanced and the products complement each other perfectly. In addition to this our consumers appreciate the easy handling and effectiveness of the ranges, which is exactly what Ms Möller herself set out to achieve when she launched the range.”
Hofhansl says that the aim of Marlies Möller as a company is to constantly strengthen its position in the hair styling industry and to continue to be a trailblazer, as Moller herself was when she founded it in 1962.
“We would like to make sure that the awareness of luxury hair styling becomes as strong as the awareness for luxury facial skin care brands,” he comments, “and therefore we need to further expand the selective market in which we operate which is still fairly small.”
He adds that while the company would rate its competitors as Carita, Kanebo and Frédéric Fekkai, as these are the other premium brands within the selective distribution market, this is changeable as local selective brands can also perform very well depending on the country in question.
When asked what sets Marlies Möller apart from these brands Hofhansl again harks back to the personal angle that the company takes. “We approach our consumers on an individual basis both through professional advice and personal guidance in order to truly enable a woman to recreate salon quality results in her own home.”
Marlies Möller herself will no doubt be pleased that her company has retained a sense of the familiar throughout, in an industry where the personal touch can really make the difference to whether a product is purchased or not.
The fight against ageing hair
Marlies Möller Beauty Haircare has launched two new hair treatment ranges for 2010 – Ageless Beauty for women and Men Unlimited for men – both of which concentrate on combating the signs of hair ageing. Dr Harald Albrecht is the director of corporate product development at the company and he tells ECM exactly what can be done about this inevitable problem
What does anti-ageing protection actually mean for the hair?
It means creating conditions in which the hair can grow at its best and in which it is optimally protected. To achieve this it is necessary to have a healthy scalp with healthy cells that promote growth in the hair roots so that stronger fibres are created inside the hair, while on the other hand the hair and scalp also need to be protected from damaging exterior factors.
Is there a difference between men and women in regard to thinning hair?
Women have denser and more resistant hair than men and generally speaking it sits about 2mm further into the scalp and therefore does not fall out so easily. Hair loss in women can begin during the menopause and therefore it happens later than with men. Looking at women specifically, one needs to have a comprehensive approach to treatment – the hair and the scalp need stimulation and support.
What approach would you suggest here?
The hair runs through three phases in its lifetime: the growth phase, the resting phase and the transitional phase and if the growth phase can be prolonged then the density of the hair will increase and ideally it will be thicker than it was before. With targeted care of the scalp we can create a healthy environment for the newly growing hair from the inside out.
The Phyto Cell Complex found exclusively in Marlies Möller Beauty Haircare products promotes the creation of an ideal environment at various levels. By using these products the cells in the scalp and hair roots are nourished with important restoring substances and at the same time are energised, stimulated and strengthened.
When can improvements be seen after using these products?
After just a few applications, the first noticeable improvements in the hair structure will begin to take place although they will not be directly visible on each individual hair. Instead the consumer should notice their hair feeling fuller, looking more shiny and see that it is easier to style due to all the structural improvements that are taking place.