Birkholz International Industry Analysis:
After four weeks as an intern at Birkholz International, I finally have a firm understanding of the company’s business model as well as the diverse markets in which it operates. As the mid-point of this internship approaches, it is necessary to break down the knowledge that I have acquired thus far.
What markets does Birkholz operate in:
For years, Birkholz International has focused its efforts exclusively on the Iraq market and extending Arab regions. With both a successful logistics transport company “Birkholz Transports”–that helps German companies export to Iraq– as well as a popular Arab beauty line “BB by Berlin”, Birkholz International is classified as both a B2B and B2C business. With an upcoming brand launch, however, Birkholz International will redefine its long-standing business model to accommodate the wants and needs of the complex and competitive German beauty market. By September 2017, Birkholz International will operate in 2 distinct industries: the beauty industry in Iraq and Germany and the export/logistics industry.
Birkholz International has two brands, “BB by Berlin” and “Birkholz.” Both brands exist within the beauty industry, but target completely separate geographic segments.
The original BB by Berlin brand is offered exclusively in Iraq and surrounding Arab regions. Currently this brand offers a wide range of beauty products ranging from perfumes and fragrances for men and women, hair care for at home and professional use, as well as body and skin care. In total, the BB by Berlin brand offers 151 different products for consumer consumption.
The Birkholz brand ( the brand that my work focuses on), will be launched in September of 2017. It will focus on the German beauty market– especially concentrated in the Berlin area. It will feature 2 distinct product lines with multiple product categories. The larger “Classic Collection” product line will offer 19 original fragrances for men, women, and unisex that can be customized and bottled in person. Non-customizable products will also be offered. These include product categories such as Argan hair care, ceramic fragrance infused jewelry, and body care. A second product line “The Berlin Collection” will feature 6 original fragrances for men, women, and unisex that are packaged in unique flacons that resemble the Brandenburger Tor and Siegessäule. Additional products will include, discovery sets, and sample fragrance sets. The total number of products included in the Birkholz brand is still undecided as new products are continually being added and improved.
I have found the differences in marketing to Arab nations and marketing to Europe( Germany) nations to be incredibly interesting. So far I have learned that unisex fragrance are not marketed in Arab nations and that the fragrance notes are much more strong and oriental/cyprus in Iraq rather than floral/ citrus in Germany.
In depth look at Birkholz brand:
The Birkholz brand focuses on the individuality and emotion that fragrance creates. Especially fundamental to this brand is the desire to “Sei anders” or “be different.” Product development for Birkholz is a unique challenge because the most fundamental element of any product–design– is relinquished to the customer. The decision of which flacon, cap color, engraving, and packaging is in the customers control. To observe product development and management under these conditions is a unique opportunity for me. I get to witness first hand the decisions and challenges that come when a company allows a co-creative manufacturing process with its customers. So far I have observed that this process redefines the relationship between customer and company. Rather than solely focusing on the design elements, Birkholz must create and capture value through the customization process. Additionally, as someone who has never before observed product development first hand, I am astounded at just how many decisions must be made and the minute details that must be considered. For example, Birkholz international is juggling decisions regarding their new store layout, website features, product decisions, as well as continually seeking ideas for new products and brand extensions.
At its core, Birkholz international focuses on fragrance. As such, they have developed long-standing relationships with the worlds top suppliers in the fragrance and flavor industry including Givaudon ( the global leader in the fragrance and flavour industry) New samples are constantly arriving at the office for testing and rating ( my favorite part of the work day!)
The Birkholz brand is positioned as a luxury high-end brand that is “not for everyone.” Rather, they are a brand targeting consumers who seek to have a luxurious and unique fragrance and customization experience. Birkholz competitors range from well-established big-beauty brands such as Chanel and Dior, to more niche-independent brands such as Rituals and Frau-Tonis in Berlin.
Due to the size and complexity of the brands and products offered, Birkholz International relies on a number of companies for various business functions and services. For example, I have observed blueprints for the new store, content marketing, and virtual displays all being outsourced. With so many business relationships to monitor, each meeting must be concise and to-the-point. Additionally, communication is extremely important and conveying exactly what is needed/ wanted from each company can be a challenge. Getting to observe these business meetings has been an interesting part of my internship so far.
Trip to Dresden:
On Saturday I went to Dresden. It was absolutely beautiful and may be my favorite city in Germany so far. We viewed the Semperoper, Zwinger Palace, Procession of Princes, Elbe river, and old town. Here are some pictures from the trip!