Modern Memo Exclusive: An Interview with Stefan Mund, Regional Head of Henkel Beauty Care Hair Professional-North America
Stefan Mund, regional head of Henkel Beauty Care Hair Professional-North America, is a very busy man these days. With a number of recent acquisitions, the opening of a new North American headquarters,and oversight of a large portfolio of brands that now includes Schwarzkopf Professional, Sexy Hair, Kenra Professional, Alterna, Pravana, and Joico, MODERN was grateful for the attention he paid to answering these questions about all that is happening at Henkel.
MS: Please share a snapshot of your time with Henkel, including how you started with the company.
SM: I’ve been with Henkel for 28 years, holding diverse and interesting leadership positions that have helped build my experience and knowledge.
I began in national marketing, global marketing and sales in Dusseldorf, Germany, our headquarters. I then took on roles as general manager, retail and professional business in Switzerland, Japan, France, Benelux and Australia / New Zealand. I have now been in North America as regional head, beauty care professional for the last four years.
MS: With the recent acquisitions, Henkel Beauty comprises a portfolio of brands under its umbrella who were formerly competitors. How will each brand and each brand team retain its identity and how will you keep them from cannibalizing each other?
SM: Our guiding philosophy is to maintain brand DNA - preserve and enhance the uniqueness and entrepreneurship of each single brand while leveraging halo effect of the company, brands and people. As of September 2017, we are pleased to officially include Pravana as part of our portfolio, which will strengthen our hair professional business and expand our market positions in Mexico, US and overseas.
As of January 2018, the company also successfully closed the acquisition of Zotos International Inc., the North American hair professional business of Shiseido Company, Limited. The acquisition comprises leading hair professional brands such as Joico and Zotos Professional.
MS: You have moved to what sounds like an incredible new headquarters in Culver City. Can you describe it?
SM: We are quite thrilled to bring together under one roof the best professional hair care brands in the industry. In December, Henkel’s Beauty Care Hair Professional North American business relocated to a new Headquarters in Culver City, CA, further strengthening our footprint in North America as well as our overall Henkel culture, which is the catalyst for cross-company knowledge sharing and collaboration. The new facility is a state-of-the-art space, generating an environment of openness and creativity.
The space will also be home to a world-class Academy of Hair, multi-branded learning center that will offer significant customer engagement and interaction while demonstrating professional hair care capabilities across the five brands.
MS: What do you see as the future of ecommerce in professional beauty and how is Henkel addressing it?
SM: Globally, Henkel’s strategy is to accelerate digitalization, and this equally applies to the professional beauty market as any other. Ecommerce will continue to play an ever increasingly important role, with over proportional sales growth being developed here. I was at the CES in Las Vegas last week, and what is clear from that experience is that the generational changes seen with uses of technology, particularly for Millennials and those to follow, will ensure this is the case. Henkel looks to partner our top customers, to support their multi-channel strategies, so stylists can shop and experience our brands in the way they most prefer.
MS: What hair color trends are you seeing in 2018?
SM: Beautiful, ‘natural-looking’ hair is always in fashion and I think we’ll continue to see techniques like balayage playing an integral role in the salon. Anything that allows for a ‘sun-kissed’ end result, reminiscent of the natural highlights children get over the summer, will never go out of style.
Blonde is always in fashion, but I think we’re at an interesting point in time where society is redefining what it means to be blonde. Being blonde can mean so many different things and I think we’ll continue to see people tip toeing into the blonde world.
Vibrant colors and unicorn hair have been trending for a long time, but I think we’ll begin to see the evolution of that with softer, more pastelized colors in the spring and then transition to deeper hues in the fall.
MS: Globally, Henkel has emphasized the importance of sustainable development. Does that continue to be a guiding principle?
SM: Leadership in sustainability is deeply embedded in our values and corporate culture. This has been our guiding principle since the company started in 1876. In 2010 we initiated a long-term goal that by 2030, our aim is to triple the value we create through our business operations in relation to the environmental footprint of our products and services.
MS: Do you continue to staff up at your Culver City location and, if so, how can people connect with Henkel?
SM: Yes, we are continuing to increase our teams. By Q2 2018, about 200 employees from across the brands will be working in this location. We would be happy to have people connect with Henkel. Visit our career section at www.henkel-northamerica.com/careers.
MS: And finally, what is the Bundesliga?
SM: Ah, good question! The Bundesliga is a football (soccer) league in Germany but not like football in the US! My personal favorite is Alemannia Aachen football club from the western city of Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia.