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MULTIMEDIALECASESTUDY

History and development of Dr. Oetker

Figure 1: Baking powder featuring the "Hellkopf" silhouette from the company's early days  Source: Dr. Oetker.For generations, the Dr. Oetker brand has been communicating a clear, consistent message to consumers: Dr. Oetker products taste delicious, are of the highest quality and work every time. Yet this success story began over a century ago with a little packet of white powder.

 

 

 

 

Dr. August Oetker – From pharmacy to business enterprise

Dr. August OetkerThe Dr. Oetker company as we know it today has its roots in Bielefeld. It was here that the pharmacist Dr. August Oetker (*1862 †1918) took over a small pharmacy in 1891. Two years later, armed with precision scales, a mortar and a selection of powders, Oetker developed a product that would quickly revolutionize baking and – quite literally – be on everyone's lips. It's name? Backin baking powder. The housewives of the day soon discovered Backin to be a blessing. The quality of the ingredients used and the precise baking mixture specifications guaranteed that every cake would rise to perfection. Dr. Oetker personally vouched for the success of his product, putting his name on the carefully measured, ready-to-use sachets of baking powder. To this day, Oetker is thus regarded as the father of one of the first ever branded articles.

Astute marketing rapidly drove up demand for Backin. Dr. Oetker was very quick to try out novel approaches to advertising, publishing recipes on the backs of the powder sachets and in newspapers. Tremendous success soon enabled Dr. Oetker to abandon painstaking manual labor in favor of industrial production. The avid entrepreneur pressed ahead with the development of other products too. Finally, at around the turn of the century, Dr. Oetker also registered the trademark that, to this day, remains synonymous with the company's products and the Dr. Oetker brand: the red-and-white "Hellkopf" silhouette.

As the small pharmacy gradually grew to become a fully-fledged company, August Oetker began planning for expansion. Thus it was that the first foreign production facility was launched near Vienna in 1908.

The horrors of the First World War abruptly halted Dr. Oetker's budding success story. The son of the company founder was killed in action in 1916. Only two years later, August Oetker himself died, leaving as his legacy a company which, despite the fallout from the war, ranked even then as one of the most prominent of its kind in Europe.

 

Dr. Richard Kaselowsky – Expansion abroad continues

Dr. Richard KaselowskyAs the shadow of the war slowly started to recede, Dr. Richard Kaselowsky (*1888 †1944), who had married the widow of the founder's son, took the reins of the company in 1920. The company still had more than 600 employees on its books at the time. A good nose for business enabled Kaselowsky to pick up where August Oetker had left off, quickly resuming the interrupted process of foreign expansion. Sister companies were opened in France, Poland, Belgium, Denmark and Italy. Nor was Kaselowsky any less creative than his predecessor when it came to advertising. Intensive campaigns featuring "information mobiles", company film presentations and a series of lectures continued to familiarize consumers with products bearing the Dr. Oetker brand.

Rudolf-August Oetker – From food company to diversified conglomerate

Rudolf August OetkerThe Second World War marked another turning point for

the Dr. Oetker company. An air raid on the town of Bielefeld killed Dr. Kaselowsky, his wife and the couple's daughters in 1944. The company was thus once again entrusted to a direct descendent of its founding father in the person of Rudolf-August Oetker (*1916 †2007), the grandson of Dr. August Oetker, who set about rebuilding the battered company. The economic recovery advanced faster than expected. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Rudolf-August Oetker therefore quickly turning his attention to new markets. Step by step, he began to move into new ranges of food products, including frozen foods, crème fraîche and ready desserts. Soon, however, the entrepreneur began looking beyond the confines of the food industry too. Over time, he expanded into lines such as beer and non-alcoholic beverages, sparkling wine, wine and spirits, shipping, banking and insurance. To a ripe old age, Rudolf-August Oetker continued to play an active part in developing the corporate group he had built.

Figure 2: Oetker Group organization chart  Source: Dr. Oetker.

 

Dr. h.c. August Oetker – Full steam ahead to globalization

Dr. h. c. August OetkerIn 1981, Dr. h. c. August Oetker (*1944), great-grandson of the company founder, took the helm of the company. During his tenure, a number of legally independent units were merged to the entity that is now Dr. August Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG, but that presents itself to the outside world as the Oetker Group. The Group breaks down into six divisions: Food; Beer and Non-Alcoholic Beverages; Sparkling Wine, Wine and Spirits; Shipping; Banking; and Other Interests. Under the aegis of Dr. Oetker Gmbh, the new chief executive focused especially on internationalizing the Group's food business. During the 1990s in particular, Dr. Oetker's product range was systematically aligned with the company's core competencies in order to safeguard future growth. By the turn of the millennium, Dr. Oetker had become a market leader in nearly all its product areas in Germany. Internalization had always been close to the hearts of the company's top managers and was likewise continuing apace. The Group visibly cultivated a more international orientation, ramping up the number of local companies in different countries to 40. To this day, business outside Germany continues to account for an increasingly large share of Group revenues and is gaining in importance for the Group as a whole. Key markets include Western and Eastern Europe, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, India and China.

 

Richard Oetker – Charting a course for the future

Richard OetkerAt the start of 2010, Richard Oetker (*1951), the younger brother of Dr. h. c. August Oetker, took over his brother's leadership responsibilities. In his new position, he did not need long to learn the ropes. Richard Oetker had already served for many years on the Executive Board, overseeing Human Resources and spearheading the development of foreign sister companies for more than a decade, as well as shouldering responsibility in various positions in the governing bodies of companies belonging to the Oetker Group. All in all, Oetker is excellently versed in the concerns and affairs of the Group he now leads. As a shareholder in this family-owned business, he naturally also has a vested interest in ensuring that business continues to thrive. Like his predecessors, Richard Oetker stresses the importance of the Oetker Group to Germany: Oetker plans for the long term, targets stable earnings, creates numerous jobs and apprenticeships and drives innovation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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