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December 01, 2009

Company Spotlight

Technology from Nature

by Barbara Seale


Nikken headquarters

Kurt_profile.jpg
Kurt Fulle

Doug Braun

Doug Braun

With its magnet technology leading the way, Nikken has been attracting consultants and customers from around the globe for 34 years.

Nikken International was founded in 1975 in Japan by Isamu Masuda, and the company entered North America 14 years later. Masuda understood that if someone’s feet were sore, fatigue then spread throughout the whole body. So he looked for a solution. Drawing inspiration from the pebbles at the bottom of Japanese public baths, he developed the idea of using magnets to enhance wellness. Eureka! Nikken’s first product, the Magstep® shoe insert, was born.

From there, Masuda continued to look to the natural world for solutions, and, one by one, Nikken developed an entire product line that enhances health. Just as important, his company was based on principles that create a balanced approach to life. He called them the “Five Pillars of Health™”—Healthy Body, Mind, Family, Society and Finances. They have become as much a foundation for the company as its products, and Nikken bases its whole opportunity on them.

“I find our corporate philosophy somewhat unique in that it isn’t focused inward on the company,” says Nikken President Doug Braun. “Instead, it is focused outward onto our key business partners, the consultants who work with us. If we help them achieve balance on those five pillars, if they find that balance, and if they are able to grow through them, our business will grow.”

Braun explains that consultants typically come to Nikken because they have a need in one of the five pillars.

“Maybe something happened with the body, and a Nikken product becomes their solution, or, maybe, they’re coming to us with a financial need,” he says. “We have one very successful distributor in North America who came to us through the society pillar. She gives every cent she makes to charity. She loves our philosophy and products, and she invests all her income back into society. So the pillars become a pathway into Nikken because someone is out of balance in one of them. We try to help them find balance in all of them.”

Becoming More

Nikken is so passionate about helping consultants achieve balance through the Five Pillars of Health that it established Humans Being More training—an intensive, two-day experience for people who want to know who they are, what they truly want in life and how they can achieve it through a self-discovery process.

“Once you have experience with the products, the Humans Being More training addresses issues that are in your head, keeping you from being successful,” Braun says. “It’s a two-day program that addresses you personally. You zero in on the things that happen in your life that hold you back, and you emerge with goals and objectives in place.”

Nikken consultants thrive through the training, often attending it again and again over the years. Nikken’s soft-spoken CEO Kurt Fulle calls receiving his Humans Being More certificate one of his proudest accomplishments. Some 99 percent of attendees say they would recommend the course to others.

Only after completing Humans Being More do consultants enter the second part of the training. It addresses business fundamentals, such as handling objections and presenting the products and business opportunity.

The unique culture pays off with a strong consultant retention rate. While Nikken executives don’t reveal exact numbers, they say that retention is above the industry average.

“A lot of what has pulled people into Nikken is our products. They work,” Braun says. “You can feel an immediate impact from the products. Because of that, the belief system in products that comes from their results pulls people in immediately. But, over the long term, it’s our culture. We’ve been around a long time. Our products and our business opportunity are proven. There’s a level of trust when people come to Nikken, but they stay because of our sense of culture and family that is driven by our personal-development programs and the vision of the company.”

Where the Heart and Health Are

The products that initially attract people center around Nikken’s Wellness Home concept, which reflects the company’s total wellness approach to its products. Almost all the company’s products are based on “wellness energy,” the Nikken term for the forces that are found in the nature.

Many forms of energy can exert an influence on the human body. Magnetism, for example, is a part of the natural environment for all living things. Over time, the effects of modern civilization have diminished our contact with the Earth’s magnetic field, but Nikken products with magnetic technology are designed to help counterbalance this effect. Nikken calls this “magnetic equalizing technology.” The technology is more than a nod to nature. It’s actually drawn from it.

“A lot of our technologies were created in our universe, not by Nikken. Magnetics are foundational to the Earth and the environment we live in. We’re harnessing that. Our Far-Infrared technology comes from the sun. Negative-ion technology comes from the forest. Go to Niagara Falls,” Braun says, “and you can sense the different feeling in the air when you take a deep breath. All those core technologies are there in nature. We’ve harnessed those technologies and are able to deliver them in a multitude of systems that will improve your life and address the negative impacts of an industrialized society.”

For example, in the Nikken Wellness Home, the first product backed by magnetic technologies is the Nikken Kenko™ Sleep System. It includes every element of bedding, ranging from mattress pads and comforters to sleep masks. The sleep system is Nikken’s flagship product, using its flagship technology. Fulle recommends it as a customer’s first Wellness Home purchase, since we all spend so much of our lives sleeping.

“When we are asleep is the time when the body rejuvenates and heals itself,” Braun says. “If you’re going to do one thing in your wellness life, sleep should be first. If we don’t sleep well, it impacts everything else we do.” He notes that customers who purchase a sleep system often say that it has given them the first good night’s sleep they’ve had in years.

Complementing the sleep system are the company’s air and water filtration systems that use sophisticated, multiple-stage filtration, combined with magnetic technologies in the water filters and negative-ion generation in the air-wellness products.

A good night’s sleep, assisted by clean air and water, provides a good foundation for wellness. Add to them Nikken’s line of organic nutrition and personal-care products, and the Wellness Home is complete. All that’s left is foot support that assists a fitness program. Nikken has that, too. The Magstep shoe inserts that were the company’s first product have been improved through the years, and the company has added sport socks and even CardioStrides™ athletic shoes to the product line. Nikken also offers magnetic jewelry, magnetic massage products and others. Even the family pet isn’t forgotten. Nikken offers nutrition and sleeping pads to support Fido’s health.

Roll Out Relaxation

Although the product line is large, each product works with the others holistically to support wellness. While Nikken is not a party-plan company, its consultants typically introduce the products by demonstrating them during a gathering in someone’s home. The introduction centers on the “roll out”—a demonstration of the impact and effectiveness of the sleep system.

The consultant asks a prospect to lie down on a small demonstration pad of the sleep system. Then the consultant uses a magnetic product called a Mag Creator, which they roll down the prospect’s back. After the roll out, the prospect relaxes on the demonstration pad under a Kenko blanket, with their head on a Kenko pillow. The 15-minute process simulates the results of sleeping overnight on the Nikken sleep system.

“It’s a bonding experience between the prospect and consultant,” Braun says. “The consultant is giving something very personal to them—giving, not asking for something. It’s a selling process and tool that goes back to the very early days in this business and ties into our Japanese heritage.”

Although the home is the location where all the action is, consultants are also expanding their reach by embracing the Internet to show demonstrations. They’re taking home meetings around the country and throughout the world by using Web technologies. The consultant’s computer camera focuses on the demonstration, and participants from virtually anywhere can watch and learn.

Consultants’ use of technology to expand their reach mirrors Nikken’s drive for constant improvement. The company works to continually enhance technologies and products through its own research, as well as by supporting organizations such as the Magnetic Science Foundation. The Nikken scientific advisory board helps guide product development, product testing and clinical studies. In addition, it carefully chooses vendors that provide scientific evidence for the products Nikken sells.

“The ultimate proof is the performance,” Fulle says. “Scientific research plays an important role, but the proof is how you as an individual feel and react to the products.”

Focus on the Future

Nikken’s efforts have overcome the economy’s recent challenges.

“We’re seeing growth in revenues and recruiting that we haven’t seen in 18 months,” Braun says. “It’s a positive sign for Nikken and our consultants.”

Fulle adds that the company has seen rapid growth in new markets, such as Kazakhstan and Ecuador, as well as in existing markets, such as North America and Latin America.

Braun, who was named the company’s president about a year ago, wants to beef up Nikken’s focus on its business opportunity.

“Nikken products have had great success and solved a lot of issues through their alternative approach,” he says. “Because of that, our consultants have become focused on products. That’s easy to do because they actually work and deliver results. My short-term goal is to shift some of that emphasis back to our business opportunity by providing enhanced new tools, incentives and promotions to build momentum on the business opportunity. I want to leverage the current economic situation. We have a real income opportunity at a time when the world needs what we offer more than ever.”

Matching a sharper focus on the opportunity is a greater emphasis on brand development. After 35 years, Nikken is a relatively unknown brand outside of its close-knit and loyal group of consultants and customers, Braun notes. He hopes to increase brand awareness so that consumers have a stronger awareness of the company.

“We’ve been a leader in wellness for many years,” he says. “You’d expect that the name of such a leader would roll off the tongues of most consumers. We’re looking to merge that leadership role and our success over 35 years into a brand that is a lot more well-known. Our Wellness Home solutions are a big part of that. I’d like to see us start a million new Wellness Homes by our 40th anniversary.”

BedKey Convergence

When strategy intersects with a key technology and a flagship product line, the results can be explosive for any company. Get ready for fireworks at Nikken.

  • The strategy: Natural and organic
  • The technology: Magnets
  • The product line: Nikken’s Sleep System

At its international conference in late October, Nikken introduced a major advance in magnetic engineering, one of its core technologies. The company calls the new technology “radial-axis magnetism,” or RAM.

Here’s how it works. Magnets have negative and positive poles that extend their fields of force in a continuous circuit around each other. Such a magnet is known as a static magnet. Nikken engineers have designed a process that causes a magnet to act as if it had multiple poles that extend in every direction.

“It’s called magnet biaxial rotation,” says Nikken President Doug Braun. “It takes a static magnet and spins it to give it a different magnetic field that is deeper, more penetrating and more powerful. In October, we introduced radial-axis magnets, which deliver the benefits of a biaxial magnet in a static magnet.”

Instead of a single fixed magnet with two poles, each RAM module positions six spherical neodymium magnets in a circle to produce a seamless series of overlapping magnetic fields. That results in a three-dimensional, 360-degree spectrum of magnetic energy. The multidimensional pattern allows magnetic influence to easily reach the contours of an irregular shape, such as a human body.

Nikken immediately put the technology to work in its sleep system, the company’s flagship product line. The company introduced the new Nikken Kenko Naturest Sleep System. The system includes RAM technology and another Nikken core technology, Far-Infrared, and also integrates the company’s strategic focus on natural, organic materials. The new sleep system’s Naturest pad is composed of latex rubber—a natural, renewable resource that is grown, harvested and formed using no synthetic chemicals. It even resists microbial growth and dust mites. Nikken infused an additional latex layer that not only helps maintain the mattress’s shape but also provides a gentle massaging stimulation for sleepers, along with just the right amount of “give” and breathability. Other elements of the sleep system follow the formula. They’re made of natural substances, charged with advanced magnetic technologies, and designed to promote the sound, natural sleep that everyone’s body needs to repair and rejuvenate itself.