The origins of the Nestlé Company go all the way back to 1867, when Henri Nestlé concerned about the infant mortality rate created a nutritious product for infants that could be used by mothers who were unable to breast-feed. Henri Nestlé also showed early understanding of the power of branding. He had adopted his own coat of arms as a trademark; in Swiss German, Nestlé means 'little nest' (Nestlé.com) .
World War I created a tremendous demand for dairy products in the form of government contracts. Nestlé purchased factories in the United States and production doubled; however, when the war ended the contracts dried up. It became necessary for Nestlé to diversify their product line to include coffee and ironically World War II (WWII) helped speed the introduction of this beverage. The NESCAFÉ beverage became a staple of American servicemen in Europe and Asia (Nestlé.com). .
Nestlé entered its most dynamic phase following WWII when for the first time they diversified outside the food industry by becoming a shareholder in L'Oreal one of the world's leading makers of cosmetics (Nestlé website). They continued to diversify their portfolio by acquiring Alcon Laboratories, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of pharmaceutical and ophthalmic products. According to then Group Chairman, Pierre Liotard-Vogt, "all of which have one thing in common: they all contribute to satisfying the requirements of the human body in various ways." (Nestlé website). .
With sales of more the CHF 81 billion and more than 470 factories worldwide, Nestlé is the undisputed leader in the food industry. In July 2000, Nestlé launched a group-wide initiative called GLOBE (Global Business Excellence), aimed at harmonizing and simplifying business processes architecture; enabling the company to realize the advantages of a global leader while minimizing the drawbacks of size.