Last Updated on
If Natura had a theme song, it would be Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” Since Natura was founded over 40 years ago, the Brazilian company has flourished on a philosophy of respect for the natural environment that supplies its products’ ingredients; respect for its suppliers, including traditional populations who live in the rain forests; respect for its employees; respect for its sales consultants; respect for its clients; and respect for its shareholders.
Sustainable relationships with the natural, social and business environments are core beliefs for Natura, which is one of the leading manufacturers and marketers of cosmetics, skin care, perfume, and hair care products in Latin America (see Annual Report Natura 2009).
Natura different product lines Natura (Natura Chronos, Natura Mama and Bebe, Natura Ekos, Natura Todavia, etc) in the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
More recently the company has also secured a foothold in the “old” continent: In 2005 the first Natura House was established in Paris (France) as part of their international strategy.
The vision of the company is to become an international brand, which is “… identified with the community of people who are committed to building a better world, based on better relationships among themselves, with others, with nature of which they are part, with the whole.“ This vision is also expressed in the Portuguese tagline of the beauty brand “Bem Estar Bem”.
The tagline is a pun. The literal translation from Portuguese into English would be “well-being/being well”. It means that Natura strives, through its products and services, to help people enjoy better relationships with themselves (well-being), with others, with nature and the world around them (being well). It is Natura’s “reason for being”.
The holistic sustainability approach also pays off in financial terms (see Annual Report Natura 2009): In the year 2009 the revenue of the company totalled R$ 4.2 billion (= US$ 2.5 billion, and 1.8 € billion respectively). The net income was more than R$ 640 million (= US$ 400 million, and € 280 million respectively). At a time, when jobs are scarce, there were 1 million (!) Natura consultants, who earned R$ 2.3 billion (= US$ 1.4 billion, and € 1 billion respectively). The personal selling approach is one of Natura’s success factors.
It was introduced by the founder Luiz Seabra in the 1970s. As of today, direct selling still is the main distribution channel. The one-to-one communication between the trained Natura consultants and the customer allows them to explain the personal benefits of the Natura products as well as “the world behind the cosmetics”, i.e. their environmental and social benefits. Natura Ekos is a typical example of a product line which needs some extra explanation.
In the Brazilian indigenous language Tupi-Guarani, ekó is synonymous with life. In Greek, Ekos is ôikos, our home. In Latin, echo corresponds to everything that has resonance, or reverberates, and is therefore heard.
The deeper meaning and possible interpretation of the brand name “Natura Ekos” might be that we are the echo of all those peoples who have obtained their living from, and lived with nature before us. Natura Ekos draws on the wealth of Brazil’s biodiversity and on the traditional knowledge of Brazilian people who live from the land and understand it better than anyone else.
For centuries, Brazilian people have used the plants as food, remedies, cosmetics, and perfumes. Based on this idea, Natura researched the most interesting Brazilian plants and their traditional uses and brought to the Ekos range the colours, textures, smells and active ingredients from nature, with clinically proven results (see for this and the following the case study Natura Ekos by Bocheat and Mokrejs Paro 2008).
Besides expanding the Natura brand and targeting new customer groups the key objective of Natura Ekos are: to preserve and disseminate the Brazilian cultural heritage; to raise awareness in each customer of the Brazilian wealth of biodiversity; and to start “inclusive business” for local communities.
Priprico is an essential ingredient for the Natura Ekos line. Originally, Priprioca was planted by the Indians of Amazonia on their land and was grated or scraped with dried pirarucu fish for use as medication and an ingredient in baths.
Its medicinal use has dwindled, but Prioprioca continues to be renowned for its striking and unusual scent, which attracted the researchers. In the beginning Natura started with three local communities (Boa Vista, Campo Limpo, and Cotijuba).
Natura trained the participating families in the practices of sustainable agriculture and helped them to set up formal associations to secure stable relations and supply.
Key pillars of the concept were rigorous social and environmental standards; inspections; certification; transparency; and an “open value chain”, where costs and profits were transparent to and agreed by all parties involved (Natura, small suppliers, processors, and consultants). Since the first pilot project the certification programme has been expanded to 16 other ingredients.
In 2010 the Natura Ekos line includes soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers, and perfumes. In line with the concept of sustainability, Natura Ekos products are biodegradable.
The bottles and packaging contain recycled material, and refills are offered by Natura for each product, which both reduces the environmental impact and increases the price competitiveness.