João Paulo Ferreira

João Paulo Ferreira, chief executive officer of Natura Brasil, Brazil’s beauty leader, is putting all of the pieces together. His goal is for Natura to be one of the top cosmetics companies in the world. Citing WWD’s Beauty Inc. 2017 ranking of the world’s largest beauty companies, he noted Natura is on the way, ranking 18th.

Two key acquisitions helped accelerate Natura’s growth, the 2012 purchase of the Australian-born Aesop and last September’s buy of the Body Shop from L’Oréal. “We formed Natura & Co., our corporate identity that puts together three brands with higher purpose and outstanding products,” Ferreira said.

But to understand the company today, Ferreira referred to the past and how Natura has grown via its direct-sell model. Natura’s roots trace back 50 years to a first shop in São Paulo and has flourished into almost a $2 billion business with a network of 1.7 million consultants who reach 100 million consumers. “It was a brand that was founded out of two passions, cosmetics and relationships, and the belief that the combination of those two passions has the ability to transform individuals and the reality around them.”

The brand, he said, has always been about more than just selling products, rather, it’s a holistic experience that stretches beyond skin and hair requirements, and also emotional needs. Additionally, a corporate goal is to offer sustainability while also giving back, especially to support the Amazon forests.

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Direct-selling was deemed the best way to scale growth and maintain the one-on-one approach. Ferreira likened the cadre of consultants to a “social network of 1.7 million entrepreneurs.” They not only sell, but they also reach out to their communities, while building their own financial positions. Consultants are also given opportunities, through franchise deals, to open their own stores. “In a sense we are a combination of Amazon, Facebook and Google,” Ferreira said.

Natura recently modernized the systems consultants use, specifically, digitizing operations so sales reps can plug into Natura’s new platform. That helps them reach out to consumers to alert them to new items, set a birthday reminder, set up a consultation with a specialist or tell them when it might be a time for a refill. And the connection can also remind consumers of the contributions they are making to the Amazon forest through transactions. Beyond consumer interactions, consultants can access sales training, get support from sales leaders and link into other sales tools. Almost half of the consultants already use the platform he said.

Natura gives its consultants plenty of products to market. “Being a leader in Brazil, the fourth-largest market in the world, we do require a great deal of innovation. We launch more than 400 sku’s a year and two-thirds of our revenue comes from products that did not exist a year before.” The leading brands in the portfolio include Chronos, Aguas, Ekos and Mamae e Bebe.

Moreover, the products are produced in a sustainable manner, an important component of Natura’s DNA, according to Ferreira. Natura has been environmentally-minded long before the industry started walking away from animal-testing and harmful ingredients. As part of its giving back, Natura also establishes public education funds and offers scholarships for families of its consultants.

In addition to the direct-sell model, Natura operates 19 stores in Brazil and seven countries, including the U.S, France, Argentina and Chile, and a presence in around 3,600 drugstores.

Shifting gears to the future for Natura & Co., Ferreira believes the combination of the three like-minded companies (Natura, Body Shop and Aesop) will extend its purpose-driven message across the world. Natura is already strong in Latin America, while Aesop has a presence around the globe. The Body Shop offers a platform that will help Natura & Co. be present in more than 70 countries. “Hopefully I will be able to come back to tell you how those three businesses are forces for good.”

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