The market for cosmetics has experienced exponential growth rates and is an important sector in many countries—particularly Brazil, where the cosmetics sector rose 8.6 percent in 2008 despite the global financial crisis. Accordingly, Brazil rose in consumer market rankings, becoming the world's second-largest consumer of beauty products—surpassing the Japanese market, which shrank during the same period. Until 2007, Brazil lagged behind both the Japanese and American markets.
According to the Brazilian Association of the Industry of Personal Hygiene, Fragrances and Cosmetics (Abihpec), Brazilian exports in the sector were US$ 650 million against US$ 450 million in imports, reaching a surplus of US$ 200 million in 2008. In Brazil, the industry of personal hygiene, fragrances and cosmetics is the only chemical complex—which includes cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, paints and fertilizers, among others—to produce a surplus.
The cosmetics industry in Brazil is extremely competitive and involves big global players, but one Brazilian brand stands out from the rest: Natura. Born in Brazil, this cosmetics brand is now available in seven Latin American countries and France.
Founded in 1969, Natura is the industry leader in the cosmetics, fragrances and personal hygiene market in Brazil. It is also the industry leader in direct sales, surpassing even the giant American company Avon. Natura offers a full range of products with solutions for consumers’ various needs, regardless of age, including products for the face and body, hair care and treatment products, make-up, fragrances, bath products, sun protection products, oral hygiene products and product lines for children.
In 1982, Natura started its internationalization process when it arrived in Chile. Six years later, it added the Bolivian market. It did not take long to infiltrate Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico. In 2002, Natura’s products were being sold in duty-free Brazilian airports. But it was in 2005 that the brand took a major leap in the international market to open a shop in Paris, the world capital of cosmetic products.
Latin America accepted the Natura brand with incredible enthusiasm. A recent annual report indicates that the company's direct sales in the region will reach a turnover in the order of US$ 500 million in 2012. In Europe, Natura continues with the important work of building the brand in a sophisticated market, generating the experience required to
implement a business model in developed markets. But the international expansion will not be limited to Latin America and Europe. Natura is currently planning expansion into the United States. Before coming to the US, Natura sent a group of senior executives to develop a plan to penetrate the world’s largest market for cosmetics and direct sales.
What makes Natura so special?
Concerns over global warming continue to increase, especially in politics. In December 2008, during a meeting with Al Gore, then-US-president-elect Barack Obama said: “We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now, that this is a matter of urgency and national security, and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That is what I intend to do in my administration."
This discussion also included the role companies play in protecting the environment. Natura, founded in the late 1960s, is credited for having a business model that embraces sustainability and commits to using natural ingredients in its formulas. Natura’s eco-friendly, socially responsible business strategy was in place long before current advertising trends made it popular. Under the slogan "Well-Being-Well," Natura has always focused on social responsibility, the environment and economics. These long-held beliefs have become the main advantage in differentiating Natura from its competitors—demonstrating that the brand and its values were ahead of their time.
Today many opportunistic companies use sustainability as a way to promote their products, but Natura’s green marketing is more than a strategy, it is a philosophy. Natura’s concern for the environment is directly translated into its products. During the production of product mixes, Natura does not test on animals and respects all international security standards. In 1983, Natura began to produce and sell refills, whose average mass is almost 54 percent less than the mass of regular packaging. This revolutionary project resulted in a significant decrease in the disposal of solid waste in the environment. In 2007, the company put into practice the Carbon Neutral Program, designed to reduce and offset all emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
In 2005, Natura was cited in a UN report, “Talk the Walk,” as one of the pioneers in green marketing. The report also cited American Apparel and Stonyfield Farm—both American brands—and highlighted the work of Natura’s Ekos line for communicating brand values that foster a culture of conscious consumption.
Natura’s Ekos line features fragrances, personal care and ambience products that draw from the wealth of Brazil's biodiversity and are inspired by traditional plant ingredients—elevating awareness around Brazil’s environmental heritage and promoting quality of life in the communities that cultivate or extract those ingredients. Additionally, Natura’s Ekos products are biodegradable and use bottles and packaging that contain recycled material across the brand’s market segments, including soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and perfumes.
Brands, according to American economist Edward Chamberlin, must differentiate products and services to survive. It is not surprising that Natura is flourishing by embracing the history and diversity of Brazil’s people and natural environment.