Lessons in managing change? Look and listen!

Surely you know how to lead, but do you...

The natural way of marketing

January 12, 2016 – by Jeroen Geelhoed and Marjan Companjen &samhoud consultancy

Imagine sitting in a cinema with your partner – you finally managed to fix a date night, a babysitter is looking after your children at home, and the movie is about to begin. But, as usual, the movie is preceded by commercials, and you are talking through them because you both have a lot to catch up on. But then your partner appears on the screen with a special, personal message of love and appreciation for you – wow!

But wait, this is a commercial, right?! Right! This was a marketing campaign initiated by Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, and is an excellent business case of Inspiring Others.

Natura’s philosophy

Natura’s aim is to achieve optimal benefits for the natural environment, communities and the company through its business activities. Since its establishment in 1969, the company has grown consistently, creating a network of 800,000 direct selling consultants and extending its markets abroad. Natura has a strong philosophy: ‘Our reason for being is to create and sell products and services that promote well-being/being well. Well-being is the harmonious and pleasant relationship of a person with one’s body. Being well is the emphatic, successful and gratifying relationship of a person with others, with nature and with the whole.’ Life is a chain of relationships according to Natura: ‘Nothing in the universe exists alone. Everything is interdependent.’ The company firmly believes that valuing relationships provides a wonderful opportunity to bring about a human revolution in the pursuit of peace, harmony and beauty. And it conveys that belief fully! Relationships and connection are running themes in all of its activities.

Natura’s strategy

In 2000 Natura implemented a strategy to use raw material derived from Brazil’s botanical biodiversity as the basis for its products. The company developed a new business model to increase local production while ensuring sustainable extraction. This model includes small communities, NGOs and governments that support local sustainable development. Natura participates in this process, which has differentiated itself in the market. As part of its commitment to social responsibility, Natura forged supplier relationships with poor communities that extracted raw materials from Brazil’s natural resources. Sales were so successful that in 2006 Natura built a new soap-producing plant in a remote region where most of the raw materials are extracted. The connection with nature, business and society has certainly been rewarding.

How Natura succeeds in Inspiring Others

Back to the campaign. Together with cinema chain Cinemark, Natura set up an interesting campaign to inspire people with its new shampoo line called Natura Plant. When purchasing two or more cinema tickets from the Cinemark website, the buyer was asked whether he would be taking a woman along to see the film. If the answer was affirmative, the ticket buyer was given the opportunity to record a personal compliment for their date via a webcam. These personal clips were shown during the night of screening. They were preceded by a video highlighting the positive aspects for women to receive compliments and linking it to the relationship women have with their hair. Responses were resoundingly positive! The unexpected declarations of love and affection not only surprised the women concerned – they also touched hundreds of thousands of internet users who shared the videos through various social media outlets. You can watch the campaign commercial here.

The difference between motivating and inspiring

So Natura is a striking example of a company that inspires and connects. It does justice to its raison d’être while at the same time achieving commercial successes.

Traditionally, a major focus in marketing has been on motivation: creating and sending impulses to obtain the attention of (potential) customers so that they buy your product. But more recently there have been some examples of successful marketing, such as Natura, where companies invest in inspiring others, reaching a much broader group of people. There is a big difference between motivating and inspiring, because inspiring means that something is awakened in people, and attention created for a mutual purpose, a shared ideal and passion.

Motivating usually focuses on the what, where and how of the product, whereas inspiring highlights the why of a product or service. Inspired people become ambassadors of a brand – they believe in it, they want to be a part of a movement, want to work for the company if possible. Motivating starts from an extrinsic standpoint, whereas inspiring is a highly intrinsic process: life is breathed into a person – the original meaning of the word Inspire.

Marketing could be about much more than about motivating potential customers to buy. Inspiring Others is the natural way of marketing – it is a means through which companies help work towards a brighter future. That is what Natura is successfully doing in several parts of Brazil with its partners, sparking life into relationships between spouses, between urban and remote communities and in remote communities themselves. After all, Together we build a brighter future! 

Sources: Geelhoed, J., Samhoud, S., & Smolders, I. (2013). Creating Lasting Value: How to Lead, Manage and Market Your Stakeholder Value. Kogan Page Publishers, 193-212.


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