Respecting biodiversity helps boost sales, Natura

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Biodiversity Sustainability

Sourcing ingredients in a way that promotes and conserves biodiversity is not the reserve of the niche brands, nor does it stand in the way of commercial success, argues Brazilian cosmetics company Natura.

The company recorded net revenues of $3bn last year and director of sustainability Marcos Vaz is convinced that the ‘Brazilianity’ of its sustainable message is one of the keys to its success.

In an interview with CosmeticsDesign-Europe at the recent in-cosmetics trade show, Vaz explained how the company had placed biodiversity at the heart of the company. Click on the video link to see Marcos Vaz explain the company’s strategy.

Natura is convinced that by using biodiversity as the source of many of its ingredients, it can help preserve the natural heritage of the country.

Imagine the Amazon, Vaz said, that provides a home for 20 million people trying to make a living. They can cut the forest down to make room for agriculture as an income generating activity but we try to provide them with an alternative, he said.

“What we do is give them an opportunity to make money from the forest as it is now, by collecting from the forest and receiving the money from that, there is the incentive to maintain the forest as it is.”

By sharing the benefits of resulting products with the people that helped bring them to fruition, Natura is also helping to support the forest communities.

Biodiversity boosts the bottom line

But Vaz was quick to point out that such practices do not just benefit the forest and communities living with it, but also help boost his company’s sales.

Primarily, biodiversity is seen as a source of innovation, he explained in a presentation at the Union for Ethical BioTrade’s recent ‘Sourcing with Respect’ conference.

New active ingredients for Natura’s products are found within the biodiversity-rich regions of Brazil, and using traditional knowledge can both shorten innovation time, helping to bring products to market quicker, and cut R&D costs.

In addition, he said focusing on sourcing ingredients from the region can help improve the company’s overall environmental footprint as it can help replace petrochemical-derived ingredients with renewable counterparts of vegetable origin.

But it is perhaps the ‘Brazilianity’ of the approach that helps set the company apart from its competitors. Natura’s focus on the promotion and conservation of Brazil’s natural resources sets its offering apart from many other global cosmetic players.

Brazilian consumers are particularly aware of biodiversity and issues surrounding biopiracy, according to a recent survey, the Biodiversity Barometer, organised by the Union for Ethical BioTrade.

Although Vaz said it was difficult to quantify the effect of the biodiversity ethic on the company’s bottom line, he did say that since the creation of the Ekos brand a few years ago, which attempted to reintroduce the focus on biodiversity, share prices have risen 400 percent.

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