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A Lesson in Sustainability: Natura's Marcos Vaz

By: Fernanda Bonifacio
Posted: August 31, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The benefits of Natura’s investments in local development (US$3 million in 2009) and sourcing/partnership model continues to be reflected in its net income statement and growing market share.
  • Decisions based on business strategies adds value to products.
  • Higher consumer awareness is helping the valuation of sustainable products.
  • It is possible to achieve balance between social development and economic success.

Andiroba, cupuassu, buriti and Brazil nut are well past the stage of being unknown products of the Amazon rain forest to being well-regarded natural beauty ingredients. But it is quite possible that their many benefits for skin and hair care may have remained relatively unexplored and regionally restricted if it wasn’t for Natura.

Wandering around Natura’s 678,000 square-meter property just outside São Paulo (boasting more than 80% green space in addition to production, management and fulfillment facilities), it is difficult to picture the company in 1969, when it was created and operated from a laboratory and a small shop. Five years later, Natura’s founder Antonio Luiz Seabra had already established the company’s direct sales distribution/retail channel, which would be one of the company’s hallmarks. But it was during the 1980s, when Natura’s revenue grew more than 30 times, that its first socioenvironmental policies flourished—a concept that wasn’t widespread in Brazil at the time.

More than a decade of research and investments culminated in the launch of the Natura Ekos line, which now includes 80 products, all of them developed from active ingredients of the Brazilian biodiversity. Since then, Natura’s projects linked to and focused on the sustainable use of natural resources have grown so much that a specific department was created to coordinate them. That’s when Marcos Vaz was chosen to be the voice of the company’s sustainability projects and biodiversity management.

Before joining Natura in 2006, the chemical engineer worked in product development at Unilever, and held technical positions in Mexico and the U.K. “I had the privilege of experiencing societies with diverse cultures that observe conflicts from different perspectives,” Vaz tells GCI magazine. “It helped me understand the dilemmas and difficulties in achieving sustainability goals.”

Sourcing Ingredients; Partnerships