Human Nature enlists army of dealers to help GKBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The billion-peso personal care product sector in the Philippines is dominated by multinational companies—including Unilever, L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Clinique, Procter and Gamble—that see a good thing going in the country because of its young and growing population with an increasing disposable income.
Social enterprise Human Nature wants to give these foreign companies a run for their money and is enlisting the help of dealers from all over the country who can join it in its cause of promoting “pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment” personal care products while earning a tidy profit for themselves.
Anna Meloto-Wilk, president of Gandang Kalikasan Inc. that produces the Human Nature line of natural and organic cosmetics and personal care products, says that the dealership program started in January 2009 due to persistent demand from the first buyers of Human Nature products who wanted to resell the products.
Wilk says she and her partners looked at what the other direct selling companies were doing and implemented what they thought would be appropriate for Human Nature and its vision of providing Filipinos with affordable quality products that use natural ingredients grown in Gawad Kalinga communities all over the country.
“We chose to just provide our dealers with the discounts on the products like what other direct selling companies are doing. We did not want to do the multilevel marketing model because, by the time the end-users get the products, the prices will be so high. The most we did was two levels, the dealer and one down line or recruit,” explains Wilk.
The dealership system has been tweaked through the years to make it even more worthwhile for dealers to sell more products, thus ensuring steady livelihood for the families living in the Gawad Kalinga sites that produce such ingredients as coconut oil, citronella, lemongrass, passion fruit and sunflower.
Under the latest system, anybody can be a dealer after making an initial purchase of P1,500. This will entitle him or her to a 25-percent discount on purchases worth P1,500 to P4,999 and as much as 30 percent discount on purchases worth at least P20,000.
Dealers only need to buy at least P800 worth of products a month to keep 15 percent discount, at least P1,500 to keep 25 percent discount. Dealers have three months to hit their monthly requirement before they get demoted to a lower level or discount.
To be elevated to the bronze level, the dealers must have P1,500 a month in personal sales and another P1,500 in group sales from recruits. This will entitle the dealer to a 5 percent commission.
If the recruits’ sales hit P1,500 but the bronze dealer did not purchase anything or did not meet the P1,500 personal purchase requirement, commission will not be given.
The highest level is the diamond dealer, who is entitled to a 30 percent discount on purchases worth at least P5,000. He or she has to maintain personal sales of P5,000 and another P100,000 from group sales from end-users and dealers.
End-user recruits or downlines are defined as people who register under the dealer and buy at brochure price from Human Nature branches and/or online through www.humanheartnature.com.
“We try to reward those who are actually selling, and not just buy products for their own consumption, although that is also good. The discount goes up as the purchases go up,” says Wilk.
Human Nature, whose bestselling products include the facial, hair care products and the multipurpose sunflower oil, has 40,000 registered dealers and the hope is to make them more active in selling, and perhaps even invest in a branch.
Wilk says those who want to invest in actual branches are entitled to an even bigger discount considering the time and money that they will put in the outlet. Branch owners likewise get management support, not just in brand building but also in financial housekeeping.
There are 21 main branches including the flagship store—four in Metro Manila, seven in Luzon, seven in Visayas and three in Mindanao.
There are two provinces set to have branches this year—Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and San Fernando, Pampanga, bringing the network up to 23 by the end of the year.
Plans are underway to open up even more to bring Human Nature products closer to the people, although the group prefers to expand at a slow but sure pace.
There are a lot of inquiries to open up Human Nature stores, but Wilk says that the group is not exactly in a hurry to open up more branches as management wants to make sure that the branch operators or investors share in their vision of contributing to poverty alleviation.
“Aside from the financial capability, we also want to make sure that the investor will be very much hands-on, and not just delegate the management to other people,” says Wilk, “We want the branches to be dynamic, where the investors will really go out to make the brand known, like go to schools, events, join bazaars, forge strategic tie-ups. We have to work to get the brand known because we are a new brand and we are up against multinational brands that have been here a long time.”
To support the dealers, especially the branch owners, Wilk says that Gandang Kalikasan Inc. provides training on inventory control, product knowledge, merchandising as well as dealer development. It also came up with a new look for the branch to entice customers to go through the doors.
Wilk says that sales of its Human Nature flagship store have quadrupled since the start of the year following the unveiling of the new look in January 2012.
The flagship store embodies the vision of Gandang Kalikasan to be pro-Philippines and pro-environment, thus elements of Filipiniana are seen all over the store but with a modern feel. There are touches of bamboo, capiz, wood and raffia to evoke that Filipino feel. Lights are also energy-efficient to keep power consumption to a minimum.
“We wanted people to hang out and want to buy. We also have space for kids to play while their parents are looking around. We want people to have more time to shop in a stress-free environment. We also have space for products from other social enterprises,” Wilk says.
The plan is for all branches to have the same look and feel as the flagship store by the end of the year.
And as the distribution network expands, so does the product line, says Wilk.
Human Nature has 100 unique products and new products are developed every two months. It goes head-to-head with foreign competition by offering the market personal care products that do not use harmful chemicals and are guaranteed tested and safe. It was also the first Filipino cosmetics and personal care company to be named animal cruelty free by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
That Human Nature’s products are “pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment” has given it a cult following that Gandang Kalikasan Inc. hopes will expand to include more Filipinos, as they get more from Human Nature than just a quality product. By making a purchase, they also get a chance to help less-privileged Filipinos in Gawad Kalinga communities.
Human Nature, after all, nourishes not just the skin, but also warms the heart and feeds the soul.
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