Edgard Barki

Beleza Natural: Valuing Brazilian Women’s Self-Esteem

Editor’s Note: The following post was first published on NextBillion Brasil. The original version (in Portuguese) may be found here.

Beleza Natural is much more than a beauty parlor. Back in 1993, the company began operating in a basement in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Founded by a former nanny and hairdresser, two former McDonald’s assistants, and a former cab driver, Beleza Natural has become a national archetype for service and access for the base of the pyramid.

After less than 20 years in business, the company now serves close to 80,000 customers every month throughout eleven beauty salons: nine in Rio de Janeiro, one in Espirito Santo and another in Bahia. Several reasons account for the company’s success. They include:

Focus Since the beginning, the company has had clear positioning and focus: to serve women with curly and wavy hair. Thus, Beleza Natural has been able to get to know its customers very well and to adopt adequate strategies to differentiate its services.

Relevance The services Beleza Natural offers are extremely relevant for its customers. The company’s vision is quite explicit in this sense: “To make people happier by promoting beauty and self-esteem.” The BoP population has limited opportunities to pamper themselves. The company offers a place where people can feel better and be happy. As a result, the salons are large, pretty and detail-rich to offer a relaxing and inclusive environment. Take the mirror, for example, a full-length alternative to the face mirrors normally found in BoP households.

It is also worth to mentioning that, instead of simply accepting mainstream beauty and doing hair, i.e. straightening it, Beleza Natural does exactly the opposite: it values curly and wavy hair and leaves it naturally beautiful. A consumer said: “When my hair is soft, silky and shiny, when my curls are defined and appealing, I feel more secure, more attractive: it raises my self-esteem. I feel encouraged to try my luck at love or even at a new job.”

Relationships A deep knowledge of its customers and differentiated services create unrivaled company-consumer relationships. The feeling of inclusion, the valuing of self-esteem strengthen this relationship. Even waiting lines, which can last up to six hours, become a form of interaction. All this has rallied scores of women to go to these salons.

Besides, the company’s activities increase this proximity with its consumers. For example, 70 percent of employees are former customers. The company also invests heavily on social networks, such as Orkut, Facebook and Twitter, as well as in a blog.

Access The salons are strategically located in the communities they serve. Prices range well below market average. Beleza Natural is, thus, financially, physically and emotionally closer to its consumers.

From a modest and unassuming beginning, Beleza Natural has become one of the greatest success stories for the base of the pyramid. By deeply knowing consumers and maintaining an extremely clear focus, the company linked strategic vision, perseverance and willpower to create a dream factory, to strengthen the population’s self-esteem, and to value beauty.

Base of the Pyramid, employment, financial inclusion