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A Natural Advantage

Jane Carter, 43, owner of Jane Carter Solution, a line of natural haircare products sold in Whole Foods Market and The Vitamin Shoppe, says consumers have finally begun to read labels. But companies must do more than slap the words “organic” or “all-natural” on their packaging to stand out. They must engage–and educate–consumers using social media and sampling opportunities to forge strong brand impressions. Here’s how:

Show and prove. Natural products are often more costly to produce than synthetics, so manufacturers must clearly demonstrate product benefits to overcome resistance to higher pricing. “Once they try natural-based products, the results are so much more favorable that they are more willing to make the investment,” Carter explains. “Once they realize that there are many products that can negatively affect their health, many will not use synthetic or unhealthy ingredients if they have a choice.”

Listen carefully. Every business’ challenge is to solve consumers’ problems. To position her company as a trusted resource, Carter hosts a monthly conference call that customers can dial into and get answers to their specific haircare questions. “We have had as many as 600 people dial into our calls,” Carter says. “The topic of the call could be about alopecia or the effects menopause has on your hair, as well as transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.”

Work the Web. “It takes diligence to get national recognition when you’re a small company and not advertising in major magazines,” Carter says. “The Internet is probably the most powerful marketing venue of the century. If you invest the time and the energy and have the right team of people, you can get the job done effectively.”