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Jackson Gives Alticor A Brand-New Look
"People think we're an American company that sells soap," she said. "But we're an Asian company that sells health and beauty."
Asian? Although the company's roots in the multi-level marketing of consumer products can be found right here in West Michigan, today's Alticor has come a long way from the Amway days of yore. Today, Asian markets account for 75 percent of the company's sales.
In addition to the geographical switch, the focus of the company's product lines has shifted as well. Now, a mere 8 percent of the total sales come from the home-care line (read: soap). The focus of today's Alticor products — and
Alticor first took notice of
Five years later, she got her big break. She was offered the chance to move into the global brands program at Alticor's
"It's very different. Very different. Hugely different!" she said.
However, the move didn't come as too much of a shock to the family, as she and her husband, Peter, had moved back and forth between the U.S. and the U.K. several times earlier in their careers. "So we knew
For Peter and their daughters (then 6 and 9), the move was worth any sacrifices they would make in their personal lives.
"It made absolute sense for my career, so we just took the plunge and moved," she said. "And it's a great place to come with kids. We both say that had they offered us this when we were both young and single, we probably wouldn't have said yes — coming from a
The move was a boon to the whole family. The kids loved their new home and the
"He liked that,"
The family's new American lifestyle was a welcome surprise. Although her 10-percent pay raise wasn't life-changing by any means, the standard-of-living shift was dramatic.
"Funnily enough, the house we bought here is five times bigger than the one we sold in
Marketing work for Alticor is a very different business than what most consumer products companies encounter. The biggest difference, of course, is that the products are sold through individual business operators (IBOs) using the multi-level marketing model. As such,
"It's definitely got a level of complexity that's different," she said, comparing the kind of direct-marketing done by Alticor to her past experiences with British pharmacists Boots the Chemists Ltd. and beauty products maker Wella. "But they're more similar than you would think. You still need to find your compelling sales proposition and deliver it to the customer in a way that your sales force gets."
But Amway's sales force is unique to say the least.
"A lot of the onus is very much on us to give them something at least they can start with, then repurpose for their needs," she said. "If we're too U.S.-focused, too West Michigan-focused, they'll just not use it. Then we've got a lot of re-working, a lot of redundancy, a lot of extra expense."
Their work seems to have caught on.
Amway's two largest brands enjoy extreme success on the global stage. The company's Nutrilite line is the world leader in health supplements. The Artistry cosmetics and skin-care brand is No. 4 in the world, trailing Clinique, Lancome and Estee Lauder (Chanel, naturally, is No. 5).
The key word in Alticor's brand development these days is science. What's the best way to find the perfect shade of eyeshadow? DNA testing. That may be a bit off in the future, but
"I came in and had a look at it and said, 'Hey wait a minute. Artistry has been all over the place. Artistry is trying to do too many things. It's trying to be all things to all kinds of people," she said. "And if it's not tightly controlled, you can lose your way with a brand. Well, tight control isn't the way this company works. This is a very relationship-oriented, consensus-building corporation. … (That culture) makes managing a global brand a wee bit more difficult."
The new Artistry tagline, Tangible Miracles of Science, speaks clearly to
"I want to bring in trendy, edgy, urban, funky brands," she said. "Well I can't do that if (Artistry) is taking all the space in the world in the cosmetics portfolio."
Once she and her team have repositioned the Artistry line, they will begin introducing more of those brands on a recurring basis. They will continue to put the majority of their R&D efforts into Artistry and "let that science trickle down" to the more off-beat brands, such as the E. Funkhouser
"We're branching out into a space we're not in, portfolio-wise, and maybe trying to appeal to a segment whose needs aren't being met — or maybe even another segment who isn't even coming in to the company that might do when some of these new brands are introduced," she said.
She's also traveling about 50 percent of the time. Her husband is now working with an advertising agency in
"And my kids, with our friends from