As vice president of worldwide marketing, Clare Burton is responsible for providing the tools and training materials to the company’s 2-million independent distributors to help ensure their success and drive brand awareness around the world. Her areas of focus include sport sponsorships; distributor education, tools and communications; brand governance; and leading the internal creative team. The Graziadio Business Review sat down with her to pick her brain about brand management across such a diverse and vast group of brand ambassadors.
What are the tenets or basic values of the Herbalife brand and how were they established?
Our guiding principle is that we can change people’s lives through healthy nutrition and our business opportunity. We rolled out our vision, mission and values statement in 2004 first to our employees and then to our independent distributors and they are based on the philosophy Herbalife has held since its beginnings … The vision hasn’t changed since the company was founded in 1980:
- Vision – Changing people’s lives.
- Mission – To change people’s lives by providing the best business opportunity in direct selling and the best nutrition and weight-management products in the world.
- Our Distributors: We are driven by the needs of our Distributors and inspired by their stories.
- Our Stakeholders: We pursue profitability and growth to increase value for all our stakeholders, including Distributors, customers, shareholders, and employees.
- Our Employees: We respect each other, succeed as a team, and value a sense of humor.
- Our Products: Our commitment to the highest scientific and safety standards in product development and manufacturing is an integral part of our mission for nutrition. We are products of the product.
- Our Communities: We make our communities better places to live and work.
- Our Work: We make decisions based on facts, not hearsay. We work hard and hold ourselves accountable. We strive for excellence.
- Our Ethics: We do the right, honest, and ethical thing. We take the high road.
- Our Philosophy: We use it, wear it, talk it.
- Our Attitude: We make it fun, simple, and magical.
With approximately 2-million independent distributors in 74 countries, how do you ensure that the integrity of the brand is not compromised?
Because our Distributors are the face of our brand Herbalife focuses on giving them the tools and training necessary for them to drive their business success, effectively and ethically. Distributors must adhere to strict company policies and legal requirements in each country that regulates product information, sales techniques, advertising, lead generation, social media, and many related issues. We also have a Distributor Ethics & Business Practices department to review issues regarding distributor behavior and to take disciplinary action where warranted.
What has been the key to your success in determining how to best educate and support your distributors, globally?
By listening to, and learning from, our distributors. We have frequent communication with leading distributors at events, retreats, and meetings around the world. We also work with distributor committees to get their feedback on new company initiatives ranging from successful business methods like nutrition clubs and weight loss challenges to new technology projects like the iPhone product ordering app that we are rolling out globally.
How do you measure Herbalife’s brand equity, and what have been the most successful initiatives in elevating the Herbalife brand?
The most important measure of our brand equity is in the confidence and enthusiasm of our independent distributors which is measured in their success with the products and their businesses. In addition we are rolling out a program of brand studies in our top markets to benchmark and track increases in brand awareness and positive impressions.
In addition, we elevate our brand by sponsoring over 180 athletes, teams, and sporting events around the world, including LA Galaxy, Pumas, FC Barcelona and Leo Messi. In addition, our Herbalife Family Foundation supports 60 Casa Herbalife programs around the world by providing less fortunate children with excellent nutrition. Third-party endorsements, such as awards and recognition from press, industry, and other groups also help build our brand.