MONAT Global Accentuates Its Online Advantage, Sales Surge.
Fifteen thousand Market Partners set to converge on Atlanta last September, and coronavirus surges. That’s when MONAT Global scuttled their in-person festivities and re-imagined what “together” means with a large-scale, virtual event that not only upped the entertainment and experiential value for its field but also gathered their largest audience ever. Fifty thousand participated online, a number that President Stuart MacMillan calls one of his proudest MONAT moments.
Impact kits, couriered to every attendee, gave them all something new to crack open daily during live, 90-minute segments spread over four days. They hired James Corden of Carpool Karaoke fame as emcee, hosted a virtual black tie and gown gala in their Market Partners’ own living rooms, and contracted film crews in California, Chicago and Miami to surprise major award winners live at their own front doors.
Feeding off the energy of its millennial and Gen Z field and utilizing the online advantage their youthful demographic created for their business, MONAT inspired, guided and made good on its promises to deliver naturally based products. They not only delivered their products but also a fun and rewarding business opportunity, a culture of family, and service with gratitude despite all that 2020 dished out.
MONAT channeled positivity and applied massive creativity and resolve to perfect the pivot and flip potential negatives into undeniable positives. When lockdowns brought other companies to their knees, MONAT’s sales growth soared more than $400 million and more than doubled the revenue year over year. They launched a third product category expansion into wellness in 2020, opened new international markets in Ireland and Poland, and boosted their gratitude-focused culture by creating the nonprofit MONAT Gratitude.
Building On Latin American Success
MONAT’s founding family has a rich history in direct selling going back 30 years. Luis Urdaneta worked as a direct seller for nearly two decades in Latin America before launching a beauty and wellness company called L’eudine Global with his son Ray in 2001. They established offices in Maracaibo, Venezuela and Miami, Florida.
In 2008, the company formed Alcora Corporation, a holding company, which included the L’eudine brand and products. Working with B&R Products, a Miami-based manufacturer and formulator which they later acquired in 2013, Alcora exported FDA compliant products to Latin American markets to much success.
By acquiring B&R—complete with high production capabilities, formulation library, lab and chief scientist—Alcora had a full-service supply chain management entity that could conduct research and development, analyze trends, and meet quality assurance standards. Bringing these capabilities into the fold held great potential for the company.
In the early 2010s, few Americans were talking about nature-based, premium haircare products, but Ray Urdaneta, one of Luis’s sons, recognized a U.S. market niche waiting to be filled. He spent some time at SUCCESS Partners University, which piqued his interest in growing into the North American market
Soon pre-launch planning and recruitment was underway, a comp plan in place and a product catalog that included eight premium shampoo and conditioning products and one oil intensive therapy—something atypical to the American premium haircare marketplace.
In October 2014, MONAT Global launched in the United States with 500 market partners. The next year came Canada. The U.K., Ireland and Poland followed in subsequent years.
MONAT chugged along, growing its product line, gaining momentum and earning market share in the premium haircare space, which attracted some haters. “When you go from zero to the number one premium haircare company, you’re a disrupter. Not everyone was happy with the fact that a direct selling company was in the professional, premium haircare space,” MacMillan says.
Terrific field leadership rebuffed the discourse and pulled MONAT through. By the end of 2017, MacMillan says, “We were the number one premium haircare company in the world by revenue. It was phenomenal.”
In 2019, the company evolved into the healthy skincare space in an equally impressive manner. MONAT’s skincare line produced $7 million in sales in the first three hours, then blew away aggressive sales forecasts in three short weeks. Their supply chain capabilities stretched thin, so MONAT took cues from retail counterparts and drew positive media attention to the product line with 25,000 eager customers in queue.
To be a player and compete with the Sephoras and Nordstroms of the retail world, MONAT leaned into a retail look, feel and branding. It worked. They saw little need to benchmark themselves as a direct selling company, instead, they engaged their young demographic online as best-in-class in the health and beauty sector.
MONAT is not interested in running a distributor buying club. They want to focus on the customer experience, the products and the sale. Their goal is a 10:1 customer to distributor ratio. To date, they are nearing 2 million customers and have 400,000 Market Partners worldwide.
There are a few other successful companies that have straddled the direct selling and retail worlds. MacMillan says it works for MONAT because they offer unique products that people want to buy. It’s also a hip, cool brand that’s aspirational to a community of primarily young women drawn to that. It’s MONAT’s responsibility to maintain it and grow it.
And grow it they have. During a year when so many companies—direct sellers or not—struggled, MONAT pushed forward with a popular foray into Wellness. The five-product collection, developed in partnership with holistic expert Dr. Brent Agin, supports proper nutrition, rest, exercise and collagen production. This line is tied to a fairly aggressive global expansion plan that will take MONAT into the Pacific and widen its European footprint.
But regardless of MONAT’s future plans, the company’s 2020 performance inspires and is an industry bright spot. MONAT chooses to “be part of the solution,” CEO Ray Urdaneta says.
“Our success was phenomenal. We are up more than $400 million over last year,” MacMillan says.
So what stars aligned to make this possible? MONAT’s success amid the pandemic is threefold, according to MacMillan.
1. MONAT stayed open.
When their retail competitors like Neiman Marcus and salons could not, MONAT offered premium products for sale online with at-door delivery. Lockdown was a tipping point for new customers to try the brand.
2. So many people wanted work.
Not only was MONAT bringing in phenomenal numbers of Market Partners during the summer of 2020, but distributor activity rates (which ideally hover around 30 percent) went to 40 percent and higher after COVID. People signed on, had the motivation and the time to build a business.
3. People craved community.
“Through our virtual MONAT and the way, we did business online, we gave lonely people a place to hang out,” MacMillan says.
Of course, MONAT’s young field demographic and customer base—who exist in large part online anyway—gave the company an advantage over those with older, less familiar and less adaptable sales fields. The transition to total online sales and recruitment was smooth and made smoother by the company’s evolving messaging.
“We’ve aimed to strike the right balance between informative and concise—giving our audience the educational information they need about our products, while making content ‘bite-sized’ and immediate so that it’s both ingestible and shareable. Punchy copy, eye-catching social posts, and brief-but-informative videos have all been a part of this approach,” says Colin McCormick, Director of Marketing Communications.
At a time when nothing seemed clear in the broader world, MONAT’s consistent themed messaging to Market Partners offered a wide-angle look that connected important dots. How does a rank advancement promotion, sponsoring push, product launch and training event work together to help build a business?
“We’ve made a conscious effort to present these elements as parts of a whole rather than individual pieces, thereby making them easier for our Market Partners to understand and apply,” McCormick says.
And they met Market Partners where they live–online—through Facebook Live, YouTube, Zoom calls, and Instagram takeovers. A recent promotion—7 nights of 7-minute Zoom calls—provides the exact amount of just-in-time training for Market Partners to take hold of monthly opportunities and run.
“We’ve always been a company shining the light on top-performing Market Partners to share best practices, and that certainly has continued as we want our Market Partners to know, like any great family, we are successful together,” says Natalie Johns, Vice President of U.S. Sales.