Thursday, May 13, 2010

More on Natura and Proctor and Gamble....

There are a couple of untruths about the Natura buyout by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) that are gaining some traction online and in email campaigns and I think should be addressed. There are folks implying that they've spoken with customer service representatives from Natura Pet and were told "The deal isn't done yet, if you want to prevent the sale/keep Natura small/etc you should send us your feed back and "we might change our minds". I can find no indication that this statement or the plea for action has any grounds in truth. My own inquires to Natura asking if they were solicitating input on the sale of the brand hasn't been answered. Statements (see below) on the Natura website indicate that the deal is all-but finalized and will be finalized mid-June with manufacturing of Natura products coming under the P&G umbrella in July.

Here's my take on that situation. If a business decides to sell out to a corporate giant it is well within their rights to do so. Privately owned means privately owned and the ownership of a privately owned company can make whatever business decisions they feel comfortable making - sell the brands, close the doors, switch from dog food to turtle food. Its out of our control as comsumers.

However, to negotiate a deal to sell and then turn it around as a marketing ploy (help us stay small/we might change our minds/start a write-in campaign) is downright unethical - if an organization does this as a mode to publicize their brand that's just disturbing. To be fair, I think the activity around the "save Innova" campaign was started by - and perpetuated by - external forces to the process (bloggers who feed Natura products and various forum contributors who might be guilty of nothing other than being naive and well intentioned). I don't believe that Don Scott (the president of Natura) has any inclination to stop the deal from proceeding nor do I think that any amount of letters, phonecalls or pleas will have any impact on the particulars of the sale.

The message from the president of Natura has offered a stock press release and some spin on the sale - as if the deal had anything to do with the quality of the product and nothing at all to do with profit margins and big business. Messages such as the intent to raise brand awareness is probably quite true. P&G has much more money to throw at marketing campaigns than little Natura. That the acquisition will benefit the quality of the brand and the quality of the product is absurd. The reason that Diamond (and others) got into trouble years ago first with corn toxins and then with the wheat glutens has everything to do with economy of scale. Sure, P&G will be able to make an Innova product with the same ingredients for significantly less cost (to be determined if that savings will be passed to consumers). But, bigger batches and greater output means that there are more variables from sourcing to production. Just as popularity is not good for individual dog breeds - isn't any better for a brand of dog food.

My advice will continue to be to feed brands that are produced on a small scale. Brands that produce small batches under tight sourcing control. When the Natura brands (already working on a pretty large scale) formally come under the P&G heading any amount of source control is going to go away. It takes a lot of raw ingredients to make a million pounds of dog food annually - and on that scale it's going to be impossible to run the level of quality control that most of us are going to feel comfortable with... No thanks Natura. I wish your people and employees well in their future endeavors. But I'll never feed Natura, Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise or Karma foods to any critter I'm responsible for - No way, no how.

A message from the Natura President:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The deal is still awaiting SEC approval, therefore, it is not a done deal. As a retailer, I understand the desire to express disappointment to Natura about the sale. HOWEVER, it IS the intention of the Rademakers and Atkins to let P&G buy them out, and I don't think all of the disappointment in the world will deter them from selling. I will find it interesting to watch what happens as their sales plummet in the less than 30 days remaining before SEC approval, as I know of hundreds of stores discontinuing the line before the deal closes. Could that deter P&G I wonder...