The Beauty of Building a Global Brand With Local Relevance

Stanford Graduate School of Business Alumni Tapestry Award winner, Cosmetics Executive Women Achiever Award winner, Black Enterprise magazine’s Corporate Executive of the Year…. The professional kudos awarded to Amway CMO Candace Matthews would likely go to the head of many marketers. That’s just one of the many attributes that makes Matthews’ humility, hustle, and sense of humor so refreshing. Her highly personal and collaborative approach to building a global brand with local relevance stems from growing up in a huge family and leads to how she manages a marketing organization that includes Amway’s global team of entrepreneurial distributors.

What’s your marketing passion?

My passion in marketing is about understanding the human psyche and the ways it connects with emotions.

Where does it originate?

I’m the youngest of 18 children. You can’t grow up in that environment without developing a passion for people. My mother was incredible about making every person she spoke to feel like they were the most important person in the world at that moment. When I deal with my team and the people on the team, I deal with them as individuals. I understand who they are, what makes them tick, and what I have to do to best address the source of each person’s motivation.

When did you realize that passion clicked with marketing?

I entered the beauty industry, working on Noxell’s CoverGirl business in the late Eighties. One of the first things I learned was that beauty is really “hope in a jar.” Beauty products make people feel a certain way, and that’s where the human psyche comes into play; marketers need to connect with those feelings if they’re to succeed. I started looking through that lens in subsequent jobs, including at Coca-Cola. I mean, Coke is just a can of soda. But that can has a lot of emotions that go along with it, going all the way back to the “I’d like to teach the world to sing” commercial that still evokes an emotional response when people hear it today.

You’ve also worked in marketing roles at CIBA Vision, Bausch + Lomb, Procter & Gamble, and General Mills. What brought you to Amway in 2007?

When I was called about a job at Amway, my first response was, “Do they still exist?” They encouraged me to visit for a day. And when I did, I was shocked to learn how global the company is. At that point they were close to $7 billion [in annual revenue]. We’re almost $12 billion now. At the time it struck me that there was this massive hidden gem of a story that relatively few people knew about. When I joined the company one of my first missions was to show that PR can be used as a strategic weapon. The company’s entrepreneurial culture also connected with me personally. My father passed away when I was 10, and we had our share of financial challenges. But my mother always conveyed to us her strong faith in hard work and education. She taught us that we could become anything we wanted to if we put our heart and soul into it. So, for me, coming here offered a perfect blend of personal passion and the chance to humanize a company with a powerful story that had not been told as powerfully as it could be.

How does your passion for understanding the human psyche figure into your activities?

Distributors, who we refer to as Amway Business Owners, or ABOs, comprise a critical part of our business model. They’re our face to consumers. We have to understand what makes them tick and what makes them successful. And then we need to communicate our marketing programs in a way that helps our ABOs talk to prospects and end consumers. Our business is really about relationships. We often say that we were the original social network—before social networks even went online.

How do you exert marketing influence through such an independent and diverse network of stakeholders?

It requires a sensitive balance, which is a challenge that makes me love my job here. Our ABOs are our partners and our customers; we call them ambassadors of our brands. They have to be passionate about the product, and they have to understand the needs of the end customer. Fulfilling both of those requires a deep understanding of the product. Many of our brands are tops in their categories. Just one of many examples: We have the number one vitamin/mineral supplement brand in Nutrilite. Our marketing efforts need to ensure that our ABOs understand the features that make our brands so strong.

How do you impart that understanding?

One way is by creating digital assets—commercials, infomercials, product stories, product demonstrations, and more—that we put at our ABOs’ fingertips. When they’re talking about a product with a prospect or customer, they have a video right there that they can play. These assets make them more credible and help them complete the story about the product or brand that they’re talking about.


How do you address the cultural differences among a sales team that operates in more than 100 countries?

I’m in charge of marketing around the globe, so I’ve travelled to all of our top markets. When I visit a market, I immerse myself in their culture. I do not impose our American culture on them. Understanding their cultures first enables me to come back to the U.S. and say, “OK, having been around the globe meeting with our markets to understand what they need, here’s how we’re going to partner with them to create an enterprise solution that will address their needs.” There’s a delicate balance involved in creating a global marketing framework or program that provides enough flexibility to be made locally relevant without changing the global strategy or message.

What’s one example?

As we worked to make Artistry a global beauty brand that could compete in the prestige area, we learned that many beauty trends begin in Asia, particularly in Korea. For example, if you look at the average beauty regimen around the world, a woman uses seven to eight products in the course of a day: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, etc. In South Korea, women use, on average, close to 20 products a day. We realized that if we understood Korea, we would understand beauty because the women there are generally more demanding than they are in any other market. That discovery led us to opening our Asia Beauty Innovation Center in Seoul, which tracks and analyzes beauty trends that, ultimately, feed into our global product development.

What aspects of your ABO’s psychology do you consider as you market to and through them?

Perspective is important. Our ABOs’…drive to be entrepreneurs is central, regardless of their backgrounds and where they live, and we have to understand that drive and help them succeed. The analogy I use with my team is Harley-Davidson. Harley riders may be a banker in a blue suit or someone with long hair and a beard, but the underlying drive that unites them is that they all want the freedom of the road. Harley-Davidson provides that freedom while transcending demographic and ethnographic boundaries. Our job is to take our mission—which is helping people live better lives—and manifest it for them as entrepreneurs building a business. We know that working as an Amway ABO is completely optional, so we have to make it compelling for them to do so.

What do you look for when you hire marketers?

I look for passion and diversity of thought and behavior. You’d better come with your passion and you’d better come ready to have fun. We work very hard, so we build a level of enjoyment into what we do. When I’m interviewing, I often ask people what their hobbies are. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as they’re passionate about something. If they don’t have any hobbies and they don’t have a passion, it’s going to be hard. I also believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And we have a collection of highly unique parts. I look for people who can add a spark to the team in a new way. I’ve often had to go to bat for people who the organization may not have felt was the right choice. But those people have been great because they brought something fresh that inspired us to think in new ways.

Related Posts


E-commerce Finalists Dolce Gusto Agency: OgilvyOne Frankfurt Client: Nescafe ECD: Michael Kutschinski Hybird Shop, A Global E-Commerce Site…
Read More