cpna-11Q&A with Ethelbert Williams, Chief Marketing Officer, InstaNatural


What is brand storytelling and why is it important?

In today’s environment, consumers have endless choices and distractions.  It’s important we, as brand leaders marry the needs of our target consumers with the right message and in the right medium.  The perfect storm is created by delivering a seamless brand experience throughout all touchpoints and without a loss of signal.

Seamless brand storytelling is important because it amplifies your brand message, drives efficiency and provides that perfect consumer experience, helping guide her to the right brand solution – ideally yours.

Consumers are also dealing with a ton of marketplace noise. Managing marketing communication in bitesize or ‘snackable’ chunks is critical to engaging her appropriately.

All of this comes with strong understanding for how your consumer is leveraging technology as part of their shopping experience and unleashing data to help enable positive commercial choices on your business.

What are the challenges brands are facing today with keeping consumers engaged in brand messaging?

More than 58% of consumers are researching beauty category products online before making purchase decisions and more than 60% utilize their mobile device in a retail setting to aid their decision at shelf.   She is engaging her trusted mobile device to look up reviews, ratings, ingredients, check prices and compare.  She is sifting across multiple platforms and devices to figure out what works for her.   This brings to mind a few principles to consider to best capture the shoppers’ dollars.

It’s important to leverage reviews within the shopper journey, especially within a retail context.  This includes curating reviews and ratings through ecommerce platforms, branded apps as well as relevant reviews sites or forums.  She is accustomed to seeing this type of information as helpful indicators along her purchase journey.

Further, personalizing the messaging is also key.  Be aggressive to stay abreast for how your brand can deliver a seamless customer experiences with the available brand and retailer data available to help keep your shopper engaged, serving the right messages at the right time.

How can brands create a seamless experience and storytelling approach for consumers?

There are some principles to consider which may require elevating the company’s digital capabilities to successfully create more seamless experiences with the shopper.

Figure out the right medium to maintain a constant dialogue with your consumers. Recognizing this could be mobile, social, or email – depending on your consumer.

At InstaNatural, we’ve worked hard to balance the right context for peer to peer reviews which we leverage on ecommerce platforms where our consumers can understand past shopper feedback and comparisons.  In addition, we provide access to skin care and beauty professionals through other platforms including customer service, video and live social formats. This is important as these channels provide an opportunity to craft powerful brand storytelling by allowing consumers to tune-in to appointments where they can get consultations and deeper personal insights relevant to more complex issues or solutions they are seeking.

What ways should brands engage influencers or brand champions in their plans?

There are relevant ways brands can leverage influencers as part of marketing plans today. First, it’s important to understand and define who your consumer actually sees as influential to the purchase decision and develop brand objectives supporting how you want to activate influencers as part of your brand communications plan.

The reality is today, more and more consumers are looking to peers or other real women and personal experiences to lend insight to what works.  Reviews, peer feedback and other user generated content are sought out on her purchase journey.

At times, a brand champion or expert needs to play a role while in other mediums it’s important to provide a voice from a third party professional or some other expert.

Take time to understand the insight around which voices, when to utilize them and where to make sense for your shopper and manage this orchestration well.


Ethelbert Williams will be speaking at Cosmoprof North American 2016 as part of the Entrepreneur Academy on Sunday, July 24, 2016.  He has more than 16 years of global commercial leadership experience in consumer and B2B sectors.  Williams is currently Chief Marketing Officer at InstaNatural, a global ecommerce consumer products company, leading marketing, brand development and sales strategy.  He previously drove go-to-market and channel expansion for the personal and facial cleansing category at Kimberly-Clark Corporation.  Williams has held leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal and Unilever. He is also an active investor and advisor to exceptional entrepreneurs.  Williams holds a Bachelor of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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