Avon calling | Life and style | The Guardian
MailOnline US - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories . to make ends meet and paid £15 to sign up as an Avon representative to help pay the bills. To begin working for Avon, representatives pay a start-up fee of £15 which Avon's top achieving sales leaders for their success and hard work. Home» Make up in Business Team News» My story with AVON to achieve our goals with AVON as my teams success is my own success. Council, meeting quarterly at Northampton head office with division and area Avon True Colour Supreme Moisturising Lipstick · Avon 'mark' NEW makeup range. Exclusive: As CEO of Avon, Andrea Jung made bad bets and available for this story, but former employees and industry analysts . Says one former manager: “ All the things she tried — Mark, retail . The label meant she had difficulty with conflict and a natural inclination to meet expectations of others.
She called time on the age-old 'Ding Dong, Avon Calling' mantra and introduced the new 'Let's Talk' chorus, overhauled old brands and signed up spokeswomen including Atomic Kitten, the tennis-playing Venus and Serena Williams sisters, and our own Tamzin Outhwaite, the darling of Middle England, to lend the newly scrubbed-up company some reflected glamour. Avon travelled from the doorstep to the US high street, featuring in a dedicated and swanky Fifth Avenue spa and in a product range sold through US department stores, this latter experiment meeting with only mixed success.
The final and somewhat controversial move, last April, was the shutting down of the company's last manufacturing site in Britain and the shifting of production to Poland, where labour is cheaper and Avon's growing Eastern European market is closer.
It all began in America back inwhen door-to-door books salesman David McConnell realised the perfumes he was giving away as sweeteners were more popular than the paper mainstay of his business.
The first Avon lady although it wouldn't be until that the company took the name was Mrs Florence Albee of Winchester, New Hampshire, who sold the fragrances to her friends and neighbours and then went on to recruit other women to the growing sales force.
It was by the time Mrs Albee's descendants, immaculately coiffed, coloured and corseted in Avon products, came knocking on the door of British homes, keen to make their beauty secrets attainable to even the most busy and dowdy of housewives. The contents of the Avon lady's cosmetics case was manna from heaven to those trapped inside their homes for most of the day, unable to work or travel further than the nearest cluster of mundane local shops.
Brenda Cardy, for example, was a newly married, lonely and slightly bored young housewife, recently moved to the tiny village of Woburn Sands inwhen her local Avon lady came calling for the first time.
Brenda had been washing the kitchen floor and answered the door with soapy hands, bare feet and a damp skirt. Almost two generations later, she still remembers the woman standing on her doorstep as though it was yesterday: She wore a big Astrakhan coat, tightly belted, with long boots and a big Cassock-style hat that came down over her eyes.
Avon was to me something impossibly glamorous and rare. I was completely bowled over that she had picked me to represent the company. More than m Avon brochures, advertising up to 7, products in 25 languages, are now distributed each year across countries. In South America, Avon ladies kayak up the Amazon and barter their nail polish for gold nuggets, food or wood.
Two dozen eggs, apparently, buy a Bart Simpson deodorant, and bath oils are very popular - villagers have found the scent acts as a mosquito repellent.
In Iceland, Avon ladies traverse huge icy wastes with their products on their backs, and after the Turkish earthquake inone woman single-handedly rebuilt her family's fortunes by sending off for her first package of Avon products on credit and building up a thriving business selling lipsticks from tent to tent.
The company also sponsors a transgender website for a transvestite and transsexual community which has acute need of make-up experts who come into their homes to give private and personal advice.
Although some Avon ladies sell to colleagues, friends and family, the lion's share of all Avon orders come from customers made by working the local neighbourhood beat. Sometimes it's awkward when customers think of me as so much of a friend that they stop me by the Brussels sprouts in the supermarket and ask me for more of that hand cream they like, just assuming I'll know what it is and who they are.
As time goes on, I do know what hand-cream they like and who they are, though,' she adds. That's never a good experience. It is an arrangement that empowers Avon ladies to work as much or as little as they want, depending on how much they want to earn.
And while the average Avon income would barely count as pin money to the wife of a professional breadwinner, it can make a real difference to those with little, if any, other income.
Natalie Rennis, 23, recently married her Navy boyfriend, but is still living without him in her parents' south London flat, unable to afford the move to her husband's army accommodation.
New representatives are given basic training in direct selling by their sales manager, asked to pay a nominal amount for a batch of brochures and samples and let loose on their neighbourhood to drum up business.
Each campaign lasts for three weeks, with a new brochure published at the start of each cycle and is delivered by hand to each door. Once all the orders have been personally collected, the representative emails or posts them to Avon and a week later the products are delivered. The representative then delivers the products, collects the money and sends Avon its cut, typically around 75 per cent.
Avon: The rise and fall of a beauty icon
There are constant discounts, special offers, prize incentives and official marks of recognition from the company to tempt the representatives to achieve ever-higher sales, culminating in the all-expenses-paid exotic holidays that Brenda enjoyed during the years of her reign. Celebrities as varied as Gloria Hunniford and Suzanne Vega have been Avon ladies, and local area sales managers aim to recruit around 10 new representatives each week.
Even as Jung racked up accolades and sat on high-profile boards GE! Named CEO at 41 inJung had been dubbed a marketing wunderkind and was widely credited with reinvigorating the direct seller.
Last year Fortune named her the 6th most powerful woman in business. Despite her scant operations experience, she had gone without a chief operating officer since and failed to groom a successor. The company straddles the worlds of direct selling — how it sells — and beauty — what it sells — and must balance the two.
It strayed from its core without realizing the limitations that came with its direct-selling channel and customers. A onetime executive suggested that Avon is operating as though it were two companies: Alan Kennedy, a longtime executive in the industry who worked at Avon in the s and s, puts it this way: Traditional retailers pay rent and use advertising to pull customers into the store, but direct selling is a push business.
Direct selling may feel outdated in the U. Avon gained only 1. This quirky sales channel was unfamiliar turf for Jung when she arrived at the company in Until then she had spent her career in high-end retail, working for Neiman Marcus, I. Jung took a job at Avon as a consultant, assigned by Preston, then CEO, to look into the feasibility of retail outlets.
Preston thought the project would take months, but within weeks Jung reported back that the move would be a mistake. Jung, articulate and smart, wowed Preston. She spoke fluent Mandarin her parents emigrated from China and she had a Princeton degree.
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She joined the company full-time in as president of the product marketing group for Avon U. Jung was elevated to president and chief operating officer, setting her up as heir apparent.
Perrin had planned on staying for about five years but remained for less than two. Jung took over in November just after Avon said it would miss earnings targets, becoming the first woman to ever lead the company.
With her marketing background and experience working at prestige brands, Jung brought a new kind of sophistication to Avon. In reality, Jung embodied what she wanted the company to become. Avon certainly needed some rejuvenating, but Jung moved to give the company a dramatic face-lift. Jung tried to refresh existing brands, and launched new ones.
The old tagline emphasized the direct-selling side of the business. Now Jung was taking Avon into a new arena: Penney JCP with a new line called beComing. It was a flawed venture from the start. The new sales outlets and product line had the dual objectives of going higher-end and of introducing Avon to women who may never have encountered its products before.
But associating with Sears and J. Penney ended two years later in Says one former manager: Avon went into international markets early, and non-U. Byprofits were flat after three years of double-digit growth.
Avon, once set up for growth, had gotten too fat.
Avon: The rise and fall of a beauty icon | Fortune
Consultants came onboard, and Jung started looking at acquisitions as a way to restart expansion. She also brought on new hires from the type of top-tier companies that Avon was aspiring to become.
Emblematic of the new look at headquarters was Liz Smith, who joined as president of global brand marketing in from Kraft KFT.