Avon: home of the original influencers

Avon representatives have been the brand’s iconic difference since it launched 135 years ago. Matthieu Comard, its managing director for Western Europe, shares how it’s empowering them to thrive in the digital age, introducing the experience to a new generation of customers

How did Avon’s digital transformation play a part in its 2020 market share growth, during a time when other industry players struggled?

We’ve been innovating to provide convenient digital tools for our representatives to run their businesses completely online as social sellers. Our digital brochure, for example, can be shared via social and is fully shoppable.

For representatives that weren’t already leveraging our digital tools, we’ve provided thorough training and incentives. We welcomed tens of thousands of new representatives in 2020, with the number selling digitally skyrocketing. This enabled us not only to remain open, but be relevant to a new generation of representatives and customers.

Consumer access to products is often a challenge for Avon. How does personalisation help?
Our social selling business model is more relevant than ever. Avon representatives can be considered the original ‘influencers’, sharing beauty advice, tips and tricks with their communities and recommending products they love. Many brands are launching online consultations, often powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots, and while we see a role for this, nothing beats the truly personal recommendation.

What beauty buying behaviours have changed?

The environment for the beauty sector was incredibly challenging in 2020, however Avon UK moved from 10th to third place in cosmetics, with growth across colour, skincare and fragrance. Many consumers no longer have the disposable spend to buy high-priced brands, but they still want quality. That’s when they discover Avon.

Hybrid (multi-use) products have grown in popularity, with people looking to get more from their money. For example our Revival Serum Lipstick and Serum Foundation are make-up and skincare hybrids.

The talk of a repeat of the ‘Roaring 20s’ is real. We’re seeing fragrance and make-up rebound, and lip colour is back on the rise.

What are the challenges of selling beauty products online?

Getting products into people’s hands. For products like fragrance or foundation, trialling is essential. Our trusted beauty advisors offer samples and demo products to their customers to try before shopping the full-size product. Customers can also purchase samples directly from Avon online. As it’s not possible to try make-up in stores right now, we see our range of samples as a competitive advantage.

Customers can also return or exchange a product free within 90 days. We find many customers will shop a full size and a sample, so they can return the full size if they try the sample and it isn’t right. But with the personalised service from our representatives, that doesn’t happen often.

What will be next for Avon in terms of digital innovation?

We are continually rolling out new tools to help with personalised recommendations, such as our online Foundation Finder. We are investing millions to help our representatives become true digital entrepreneurs to reach more people in their communities. Whilst we’ll always be developing our digital tools, we’ll continue to do the same for our much-loved brochure.

The importance of personalisation in beauty - and how online brands can grow their owned audiences

Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, EMEA general manager for performance marketing engine Wunderkind, shares his insights

“Personalisation is hugely important for the beauty sector, given the level of individual consideration that goes into purchases and the strong affinity consumers often have with their favourite brands and products. It’s brilliant to see brands like Avon putting a personalised approach at the heart of their digital strategy through innovations like the online Foundation Finder tool.

“Offering a genuine value exchange like this is a really effective way of not only enhancing the online purchase journey for the consumer, but also for brands to capture new prospects and grow their first-party, owned audiences – an urgent priority ahead of 2023’s move from Google to phase out third-party cookies. By scaling up their remarketable databases, brands can build engaged, loyal audiences for the future and lay the foundations for sustainable growth.”

To learn more about how scaling first-party data can grow digital revenues, visit wunderkind.co

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