Original social seller looks to a new age

As e-commerce dominates retail, can the original “ding- dong” beauty company innovate for the dot.com digital age?

Andrea Slater, Avon group vice president Western Europe
Andrea Slater, Avon group vice president Western Europe

What do you really know about Avon? The “ding dong” of the Avon lady calling perhaps? The idea of beauty products delivered to you, in the comfort of your own home? With 90 per cent brand recognition in most major markets around the world, what is certain is that you will know something about Avon, a company synonymous to many with feel-good beauty buys.

But there is more to this 130-year-old brand than meets the eye.

Since bookseller David H. McConnell started offering perfume samples as the original gift-with-purchase with every book he sold, the brand has been a pioneer in its field, empowering women and pushing the boundaries of product innovation.

This unique business model, which gave the original Avon lady the opportunity to earn their own income 34 years before women in the United States won the right to vote, demonstrates Avon to be a pioneer in the beauty space for women’s empowerment. Long before social media, Avon ladies were social sellers, developing relationships with wide customer networks to sell high-quality beauty products as they built their own businesses.

As times change and the digital era takes hold, the beloved Avon lady must find a way to remain relevant in a space full of thousands of brands using digital tools to reach ever-wider networks of consumers. Avon’s innovation of their digital retail space and the launch of My Avon Store seek to address this, allowing today’s Avon ladies to connect with customers online in a personal way.

Avon’s global network of independent representatives exceeds six million, and it’s a community that is now finding its way online and into digital entrepreneurship

According to Andrea Slater, Avon group vice president Western Europe: “The online store is very exciting for both new and existing customers. Each representative now has their own online Avon Store to run and personalise to suit their customers’ individual needs.”

Avon’s new digital platform furthers their work in empowering women, with the intention to inspire a new generation of female entrepreneurs across the UK, supporting the trend in micro-entrepreneurs that are rejecting the nine to five.

Providing women with the structure, high-quality product and brand recognition to kick-start their own business as part of the Avon network is key to Avon’s mission to empower more women in more regions across the world. Research commissioned by Avon revealed 60 per cent of women dream of starting their own business in order to improve their work-life balance.

Ms Slater says: “We know that many women dream of being their own boss, so they can set their hours and reclaim some of the ‘life’ in the work-life balance, but many don’t have the confidence, tools or finances they need to get started. A My Avon Store business offers everyone the flexibility and support to work in a way that suits them, and allows them to plan their work around life.”

Avon’s global network of independent representatives exceeds six million, and it’s a community that is now finding its way online and into digital entrepreneurship.

A prime example of this is Katie Parker, 19, a student from Plymouth, who runs her own Avon business to supplement her income and travel costs to university. “I have found that having my own ready-made business is incredibly convenient. Being a representative has given me so much confidence and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I can now easily cover my travel costs to university and I’m even saving for a holiday,” she says.

ANEW Ultimate Supreme Dual Elixir product
ANEW Ultimate Supreme Dual Elixir

Carrie Twining, a part-time Avon sales leader and full-time mum, adds: “The best thing for me is that Avon has allowed me to enjoy having my children without the stress of having to go back to a nine-to-five job. I love the financial independence Avon gives me and the fact that I can treat my family to fantastic trips through the rewards Avon offers.”

Avon’s innovation isn’t limited to their business model. The business has always had a strong focus on product development, with the constant evolution of their product range and scientific breakthroughs that remain cutting edge in a rapidly developing market. In 1992, Avon was the first brand to launch a mass skincare product line containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), an ingredient now commonly used in skincare, and is consistently first to market with anti-ageing breakthroughs.

Recent innovations have led the beauty trend for multi-benefit products for users who demand more from their skincare. Avon’s innovation of ANEW Ultimate Supreme Dual Elixir contains a dual formulation that takes the holistic approach of addressing the ageing process via both internal and external aggressors.

The ANEW brand sells 20 products every minute in the UK and the launch of the Clinical Pro Line Corrector Treatment includes the ingredient A-F33, which is inspired by Nobel Prize-winning research and designed to work on collagen formation in a way unique to ANEW and Avon.

Avon’s colour offering is equally forward-thinking with the launch of Perfectly Matte Lipstick in 2016, preceding the huge trend and market saturation of matte liquid lipsticks.

But for Avon, beauty is about more than just producing cutting-edge products. From its very inception, corporate citizenship has been at the heart of Avon, with the original mission for the company to contribute to the wellbeing of society and the environment in which it functions remaining at its core.

Avon was one of the first companies in the early-90s to support the breast cancer cause and the first beauty company to tackle the ugly issue of domestic violence. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade alone has enabled more than 18 million women around the world to receive free mammograms and breast cancer screenings, and Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women have contributed more than $1 billion for women’s causes in over 50 countries.

The beauty industry and its ability to empower and unite women is a powerful and positive force. Avon has always been, and will continue to be, a trailblazer in this space. Via its philanthropy, innovation and products, Avon aspires to build the largest female network on Earth.

For more information please visit www.avoncompany.com

Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade supports millions of women across the globe
Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade supports millions of women across the globe