HIstory & Marketing Strategies of Avon Brand

Company: Avon
Founded by: David Hall McConnell Sr

Avon Products Inc., popularly known as Avon was founded by David Hall McConnell Sr, an American entrepreneur, businessman and cosmetic salesman. Avon is a popular social selling beauty company based in North America with independent sales representative across several countries in the world.

Their product portfolio includes color cosmetics, skincare, personal care products, fragrance, fashion, accessories and more. Having a history of 130 years of empowering women with economic opportunities, Avon is also very supportive when it comes to issues like domestic violence and breast cancer.

The brand recognizes itself as a global beauty company which celebrates honesty, innovation, beauty and inclusion. 

Avon is the fifth-largest beauty company today and with over 6.4 million representatives in numerous countries, is the second largest direct-selling enterprise in the world. The current CEO of the company is Jan Zijderveld who was appointed in February 2018. 

The beginning 

McConnell began as an unsuccessful book salesman by offering rose-scented perfume as free-gift to encourage people to purchase his books. The perfume soon gained popularity and McConnell  abandoned his business of books and started a perfume company.

McConnell built the first factory for California Perfume Company in Suffern, New York in the year 1897, which was located conveniently alongside railroad tracks which made it easy to to ship his products. His son took over the family business after his death in 1937. The name of the company was changed to Avon in 1939 to honor Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-on-Avon.

The direct-marketing system of the brand was curated by Mrs. P.F.E. Albee in the year 1886. This was one of its kind advertising strategy. Mrs. Albee sold perfumes door-to-door herself and she recruited a team of saleswomen.

With Direct-marketing, women had a chance to work outside their home in an age where there were only few opportunities to do that. The very first catalog of the company appeared in 1896 and had no illustrations. It was only in 1905 that the first full color catalog was issued.  

 

Road to Success 

Within the industry of direct selling, Avon is one of the largest and oldest brands. The main reason for their staggering growth is their commitment to remain true towards the need of the customers. 

Avon’s timeline:

  • Perfume manufacturing laboratory built in 1897 (covering an area of 3,000 sq. feet standing at 3 stories tall).
  • Has over ten thousand representatives by 1906 and has built a product line of more than one-hundred sixteen perfumes available in a plethora of sizes, packages and shapes. Later in the same year, the brand releases its first brochure to the the public which created an outbreak of Avon fans.
  • Avon took its leap into the international market in 1914 and opened a distribution centre in Canada. 
  • The California Perfume Company reached the $2 million mark in 1928 with more than 25,000 representatives. The product range also increased with the company now offering skincare products, make-up and several other beauty enhancing products. 
  • Avon sales reach over 14 million in 1944. In 1947, the company went public thereby allowing people to purchase shares of Avon Products, Inc.
  • Avon expanded further by 1951 and began making around $55 million worth of sales every year. Soon more offices are opened overseas. 
  • International offices helped the company increase its sale to more than  $250 million by 1963. 
  • By 1979, Avon had over a million representatives all over the world which further pushed the revenue over the $3 billion dollar mark.
  • In the year 1990, other giants including Amway and Mary Kay offer excellent bids to purchase Avon. However, the EO turned down all such offers. 
  • Avon reached $5 billion in annual sales by 1997 and also has close to three million representatives. 
  • Today, Avon is still growing at a rapid pace. 

People all over the world talk greatly talk about the business opportunities offered by Avon. The popular brand name makes it a rather promising business with so many loyal customers who keep coming back for their favorite product from avon. 

 

Marketing Strategies and Promotion 

The primary target of the company is women between the age group of 25-35 years. Being a direct selling enterprise, the geographical segmentation of the customers is generally based on the reach of their representatives.

When it comes to psychographic segmentation, customers who purchase cosmetic products on a regular basis, and shows interest in innovative products that are not available easily in the market. 

Expansion of the Direct Selling Model: Avon’s appropriation channel can extensively be partitioned into 3 noteworthy classifications: Limited Retailers, Direct Selling and Online. Of these, direct selling is the essential channel whereas the other 2 are auxiliary channels. The immediate offering medium is the center channel for Avon. It is something that the company had been dependent on since 1886 when the founder himself embraced the idea of door-to-door selling.

The Distribution Model: The Avon representatives are independent contractors and not workers of Avon. Once someone decides to be a representative of Avon, the district manager would approach them to clarify how things work. The new representatives are to then join the expense of $110. They would be given test items, 20 handouts, order forms, sales books and more. 

Retail: retail outlets in the mid-1980 began to exercise a solid hold in the market. Nearly eighty percent of all skincare and beauty products were sold through these retail shops. It was pretty difficult to disregard this market. For Avon, doing business through retail locations was difficult as his move could distance the representatives. Therefore, to be recognizable in store, Avon was in for a joint venture with the designer, Liz Claiborne. They made beauty care products and fragrance which was made accessible in about 2000 stores. 

Conclusion

Avon stands strong today in the beauty market with its strong network of micro-entrepreneurs. The brand believes that beauty isn’t just about feeling or looking your very best but is also a shared sense of belongingness. They began the #stand4her campaign which strives to design a world for women where there’s freedom from abuse and violence. The brand is expanding continuously and with conscious efforts, hopes to provide more opportunities to empower women around the world.

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