Belief in a Mission: Avon Marks 125 Years
By: Jeff Falk
Posted: July 13, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.
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GCI: With the vast differences between 1886 and 2011 (mindsets, technology, culture, etc.), how has the company nurtured the Avon representatives business model to maintain both relevancy and viability?
Avon: Direct selling with Avon is just as relevant today as it was 125 years ago. It’s still an enterprise that offers flexibility and freedom to define the work-family balance. It’s still a field in which there are no prerequisites when it comes to education and experience, and which has a minimal cost of entry. Avon representatives have always stood for the empowerment of women, and that’s a concept that never goes out of style no matter what corner of the globe a woman calls home.
Avon is the world’s largest micro-lender and the largest engine of economic opportunity. Time and again, the company has innovated this traditional form of selling, tweaking its direct-selling model to fit seamlessly into representatives’ and customers’ lives. Most recently, Avon has had to find ways to adapt to the sea change in the way people now communicate, connect and shop thanks to the Internet. The solution: a collection of digital tools so representatives can use the technology that has become so central to their daily lives—tools that help Avon’s representatives run their businesses and reach customers as never before.
GCI: What are the similarities in consumers 125 years ago and today, and what do these similarities tell us about deep-seated consumer habits?
Avon: Since the very beginning, Avon representatives have made personal relationships the heart of their businesses. In the late 19th century, direct selling with Avon connected women who were otherwise isolated and immersed in domestic life, in what the company calls “the original social network.” What’s more, women were able to get personalized beauty advice, which was somewhat of a novelty at the time.