Superbrands case studies: Avon

Originally published in 'Consumer Superbrands Volume VII', September 2005. The book reviews the UK's strongest consumer brands as judged by an independent judging panel.

The UK mass market for cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries, in which Avon operates, was worth around £3.3 billion in 2004 (Source:TNS). Avon is the world's largest direct seller and sixth- largest global beauty company. In 2004, through its unique network of 4.9 million independent Representatives, Avon handled over a billion customer transactions.

The UK is the fourth-largest market for Avon, with sales exceeding £28 million. Avon is the second-largest mass beauty company in the UK, and its share in the beauty market has increased year-on-year in recent years.

In 2004,Avon sold more skincare items, lipsticks, bottles of fragrance, eye make-up and nail enamels than any other manufacturer in the UK (Source:TNS). In the UK, in value terms, Avon is number one in the mass fragrance market, number two in the mass cosmetics market and in the top five in the mass skincare market (Source: TNS).

For more than 117 years, Avon has provided women with the opportunity for financial independence, often at times and in places where few other options exist. It provided one of the first opportunities for women to be financially independent at a time when their place was traditionally in the home.

Today, almost five million independent sales Representatives worldwide enjoy the flexible earnings opportunity that Avon provides. In the UK there are eight million customers buying from 160,000 independent Avon Representatives.

As a business of women serving women, Avon established the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade in 1992. Since then, Avon has raised more than £10 million to support breast cancer charities. Long term charity partner, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, has received almost £9 million, which has contributed significantly to the establishment of the Toby Robins Research Centre and the ongoing work that is being done there.

More recently, Avon has committed funds to support the Breakthrough Generations Study, which aims to understand the lifestyle factors that may influence the risks of  contracting breast cancer. By sponsoring Breakthrough Breast cancer's Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003, Avon had a dramatic effect in bringing the subject of breast cancer to the attention of the public and the media.

The campaign unites the fashion industry to raise awareness and funds for research into breast cancer. Today, there are 16 more Macmillan Breast Care Nurses, funded by Avon, working with women to help deal with the day-to-day practicalities of breast cancer.

In 2002, Avon celebrated its ten-year anniversary of supporting the fight against breast cancer. £1.6 million was raised for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, exceeding Avon's target of £1 million and representing a third of the charity's annual running costs.

In 1989, Avon was the first major beauty company to stop testing products and ingredients on animals and does not request others to do so on its behalf. As the first major company to stop animal testing, Avon took a proactive role by opening an in-house cell culture facility, dedicated to the development of vitro alternatives to  testing on animals. Today, Avon actively supports FRAME (Fund for the replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments), the foundation working to find viable alternatives to animal testing.

Avon began life as the California Perfume Company in America in 1886, giving women the opportunity to earn by selling fragrance and cosmetics door-to-door.

Mrs P.F.E.Albee was the very first agent taken on by the company's founder, David H McConnell, who started out as a door-to-door book salesman, giving away small bottles of perfume that proved to be more popular than the books themselves.

In these early days, Mrs Albee sold her goods to her customers in much the same way as today's Avon Representatives. In 1939, the company name was changed to Avon. Company legend has it that this happened after McConnell visited a friend in Stratford-upon-Avon and was so impressed with the area's beauty that he renamed the company and 20 years later in 1959 began trading in the UK.

From these small beginnings, Avon has established itself as a global leader in the beauty industry. Today, Avon sells in 143 countries through 4.9 million independent sales representatives.

The Avon product portfolio, covering make-up, skincare, fragrance, toiletries and haircare, is split into a wide range of brands, designed to address the needs of women across the globe. Avon Colour is the flagship cosmetics brand, offering a spectrum of shades and products that offer value for money, market-leading technology and of the-moment shades. Award winning Avon Colour consists of a wide range of make-up essentials as well as three targeted franchises: Perfectwear, Arabian Glow and Sheer Botanicals.

The first offers long-lasting transfer-resistant make-up. The second consists of a collection of bronzing beauty products offering a sun-kissed shimmer. The third infuses lightweight colour with botanical ingredients for fresh modern glamour.

Within the Skincare business, Anew is the number one brand, which again is segmented into three core franchises. A new Retroactive targets the early signs  of ageing, Anew Ultimate is formulated using 'gold mesh' technology to uplift sagging skin, while Anew Clinical is a selection of highly targeted products designed to provide a cost-effective and painless alternative to cosmetic surgery.

Leading the toiletries business is Planet Spa, which combines ingredients from  around the globe in collections such as African Shea Butter, Mediterranean Olive Oil and Dead Sea Minerals. Advance Techniques is one of the fastest-growing haircare collections in the UK, designed to offer salon- professional formulas at mass market prices. Since 2003 the range has been endorsed by Lino Carbosiero, who has worked with celebrities such as Madonna and TV presenter Cat Deeley.

Avon also offers a comprehensive range of beauty supportive products tailored to meet the needs of today's women. The Fashions - which include accessories, lingerie, and jewellery collections - and Lifestyle ranges perfectively complement the core beauty product offering.

Recent Developments 2004 saw the launch of the first in a trilogy of premium fragrances. Endorsed by actress Salma Hayek,' Today' was designed to take Avon's  fragrance business to a more luxurious level, with prestige packaging and rare ingredients. The second two fragrances, 'Tomorrow' and 'Always', launched in 2005, complete the trilogy.

In 2005, Cellu-Sculpt Anti-Cellulite Body Sculpting Treatment was re-launched  with new 'Fat Burning Technology' that promises to both increase the rate of fat  burning, while also preventing fat molecules from forming. Cellu-Sculpt is the bestselling product within Avon's Solutions brand and has a loyal following of women who are brand advocates.

In 2005 a new franchise was added to the Anew brand: Anew Alternative is  designed to combine the wisdom of the East with the technology of the West.

The product range is based on research in pharmaceutical science, combining the healing power of exclusively harvested eastern herbs with advanced western technology to stimulate the skin's natural ability to fight the signs of ageing.

In 2005, as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting the breast cancer cause through the Breast Cancer Crusade, Avon announced an association with Breast  Cancer Care through the commitment of funds to their Peer Supporter Network.

Avon's primary channel for promotion is its brochure, which currently reaches one in three women in the UK every three weeks. The brochure allows Avon a unique opportunity to talk to the customer, providing detailed tips and advice at the point of sale.

The Avon Representatives and Sales Leaders also ensure the message is shared with women, with 160,000 Representatives visiting UK homes with Avon products every three weeks. However, for customers who prefer to shop direct, Avon's online shop offers one of the widest ranges of health and beauty products in the UK.

Providing a public face for the brand is Tauzin Outhwaite, who specifically promotes Avon Colour and represents the idea of accessible glamour. Avon's advertising is focused on its Colour and Skincare businesses, and creative executions are developed globally to address the needs of women worldwide. The 'ding dong' campaign first ran in the 1960s and has endured the past 40 years, but now a new wave of TV and press advertising is intended to give the brand a revived identity in the minds of UK women.

For Avon, maximising its advertising spend meant ensuring that slots and spaces were bought in titles and programmes where maximum impact could be created and where messages would have the greatest resonance with the intended audience. Celebrity press and TV profiling around shows such as 'Sex & the City', which provides a good fit with the target consumer group ensured the target audience would get the optimum number of opportunities to see the Avon message. Committed to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, Avon has been a partner with the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer for more than ten years. The fundraising continues with annual campaigns.

Brand Values
The Avon company vision is 'to be the company that best understands and satisfies the product service and self- fulfillment needs of women globally.' Avon strives to offer accessible, high-quality beauty and fashion at outstanding

Things you didn't know about Avon
* Avon was first to mass-market AHAs, gentle 'fruit acids' for clearer, more vibrant skin.
* Avon was the first beauty company to deliver stable vitamin C for youthful skin
tone in Avon Solutions Source C
* The relationships shared between Avon representative and Avon customer are often based on friendship rather than simply financial transactions.
* In the UK alone, 160,000 representatives sell to six million customers every three weeks with the Avon brochure.
* Mick Jagger's mum was an Avon lady, while his ex wife Jerry Hall modelled extensively for Avon in the 1970s. Other famous faces to model for Avon in the early stages of their career include Sophie Anderton, Leslie Ash, Sadie Frost and Marie Helvin.
* It is estimated that since 1959, more than four million women in the UK have been Avon representatives in their lifetime. Across the world, in a year, Avon produces 600 million brochures in more than 25 languages.

(c) 2005 Superbrands Ltd

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