Ding dong, Avon now calls with ‘omnichannel’ cosmetics sales in the digital age | Beauty


Avon may soon invite you to stores and live shopping events as well as your front door as the cosmetics and skin care brand moves from the doorstep to the digital age.

The company, which was founded in New York City 135 years ago by traveling book seller David H McConnell, had to transform during the pandemic when a traditional “ding dong, Avon calling” of its 5 million salespeople was no longer welcome.

The Avon women – and men – now known as reps, are trained in a suite of digital tools so they can send out brochures and collect orders via social media. Products are delivered directly by Avon rather than its representatives.

Now, 30% of the company’s business contacts are made online in the UK, up from less than 10% before the pandemic. Across the group, online sales are now nearly three times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Angela Cretu, chief executive of Avon, said the company aims to become fully “omnichannel,” connecting different methods of selling from stores to the threshold, over the next three years.

A 1959 Avon poster. Photograph: Avon / Rex / Shutterstock

She specifies that representatives will remain at the heart of the group’s projects, whether it involves managing small shops, selling online or, possibly, creating points of sale in department stores.

“Even with the most sophisticated digital experience and analysis of social data and AI, you never get, from the digital, the friendship, touch and intimate knowledge you need when you buy from beauty, ”she says. “We need personalized service, something that goes beyond the classic service you would get at the counter.”

This week, Avon tried out a Facebook Live event in the UK, training reps and testing their product sales. The trial, led by Avon’s in-house team, is intended to get representatives in the UK to sell via such techniques with buyers able to click through their screens to purchase the products on demonstration. Similar events have already been tried in Turkey.

The move is an attempt to broaden Avon’s appeal to a younger audience drawn to the use of digital selling.

The pandemic, in which many women found their jobs no longer possible due to the closure of stores, restaurants and schools, has prompted more people to try direct selling to increase their earnings. income.

The appeal to millennials, often preoccupied with a brand’s environmental and social credentials, was also reinforced by the acquisition of Avon in 2019 by Natura, the Brazilian beauty group which also owns the British Body Shop and the Australian Aesop, and who signed Avon. to a multitude of environmental and social commitments.

Avon launched a small line of vegan products, ditched all animal testing in 2019, and pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030, for example.

Cretu says Avon is learning from Natura, which has adapted its main brand of direct selling across Latin America to opening its own stores and working with partners like Amazon and the French department store chain Printemps. .

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Avon has been experimenting with representative-run boutiques and stores for about 18 months in Turkey, where there are now 21 outlets, and Malaysia. This week, it also opened a company-run flagship store in Shanghai, China.

Cretu says there is no date to bring such ideas to the UK, but says Avon is keen to find his own way to hit Main Street.

“It’s important that we are not going to be a product on a shelf. We want a distinctive product experience like that of Aesop or Body Shop, and not just focused on a product transaction, ”she says.

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