Opportunity Knocks For Avon and Mary Kay

Advertising Age:

Avon’s calling — and a lot more people are answering.

As employment falls, the ranks of at-home sales reps are swelling for cosmetics marketers Avon and Mary Kay. In fact, sales are holding up well for the recession-resistant direct-selling business. According to Amy Robinson, VP-communications for the Direct Selling Association, historically during nonrecession years, the gross domestic product increases about 3.3% and direct sales increase 3.6%. But during a recession, GDP has gone up on average just 0.8%, while direct sales increased 4.5%. Figures for 2008 aren’t available yet, but anecdotally that seems to be true this time as well. “People don’t stop spending; they just spend differently,” Ms. Robinson said.

In fact, people staying at home more can translate to more in-home parties, an opportunity for door knockers peddling personal-care products, which make up 27.5% of the total industry. Both Mary Kay and Avon are seizing on the trend, figuring more sales representatives will equate to more sales.

After CEO Andrea Jung appeared on “Good Morning America” about six months ago, the phones “lit up like we’d never seen before,” said Geralyn Breig, president of Avon North America. Obviously people were interested in the potential of selling Avon, and it was up to the company to “be loud about the fact that Avon could be an opportunity,” she said.

Logo from Avon

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