As of November 1999, Avon was experiencing economic troubles. Avon's growth rate of annual sales was less than 1.5 percent during the greatest economic boom in history. This prompted a transfer in leadership which appointed Andrea Jung as CEO. Since that time, Avon has experienced remarkable growth.
Under the direction of the new CEO, a new strategy was developed to reinvent Avon's image, improve customer satisfaction, and to increase profit margins and market share. Avon has gained an outstanding reputation as the best direct seller of beauty products. Through the continued efforts and achievements of its sales representatives, Avon is now known worldwide. Avon's core competence has mainly been its direct selling busniess model. This led Jung and the management team to implement a Sales Leadership program that provided incentives to acquire, train, motivate, and retain the number of active sales representatives it needs to sustain significant growth. Avon also has a representative development program that focuses on the professional training of representatives. This enables the representatives to provide valuable information on Avon brand products. Avon also keeps its superior customer service in other ways of distribution such as the Internet and in the department store sales by having a timely and correct order delivery, one on one information exchange and personalized professional advice.
Forces of Competition
Rivalry among competing sellers in the CFT industry is strong. The creation of innovative products is crucial to success. This industry focuses on continually developing cutting edge products using the latest science and technology. Rivalry is stronger when customer's costs to switch brands are low. Switching costs in the CFT industry are very low, due to the large amount of different brands of similar products. This cost is due to the higher number of competitors in the CFT industry and their tendency to copy new products in order to stay competitive.
Another Avon objective that aims to alleviate pressures coming from competing sellers includes consists of reinventing their antiquated image. The organization had been a major player in the CFT industry for decades. However, Avon's management took a reactive approach and failed to evolve with the changing times. Because the CFT industry centers on mage conscious consumers, Jung determined this to be a fatal mistake. The major segment of the CFT market is comprised of women/girls less than 30 years of age. Realizing this, Jung endorsed the Williams sisters. Venus and Serena Williams were popular teen icons that portrayed the image Jung hoped to achieve for Avon; young, powerful, and ambitious.
Avon is highly backward integrated, self-manufacturing many of the items that they sell. This causes the competitive pressures of suppliers to be weak. Avon can get supplies from many parts of the world because they have entered foreign markets and produce products in different countries. A lot of Avon's supplies such as packaging, may be easily substituted if a supplier raised prices.
Competitive pressures stemming from customer buying power is moderate because switching costs are low and customers have the ability to fulfill their needs by switching brands. Buyers tend to be well informed about Avon's product prices and costs largely due to the Internet and this puts customers at a position of higher bargaining power. Customers do not pose a threat of integrating backwards, because it would not be easy for women to develop their own make-up, perfume or skin care products. Due to the dirct selling business model, there is an extremely large number of buyers. Losing one will not significantly impact the company's market share or financial position.
While there is strong competition in the CFT industry, there is a weak threat of new entrants and an even lesser threat of substitute products. The market is comprised of major players who have...