The digital age has seen many pioneering businesses fall by the wayside due to their structural inability to adapt, reluctance to adapt or slowness to adapt. Kodak, Nokia and Blockbuster immediately spring to mind. But in today’s connected economy where trust is the most important currency, one of the oldest marketing models around is finding its feet again.
Since 1886, Avon has had a business model based on word of mouth advocacy, influence and authenticity. One might say the perfect platform for the connection economy! The company boasts over a million sales consultants around the world which is a vast owned asset and one might argue, much more authentic and powerful than gun-for-hire social media ‘influencers’.
Avon’s publicly-stated ambition is to turn itself into a “modern, high touch and high-tech organisation” and to achieve that they are dedicated to keeping the principles of the past and applying them via the tools of today.
James Thompson, Avon’s Chief Brand and Beauty Officer wants the Avon representatives to become “micro-influencers” who create content and post it themselves. “Historically we’ve lent into a rather traditional model of marketing; there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, major campaigns and large media buys, but we have out there all these entrepreneurs that really want to work with us and want to be proud of our products,” says Thompson.
One year into a long-term turnaround plan is too early to see substantial impact but early shoots of the content distribution strategy working are beginning to emerge as the Avon website posted double digit growth in the second half of 2018.
It is refreshing to see a century-old marketing model evolving to utilise modern approaches and even more refreshing to see owned media assets of people, content, websites and social media driving the transformation.