Avon Products, Inc, known as Avon, is an American international manufacturer and direct selling company in beauty, household, and personal care categories. Avon had annual sales of $10.0 billion worldwide in 2013.
It is the fifth-largest beauty company and second largest direct selling enterprise in the world, with 6.4 million representatives. Avon Products is a multi-level marketing company. The company's CEO is Sherilyn S. McCoy, who was appointed to that position in April 2012. The former CEO, Andrea Jung, became the executive chairman of the board. Recently, Avon has struggled with the global sales falling for 5 straight years and North American revenues falling 18% in 2014.
David H. McConnell
David H. McConnell was first a struggling door-to-door salesman who used to sell books to New York homes. In 1886, he decided to sell perfumes rather than books and he then started the business in a small office at 126 Chambers Street, in lower Manhattan, New York City. In 1892, McConnell changed the company name when his business partner, who was living in California, suggested that he call the business the California Perfume Company, because of the great abundance of flowers in California.
In 1894, Alexander D. Henderson, Vice-President and Treasurer, joined the company and helped to shape its policies and assist in its growth. On June 16, 1909, McConnell and Henderson signed an agreement of Corporation for the California Perfume Company in the state of New Jersey. On January 28, 1916, the California Perfume Company was incorporated in the state of New York. McConnell, Henderson, and William Scheele were listed as company officials.
Early Avon trademark
The California Perfume Company, Inc. of New York filed their first trademark application for Avon on June 3, 1932 with the USPTO. Part of the description for goods and services provided to the USPTO included "perfumes, toilet waters, powder and rouge compacts, lipsticks", and other toiletry products. First use and commercial use for Avon by the California Perfume Company was on September 1, 1929. Registration was granted on August 30, 1932. The trademark is owned by Avon Products, Inc. of New York. The status of the original stylized word mark for Avon is expired.
Avon sells products in over 100 countries. Brazil is the company's largest market, passing the United States in 2010. Avon entered the Chinese market in 1990. Direct selling was outlawed in China in 1998, which forced Avon to sell only through physical stores called Beauty Boutiques. The ban was lifted in 2001, and the company received a license for direct selling in 2006.
88% of Avon's 2013 revenue (around $10 billion) came from overseas markets.
Mergers and acquisitions
Avon purchased Silpada, a direct seller of silver jewelry, in 2010 for $650 million. In May 2012, perfume company Coty, Inc. offered $24.75 a share for Avon, which was nearly 20 percent above Avon's stock price at the time. While Fox Business Network reported that Avon delayed the process and Coty withdrew its offer, earlier reports said that Avon rejected the bid, stating "At the time, the board concluded, and it still believes, that Coty's indication of interest is opportunistic and not in the best interest of Avon's shareholders."
Avon uses both door-to-door sales people ("Avon ladies" primarily, and as well as some men) and brochures to advertise its products. Avon operates training centers for potential representatives. Some Avon training centers have a small retail section with skin care products, such as creams, serums, makeup, and washes. Avon uses multi-level marketing to recruit sales representatives, who sell beauty products, jewelry, accessories and clothing. Each Avon representative is considered an independent sales representative running her or his own business. Some of the brand-names used by the company include Avon, Avon Naturals, Skin-So-Soft and Mark.
According to the U.S. government Avon has 5 million to 6 million sales representatives operating in over 100 countries as of 2014. Avon and its subsidiaries have 40,000 to 50,000 employees, 6,000 of which are in the United States.
Avon was an early member of the U.S. Direct Selling Association, which was founded in 1910. The company left the association in 2014, saying that the trade group was not paying enough attention to the industry as a whole.
In addition to its corporate pursuits, the Avon corporation is involved in philanthropic causes. The Avon Foundation for Women describes itself as the largest corporate philanthropy dedicated to women's causes globally. The Avon Foundation awards scholarships for Avon representatives and family members. Avon founded the Avon Foundation for Women with its first grant, a $400 scholarship, in 1955.
Additionally, the company's Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program aims to reduce domestic violence. Through 2012, Avon global philanthropy, led by the Avon Foundation, reports having donated more than $910 million in more than 50 countries.
Beginning in the early 1990s, Avon also began donating towards breast cancer research and care, through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a series of U.S. based charity walks. Before 2003, the Walk was a function of Pallotta Teamworks, with Avon being the beneficiary. Since 2003, the charity reports that more than 180,000 Walk participants have raised $472 million for the cause.
In Sep 14, 2000, Avon restated its financial statements to reflect the additional write off as of March 31, 1999 of all capitalized costs, associated with the FIRST project as of that date and a reversal of the charge recorded in the third quarter of 2001. In 2001, Avon adopted new provisions and as a result, all prior periods were restated to reflect shipping and handling fees.
Chinese corruption charges
Since at least 2008, the conduct of various employees and executives of Avon has been investigated for possible violations of the law, including possible bribery and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Avon began a probe of its China division after allegations of bribery in June 2008. At least four executives, both in Asia and in the United States, were suspended in 2010, and later fired for their roles in the activities being investigated. According to The New York Times, Avon has spent over $170 million on legal fees and costs related to the investigation: $59 million in 2009 and $95 million in 2010, and $22.5 million for the first quarter of 2011. The Times reported that the final tally may be close to $250 million, after which Avon would report the findings to the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and try to negotiate the penalties that those entities may impose. On February 24, 2011, Avon filed a report with the Securities and Exchange commission highlighting the investigation as a corporate risk factor that could cause investor loss.
In 2014 Avon settled the bribery charges for a total of $135 million; $68 million in criminal penalties, with the remainder in interest, disgorgement, and fines from a civil case brought by the SEC.
In 2011, PETA delisted Avon and other high-profile cosmetic brands from its list of companies who do not test their products on animals. Chinese policy requires cosmetic companies to pay for animal testing in order to do business in the country. Avon had previously abandoned animal testing in 1989 after PETA launched its "Avon Killing" campaign.
Avon France, the French operations
On 14 October 2013, Avon announced the closure of its branch in Paris, France at the end of that month. Its French representatives accused it of keeping the workers in the dark for months and not acting in line with the companies publically stated values of being a socially responsible company that upholds values of trust, respect and integrity and a culture of "open and candid communication". As of January 2014, Avon France has begun receivership.
- IR3535, the repellent found in Avon Skin So Soft.