Founded: 1886 (New Avon 2016)
Headquarters: New York City
Top Executive: CEO Scott White
Products: Cosmetics, Personal Care, Health and Wellness
As he stepped off the stage, New Avon CEO Scott white could still hear the cheers reverberating throughout the convention hall.
Before an audience of more than 6,000 of Avon’s North American representatives in Nashville’s famed Gaylord Opryland Resort, White and Betty Palm, president of social selling, had just announced the launch of Espira, the company’s forthcoming health-and-wellness line. RepFest, New Avon’s three-day celebration in August, was the ideal opportunity to announce this new direction for the company. And with the crowd holding up cellphones to record the session as it unfolded, response to the news was what company executives say they had hoped for their newest launch.
“The name Espira was derived from the words ‘aspire’ and ‘inspire,’ ” White told the audience. “Born out of a desire to help you look and feel absolutely your very best, Espira is going to change the lives of people for the better—and it’s going to take your business to new heights.”
A New Direction for Avon
Though unveiled in August—and officially launching this month—Espira’s story began long before the RepFest announcement. Following the launch of privately held New Avon LLC in spring 2016, the company’s leadership team, led by newly appointed White as CEO, made it a priority to explore and add new product offerings, which are simply branded Avon, to the company’s portfolio.
“Avon historically has been an iconic leader in the beauty category,” White says. “We absolutely have a commitment to that, but we also wanted to give our representatives a broader portfolio to capitalize in a way that leads to new customers.”
For White, a veteran of the health and wellness industry, the direction was a natural one.
“My last 10 years prior to joining Avon as CEO, I ran the nutrition business for Abbott Laboratories, and I have a lot of passion and commitment for this space,” White says. “But we wanted to make sure that we were distinct, that we were different. So we brought in world-class expertise to the design of this product to help us create custom formulations for what our representatives and their customers desired.”
Following the decision to pursue health and wellness as the next product line, Espira was created over the next 18 months. “It’ll be about a year and a half of development by the time it launches,” White explains. We put a lot of effort into, not just getting the product right, but also the concept, and the positioning, and the pricing, and the packaging.” The line will launch this month, sold only through New Avon representatives in the United States.
Espira—An Inspired Collection
While this new product category represents uncharted territory for New Avon—which separated from London-based Avon Products in 2016—Chief Marketing Officer Elana Gold says that she sees the addition of the Espira line as a rejuvenation of the company. “This is a company that’s looked to celebrate women for many generations,” she says. “If you think about what beauty means now, it has to be from the inside and the outside. Health and wellness contemporizes what Avon stands for.”
Gold explains that the stress-related fatigue facing women today inspired the company to develop products designed to restore energy. “We actually started this initiative with both our representatives and the customer in mind and the stresses they encounter every day,” she says. This focus on energy restoration is the foundation of the Espira line’s three “pillars” of wellness: Restore, Boost and Glow. According to the company, these three groups of products work together to “boost and sustain your natural energy, restore your radiance, and support your overall health.”
- Restore comprises products intended to reduce stress, promote sleep and support proper nutrition through whole-food-based vitamins and minerals. White reiterates that the ingredient profile is what sets the tone for Espira and establishes its purpose. “If you read our back label, you’ll know every single one of those ingredients. It’s not Franken-science. It’s natural ingredients. It’s fruits. It’s vegetables. Things you know. That’s what’s been different. It’s keeping this very simple.”
- Boost offers increased natural energy through a 30-day system with four steps. It begins with a three-day cleanse product, followed by metabolism boost capsules taken to start the day, hunger block capsules taken before meals and plant-based protein to fuel the body. Each product also can be used separately, apart from the 30-day system.
- Glow brings the line back to the company’s beauty roots. “As a company that really values beauty, on the inside and out, we wanted to offer something that is a little bit in the beauty space,” Gold notes. AM Protect capsules and PM Restore powdered packets target the protection and rebuilding of the skin, hair and nails, both during the day and overnight.
The New Avon team had been counting down to the Espira launch, awaiting those initial customer shipments and the response the products will garner. The strategy behind the line and the expectation of its launch is to elevate the businesses of Avon representatives across North America. Not only will these representatives have the opportunity to share a new product category with their customers, they’ll also be equipped with extensive new training, an increased focus on selling through social media and a new autoship option. Betty Palm explains how each new initiative will benefit existing and potential new representatives.
For RepFest attendees, their training began with direct access to the Espira collection itself. “For the thousands of people who attended RepFest, they received Espira products at the event,” Palm says. “But we also sent them samples of the product throughout the fourth quarter, so they could begin using it, and then in turn be able to offer their own personal testimonials to their customers when it’s offered in January.” All representatives will also have access to Espira-specific training via webinars and Avon University, the company’s online training system. In anticipation of the Espira launch, Avon University has enhanced more interactive elements than ever before. “The new platform is easy to use and includes elements of gamification,” Palm says. “[Representatives] earn badges as they take different courses and watch videos. We’re incentivizing and rewarding them along the way.”
Representatives also will benefit from New Avon’s new content-driven focus on selling through social media, including a new library of video content. “We have been more aggressive about our social media presence and providing our field with the tools to push out marketing videos or other messaging through their own social networks,” Palm continues. “I have seen great attendance on our social media training. It’s the most popular training topic for our field.” Palm and her team recognize that encouraging representatives to utilize social media requires additional training on content compliance, especially when it comes to how representatives promote wellness products. “This is the way at Avon,” Palm says. “Whatever they post on social media, they know that we’re all operating at the highest standard of how to promote a health and wellness line.”
Finally, the new autoship option is another important change for representatives. “We know that the autoship component of this particular offering is strong and highly motivating to our representatives,” Palm says. “They understand the predictable source of income that can come from that—and that it also engenders customer loyalty.”
What’s New and What’s Next
New Avon Hits Primetime: The Espira announcement at RepFest may have brought excitement, but it wasn’t the only news to come out of the three-day event. Also announced from the RepFest stage was New Avon’s new status as the official beauty partner for The Lifetime Network’s Project Runway—this news shared by none other than the series host, Tim Gunn. Season 16 wrapped in late November, with each episode’s featured skincare and beauty products referenced on a special portion of New Avon’s website, complete with how-to videos and quick-shop purchase options.
Product Innovation: The addition of health and wellness products to New Avon’s extensive product portfolio doesn’t mean that other lines will be phased out, according to White. “This is one of the things that makes Avon different. We’re not a one-category company,” he says. “I am passionate about the product pipeline we have, not just in beauty but across our entire product portfolio of beauty items, of home goods, of fashion, of jewelry, and of health and wellness. Representatives are counting on us for a really rich, robust innovation pipeline, so we’re talking about one innovation of many over the course of 2018.”
Business Boosters: Representatives will see more than just new products in 2018; they’ll see additional ways to try to take their businesses to the next level. “[This year] we’ve made changes in many aspects of the business, our compensation plans, incentive programs, on-boarding program for new representatives—all very obvious, tangible changes that the field can see,” Palm says. “In 2018, the field will see a marked and obvious difference in the ease of use and the ability to conduct their business on the go.” Palm and her team already are planning New Avon’s third annual RepFest and expect attendance to double yet again—the 2016 event saw 3,000 attendees, this year’s event doubled to 6,000 and 2018 is expected to reach 12,000 representatives in attendance.
The Fun Is Back: Whether they’re giving away a lipstick-red, eye-lashed Mini Cooper car at RepFest, offering new incentive trips or enhancing the experience and rewards within the Avon University system, White and his team say they are serious about fun.
“We’re bringing the fun back at Avon,” White says. “Our representatives are excited about what we’re doing. They challenge us to do more faster. There’s a sense of belief and commitment and passion and trust that exists between [New] Avon and its representatives as we go forward.” Palm echoes that sentiment: “It’s fun for us to experience it along with our field, to see their faces when you announce something new and know that it’s resonating with them. It’s reinforcing for all of us.”
The past 18 months at New Avon have been marked by internal change that executives say will demonstrate the company’s commitment to evolving. With the addition of a new product segment, new leadership team and a renewed focus on corporate culture, New Avon’s focus remains on meeting the needs of its representatives. “When New Avon was established, we came in with this idea and this energy of bringing back this 130-year-old iconic company to where it belongs, which is at the helm and as the leading social selling company in North America,” White says. The idea of effecting beauty from the inside out is central to the new Espira brand, but it also applies to the future at New Avon.
Click here to order the January 2018 issue in which this article appeared.