Live Beautifully. Avon magic – which is one-part beauty, one-part iconic brand, and one-part powerful women!
New Avon began the new year by welcoming in a new CEO. I recently connected with Laurie Ann Goldman to talk about her thoughts and impressions in her new role. She shares her insights and observations and future goals.
What are your initial thoughts since joining Avon as CEO?
It’s a natural fit for me to be leading a company that celebrates women. My career has mostly been focused on women and understanding what they need. My time at Avon has been amazing. Our Avon Representatives inspire me and make the Avon magic—which is one-part beauty, one-part iconic brand, and one-part powerful women!
What is your biggest impression of the direct selling business model?
It’s ironic the model, which is modern, that is so personal, and doesn’t need brick and mortar stores was actually invented 134 years ago! It works more similarly to the way that women naturally want to buy and be sold to. It’s the perfect model for our time, and it’s getting stronger every day. The Avon brand promises to help women live beautifully—and that is both an invitation and a challenge. It’s an invitation to come join us on our journey and live beautifully. It’s also a challenge of how to build a business so you can live your life in a more beautiful way—whether that is having the flexibility to stay home with your kids, plan for retirement or by earning more money to buy the things you love.
In the role of CEO and being in a new channel, what has been your biggest challenge so far?
From a CEO perspective, I immersed myself in the business—as it’s incredibly multi-faceted and fast moving. I was grateful for the six months I was on the Board of Directors—it allowed me
to get a head start on knowing what to expect when I was in the chair. The biggest challenge was quickly assembling a strong executive team to steer the organization in the right direction.
What are your initial thoughts on LG Health & Household’s acquisition agreement of Avon?
We are thrilled. I couldn’t think of a better partner than LG H&H. They are a world class brand builder. Everyone knows them for their number one position in many product categories, including televisions and washing machines. What many people don’t know is that they have a large beauty and personal care business—38 different beauty brands in all. I’m excited to partner with them in helping build our brand position and category. They are true believers in direct selling as well.
Share with us a little bit about what Avon is doing to help enhance the customer and Representative experience?
Our mission is to celebrate women’s power to make a beautiful and positive impact in the world. When I think of our partnership with LG H&H—our vision is aligned. We’re going to build the brand by expanding our R&D capability, innovation, and making fabulous products.
From a training and onboarding perspective, what are you doing to ensure your new representatives have a good experience from the get-go?
To get new Representatives off on the right foot takes a well-planned process. People learn in different ways. Some are experiential learners, and some are more visual learners. The core of our onboarding strategy is understanding what these needs are, presenting them based on these needs and understanding how they want to consume and at what speed. They are individuals, and we have made our process as unique as they are.
What attributes (in your opinion) make a great leader?
Leaders are different—some are inspiring leaders, or effective leaders, or engaging leaders, or accessible leaders or—on your best day—a combination of all of that!
Leadership is always situational. Sometimes you have to create something from nothing. Sometimes you have to build on something that is already there. And sometimes you have to restore something that has been lost. Leadership always asks something different of us. Regardless of the situation, I think leadership demands some specific things such as surrounding yourself with the very best people you can find. Create an exciting destination and a clear sense of direction and communicating in ways that make people believe in the possibilities and not fear the barriers. Lastly,
show your passion—make it clear that you take the job personally and be exactly who you are.
What initiatives are you laser focused on right now that you could tell us about?
There are several strategies that we focus on as a team. One of them is igniting what I call the ‘Avon Nation’— generations of women who love Avon and are either Representatives or simply customers who have purchased products or have liked us on social media. So one part of the strategy is inspiring this entire Avon Nation to action and creating a stronger, tight-knit community.
We’re also focused on product innovation—adding to our line of premium products. They are at the core of the excitement of why women fall in love with Avon. We have a new product called NakedProof that gives women a new weapon in the battle against cellulite. It has been a huge success for us. Women are seeing results in as few as two weeks. When the product hit the market, my Instagram account just started blowing up. It’s been fun and rewarding to seeing the excitement that our product line is producing—not only in the marketplace but for our Representatives as well.
A woman falls in love with the product, and then they can’t wait to tell their friends and family about it. The brand grows as a result from sharing that excitement. In direct selling that kind of momentum is contagious. It makes the whole cycle work.
What do we do well as a channel, and where do we need to improve?
As a channel, we give personalization and one-on-one experiences. So many Representatives are both digital sellers and classicsellers. The beauty of our channel is giving women choices about how they want to work, how they want to sell and giving customers the choice of how they want to buy.
For a company that’s been around for 134 years, we were delighted when we were named one of the top 10 most engaging brands on Facebook. It’s great validation for us that our social media strategy is having an impact in helping our Representatives and customers alike in learning about our products. Commerce has changed so much in just a few years, and social media has been such a big influence on these changes.
What are you excited the most about going forward?
First, we are excited about our Representatives, the driving force behind our success. Also, all of the products we released this year have been successful. We launched a new product called Anew Ultimate Dual Elixir and for two months when we launched we sold one product a minute. We also have a record number of Representatives descending on New Orleans for our conference in August. I’m excited to get our community together and improve their entrepreneurial skillset and grow personally!