The April 23rd Wall Street Journal article by Emily Glazer titled “Avon Is Late to Social Media’s Party:With U.S. Sales Flagging, Representatives Want to Harness Facebook, Twitter and Other Web Tools” is an interesting example of many companies that have been very slow to grasp the power of social media.
Especially with a cosmetics product line sold door-to-door, where relationships are everything if you want women to allow you in to their homes, it would appear rather obvious that social media could be utilized to create the foundation of those in-person relationships.
Glazer’s article begins:
The Avon Lady needs to spend more time on Facebook.
Avon Product Inc., famous for sending its representatives door to door, is losing traction in the U.S., where many time-stressed consumers are increasingly buying their cosmetics on the Web. Operating profit per representative in the U.S. has plunged 75% over the past decade, according to an analysis by Sanford C. Bernstein.
Turning around that decline will be a big item on the long “to do” list for new Chief Executive Sherilyn S. McCoy, who joins the company Monday after 30 years at Johnson & Johnson.
If I were Ms. McCoy, I would be less concerned about technology at Avon corporate headquarters and more concerned about teaching all Avon representatives how to effectively use social media.
Of course, that would first require that Avon itself understand that social media is about sharing and not selling. A quick look at Avon’s U.S. Twitter account – @AvonInsider – shows a company that does not really understand social media interaction.
And on the home page of Avon’s website there are no social media icons.
What boggles my mind is that a company as large as Avon, with presumably access to funding for training representatives, has not gone all out to utilize the power of the Internet.
While perhaps such a large company embraces change at a snail’s pace, if you are a small company or a service professional you can take advantage of the Internet now.
And if you are a small company selling cosmetics in competition with Avon, now may be the time for you to really clean up.
(c) 2012 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and @ZimblerMiller on Pinterest) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com, which helps clients with effectively using social media to connect with prospective target audiences.