We employ certain web enabled systems to increase Representative support, which allow a Representative to run her or his business more efficiently and also allow us to improve our order-processing accuracy. For example, in many countries, Representatives can utilize the Internet to manage their business electronically, including order submission, order tracking, payment and two-way communications with us. In addition, in the U.S. and certain other markets, Representatives can further build their own business through personalized web pages provided by us, enabling them to sell a complete line of our products online. Self-paced online training also is available in certain markets.In some markets, we use decentralized branches, satellite stores and independent retail operations (e.g., beauty boutiques) to serve
Representatives and other customers
Representatives come to a branch to place and pick up product orders for their customers. The branches also create visibility for us with consumers and help reinforce our beauty image. In certain markets, we provide opportunities to license our beauty centers and other retail-oriented and direct-to-consumer opportunities to reach new customers in complementary ways to direct selling. In the U.S. and certain other markets, we also market our products through consumer websites (e.g., www.avon.com in the U.S.).
The recruiting or appointing and training of Representatives are the primary responsibilities of district sales managers, zone managers and independent leaders. Depending on the market and the responsibilities of the role, some of these individuals are our employees and some are independent contractors. Those who are employees are paid a salary and an incentive based primarily on the achievement of a sales objective in their district. Those who are independent contractors are rewarded primarily based on total sales achieved in their zones or downline team of recruited, trained and managed Representatives. Personal contacts, including recommendations from current Representatives (including the Leadership program), and local market advertising constitute the primary means of obtaining new Representatives.
The Leadership program is a multi-level compensation program which gives Representatives, known as independent leaders, the opportunity to earn discounts on their own sales of our products, as well as commissions based on the net sales made by Representatives they have recruited and trained. This program generally limits the number of levels on which commissions can be earned to three. The primary responsibilities of independent leaders are the prospecting, appointing, training and development of their downline Representatives while maintaining a certain level of their own sales. Development of the Leadership program throughout the world is one part of our long-term growth strategy. As described above, the Representative is the “store” through which we primarily sell our products and, given the high rate of turnover among Representatives (a common characteristic of direct selling), it is critical that we recruit, retain and service
Representatives on a continuing basis in order to maintain and grow our business. From time to time, local governments and others question the legal status of Representatives or impose burdens inconsistent with their status as independent contractors, often in regard to possible coverage under social benefit laws that would require us (and, in most instances, the Representatives) to make regular contributions to government social benefit funds. Although we have generally been able to address these questions in a satisfactory manner, these questions can be raised again following regulatory changes in a jurisdiction or can be raised in other jurisdictions. If there should be a final determination adverse to us in a country, the cost for future, and possibly past, contributions could be so substantial in the context of the volume and profitability of our business in that country that we would consider discontinuing operations in that country.
Promotion and Marketing
Sales promotion and sales development activities are directed at assisting Representatives, through sales aids such as brochures, product samples and demonstration products. In order to support the efforts of Representatives to reach new customers, specially designed sales aids, promotional pieces, customer flyers, television advertising and print advertising can be used. In addition, we seek to motivate our Representatives through the use of special incentive programs that reward superior sales performance. Periodic sales meetings with Representatives are conducted by the district sales or zone managers. The meetings are designed to keep Representatives abreast of product line changes, explain sales techniques and provide recognition for sales performance. A number of merchandising techniques are used, including the introduction of new products, the use of combination offers, the use of trial sizes and samples, and the promotion of products packaged as gift items.
In general, for each sales campaign, a distinctive brochure is published, in which new products are introduced and selected items are offered as special promotions or are given particular prominence in the brochure. A key priority for our merchandising is to continue the use of pricing and promotional models and tools to enable a deeper, fact-based understanding of the role and impact of pricing within our product portfolio. From time to time, various regulations or laws have been proposed or adopted that would, in general, restrict the frequency, duration or volume of sales resulting from new product introductions, special promotions or other special price offers. We expect our pricing flexibility and broad product lines to mitigate the effect of these regulations.
We face competition from various products and product lines both domestically and internationally.