Avon to Step Up Competitive Edge

Just a month into the New Year, Avon has launched a critical phase of its previously announced restructuring plan.

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New York — Just a month into the New Year, Avon has launched a critical phase of its previously announced restructuring plan. The effort, which was first introduced in late 2005 by Avon chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Jung, relies on a strong product pipeline backed by amplified advertising support.

In keeping with Jung’s promise to double advertising spending by 2008, Avon will quadruple its advertising frequency in 2006, investing primarily in skin care and cosmetics in the first half of the year, said Jill Scalamandre, senior vice president of global beauty brands for Avon Products.

This year’s mantra, noted Scalamandre, is to step up brand competitiveness. The first salvo against its mass market and department store peers is a trimmed slate of product launches, most of which seek to build existing brands into franchises.

The lineup for the first half of the year includes Ultra Moisture Rich Lipstick SPF 15, Anew Alternative Intensive Age Treatment SPF 25 Day, Anew Clinical Eye Lift, Daring Definition Mousse Mascara and Instant Manicure, billed as the first dry nail enamel.

Avon executives would not comment on sales, but industry sources forecast the five products could reap $140 million in first-year sales.

With less, more impactful launches planned, Avon can devote more resources to each, explained Scalamandre. “The tactic is staying in front of the consumer,” she added. “Each new launch will have a halo effect on the entire brand.”

The marketing ramp up includes increasing Avon’s TV advertising from 11 weeks in 2005 to 42 weeks this year. On the print side, Avon will run magazine ads nine months out of the year, up from four months last year.

The company said it is also pursuing a more analytical approach to marketing. “There’s a more objective lens being applied to advertising to understand the investment,” said Vanessa Reggiardo, vice president of U.S. beauty marketing for Avon.

Many of the new entries carry a more premium price point, and all carry clinically tested claims.

“Where we think we have a competitive edge, we will price competitively,” said Reggiardo.

Tapping into the capabilities of the company’s newly opened global research and development center in Suffern, N.Y., Avon will measure the benefits of each of its future launches, including color cosmetics, said Scalamandre.

This story first appeared in the January 20, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

For instance, based on the company’s clinical tests, Avon’s new Ultra Moisture Rich Lipstick SPF 15, is said to boost lips’ moisture 220 percent and increase softness 170 percent. Dry lips tend to make lip color look dull, said Scalamandre, explaining that “where there is rich moisture, there is rich color.” The formula includes allantoin, vitamins A, C and E and jojoba oil, as well as Repleni-Sphere Technology, which is said to smooth dry patches and seal in moisture.

Print ads for Ultra Moisture Rich, which break this month, feature Avon spokesmodel Salma Hayek and tropical pink flowers, replete with droplets of dew. The lipstick is available in 20 shades and will sell for $6.50 each. As is common practice for the direct seller, Avon will offer Ultra Moisture Rich at introductory price of $3.99.

Later this month, Avon will extend its Anew Alternative brand with Anew Alternative Intensive Age Treatment SPF 25 Day. In its advertising efforts, Avon has repositioned its original Anew Alternative product, which launched last fall, as a night cream. Together, the products look to build a skin care franchise designed to bring Avon into the realm of Eastern healing.

Like its predecessor, the $32 daytime treatment is described as an ‘herbaceutical’ with a formula that melds Eastern plant therapies with pharmaceutical-inspired technology. Based on clinical tests conducted by Avon, Anew Alternative for daytime use diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in one week. Avon will introduce Anew Alternative for day with a free gift-with-purchase of a beaded clutch handbag.

“We are able to leverage department store sales tactics,” said Scalamandre, referring to Avon’s gift-with-purchase program. “That’s something that our mass competitors cannot do. That’s Avon’s sweet spot.”

Avon will expand its Anew Clinical brand with Eye Lift, a two-part eye treatment. In keeping with Anew Clinical’s focus on offering at-home dermatologist treatments, Eye Lift includes a cream to smooth the under-eye area and a gel to lift drooping lids. Print ads for Eye Lift proclaim, “No sags. No circles. No appointments.” The dual-use eye cream will be available in March for $28. Avon will distribute 15 million samples of Eye Lift, 9 million of which will be heat sealed on the Avon brochure. Avon will support the launch with print and TV ads.

The company seeks to build a mascara franchise with the introduction of Daring Definition Mousse Mascara. The mascara, due out this February, follows the spring 2005 introduction of Daring Curves Mascara.

Daring Definition has a mousse-like formula that is designed to impart a lightweight feel on the lashes. Its Expansion-Sphere Technology is said to saturate lashes with pigment.

Print ads claim, “The darkest lashes ever.” The mascara will be available in four shades — black, brown, brown/black and navy — for $7.50 each.

This spring, Avon will also attempt to change the way women apply nail polish with Instant Manicure. Described as “dry nail enamel,” Instant Manicure fuses nail polish to self-adhesive strips. Once applied, the “smudge-proof” strip forms to fit the nail. The excess can be removed by bending the strip over the nail’s edge and rubbing with a thumbnail.

“This is a step change in nail enamel,” declared Scalamandre.

Instant Manicure, which launched in Europe late 2005, will initially be available in 20 shades for $8 each.

Avon will support Instant Manicure with a $6 million marketing campaign that will include television and print ads, along with 2 million product samples.

For the second half of 2006, Avon is looking to revamp Avon Solutions, with plans to add a new segment to the mass-priced skin care line. The company also plans to inject new technology into its Advance Techniques hair care line.

Scalamandre said, “This is the year Avon is stepping up innovation.”

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