By  on November 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Just two weeks into her term as president of Avon's Mark brand, Claudia Poccia has implemented her first order of business, unofficially dubbed "the listening tour."

"Listening to learn is very important to lead in a meaningful way," said Poccia, during a meeting held Tuesday, on the eve of her first official event for Mark, the preview of the brand's spring product line.

The effort, which relies on meetings with the Mark team and conversations with representatives and their customers, is meant to ensure that all future initiatives keep the Mark consumer front of mind, explained Poccia.

Once fully entrenched in her new role, Poccia said she will begin to "turn up the volume" on Mark's marketing efforts and zero in on innovation to grow the two-year-old brand.

Prior to her appointment, Poccia served as senior vice president and general manager of Stila Cosmetics, owned by the Estée Lauder Cos., which last month announced plans to sell the makeup artist brand. Mark, tailored to women 18 to 24 years old, overlaps somewhat with Stila's positioning, but skews slightly younger.

Poccia said she finds the Mark consumer's dynamism energizing. "She's stylish, but she also cares about the world around her," said Poccia. "This is an age when she is defining who she is." Also new to the Mark team is Gail Boyé, vice president of product development.

Speaking at the launch event Wednesday, Avon's chief executive officer, Andrea Jung, referred to the evening as a homecoming party for Poccia, who had worked for the company in the Nineties as field director of marketing. Poccia's welcome was coupled with a presentation of the upcoming products for spring. Standout items include Face Xpert Flawless Touch Makeup, a foundation that has a sponge applicator built into its cap, and Dew Drenched Moisturlicious Lip Color, a balm-like formula designed to impart long-wearing color and shine. Face Xpert, available in eight shades within a yellow-based palette, is designed to adjust to the wearer's skin tone. It will launch in the February "magalogue" and sell for $8 each. Dew Drenched will be available in five shades this April for $6 each.This spring, Mark will also introduce a dessert-inspired collection called Toute Sweet. The Splenda-infused lineup includes Sugar Dipped Lip Gloss, Whipped Cream Eyeshadow, Kissable Body Powder housed in a small tin, a Gourmet Mini Facials kit and Deluscious Body Souffles in Marshmallow and Buttercream. Each of the products, which are line priced at $6 each, are designed to have "mouth-watering" flavors. For instance, the gloss, which has a soft spatula applicator, is available in Sugar Almond (pink gold), Buttercream (pale champagne), Crème Caramel (rosy mauve), Chocolate Fondue (golden copper) and Marshmallow (rosy pink). Packaging gives off a kitschy Fifties bakery vibe, with rose and purple accents. The collection also includes a smattering of ancillary products, such as lingerie with tea-stained lace, tote bags and jewelry.

"Our goal is to be a destination," said Jennifer Sagawa, product marketing director for Mark, referring to the mix of nonbeauty items, which account for 35 percent of Mark's total product assortment.

The brand is peddled by 20,000 Mark representatives, who rely on 12 yearly magalogues, across the U.S. and Mexico. Mark has plans to enter Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in 2006. While Mark executives would not comment on sales, industry sources estimate the brand will reach $70 million in sales by 2006. Last year, Mark generated sales of $47 million.

Having entered several new categories in 2005, such as hair care and spa, Sagawa said 2006 will be about fortifying the brand's core lineup. Hinting at Mark's second-half launches, Poccia said, "We will see innovation across all categories."

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