Claudia Poccia, global president, Mark, at Avon Products Inc., oversees all aspects of the beauty and fashion brand that was created in 2003 for a younger generation of consumers, which is sold by like-minded brand representatives.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Innovation, she said, is driving growth at Mark, and that has meant reimagining direct selling for this new, young generation. Striking up innovation in a model that is 120 years old and structured and financially aware, is a challenge. But, she said, the single ingredient to innovation is talent and Mark has plenty of ammunition.

“We are transforming a business model to meet a new constituency,” she said, and with employees such as Gail Boye, vice president of product development beauty and fashion for Mark, fresh new ideas are keeping Mark at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

Most recently, Boye came up with a makeup product, Mark Flip For It, after being fascinated with the amount of data her Blackberry packed. Flip, which offers seven products in a small, square compact, was also born out of an episode of Sesame Street, which focused on the square.

By listening to consumers, Mark also created Hookup, an interactive makeup system of modular, interlocking products held together by a connector piece. Items for eyes, lips and face can be joined together for 2,000 combinations, and is also jean-pocket friendly.

“Innovation does not always begin in the research and development lab. It often begins in the girl lab. And at Mark, the people who have the entrepreneurial spirit with the smarts to navigate the labyrinth of a large corporation is what is setting the division apart from others. High emotional intelligence, too, is paramount because in this economic downturn budget cuts won’t fuel growth but ideas and the ability to initiate them and execute them will,” said Poccia.

Distribution is Mark’s other growth driver.

“Each rep selling Mark brings the brand to their consumers, like a store manager,” said Poccia. This year, to garner more reps, the brand is launching its first recruiting commercial, one that aims to change the perception of the Avon lady.

Strategic partnerships also unlock opportunity for innovation, such as Mark’s partnership with Barnes & Noble, reality star Lauren Conrad and with its development of creative assets that can be tapped and put onto social networking pages.

“Today’s consumer wants a brand experience, and the most recent Cassandra Report shows that Mark’s demographic is feeling lost and uncertain about their future. We as marketers can help them reinvent their identities,” said Poccia.