Avon is “completely getting rid of its marketing rule book” in order to attract Generation Z, consumers aged between four and 24.
The 130-year-old brand has developed a three-point plan for attracting a new generation that spans every aspect of marketing.
“It’s about products, positioning and doing the right thing. That’s how we’re addressing the next generation,” explains the company’s chief brand and beauty officer James Thompson.
Thompson, who joined in November last year, has been charged with rebranding the iconic make-up company in the face of an increasingly competitive beauty market.
“We’ve got an opportunity to be one of the iconic businesses that is relevant and characterises this part of the 20th century” he says.
We’ve got an opportunity to be one of the iconic businesses that characterises this part of the 20th century.
James Thompson, Avon
The first part of its plan involves the brand streamlining its innovation pipeline “from start to finish”. This has seen it incorporate social listening into developing new and interesting makeup.
The first example of this is it’s True 5-in-1 Lash Genius Mascara, which used social media to discover the top five most desired mascara benefits and create a product to cater to them.
Alongside strengthening innovation, Avon is also ensuring it is spotting trends “faster than before”. That focus led to the launch of its first Korean beauty range and a festival collection this year to cater to younger consumers’ needs.
This new approach has come about as a direct result of disruption in the beauty industry, with new brands such as Beauty Pie and Glossier stealing headlines and attracting, mostly, younger consumers.
Thompson explains: “[Disruptors] have inspired us. That sort of competition is making us better and think about our innovation in a more exciting way.
“It’s also raised the bar on how we communicate with people. It’s reminded us about a real love of products; one of the things that really strikes you is the absolute pride and delight in product itself.”
The brand is also changing the way it photographs products – creating images to inspire the Instagram generation. He explains: “The way we bring products to life in terms of our visuals has really evolved.”
Finally, Avon is trying to communicate its purpose more loudly. That includes talking more about its role in helping women build their own beauty business, as well as its investment in women’s rights.
“We rediscovering what we’re really about, what we are as a company. A lot of people talk about their purpose and rightly so but we’ve [spent] over 130 years helping, particularly women, to be entrepreneurs on their own term,” states.
“At the same time as doing that, we’ve been the world’s largest funder of causes that are critical to women’s rights such as breast cancer awareness and gender-based domestic violence.”
Whether it is social listening, faster innovation or launching new products, underpinning all these changes is technology. In particular, Thompson is interested in how technology can help the beauty industry personalise not just is marketing but its product.
He explains: “There is going to be a lot of personalisation. When you go into a store now there are some fairly basic ways you can understand what your skin type is and what looks are right for you but increasingly technology is allowing us to see what the effect on the environment is on a particular person and their skin type and their skin colouring etc.”
He adds: “You might end up with devices that people can wear that will assess what their skin issues are or places they can visit where experts can take them through.”
It is clear that the brand have ambitious plans and since arriving Thompson has tasked the marketing team with a long list. “We’re trying to be more strategic and specialisation and get more insight into media, commercialisation, pricing, design, specific creative competencies”, he says.
Despite the changes he has already overseen and long to-do list, Thompson remains quietly confident in the business’s trajectory.
“If you can close the day knowing you’ve done your best you can’t worry, and I know this company is doing its best. It’s doing huge work to innovate, to refresh our product pipeline, to work more innovatively across the brand, to be more relevant and to work more collaboratively,” he concludes.