Case study 81 avon cosmetics

Some important questions about consumers that need to be answered in the cosmetics industry include:

• Do women buy cosmetics to cover up or to enhance what nature has provided?

• Do women have different wants and needs as far as cosmetics are concerned?

• What kind of advertising gimmicks are likely to be most effective?

• Is there an element of fantasy in buying and using cosmetics?

Glamour appeal in the advertising of cosmetics products to women usually features the faces of attractive celebrities or good-looking young women. Nevertheless, the advertising agency handling Avon's account maintains this is not what women want to see. Avon's group marketing communications manager believes that 'real beauty' comes from the inside and the company is intent on reflecting this in its advertising strategy.

In an attempt to modernise its image, Avon is developing two important themes in its advertising. First, it wants to show that the products it has to offer are for 'real women' and, second, it wants to show that it appreciates the nature of female friendship. After all, many of Avon's 160,000 representatives make most of their sales to friends.

Avon's target audience is essentially women over 25 and under 50, positioned in the mid-market. Its main competitors are Boots and Body Shop. Avon's approach is novel: it challenges the traditionally accepted notions of women's attractiveness. The managing partner of the agency handling the account was quoted as saying that the advertisements spurned the way in which imagery was associated with cosmetic products and, in particular, 'the preying on women's feelings of inadequacy'. He argued that cosmetics were not about hiding inadequacies but rather about making the best of what women have.

In an attempt to bring female friendship and 'real women' into the advertising, one advertisement presents two friends talking about a new romance, along with the 'great for kissing' lipstick with moisturiser. In another advertisement an upset young mother, seeing her child off to school for the first time, is featured. In the latter advertisement a friend offers her a tear-proof mascara. Friendship and 'real-ness' are also emphasised in press advertisements, where genuine friends are featured talking about each other. The actresses used in sequences have the appearance of 'real women'.

Source: Nicholas5

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