The Avon story is one that can be told one door at a time. The company was founded in 1886 by a door to door salesman – yes, the very first Avon lady was a man. The Avon of today sells clothing, jewelry and toys in addition to cosmetics, perfumes and other personal care products.
Avon is being sold over the Internet, through catalogs and in department stores, although the majority of sales are still being made door to door by a global sales force of 5 million independent Avon representatives. One of the largest sellers of beauty and personal care products, Avon continues to grow each year through good times and bad.
The company was founded by door to door book salesman David H. McConnell. His stock in trade was distributing free perfume samples as a “door opener” to the sales pitch for his line of books, magazines and greeting cards. When he realized that his mostly rural women customers were more interested in his perfume than his books, the concept for Avon was born.
McConnell also recognized that women of the 19th century had few career opportunities, and most of those jobs paid only a fraction of what male workers were getting. Along with his wife Lucy, McConnell created the business model that would give women a genuine opportunity to better their financial lot, who could also relate and appeal to potential perfume customers. Because many of his customers in rural America did not have easy access to stores, the decision was made to focus on door to door selling.
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