- By Lucy Hooker
- Business journalist, BBC News
The cosmetics brand famous for its slogan “Ding dong, Avon Calling!” » is set to open physical stores in the UK for the first time.
Women wanted to “touch and experience” the products they bought, Avon said.
For many years, the global beauty giant relied on an army of door-to-door sales representatives capable of showcasing their products in person.
But recently, the Covid pandemic has accelerated the transition to online sales.
Now, in a change of direction, the 137-year-old retailer is adding brick-and-mortar stores to its arsenal of sales tactics.
In addition to the United Kingdom, it will open points of sale in Brazil and South Africa. It already has 63 stores in Türkiye.
The company is looking for ways to follow women “wherever they spend their time,” said global managing director Angela Cretu, calling the move an “exciting new chapter.”
The UK stores, due to open over the next two months, would be based in “neighborhood communities” rather than traditional high streets, Ms Cretu said, and would be “mini beauty boutiques” showcasing a selection of the Avon range.
Avon has not yet confirmed the number and locations of the new stores.
Avon was established in the United States in 1884, but eventually moved its headquarters to the United Kingdom in 2016.
The much-quoted Ding-dong, Avon is calling! the ad hasn’t been used since 1967. Yet the brand remains closely associated with door-to-door sales and the era of stay-at-home moms, twinsets and Tupperware parties.
Retail analyst Natalie Berg said that despite its move to social media, the Avon brand remained “a little bit dated”.
But Ms Berg said opening stores could be beneficial for the business.
“You can’t overestimate the power of human contact and community that you get in a physical store environment,” she said, adding that this was especially true for beauty products, which are still primarily sold in shops.
Ms Berg said Avon would need to perfect its in-store technology to compete with brands that have invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality, as well as personalized services supported by digital technology.
But local stores could have a “halo effect,” she said, meaning they could play a role in helping customers choose products that they then continue to purchase from salespeople and line.
The company is also expanding its presence in Superdrug stores, following a tie-up in September which sees Avon products sold in selected branches of the pharmacy chain.
Avon’s experience in Turkey suggests that physical stores could boost business for local door-to-door salespeople, who would be offered training to manage the new franchise outlets, the company said.
“We want to give women the opportunity to start a business, especially in regions where it is not so easy for them to launch a start-up,” Ms Cretu said.