Managing Director | 21 Feb 2011
For 125 Years, Avon has worked towards improving the lives of women around the world. Avon pioneered the concept of the unique earning opportunity through revolutionary direct selling business model. This has resulted in financial independence and personal empowerment of women. Over the decades, ‘Avon Lady’ has created an identity for herself and for other women.
Having an experience in strategic planning and management for over 27 years, Hemant Singh is responsible for driving growth and the expansion of the company's market share in the country. He joined Avon Asia Pacific in 2009 as Executive Director.
Prior to his association with Avon, Singh has served Modicare Ltd for seven years where he acquired the position of CEO. He began his career with Hindustan Lever Ltd where he worked for over 14 years, followed by six years stint with PepsiCo. Avon's product line includes beauty products and fashion accessories, with well-recognised brand names such as Avon Color, Anew, Skin-So-Soft, Avon Solutions and Avon Naturals.
In a conversation with exchange4media’s Preeti Hoon, Singh talks about the future of beauty solutions and the tricks of a rather successful trade.
Q. How has the journey been since Avon’s inception in India? What have been the changes in the cosmetic industry ever since then?
Since 1996 when we started operations in India, we have come a long way. Over the 15 years, the cosmetic industry has undergone a significant change and is now one of the most rapidly growing industries. Today, it is providing lucrative opportunities for existing as well as scope for new market players amid changing lifestyle and increasing consumer awareness. The Indian cosmetic market growth is accredited to female consumers, but with the increasing influence of the media, the male consumers are also exposed to the importance of this sector.
We are one of the largest direct selling companies of beauty products in the country and have managed to become a house hold name amongst our target audience.
Q. This is your 125th year of existence, what does it mean to the company? Tell us more about the $1 million Avon Global Believe Fund...
For 125 Years, Avon has worked towards improving the lives of women around the world. Avon pioneered the concept of the unique earning opportunity through revolutionary direct selling business model. This has resulted in financial independence and personal empowerment of women. Over the decades, ‘Avon Lady’ has created an identity for herself and for other women. As a company, our iconic beauty brand and leadership in direct selling has kept us at the forefront over these years. We are the largest creators of economic opportunities for women around the world. Today, we are serving more than six million Avon representatives in over 100 countries.
As part of our endeavour to empower women, Avon Foundation for Women, the largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy, focuses on issues related to women. Avon global philanthropy has donated more than $800 million to improve women’s health and safety around the world. Avon’s new $1 million commitment is in addition to the company’s previously announced financial donations to other major partners in global efforts to stop violence against women including: the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women; Vital Voices and the US State Department to establish the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Cornell University Law School for the creation of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
Q. 2011 marks 15 years of Avon in India. What is the road ahead for the brand? Any expansion plans?
Avon India is a potential growth market for Avon Global. Thus we have robust plans for the coming years. Our strategic pathway would include expanding our product portfolio, increasing our representative base and entering new geographies within the subcontinent.
Q. How was 2010 for the brand?
2010 marked a year of many developments for Avon India. We launched our first state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Dehradun. With the production capacity of 50 million units per year, this facility operates in full compliance with Avon’s global manufacturing processes and quality standards. Spread across 9 acres, the manufacturing facility is equipped with high technology and has multi-product manufacturing capability. It produces world-class products in various cosmetic categories like skincare, color and toiletries including creams, lotions, lipsticks, talcum powder and cleanser.
Q. What were the major developments of the year 2010?
Last year, Avon also strengthened its position in the rapidly growing beauty and cosmetic market in India by launching 5 world-class Avon Beauty Zones in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Avon Beauty Zone is essentially a one-stop point where the Avon independent sales representatives can experience world-class quality products, place and collect orders; attend extensive sales, product and beauty training programs and attend monthly campaign meetings.
We also introduced the International Jewellery Collection to give a complete beauty offering to our consumers satisfying their beauty needs. In the last quarter of the year, we also extended our presence in Southern India by opening market in Chennai. Avon globally launched Avon Voices, first-ever global online singing talent search for women and songwriting competition for men and women in celebration of its 125th Anniversary. A renowned judging panel of music industry leaders from around the world includes: Fergie, six-time Grammy award winner; Diane Warren, legendary songwriter. We received unprecedented response from Indian participants and thus added 3 very popular Hindi songs to invite more and more Indian talents to participate in the talent search. The submissions were on till Feb 13th 2011.
Q. Since the products are not sold through retail, how important is advertising for the brand?
We understand the importance of advertising and realize that it is critical for brand awareness. And therefore we have huge plans for advertising in the coming years.
Q. Which are the various promotional activities planned in the coming days?
As part of Avon’s 125 Year celebration, we will be planning activities to create brand awareness and reach out to our consumers.
Q. How is the digital medium perceived by the brand? Have you kept aside any digital budget?
Today, with the advancing technologies, more and more brands are optimally using digital medium to connect with the target audience. Last year we started with e-brochure that can help while ordering online. It is a faster mode for our representatives to place and track their orders. We also entered the social media space by opening Avon India corporate page on Facebook and within a span of a month, we saw tremendous response.