Emotions: Avon’s Next Big Bet

Avon is adding a new element to its turnaround — emotions.The beauty company, under the leadership of new chief executive officer Jan Zijderveld, has released a white paper that highlights the increasing importance of emotions, backed up by data, in its business. The paper is set to be presented at the Innocos Summit on Thursday.”Technology needs to be harnessed through the lens of humanity — through people, their feelings, their desires. There is an emotional need at the heart of all our choices that is at the core of the future of beauty,” writes Zijderveld in the introduction.According to Lisa Gallo, vice president of product development for Avon, harnessing emotions and data, and putting that into the products, will play a significant role in Avon’s turnaround. She called steps Avon is taking “very poised to continue to drive us to the turnaround.””You have to bring the consumer relevant products that are meaningful to her — without that, you have nothing,” said Gallo.One of Avon’s big bets looking forward is cocreation — trying to take the insights it gets from customers and put them directly into the products. One example is the company’s Big & Style mascara, which uses a technology from candles to allow consumers to shape their lashes into the desired shape after mascara application.While Avon is open to taking input from one woman at a focus group, or one researcher in a lab, the company anticipates marrying that feedback with data.”What computers don’t give you are emotions,” Avon writes in the report. “And what emotions don’t give you is logic. There’s a need for both, but in the future, Avon believes, it’s the emotional insight, the human touch, that should drive our scientific research and understanding.””It’s critical that you have this knowledge in your memory bank,” Gallo said. “What happens, quite frankly, is we study the data — it’s important — we do the research, we take it to heart and then when you are talking to a consumer and you can make those linkages, it just clicks.”That communication is critical for product development, Gallo noted. Talking to customers helped Avon learn that in Brazil, its biggest market, what is considered a “natural” finish to foundation is the same that customers in the U.K. and Russia consider “matte,” she noted.In the future, Avon expects to know what their customers are feeling, in addition to what they are doing or thinking. That could lead to more customization — like an immediate offering of vitamin-boosted moisturizer for a sleepy Monday morning, Avon writes.Even with increased digital adoption of its representatives, Avon will continue to bet big on face time. The report quotes one Avon rep talking about her Facebook Live parties: “People interact directly with me during the Live session, then once it’s over, I’ll post links directly to the products, so people can purchase online straightaway.”Avon is working to make its products easier to sell online, noting that reps who sell online sell 65 percent more than those who do not. Language choice plays a significant role in communicating for the web. For example, instead of referring to the company’s Epic Lipstick as something with intense color payoff, the company uses the term “one swipe.””The whole idea was this beautiful, richly pigmented lipstick had to give an intense result in one swipe — so the consumer would have this easy, effortless experience, but also the rep would be able to demonstrate the effect before her very eyes — rather than just talking about it,” Gallo writes in the report.Despite the increase in connections via social media, people feel lonely and are going out of their way to consume content “to improve their health or feel better after feeling down,” the report says. That presents an opportunity for the beauty industry to provide products that speak to consumers’ “evolving, emotionally charged needs.””Those strong emotions are going to get us to even more relevant product ideas,” Gallo said.

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