Should You Sell Avon Products?

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Avon is a 130-year old company whose products have been a household staple for generations. Started in 1886 by David McConnell, Avon offers several brand lines of cosmetics and personal care products. It even has a small but growing assortment of men’s personal care products, fragrances, jewelry and watches.

The company operates via a direct sales model, meaning that its goods are not sold through third party retail shops, but rather, through independent contractor distributors (e.g., Avon ladies). Anyone can sign up to become an independent distributor for Avon and earn a commission on their sales for the company. These distributors are simply called Avon representatives.

Avon also awards commissions to those reps who successfully recruit other reps to sell Avon products. Teams that reach set sales goals are rewarded with one-time bonuses; furthermore, individuals who excel at both selling Avon products and recruiting other reps can be additionally rewarded with trips to vacation destinations, TVs and even cars.

How do you get started with Avon?

You can sign up to become an Avon rep by going to the company website and providing your personal information. Then, you are asked to select from one of three start kits ranging from $25-$100.

Once you provide your credit card information and complete your purchase, you are enrolled into the Avon program. While you wait for your starter kit to arrive, you can work on your business by building out your Avon rep web page, which is offered via the company website. Here, you can provide your personal information, pick out which Avon products you wish to feature, and then broadcast your eStore through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Your Avon starter kit, regardless of size, will include lots of sales collateral such as product catalogs, shopping bags and product samples. The starter kits will also have full size products that can be used at home parties and demonstrations.

For the money, these starter kits are actually a fairly good value. About a year ago, Avon even offered the Quick Starter Kit for free.

How to earn commissions and bonuses with Avon

Once you have your starter kit and eStore, it’s time to start selling product, recruiting other Avon reps, and earning commissions and bonuses. The company’s outlines its basic commission and bonus structure on the following chart. Campaigns, as they are called here, consist of two-week periods during which product sales are generated either online, door-to-door, at trade show booths or home parties. The company pays out 40% in commissions if a given campaign goal is reached. The first campaign, incidentally, pays out 40% in commissions no matter how much product you sell.

So, in the first 14 weeks that you are an Avon rep, you can earn over $1,000 in commissions and bonuses if you reach set sales goals each week and recruit 3 Avon reps.

What happens afterward those 14 weeks are up? While it’s not stated openly on the Avon site, reps are expected to eventually rise to the level of ‘Unit Leader’ by recruiting a downline of at least four reps. Between the five of you, your total campaign sales are expected to be $1,000. So, for every month, you and your team are expected to sell at least $2K worth of product.

In addition to earning 40% in commissions, Unit Leaders also earn 1-5% commissions from their directly sponsored reps (depending on their sales volume) and another 1% commission on second and third level recruits.

Avon pros and cons

As with any business opportunity, there are pros and cons to working with Avon.

Pros:

Established company and product lines- Avon has been in business for over 100 years and is not about to disappear. It also sells quality products at affordable prices.

Low startup cost- Avon starter kits cost $25-$100, which is not a bad startup price for a business. Those starter kits also include access to a personal website.

Broad market- Avon products are applicable to women, men and kids of almost any age and any financial outlook.

High commissions– Most direct sales companies give their reps 20%-25% in commissions on the sales of their products. Avon gives 40% commissions, which is a fairly high rate in comparison to other companies.

Cons:

Market saturation- There are too many Avon reps, making it difficult to gain a strong foothold in this already glutted marketplace. Even in a small town of 5,000 individuals, you will find six to eight Avon reps ready to call on you at a moment’s notice once you decide to “shop with a rep” on the Avon website. Unless you have a large family of social network, you will be hard-pressed to sell Avon products to new customers.

Revenue losses- The company as a whole has seen its revenues decrease since 2012 and suspended its dividend in 2016. It also reported that it has not achieved the desired representative growth rate of 1-2%/year. The reasons for these falling numbers are varied, but overall do not provide a picture of a healthy company. Last year, Avon also had to pay a $27 million settlement over its mishandling of some fiduciary matters. 

Product sales requirements- From the commission structure showcased on the Avon website, it appears that reps must meet fairly high sales quotas in order to receive their commissions. They also must keep tabs on their downline in order to meet team sales quotas. This means you won’t have much opportunity to take a break- or a vacation for that matter- if you wish to secure your monthly earnings.

Is Avon a worthwhile business opportunity?

Avon offers reasonably priced, good quality products. However, as a viable business opportunity, this company has some nagging deficiencies. To begin with, the company as a whole is losing market share. It’s also seriously glutted with reps. Finally, those reps have to hustle like mad in order to make the required sales so that they can collect their commissions and bonuses.

Have you sold with Avon? Are you an Avon representative? Please let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

19 Comments

  1. Hi Steve. Thanks for this review on Avon. I didn’t realize that they have been around for that long. I would think for the period they have been around they would have found a solid footing 8in the industry. The fact that there sales revenue is declining especially at such a high rate is an obvious red flag for reps.

    I’ve been involved with other MLMs before. I must say you can’t make money in this industry without a thick skin. Cheers

    Reply
  2. I live in a town of 3000 people and I personally know 4 Avon reps and all of them are my colleagues :) They are fighting hard to reach their sales goals but overall they are satisfied with the cooperation with the company. But this is definitely not a thing for me as I am not a good seller, especially if there is such a tense competition.

    Reply
  3. Avon, mmm, I have tried selling Avon, many years ago now, their products are great but I found – like you mentioned – that there were too many other reps trying to sell. A great detailed review, thank you. They have certainly changed the way they market products since I was a rep – more social media exposure and having a website too.
    A good review to have as I would guess there are many people out there thinking of becoming an Avon rep

    Reply
  4. Although I love some of the Avon products, which I buy from time to time from my step daughter and various friends, I don’t think I could see myself going into the selling of cosmetics.

    Although it is good that you can make use of a website, as you say, the market is so saturated, that everyone knows someone they can order from without even having to look for a website to buy from.

    I also don’t like being a pushy salesy type, and would rather market using the power of the internet and a good website by helping others out.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      Thanks for commenting Michel! Avon has been around forever and you don’t last this long without quality attached to your brand. I agree that the Internet provides better opportunities for sales though. You can hit a much wider market and find areas with lower saturation. This holds true for most MLMs though and it’s the primary reason I am not a fan of the party model a lot of MLMs are focusing on these days.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I had a friend’s mom in middle school that sold Avon products. At the time I just thought she was selling her leftovers to my mom; I didn’t know it was a business opportunity.

    LOL

    That being said, while Avon has been around for a really long time, it just seems like their growth and hype has died down.

    To get rid of their dividends is unfortunate to those that invest in the company. As an Avon representative, it seems like the quota you have to meet to earn a decent income is too high in such a short amount of time. I will confess that the compensation plan confused me a bit; but 40% commissions do sound like a plus.

    While I have used Avon products in the past, this business opportunity is not for me. Especially if I have to worry about house parties to make some sales.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Diana

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      And thank you for taking the time to leave a comment Diana. The downward trajectory is a bit alarming. It will be interesting to watch Avon over the course of the next few years to see if they are able to correct what has been going on lately. 

  6. Michelle Schmitt says:

    I used to be an Avon rep and I have plenty to say. First of all, you are all right about the market saturation. What’s worse is that another rep will steal your customer(s) by offering special discounts/price cuts, etc. Another problem with Avon is that they don’t offer anything new. They will come out with a catalog claiming the products are new but they are not. It’s the same old thing. They have a great potential to expand the market with new innovative probducts but they don’t. Case in point, marketing pet products would be a great idea. There are tons of people who will spend a lot for their fur babies. But instead, Avon will “force feed” you their skin care products. I wrote to them telling them NOT to send me this stuff but they did anyways. Then they would charge me a hefty price for this snake oil. What they don’t want you to know is that you can slap aloe vera on your face and will probably get better results! What’s also frustrating is that even when I returned their fancy skin creams, I would still suffer a fee. Other reps had compaints too. Case in point again, Avon would keep changing some of their product line. Some customers would be in love with a certain product and Avon would disconinue it. This pissed off some of the customers. And it wasn’t fun having to tell them that it no longer exist. Sadly, Avon didn’t want to hear about it. We were NOT supposed to fix the problems, but instead just be a positive rep. And that’s their biggest fault of all. We are the ones on the front lines and they should of listened to us. What they could have done is put these (discontinued) products on special order. People will pay a little extra for a product they love. This could have boosted their sales tremendously. Sadly, because of all this, I quit being a rep. It was too much time and energy I just didn’t have. And with little profits, if there was any at all!

    Reply
    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Michelle. This was exactly they type of discussion I was hoping to start with this post. It’s sad to hear that valid suggestions were just casually ignored, especially when you are trying to help improve the business for everyone involved.

  7. Interesting view of Avon. I know at least 2 reps and they have been around for a long time. I did not realise there was so much pressure to recruit. Recruiting in any MLM based business can be a killer once you have saturated the people you know and work with.
    Avon products do seem to be quite good and the company has been around for a long time.
    Times change though and so much business is going online that all forms of “retail” including MLM are suffering.
    I do think the social side of Avon, parties and competitions will probably help it to survive in a cut back form, but online is the future.
    If we are going to put a lot of hard work in building up a business, at least we should see some results from it.
    Thanks for the effective summary of Avon MLM.

    Reply
  8. As was mentioned in the article, most all of us are familiar with the iconic “Avon ladies”. And as such I kept having an unusual question in the back of my mind as I was reading: Do men sell Avon? The article implies that you might have tried this business, but it isn’t entirely clear whether the info was gleaned from personal experience or careful research.

    While I’m reasonably sure that there are many male representatives, how do they go about achieving sales in what is viewed as a female-dominated industry? I know that I would personally be very surprised if I answered the door to find a man selling Avon!

    My question is asked completely out of curiosity, in no way am I implying that men shouldn’t sell Avon products. It’s just not something I ever thought about before.

    Reply
    1. I haven’t tried selling Avon myself Laurie. The article was intended as jumping off point for those doing their research on the company. I wanted to showcase the pros and cons and invite those who have bought or sold Avon products to continue the discussion in the comments.

  9. theceoinslippers says:

    My grandmother used to sell avon and I have met people over the years who have sold the products. They have good quality products but I feel that you are right in that the market is a little saturated with veteran avon representatives. I don’t know or understand why they would be losing revenue but it might be because they are getting some large competition that can compete very well.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      Avon does have their brand recognition down. They have been around long enough that they are a household name. The dip in revenue, while alarming, will likely be corrected and their longevity will continue.

  10. This was an interesting review of Avon Company.

    I have known Avon for many years and have used their products, but never realized that the company is an MLM.

    I agree with you, even though the commission is 40% which is higher than many other MLMs, the fact that it is necessary to recruit other representatives always was a turn off for me.

    Reply
  11. James Harvey says:

    I get letters in the mail all the time asking me to join and sell Avon products. So I took the time out to look for a decent review on the program and how it works. I ended up here and so glad I did. Thank you for the pros and cons of this MLM company. It really helped out a lot.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      Thanks James. I was glad I was able to help.

  12. Miroslav Petras says:

    To be honest, I think there is no long term income potential within MLM world (including AVON too).

    One girl i know works for Avon, and she has very low profits. She is almost constantly losing money. Yes, their products can be good, but this is not stable income. On top of that she needs to purchase new kit every month.

    Honestly, i think that regular 9-5 job is much more profitable than any MLM.

    At least you have a regular salary with 9-5 job, which is not the case with MLM. When you work for MLM company you have to think every day if you will be able to end every month with positive zero, let alone profits. And it sucks.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      I think there is some money to be made initially, but you need an exit strategy. Throw a party or two, sell a few products, collect a check, and then GET OUT. What typically happens with MLMs is people skip the GET OUT step and then buy more product and can’t move it. Then they buy EVEN MORE so their selling account isn’t deactivated and end up even further in the hole. You’re right though, there are much better ways to make money than through the standard MLM setup.

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