“We launched Happy Hearts with a Purpose, a program designed for the mental wellbeing of our associates”: Snigdha Suman, Marketing Head, Avon India
Avon has been at the forefront of providing innovative, quality beauty products which are primarily sold to women through women for over 130 years. In an exclusive conversation with Snigdha Suman, Marketing Head, Avon India speaks about how pandemic has affected the business.
Let’s dig in.
Q) How has the Beauty and Skincare industry been affected by the pandemic?
The pandemic has brought about a big change in consumer behaviour in different ways. For instance, consumers are now more comfortable with at-home beauty practices, like DIY facials & masks, and are making skincare routines a part of the new normal. This has also nudged brands to evolve their practices to cater to their changing needs. Safety of ingredients, sustainability, anti-bacterial properties is some of the terms that have found their way into the everyday vocabulary of people, very quickly gaining popularity among the masses.
For Direct Selling companies, like Avon, common practices like door-to-door selling, physical meetings, product demonstrations, and training have transcended to the digital space – a process that was very much in transition but got really fast-tracked due to the pandemic.
Q) A Beauty and Skincare product, in some way or the other, enhances the mental wellbeing of a person. Do you agree with this statement? Please share your views on the same?
I believe ‘self-confidence’ is one of the top attributes responsible for anyone’s mental wellbeing, and beauty & skincare products help in building just that. Just one swipe of lipstick can brighten up your day because when you look at yourself in the mirror and see a face that you like, you immediately feel better inside. However, it works best when you’re also physically healthy and emotionally happy.
Q) How much Avon is dedicating towards the wellness of its employees/channels?
Avon is committed to the wellness of its employees and associates. We were one of the first organizations to opt for remote working as the pandemic hit us last year, with our sales workforce & central teams continuing to operate from their homes, even as we speak. Besides this, we doubled the medical insurance coverage for all our employees, including their families, to support them in these difficult times. We launched Happy Hearts with a Purpose – a program designed for the mental wellbeing of our associates to cope with the stresses that working from home brought about – in Jan 2021. It included monthly workshops on Prioritisation, Anxiety Management & Pace Management, professional counseling including one-on-one sessions with expert psychologists to cope with anxiety, depression, managing workload, and other psychological issues that the pandemic posed.
Q) What are your marketing strategies?
We’ve been working on Avon’s digital transformation for some time now and Direct Selling has already made in-roads online, but COVID-19 really upped the pace of our digital makeover. Online sales have shown a spike during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have moved relationships to the virtual, but, in some ways, we are more connected than ever. It was brilliant to see our Beauty Advisors embrace this change during the lockdown. Many of them are already ‘micro-influencers and we have been encouraging them to embrace this challenge, using our iconic brand to build bridges with a new customer base.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been working hard on strengthening our community virtually, including supporting Representatives through regular contact and video workshops on building their business online, as well as offering tips and insights on how to capitalize on social media. The result for many Representatives has led to outstanding results through the pandemic.
Q) The pandemic has transformed the entire concept of marketing and advertising. How do you perceive the statement? Do you think it is going to survive for a longer period?
Social media has become the biggest platform for marketing and advertising. Influencers from every domain, big or small, have gained impressive popularity, and brands are using the platform & its influencers in a massive way. The type of content created is also evolving with the current time to make it relevant for the consumers. Brands are seeking out community building, compassion, emotional elements like at-home family care, and bonds more effectively. The time spent by consumers on social media platforms has also increased, making the consumption of content higher. This will stay with the consumers for a long time, as it has in the last 1.5 years of the pandemic. This has become our new normal.
Q) What is your anticipation for 2021? What are your future plans?
2021 started with good hope and positivity but the second wave has brought us back to the anxieties & uncertainties of 2020. On the other hand, it has also instilled a sense of togetherness, where we are all ready to help each other as much as we can. Avon has a strong network of women who are well connected and we will work on building this network even stronger in the coming days by staying connected, training, and grooming them virtually, to make them stronger entrepreneurs, ready for this new normal