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Avon Compensation Plan Review 2.0

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Introduction to Avon MLM Compensation Plan

I come from the Midwest, the land of Civil War reenactments and Renaissance Festivals, so you are probably already rolling your eyes at the prospect of me telling you how awesome it would have been to have lived in another century, but hear me out.  We millennials have really missed out on the most interesting White House pets.  I mean, President Obama’s Portuguese water dogs are kind of an interesting dog breed, I guess, and their residence in the White House did cause a spike in the sales of that breed, but they’re just dogs.  Everyone knows someone who has a pet dog.  In fact, your dog is probably sniffing the unsold multilevel marketing (MLM) merchandise in your basement even as you read this.  If you are my age, you probably have memories of the Clinton administration, when Socks the cat and Buddy the dog spent Clinton’s last year in office locked in an epic showdown.  They took the “this White House ain’t big enough for the both of us” thing so far that, when George W. Bush was inaugurated and the Clintons moved back to accommodations that were, in all likelihood, smaller than the White House (readers in Washington, D.C., can probably rattle off all the post-White House presidential residences from memory, but that’s not our style in the Midwest), Socks opted to stay in Washington, D.C. with Bettie Currie, who worked as a White House secretary during the Clinton administration.  George W. Bush has a Longhorn cow named Ofelia, but she lives at his ranch in Texas and there is no evidence that she ever set hoof in the White House.  Other than that, White House pets in recent decades have been limited to your boring old dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and the same kinds of birds your friends probably have, like parakeets and stuff.  Some presidents had horses, but if you want to see horses, Kentucky is only a short road trip away from here.

Compare that to Herbert Hoover, whose White House menagerie included two alligators.  Calvin Coolidge, who otherwise has the reputation for being the most boring president ever, had, among other things, a black bear, a wallaby, and a duiker, an African antelope about the size of a housecat.  Theodore Roosevelt had an owl and a hyena, but we have come to expect no less from him.  Martin van Buren had two tiger cubs, Thomas Jefferson had two bear cubs, and John Quincy Adams had an indeterminate number of silkworms.  And those are just the presidential pets that didn’t have names.  Think about the names that people give to their pets now, and then listen to these.  John Adams had a horse named Cleopatra.  Benjamin Harrison had opossums named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection.  William McKinley had a parrot named Washington Post.  Teddy Roosevelt’s pets included a garter snake named Emily Spinach, a badger named Josiah, and a bear named Jonathan Edwards.  (An urban legend says that toy bears are called “teddy bears” because of Teddy Roosevelt’s association with friendly bears.  If that is the case, I think we should start calling them Jonathan Edwards bears.)  Calvin Coolidge, who gets less and less boring the more I find out about him, apparently had enough imagination to name his pet lion cubs Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau.  And Herbert Hoover had a Belgian shepherd dog named King Tut.

Given the fact that the White House can clearly accommodate much larger pets than, say, your house or my house, even if we did manage to get rid of all the unsold MLM merchandise cluttering up our houses, and given the trend of ancient Egypt-themed names for presidential pets, I have a proposition to make.  I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but I propose that the next president, whoever that might be, should get a pet alligator, name it American Petsuchos, let it live in the fountain in front of the White House, and dress it in Avon jewelry.  Why?  Because Avon is an American institution.

Avon: The Company and Its Products

 

Avon

It is my goal on this site to review as many multilevel marketing (MLM) companies as possible, and in a previous review, I described Amway, which was founded in 1959, as the granddaddy of all MLM companies, but id Amway is the granddaddy, then Avon is mitochondrial Eve.  Avon was founded in 1886, which means that it predates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as well as the Constitutional amendment that guarantees women the right to vote.  (Readers in Washington, D.C., remember which amendment that is.  I don’t.)

You have probably heard of Avon cosmetics, even if you are a dude, and even if you are the kind of person who never thinks about brand names except when making MLM-related business decisions.  Avon is most famous for its line of cosmetics, but it also sells jewelry, clothing, and skincare products, including the Skin So Soft brand.  I probably used Skin So Soft insect repellent when I was a kid.  I think it was on a Boy Scouts’ camping trip, where absolutely everyone in attendance was male, so that will show you just how pervasive Avon products are in American society.

For much of the company’s history, salespeople who worked for Avon sold the products door to door.  Now call to mind your mental image of what door to door selling was like in the 1950s.  I am sure that you are thinking of the products as being sold by a man.  If you imagine a 1950s saleswoman, you are probably imagining her working in a department store, and she is probably young and unmarried.  The company’s inclusion of women in its door to door sales workforce helped it gain the reputation as “the company for women”, although men have also been among the sellers of Avon products at all points in the company’s history.  I have dealt with lots of MLMs, and while some MLM companies tend to attract more of one gender or the other, the MLM world overall has about an even mix of men and women.  Not so door to door selling in the days when door to door selling was a thing.  The “Avon ladies” who sold the products door to door made the brand even more recognizable.  Not only that, but selling Avon products gave women an opportunity to operate their own businesses in a time when women had far fewer economic opportunities than they have now.  Today, no one is surprised to see a woman working as a judge, stockbroker, or any other well-paying or prestigious position, but that was not the case in the door to door salesman days.

Today, when almost all companies hire both sexes because it would be gender discrimination to do otherwise, Avon has kept its reputation as a company devoted to helping women through its contributions to charities dealing with causes such as domestic violence and breast cancer research.  In the days of door to door selling, both family violence and cancer were things with which people tended to suffer in silence.  Today, there is hardly a college classroom where at least one student’s backpack does not bear a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness, and that student is not always female.  All of this is to say that Avon has been around long enough to see the world change a lot, and this is especially notable when you take into account that a lot of MLM companies only stay in business about two years.

The Avon Compensation Plan

If you choose to become an Avon sales representative, you can choose to avoid the network marketing aspect completely, and just sells in products if you want to.  If you go that route, you earn a commission of between 20% and 40% on the products you sell.  (Some products are eligible for a 40% commission, while other fetch only a 20% commission.)  Your commissions can increase the longer you continue working for the company.  Another nice thing about working as an Avon sales representative is that sales are divided into two-week campaigns.  That means you decide how much inventory you want to order, organize yourself to sell your products during the two weeks, and then watch those two weeks fly by.  Then the campaign is over, and you get your commission.  You can decide which campaigns to participate in.  You can sell the products when you have time.

The part of the Avon experience that is more like other MLMs is the Sales Leadership program, where you recruit other sellers, and your commission is based on the sales made by your team, not just your own personal sales.  These are the requirements for the levels of the Sales Leadership program.

  • Unit Leader – You must recruit at least four representatives, and the team’s sales must be at least $1,000.
  • Advanced Unit Leader – You must have ten active representatives that you recruited, and two of those must have achieved the rank of Unit Leader. Your team’s sales must be at least $3,000.
  • Executive Unit Leader – You must have at least twelve representatives working under you, including three who have become Unit Leaders and one who has become an Advanced Unit Leader. Your team’s sales must be at least $8,000.
  • Senior Executive Unit Leader – You must have at least twenty representatives working under you, including four who have become Unit Leaders and two who have become Advanced Unit Leaders, and one who has become an Executive Unit Leader. Your team’s sales must be at least $20,000.

Members of the Sales Leadership program can also receive bonuses for being promoted to a new rank and when representatives they have recruited advance in rank.  There are also opportunities to win prizes like cars and vacations.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Avon is a well-established, reputable brand that has managed to avoid controversy and negative publicity throughout its long history.
  • You can choose from a wide variety of products, depending on what you think your customers will want to buy.
  • You can completely sidestep the whole network marketing side and just sell Avon products if you want to. Even if you do go the Sales Leadership route, a lot of the shadier aspects of MLM are missing.  There is no “bonus pool” for the highest levels of representatives, and you get rewarded, not punished, when your recruits get promoted.
  • Two-week campaigns are a lot more manageable than constant pressure to spend and sell.

Disadvantages

  • Direct selling is not an easy road to riches. Fewer than one out of every five Avon representatives makes more than $500 per month through their work with Avon.
  • Products like cosmetics, skincare products, and costume jewelry can easily be found for lower prices than you will sell them as an Avon representative.

Conclusion

If you have your heart set on direct selling, and you want to avoid the sleaze, Avon is a good choice.  It has name recognition, and its system of paying commissions is not convoluted.  It gives you the option of just plain direct selling or network marketing, so you can decide whether you want to put in all the work of recruiting and managing other representatives.  Avon is and has always been a company that aspires to be a vehicle for women’s physical, emotional, and economic well-being.  The only problem is that there are now so many other choices.  Why be an Avon lady when you can double major in Chinese and business, fly to China, deal directly with wholesalers there, and then come back here and open your business and make money distributing products even more directly?  If you want to make a few hundred dollars per month in addition to the job you already have, then Avon is a good choice, and you are unlikely so end up in the red.  If you are looking for a career, you have so many other choices.

 

I am full of ideas, and most of them are a lot more practical than the American Petsuchos thing.  If you want to hear my ideas about how you can succeed in MLM, give me a call.

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