Since becoming famous in the 1950s and 1960s, "Avon ladies" have been contributors to the world's largest direct selling cosmetics company, but these icons have recently been searching for ways to meet the challenges of the industry in the 21st century.
The next chief executive of Avon Products Inc. will be looking to change the face of the company to become more modern, according to more than a dozen sales representatives interviewed recently by Reuters.
The brand plans to release a more exciting line of products soon to become more competitive with popular brands like LVMH's Sephora. The company is looking for a new CEO to replace Andrea Jung, who is stepping down after years of poor performance.
"It's not as lucrative. Absolutely," said Joan Dikowitz, a 63-year-old sales rep from Tilson, New York. Dikowitz said that she no longer hunts for new customers and sticks with a loyal base of buyers.
According to Reuters, the number of active Avon sales reps in North America fell 8 percent in 2011, which brings the number to 420,000 in the United States, and the company's sales have fallen nearly 20 percent since 2007.
Direct selling has long been a vital part of the U.S. economy, and there are currently more than 87 million independent sales representatives worldwide, according to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associates. Although Avon may be facing challenges, a great many industries - including energy - operate using direct sales, meaning those who are interested in pursuing a direct selling career have many options beyond cosmetics.