Magdalena Ferreira-Lamas
Vice President and General Manager for the Group of North Latin American Markets (NoLA)
View from the Top

Female Empowerment Drives Company Success

By Jan Hogewoning | Sun, 03/08/2020 - 07:00

Q: What makes Avon’s business model so successful in the Mexican market?
A: We started with a few products and only a small number of representatives and now, 90 percent of our beauty products enjoy a leading position in the Mexican market. When people think about beauty, they think about Avon. But our company is not just about beauty, it also stands for empowering women. For over 130 years, our model has been to sell products through independent female representatives, which has been very successful in Latin America. Having a conversation with another person about beauty and tips is very effective among Latin women. We give our representatives training but allow them to follow their own business path. Making their own choices and giving them their own income has transformed their lives. Today, female empowerment is fashionable in every company. For us it has always been our purpose.
Q: What role has your plant in Celaya played in growing your presence in Mexico?
A: At our Celaya plant we manufacture products for skin care, body wellness, makeup and fragrances. It is the second-most important plant in the world for Avon. These products are exported to different countries in Latin America. We still develop our products at our site in Suffern, New York. However, we recently inaugurated an R&D laboratory in Celaya. It will focus on developing products based on local market dynamics, trends and consumer preferences. The team will develop and test products to ensure they meet Avon’s safety and quality standards, while also meeting the Mexican consumer’s expectations and desired benefits.
Q: How have you adapted your offering to trends in the beauty market?
A: We see interesting trends among Mexican women, who focus on internal and external beauty. Makeup boosts confidence and remains very fashionable. In 2017, we launched a new brand of makeup called MARK, with new colors, such as brown, violet and blue. These are designed to offer a choice for women of all walks of life and ages. The brand adapts well to the taste of Mexican woman, giving a wide variety of options for everyday use. There are also emerging ingredients for hair care. For example, we launched a shampoo with Chili extract, specifically for Mexico.
We also try to offer affordable prices. One example is the second edition of Avon Life, a premium quality fragrance launched in an alliance with KENZO. Though the average retail price of such a product is MX$1,200 (US$63.2), we can offer a fragrance of the same quality at MX$500 (US$26.3).
Q: How is Avon’s philosophy of “Beauty with a Purpose” reflected throughout its value chain?
A: Last year, we tested the work climate at our plant in Celaya. Approximately 92 percent of the people declared that they were very proud to work for Avon, which shows the level of commitment our people have with the company. Thanks to our empowering business model, people at every level of the company feel like they have an impact on society. Many of our representatives do not have a higher education and did not have access to an income. Their love for the job translates into quality and dedication. We do have elements we need to improve. However, we continue to work on the journey of these representatives, always adapting to new opportunities and challenges.
Q: Avon supports causes related to breast cancer and domestic violence against women. How have these causes been addressed in Mexico?
A: We have an active role in preventive action against breast cancer among the Mexican population. In our brochures and videos, we always include topics related to our foundations and how people can offer their support. We participate in events in Mexico City and the Bajio and we have made frequent donations to organizations involved in this area. We also approach young breast cancer survivors who get the opportunity to be mothers despite their treatments.

Jan Hogewoning Jan Hogewoning Journalist and Industry Analyst