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Avon

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AVON PRODUCTS, INC.:
DEVELOPING A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
INTRODUCTION
“When the history of this organization is written,” noted James E. Preston, chairman and chief executive officer of Avon Products, Inc., in February, 1993, “a meeting last June in Florida of 60 managers from around the world may turn out to have been a watershed event. Our four days of brainstorming, debate and discussion brought to an end two years of research and examination of our basic businesses, and launched us on a new way of thinking about and managing those businesses.”
Preston was excited about the new direction taking shape at Avon. The past several years had been difficult for the organization. Hostile takeover attempts plagued the firm during the 1980s. Avon sales volume in the United States and international markets showed little or no growth. Profit margins on many products declined due to price discounting by competitors. Turnover rates of sales representatives had increased. The corporate debt was referred to as “staggering” at $1.13 billion or 82.5% of total capital in 1988 (See Appendices A, B, and C). Preston was confident, however, that 1993 would be a year of improvement for the company, both in financial performance and in the progress made “repositioning ourselves as the woman’s company for the Nineties and beyond.”
Avon’s research department informed management that corporate problems centered around image and market access. That shaped the agenda of the June, 1992, meeting in Florida: How to protect the firm’s dominant Latin American and Pacific Rim positions against increasingly stiff competition, how to establish a growth track in established markets, and how to pay for it all. Out of the discussions emerged a new vision of the firm, a new marketing orientation, and a new approach to strategic development.
This case was prepared by James W. Camerius of Northern...

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