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December 01, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, December 2016

Click here to order the December 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

In New Ad Campaigns, Beauty Companies Let Direct Sellers Speak for Themselves

Both Avon and Mary Kay are on a mission to empower women, but don’t take their word for it. Real-life direct sellers share how the beauty businesses have enriched their lives—financially and otherwise—in a pair of newly launched advertising campaigns.

Beginning in October, both companies introduced large-scale campaigns showcasing the benefits of running a direct selling business, as told by the women out there doing it. To get the general flavor, look no further than the theme of each campaign: “This Is Boss Life” from Avon and “I CAN” from Mary Kay. “I get to choose when and where I work,” says Avon Representative Lydia in one of the company’s print ads. “And in my mobile office, every day is take-your-daughter-to-work day. Now my girls say they want to be ‘Boss’ when they grow up.” Similarly, Mary Kay’s campaign highlights a common sentiment expressed by Independent Beauty Consultants, in statements like “I can be me,” “I can make a difference, not just an income” and “I can be a good example for my kids.”

Empowering individuals to set their own priorities is one of direct selling’s greatest strengths, and companies will benefit from keeping that message front and center, particularly when speaking to women, says Michael Solomon, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at Saint Joseph’s University. “With all the negativity around direct selling, the central theme of female empowerment needs to be stressed, and the current negativity around the status of women we’re seeing as the result of fallout from the election accentuates this need even more,” Solomon told DSN.

“This Is Boss Life” includes national broadcast, digital, print and radio ads, centered on the opportunity to start an Avon business or, as the ads put it, be a “Beauty Boss.” Appealing to a younger demographic than Avon has attracted in recent years, the campaign highlights three categories of Avon Representatives and their stories: millennials, working moms and couples managing a business together. “Every Avon Representative has a unique story of how they are finding success as their own boss,” said Scott White, CEO of New Avon. “We have the right tools and support to help them build a successful social selling beauty business. The ‘This Is Boss Life’ campaign spotlights that there is nothing more beautiful than succeeding on your own terms.”

White and his team are on a mission to revitalize Avon’s business in North America, where sales have fallen from about $2.6 billion in 2007 to $1 billion last year. In December 2015, Avon Products Inc. sold a majority interest in its North American business unit to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management, resulting in the privately held New Avon LLC. Driving representative recruitment is, of course, a top priority of New Avon management, and “This Is Boss Life” is one part of that strategy.

With its “I CAN”  campaign, Mary Kay also is taking a multi-platform approach, running digital, broadcast, print and outdoor ads, including digital billboards in the heart of Times Square in New York. “I CAN”  has been in the works since 2015, when the company introduced the #MyMKLife hashtag across social channels, as a way for consultants to share how Mary Kay—recently named a Top 5 Global Skin Care Brand by Euromonitor International—has impacted their lives. To produce the content, more than 500 consultants were photographed and interviewed this summer at Seminar 2016, Mary Kay’s annual salesforce convention. Some of their stories are featured at length in supplementary videos on the Mary Kay website.

“These inspirational women from all walks of life chose the Mary Kay business for many different reasons,” said Sara Friedman, Vice President of U.S. Marketing for Mary Kay. “However, through the campaign, it is evident that they are united by their love for the diverse opportunities their Mary Kay business allows them on a daily basis.”

For both companies, the decision to feature actual distributors—rather than, for example, the generic “Avon Lady” of the past—aligns with the current emphasis on authenticity, particularly among younger consumers, says Solomon. “Buyers today want to know where their products came from and who is selling to them. They also prioritize brand heritage, and many mainstream brands (e.g. New Balance) stress their history in their messaging.” For these two iconic direct selling companies, who better to talk about that history than the women writing it?

Jewelry Brand Silpada Acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Entity

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, co-founders of Silpada Designs.

Recently shuttered jewelry company Silpada is getting a new lease on life as part of the Berkshire Hathaway family.

Just months after Silpada closed its doors, the brand and its designs and inventory have been acquired by Richline Group Inc., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Richline is a top manufacturer and marketer of fine jewelry, with a portfolio that includes LeachGarner, Inverness, Rio Grande and Richline Brands.

Long known for its sterling silver designs, Silpada had expanded its portfolio in recent years to include additional jewelry, handbags and accessories. Richline’s strategy is to focus on the sterling silver offerings that drove Silpada’s early success.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to bring Silpada back to its creative roots,” said Dennis Ulrich, Richline Group CEO. “We plan to focus exclusively on these unique and accessible sterling silver designs that have clearly resonated with so many women across the world. We look forward to honoring the Silpada legacy while finding new ways to invigorate this unique and nationally recognized brand.”

In a statement, Richline officials said they will market Silpada through new sales channels, but did not specify whether the brand will continue to pursue direct sales. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Silpada was founded nearly 20 years ago by the Walsh and Kelly families of Lenexa, Kansas, whose daughters, Ryane Delka and Kelsey Perry, most recently led the company, in the shared role of CEO. For a time, Silpada was owned by Avon Products Inc., which bought the jewelry brand in 2010 for $650 million, and three years later, amid heavy cost cuts, sold it back to the founders for $85 million.

The former owners will not be involved in the new incarnation of Silpada, but said in a statement they are “extremely pleased that the Silpada brand will live on as a member of the Richline family of brands.”

LegalShield Honors Founder’s Legacy

LegalShield honored the legacy of its late founder with its second annual Harland C. Stonecipher Day.

The company that now provides legal safeguards to more than 4.1 million began with Stonecipher’s vision to make legal protection accessible to all. He founded the company in 1972 after an automobile accident, through no fault of his own, left him in financial ruin.

“Harland was an innovative leader that created a solution that creates equal access to justice and ensures one’s identity is theirs alone,” said Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield.

During a Founder’s Day event, the company introduced the Harland C. Stonecipher Awards honoring individuals who, like the company’s founder, are committed to the community and entrepreneurship. The first, an award for public service, was presented to Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican who on the previous day was elected to his eighth House term out of southwestern Oklahoma.

Another award, this one for entrepreneurial vision, was presented to John Addison, CEO of Addison Leadership Group and former Co-CEO of Primerica. Addison, who sits on the LegalShield board, was recognized “for his contribution to improving the local community and the quality of life for others.”

According to Addison, “Harland’s leadership and desire to foster entrepreneurship was truly remarkable. His dedication to education, access to services and empowering others has spread throughout his company. I am delighted to receive this award in his memory.”

SeneGence Breaks Ground on Planned Corporate Campus in Oklahoma

SeneGence Distributors participate in a groundbreaking at the company’s Oklahoma campus.

Construction is underway on a project that eventually will relocate SeneGence International headquarters from California to Oklahoma.

The skincare and cosmetics firm recently broke ground on a roughly 150,000-square-foot distribution center and 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Upon completion of this initial phase, slated for mid-2018, the company plans to develop corporate offices, manufacturing and research and development, and convention facilities on site.

Buildout over the entire 225-acre campus is estimated to take five to seven years to complete.

Back in California, growing pains have prompted the company’s third headquarters expansion to date. SeneGence is in the process of moving its corporate offices and warehouse to a larger 50,000-square-foot space in Foothills Ranch, California, following three consecutive years of more than 100 percent sales growth year over year.

The company has ties to Oklahoma through its founder, Joni Rogers-Kante, who grew up in Sapulpa. Rogers-Kante started SeneGence in 1999 with LipSense Liquid Lip Color as its leading product. It now sells more than 300 products and accessory items in 15 countries.

KEEP Collective Offers Design-It-Yourself Jewelry in New Digital Studio

Personalized jewelry brand KEEP Collective does about 75 percent of its business online, but expect that number to grow thanks to the company’s new digital Design Studio.

The California-based startup is part of the Stella & Dot Family of Brands, which also includes accessories brand Stella & Dot and EVER Skincare. Unlike the more fashion-forward Stella & Dot, KEEP is all about helping customers create meaningful keepsakes with its collection of charms and “keepers”—leather wrap bracelets, necklaces or other bangles that serve as the foundation of each piece.

The company’s newly launched Design Studio is an interactive tool that allows users to build their own custom jewelry, with additional features like integrated favorites and one-click sharing. The mobile-optimized platform also includes an Inspiration Gallery, where users can upload their own creations or shop other looks.

Of course, customers are not the only ones who benefit from the streamlined design experience. According to KEEP’s General Manager, Dana Bloom, the Design Studio is intended to boost the productivity of Designers, or independent sellers, by reducing the time that goes into mocking up samples. The tool appears on each Designer’s personal KEEP Collective website.

“Building on our experience with Stella & Dot, everything is created by us on our platform, and so we have the benefit of being able to design it for her business,” Bloom told DSN. “We measure our success on the number of lives impacted and the Designer’s dollars per hour.”

In 2015, the company’s first year of business, those dollars per hour amounted to $50 million in sales. Management expects to see that figure double in 2016, as a growing salesforce leverages the brand’s increasingly sophisticated tools. Currently, KEEP has more than 12,000 Designers across the U.S. and Canada.

Viridian Introduces Pay-As-You-Go Electric Offering in Texas

Viridian International Management is expanding its business in Texas with a new pay-as-you-go energy offering. The Connecticut company has teamed with Texas-based Payless Power to offer a co-branded Eco PrePaid plan. This partner model enables Viridian to provide what it calls “responsible energy” at competitive rates.

Payless Power offerings, including the new Eco PrePaid plan available through Viridian consultants, are designed to provide cash flow flexibility through discounted rates and real-time monitoring. According to CEO Brandon Young, “Payless Power’s goal is to help consumers obtain prepaid electricity service at rates competitive to traditional billed services, but without the hassle, using flexible payment options in order to keep the lights on.”

No deposit or credit score is required to sign up for Eco PrePaid. Once the power is turned on, customers receive a daily usage notification that alerts them when their account is running low on funds. The plan also helps customers reduce their carbon emissions by 50 percent, through Responsible Energy Certifications (RECs).

Arbonne Picks Up Pace of Expansion with Entry into Taiwan

Arbonne International made its first foray into Asia with a November launch in Taiwan.

The market opening is part of an accelerated expansion plan underway at California-based Arbonne, which sells a range of botanically based personal-care and wellness products. Earlier this year, the company added New Zealand to existing operations in the U.S., Canada, Poland, the U.K. and Australia.

“Taiwan is the 11th largest direct sales market in the world despite having a relatively small population of approximately 24 million people,” said Kay Zanotti, CEO of Arbonne. “The Taiwanese culture emphasizes inner and outer beauty, and embraces Eastern and Western cultures. These characteristics align so well with our Arbonne culture and are key reasons Arbonne Taiwan will be strategic and successful for our brand.”

In conjunction with its entry into Taiwan, the company is opening an Arbonne Experience Center in the capital city of Taipei, where visitors can experience the company culture and products firsthand. The facility is in the process of attaining LEED Certified status, in keeping with Arbonne’s commitment to sustainability.