Avon and 100% Donation Cause Marketing

When you buy a bottle of Avon’s Pink Power Pro Nail Enamel, 100% of the profits go to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Avon sells the product for $3 a bottle.

Since 1992, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade under the aegis of the Avon Foundation has generated more than $740 million, an astonishing number by any measure. Given Avon’s bona fides, I wonder why it bothers with the 100% of profits model for this product? Why not just follow MAC Viva Glam lipsticks and glosses lead and give 100% of sales of this product to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade?

Why would they want to? After all, such efforts include not only the cost of the donation, but the cost of the product along with the cost of distribution, which in Avon’s case would certainly include commissions to the Avon ladies. A $3 donation would probably cost Avon something north of $4 per bottle.

The short answer is those Avon ladies need all the sales arrows in their quiver that they can get. They need a low-threat way to talk about Avon products and the Avon business opportunity. Plus, basically giving a product away for the price of a donation to a good cause creates a natural desire to reciprocate in some way. It also qualifies buyers, since they have to pull out their pocketbooks in order to take advantage of the offer.

And so, to be able to lead with something like, “when you buy Avon’s Pink Power Pro Nail Enamel every penny goes to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade,” is a pretty cool story to tell.

Likewise, every year a new generation of girls grows up to become part of Avon’s favored demographic; many of whom "know not" Avon. So long as the product is of a good quality, well-priced, and comes in colors women will respond to, giving it away for a $3 donation gives Avon has a second class of advantage. In effect, it becomes a sampling opportunity.

I glanced quickly through Avon’s online catalog and found 10 items associated with breast cancer: a pink denim jacket, another nail polish, a pin, a watch, and more. Eight of the items were merchandise and two polishes represented transactional cause marketing; buy this and a donation of $x is made.

In most cases Avon names the donation amount generated by a purchase. Avon has a foot in 100% donation door already.

To Avon I say step through the 100% donation door one year and see how it works.

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