Ding dong, Avon calling!" was once as familiar a cry across the advertising landscape as Whisk's "Ring around the collar." All over America, Avon ladies rang doorbells and sold potions and powders to glamour-deprived housewives.
But these days, the lady of the house is rarely home, and Avon Products Inc. wants to set up its representatives to conquer the online market.
Things change, and the "face time" that characterized such businesses as Avon, Tupperware, and Mary Kay has given way to faceless Internet browsing.
For example, busy professionals can bypass the Tupperware party and order their cake savers and plastic tumblers straight from www.tupperware.com.
Nonetheless, personal contact still rates high among salespeople. The Avon Web site, www.avon.com, contains testimonials from reps who speak with missionary zeal about providing a valuable service to their neighbors.
But door-to-door selling just doesn't have the cachet or, more important, the future, of online sales. And the currency of social interaction has changed, making many women skeptical of a selling event masquerading as a party.
As one moves away from the jaded East and West coasts, women may be more tolerant of a friend pitching the latest mascara. Certainly anything would be an improvement over the lab-jacketed women in department stores who spray you with cologne as you walk by.
But I have to run. The Avon site is having a limited-time offer on Skin-So-Soft.
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