Using smart networking and a keen nose for the nuances of retail, Andrea Jung rises to the top of the world's biggest direct marketer of women's products.




he was raised for a solid career in a well-paying profession. She was given piano lessons, Mandarin classes and a Princeton education to cultivate her character and refine her cranium.

     When she began flirting with department store work after college her parents scoffed. When she started actually taking full-time retail jobs, they gasped, complaining bitterly that she was dumping all they had invested in their little girl into the waste heap and lowering herself into the same class as street hawkers and used car salesmen.

     Her parents' sneers, however, turned to applause when Andrea Jung moved to the pinnacle of retailing respectability by becoming President of Avon's Product Marketing Group for the U.S. [before moving on to become named CEO of all Avon in late 1999].

     Jung's list of responsibilities are enough to impress even the snootiest of parents. The Chinese American oversees marketing, advertising and product development for all of the U.S., supervising 45,000 employees. On her slender shoulders now rests the responsibility of not only maintaining but growing the company's $2 billion in annual U.S. sales. She also sits on the Board of Trustees of the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Board of Directors of the American Management Association.

     "No one in my family had a retail or marketing background," says Jung, 41. "They were professionals. They didn't understand just what I was doing by going into retailing. After I started, though, it got into my blood. I knew this was what I wanted."

     This determined style sweeps across the landscape of her personal and professional life. Jung, 5-8, takes her five-year-old daughter to the bus stop, then walks to her mid-Manhattan office by 8 a.m. And she insists on returning home by 7:30 p.m. for dinner at home with her husband and daughter.

     Her professional style reflects her no-nonsense directness. She never shies away from seeking advice and aggressively sought out and cultivated senior women executives to serve as her mentors.

     Introducing more Avon cosmetics to American women is no easy task. The 108-year-old company sells $4 billion of beauty goods around the world each year. It's the world's largest producer of mass-market perfumes, makeup and fashion jewelry. Every American woman knows the name. And by the time they reach their mid-30s, most have picked the cosmetics brand they'll remain loyal to. These are the customers Jung must win over if she is to make a success of her tenure at Avon.

     Increasing sales in a market saturated with beauty products and savvy consumers has proven a daunting task even for a giant of Avon's stature. In 1993, the year before Jung came aboard, the company's U.S. sales dipped by 1% though sales in all other world markets increased, especially in Asia.


     The chance to boost sagging U.S. sales thrilled Jung when Avon offered her the job in January of 1994. After successful stints at exclusive retailers like Neiman Marcus and I Magnin, she wanted to try her hand in the decidedly less glamorous but far larger mass market segment.

     She hit the ground running. She expanded the number of products offered to long-time customers by introducing a line of lingerie and casual wear. This generated new revenue from an established consumer base. "We were the first to come out with an alpha hydroxide acid product," she says as she explains the need to constantly be on the lookout for new products.

     The next step involved increased advertising. "I don't think we're doing enough to service our core markets," she says.

     These are all tricks of the marketing trade Jung gleaned from a 15 year career she had never intended to enter. But she's hardly an accidental success. Jung's been driven to achieve since the day she turned five, when her mother put her in front of the family piano and taught her how to bang out basic chords.

     "I was still taking piano lessons up until 18 months ago," Jung says. "And if I had one thing I could add to my very full calendar, it would be that. That's one of my personal goals because it helps balance all parts of your life and I really get a lot of enjoyment out of playing Mozart and Beethoven." PAGE 2

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“I really get a lot of enjoyment out of playing Mozart and Beethoven.”

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