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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
These Williams Sisters are off the hook, aren't they? Way to go Sisters.

Thursday January 24, 8:00 am Eastern Time
Avon Likes Young Women
By Betsy Schiffman

Avon Products reiterated its 2002 guidance last week despite the shellacking it's taking in Argentina. But while it puts a pretty face on its overseas earnings, the cosmetics giant must wonder if it can step up the timetable for its expansion into the U.S. teen market.

New York-based Avon has been slowly taking the wraps off its plans for the teen market since late last summer. It hired Deborah Fine, a prominent publishing exec from Glamour Magazine, as president of Avon's teen business. To coordinate the effort, the company also signed on sister tennis champs Venus and Serena Williams for a three-year advertising contract. But the official product line won't be out until next year.

Avon Products At stake is a teenage market worth $155 billion in 2000, according to the market analysis firm Teenage Research Unlimited. The bulk of that spending may belong to teenage girls: A U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray survey found that girls spent $143 per month on apparel while boys only spent $96. The teen market grew only 1.3% from 1999 to 2000, according to Teen Research, but that was a better showing than the adult cosmetics market, which has been stagnant or declining.

Avon isn't the first cosmetics maker to look to the teen market to gloss over sluggish growth elsewhere. In 1997, Estee Lauder acquired a popular teen product line called jane. But when Estee took a $63 million restructuring charge for fiscal 2001, $16.1 million of it was attributed to problems with the jane line. LVMH also has its own teen brand, Urban Decay, which became popular when it introduced a line of industrial-colored nail polishes in 1996 advertised with the tag line, "Does Pink Make You Puke?" The most recent entrant is Mary Kay , a competitor to Avon in the direct sales space, which rolled out a teen line called Velocity in July of 2001. Mary Kay estimated it would reach $70 million in Velocity sales during the first year--but six months along it's already hit $66 million, just short of its annual projection.

But Avon dwarfs Mary Kay in the direct sales space--and the prospect of Avon ladies in the hallway after first period math is what's raising some eyebrows. In theory, public schools are supposed to be commerce-free zones, but that is certainly not the reality. The National PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) is already up in arms about widespread advertising and market research practices in public schools. The official word from Avon Chief Executive Andrea Jung is that the teen business will "bring the Avon brand and earnings opportunity" to teens, as well as participate in teens' "natural affinity for relationship marketing."

At the moment, Avon sales representatives must be 18. And although there are "guidelines" for sales representatives, how and where its reps choose to sell is largely up to each individual. "Technically, Avon sales representatives are independent contractors. If they choose to try selling in a flea market environment, they can test it out," says Avon spokeswoman Laura Castellano. She concedes that some Avon selling is already taking place in schools, with teenage girls bringing in their mothers' catalogs.

Nobody wants to see teenagers spending time in school trying to hit up friends (who may not have cash to spare) to buy fabulous new lipsticks. But most teens take up some employment during high school--whether it's babysitting, yard work or food service. It's as much a part of American adolescence as earning a driver's permit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, from 1996 to1998, 2.9 million children between the ages of 15 and 17 worked during the school year and 4 million worked during the summer. And those numbers only include jobs that required a state-issued working permit.

With heavy spending on product development and marketing, Avon probably won't see profits from the teen market in the next few years. Fahnestock analyst Linda Bolton Weiser says it's too early to estimate the possible revenue generated from the new line, but she expects it to generate hundreds of millions of dollars over the long term.

Even if Avon takes a few years to catch up, the teen market offers the company an excellent opportunity to reach consumers when they're young and build up brand loyalty that can be transferred to mature products when the time is right. That is, it could greatly increase the amount of revenue generated per customer.

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2,282 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Race On The Tour

My Point: Racism and tennis
by George Vecsey

Now that the Williams sisters are potential finalists in any tournament they deign to enter, the issue of race is going to be with us. Martina Hingis has said that Richard Williams, the father of the two players, is quick to claim prejudice on the women's tour. And Richard fires back about the racist tennis establishment. By forcing tennis to come to terms with racial issues, the Williams sisters are leading the game into a more open-minded era.
From the FEBRUARY 2002 issue of TENNIS Magazine

n a sport where competitors are separated by a net and pitted against each other like boxers, it's hard to distinguish racism from solipsism. The problem is, most tennis players have no context for race. Anybody or anything can be an intrusion to Americans, Europeans, and South Americans who've grown up in all-white neighborhoods and clubs. Having watched the icy body language in women's tennis during the last few years, it's clear that some players simply don't like the Williams sisters, and vice versa. They've experienced what Oracene Williams, their refined mother, calls her daughters' 'austerity,' and they've given it a racial connotation.

'God knows that African-Americans have a big bone to pick with white people,' says Martina Navratilova. 'I've seen it myself. You can really have a chip on your shoulder. I think they [the Williams family] have handled it really well.'

Navratilova is also correct in suspecting that racial baggage floats around the player lounges. 'People should be more sensitive,' she says. 'I mean, we don't live in a bubble.'>{? And that's the point: There's so little color on the tours, players can cruise along with their own stereotypes. Then they run into American sensitivities.

That's what happened to Lleyton Hewitt, an Australian who made an ass of himself at the 2001 U.S. Open by claiming that an African-American linesman made calls in favor of James Blake, who has a black father and a white mother. USTA officials went through the motions of investigating, but ultimately let the issue drop.

Needless to say, Richard Williams got into the act, alluding to Australia's checkered history with the Aborigines. Hewitt shrugged it off, then showed his inner strength by winning his first major.

'You can't make too much of the comments of a 20-year-old,' says Boris Becker, who has long spoken out against racism and was married to a German woman who has an African-American father. 'These are young people and they will say anything to help themselves in the middle of a match. They don't mean anything by it.'

As far as the women's game is concerned, 'I don't think race is a problem on the tour,' says Becker. 'You have two strong female players [the Williamses] who are dominating, and that is hard for the other girls to accept.'

They'd better get used to it. The Williams sisters will be here for as long as they want to be. Black fans are celebrating the way people did half a century ago, when Jackie Robinson was winning baseball games for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But the Williamses' core constituency goes well beyond that. The tennis establishment seems delighted with these talented siblings, as well it should. Indeed, the sisters used to display a certain hauteur, but lately they've demonstrated a mature grace in victory and even in the rare defeat. The game could also use a few more Arthur Ashes on the men's side, with or without his statesmanlike demeanor.

By hiring the sisters to hawk their products, corporate America seems to be getting the picture as well. In the meantime, we have Oracene Williams proffering wisdom and poise to her daughters, while her husband provides his eccentric vision and 1960's bombast, a blast from the past -- not always reliable, but whatever.

Because I come from his generation (albeit I'm white), I understand him. He's a prickly witness to a lot of nasty history. He's going to goad us about race, and that's not so bad.

Have an opinion? TENNIS Magazine wants to know. Email [email protected]
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