Andrea Jung and the Turnaround of Avon Products

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN035
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1999-2005
Pub Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Avon Products Inc.
Industry : Cosmetics
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note Contd...

She recalled an incident from her childhood when she asked her parents to buy her a set of 120 color pencils. Her parents had made a bargain with her and promised to buy her the set if she got straight A grades in all her subjects at the end of the year. Jung remembered how she dedicated herself to her studies for a whole year at the cost of entertainment and recreation, and managed to achieve her goal. "I'll never forget that. My parents ingrained in me early on that the perfect score is always something to strive for. I want to win and I want to succeed no matter what," said Jung.6 She also recalled that her parents encouraged both her brother and her to have careers. "They told me I could do everything my brother could," said Jung.7

On completing high school, Jung attended Princeton University, where she studied English Literature. She graduated magna cum laude8 from Princeton in 1979. Jung's career plan at that time was to work in the retail field for two years before attending law school. She believed that working in retail and interacting with different kinds of people would give her the real world exposure required to become a good lawyer. She interviewed with a recruiter for Bloomingdale's9 immediately after college, and was selected for the company's management training program. 

Retail fascinated Jung from the start and she became completely involved in the thrill of marketing. Eventually, she decided to drop the idea of law school and pursue a career in retail. Her parents, both of whom were professionals, were not happy with this. They believed that retail was not the field for an educated and ambitious person, and that Jung was dropping herself to the level of high-school dropouts by staying in selling. "No one in my family had a retail or marketing background. 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," recalled Jung...10


6]  Katrina Brooker, "It Took a Lady to Save Avon," Fortune, October 15, 2001.

7]  Patricia Sellers, "Behind Every Successful Woman There Is...A Woman," Fortune, October 25, 1999.

8]  Magna cum laude is a Latin term meaning 'with great praise'. It is a graduating honor that ranks between 'summa cum laude' (with greatest praise) and 'cum laude' (with praise).

9]  A major US departmental store founded in 1872.

10]  Jung's father was an architect of repute and her mother was one of Canada's first female chemical engineers


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