Avon vs. Mary Kay: Who Should You Work For?


Both Avon and Mary Kay are multi-level marketing (MLM) cosmetic companies. This means they work by encouraging distributors not just to sell cosmetics, but also to recruit other people to sell for them. Both companies have solid reputations and well-respected product lines. Both offer a range of interesting incentives for those interested in selling cosmetics for them.

So, which is the best company to work for? This article will hopefully get you started in finding an answer to that question.

The Companies At A Glance

Avon Is A Trusted Household Name

Avon’s headquarters is in London, but it has offices all around the world. At over 130 years old, it’s one of the most respected cosmetic companies in the world today. Avon is synonymous with quality home, cosmetics, and it’s one of those brands which is instantly recognizable—probably not just by you, but by your mom and grandmother too!

The company is also a “heavy hitter.” While it’s a direct-selling company built around the idea of people selling what they love, it’s also multibillion dollar company that operates on the same scale as exclusive leading cosmetic brands known the world over. In short, it has an air of exclusivity about it.

Mary Kay Is About Innovation

Based out of the US, Mary Kay is acknowledged as a leader and innovator in cosmetics development. Like Avon, the company is very recognizable—but with perhaps a more modern face. Mary Kay has rapidly grown to become a multibillion dollar business, but it doesn’t have quite the same “gloss” and immediate recognizability as Avon.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two companies is revealed in Mary Kay’s famous symbol—the pink cadillac. This coveted prize for top level sales people captures the “go out and get it” entrepreneurial spirit of Mary Kay. The company undoubtedly has a much stronger focus on accruing personal wealth and status after simply selling good cosmetics.

The Brand Philosophy

Avon Has A Solid And Established Philanthropic Record

Since its very beginnings, Avon has had a strong philanthropic compass guiding its core business. Not surprisingly, much of Avon’s charitable work focuses on women’s rights. The company also buys heavily into the notion of being an ethical corporate entity and part of the appeal of joining the Avon fold is that you’re both looking after and expected to become an advocate for universal equality. A lot of people end up working for Avon simply because they love the company and what it’s about.

Mary Kay Does Too … But

Like Avon, Mary Kay has a strong record in charitable work through its Mary Kay Foundation, with lots of money channeled into cancer research and preventing domestic violence. The philosophy is a little different though and it’s a little tricky to put a finger on precisely what it is. The best way I can describe it is that Mary Kay speaks less in the language of rights and equality and more in terms of self-help and positive thinking.

Which you choose may depend on your subjective take on their language. Check out this excellent Mary Kay review to get a more detailed view of Mary Kay’s philosophy and approach to business.

The Products

Avon’s Products Are Trusted

Avon benefits from a name which is known, trusted, even loved precisely because its product line is like sitting in your favorite seat in your favorite restaurant and knowing the menu back to the front. Avon started off as a fragrance company and it retains a solid focus on providing a steady flow of those classics to its customers. It also provides a well-known and trusted range of lotions, moisturizers and anti-aging products. Again, many of these products have been around for years. To the point that your grandmother may well be deeply familiar with some of the product lines.

Mary Kay’s Products Are Ever-changing And Innovative

While the brand philosophy of Mary Kay leans far more to the philosophy-lite end of the spectrum than Avon, their approach to product development is startling for its innovation and rigor. Their product line is changing fast, with new formulations constantly tested (it’s also worth adding they have an impeccable ethics record when it comes to testing). How you sit with this rapid level of change though is going to depend a lot on what you and your clients expect from a product line.

Avon offers solidity. Products stay put. With Mary Kay, you’re looking at constantly changing merchandise, updated and rejuvenated to move with the times. For some, that’s going to offer an exciting edge and an easy way to bring novelty and newness to potentially jaded customers. For others, that pace may be unsettling. To succeed with this product line you’ll need to be light on your feet!

The Big Question: Which Is Better To Work For?

So now that you’re across some of the underlying differences between these two companies, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and look at which of these two companies makes more sense as a potential employee?

The Case For Avon

Avon is a great choice if you feel more at home selling an established brand which fosters trust. You can start on a shoestring. For as little as $25 you can begin making a profit. It’s built with an eye to motivate and reward people starting out. Avon offers commission programs specifically designed to help new Avon reps see a modest profit early on.

But you may have competition. Depending on where you live, Avon products may be a heavily saturated market. Some market research in your area may be called for. You’ll also be relying on some pretty old school marketing methods.

The Case For Mary Kay

Mary Kay is a younger company. It’s a great brand if both you and your customer base are interested in new and novel products. There’s also that amazing hook of the iconic pink Cadillac. Mary Kay knows how to build status and excitement into its sales process. Bear in mind though, earn that Cadillac and you’ll have to keep working to own it! There’s no room for coasters in this business model.

You’ll also have access to top-notch marketing tools, which frankly, make Avon’s line-up look a little dated. Finally, be mindful that Mary Kay is built around the strategy of recruiting other people to sell for you. You’re not going to see huge profits until you begin to build that workforce around you.

Bottom Line

Like any MLM opportunity, Both Mary Kay and Avon can bring profit IF you can make it work. And getting that to happen requires a pretty serious commitment of time and energy. You’ll need to be good with people and a self-driven dynamo to succeed with either company. If this describes you, then Mary Kay or Avon may well be the perfect business for you. Good luck in your entrepreneurial career!