September 29, 2014

pan_4519Avon Products, Inc. is a pioneer of direct selling. The beauty and personal care products company traces its roots to New York, USA, where it was founded in 1886 as a direct seller of toiletries to consumers.

Avon mobilized women to join its sales force then, and thereby empowered them to earn their own income decades before women enjoyed the right to vote. Its business strategies were ahead of the time.

Today, we find Avon challenging the model of direct selling in the Philippines. It has launched the Avon Mobile Brochure, a mobile app downloadable for free that allows users to browse, shop and order products from the nearest Avon Representative through their smartphones.

“I wake up in the morning, I grab my mobile phone to check the time then my calendar, my e-mails, Facebook, Instagram, see if there are any good car deals in and randomly search the Internet,” says Albet Roble-Buddahim, department head of digital activation and business transformation of Avon Cosmetic Philippines.

This is life in the information age.

“Formed by capitalizing on computer microminiaturization advances, with a transition spanning from the advent of the personal computer to the Internet reaching a critical mass in the early 1990s, this evolution of technology in daily life, as well as of educational lifestyle, the information age has allowed rapid global communications and networking to shape modern society,” Mr. Buddahim says.

He believes companies should strengthen their digital capability to leverage the efficiency and competitive advantage that science and technology provide in the information age.

His career in digital marketing spans 10 years, and with Avon, Mr. Buddahim specializes in strategic development and execution of digital marketing and business transformation solutions.

The Avon Mobile Brochure presents a successful case study in opening new business opportunities through digital, and while every company is unique, Mr. Buddahim recommends every department in a company consider how to leverage digital: Would a real time inventory system make the supply chain more efficient? In human resources, are employees equipped with digital skills? Would the finance department benefit from automation? How can marketing engage consumers online?

Building digital capability opens doors for companies or brands in the information age. There are different areas to explore – digital marketing analytics, digital media planning, digital production, mobile marketing, e-business, social media marketing – the priority depends upon each company’s needs and framework.

To start off, take advantage of free online trainings, like Microsoft’s Digital Academy to learn the basics of digital advertising, Facebook Studio Edge to learn about optimizing Facebook for your brand, or Google’s free online resource for companies.

Studying to become a certified digital marketer is the next step. Mr. Buddahim is part of the faculty at the International Institute of Digital Marketing, which offers formal coursework to become a certified digital marketer.

If e-commerce is not the core business, companies may be better off outsourcing digital work. Avon partners with specialized media agencies for seasonal or project-based requirements.

The information age has paved the way for new business opportunities, for growth. Companies need to strengthen digital competency to enjoy this this era of progress.

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