Avon Plans Co-Branded Color Cosmetics

With an eye toward becoming a more fashion-forward beauty brand, Avon is partnering with popular fashion/accessories designer Cynthia Rowley for a co-branded color cosmetics collection.

The Rowley collection will be supported with a print ad campaign, which will include a spread in fashion's monthly bible, Vogue.

The company plans to increase its media outlay this year by a significant 35%, to $340 million. Avon's total media spend last year was $249 million, up a whopping 83% from 2005. The company's creative is handled in-house, and the planned increase in advertising is intended to directly improve sales.

In the next month, Avon will launch a global advertising campaign, under the umbrella tag, "Hello, Tomorrow."

The initiative with Cynthia Rowley is for a fall color collection, and represents the first time Avon is teaming up with a fashion designer. Although prestige beauty brand Estee Lauder recently partnered with designer Tom Ford, for Avon--which trends somewhere between mass and prestige--the trial with Rowley is more akin to partnerships being struck between discount retailers and designers, such as J.C. Penney with Polo Ralph Lauren.

While Avon has in recent years received more attention from beauty editors by offering more sophisticated, advanced skin care products such as items in its Anew sub brand, color cosmetics still needed to be modernized, some said. The Rowley for Avon collection will be available in September as a limited edition. The products were created with celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey. Avon made Dempsey global director of color last summer, representing its first attempt to develop a more fashion-forward reputation in the color cosmetics category.

Product prices will remain moderate, with SKUs ranging from $4 to $15. Items include all-over body powder, blush stick, eye shadows, lip colors, nail polishes and even a makeup brush set.

Over the past several quarters, Avon has been working to strengthen financials with a turnaround plan to cut costs and trim product offerings, while boosting sales by initiating programs to keep and lure new beauty sales reps and upping its media outlay.

The restructuring has so far seen positive results, with Avon earlier this month reporting a 9.4% jump in revenues last quarter.