This week we are having a Q&A with Angela Cretu. Angela graduated from the university in Bucharest, Romania in 1997 and from the London Business School in 2005. In November 1998, she began her career at Avon Romania as Sales Manager. In 2007, Angela became Avon’s Vice President SEE & Romania, leading a group of 10 countries. She, then moved to Avon headquarters in New York, as the Global Vice President of Business Model Innovation. In 2011, Angela was appointed to the position of Group Vice President Avon Eastern Europe and GM Russia. In February 2014, she moved to Istanbul with the role of Group Vice President Eastern Europe and GM Turkey.
First, congratulations for your new post in Turkey! How do you see the Turkish direct selling market in general? What opportunities and what threats, if there are any, do you observe?
Thank you so much! My early insights in the Turkey consumer profile are showing a very distinct need for personal service, instant gratification and emotional connection with the brand. These together with all the demographic, economic and social data are telling me that direct selling model fits extremely well the market shopping profile and I am very excited by its current penetration and future potential.
At your most recent post, you were managing Avon’s operations in Russia, together with the Eastern Europe Group. If you compare the Russian and the Turkish direct selling markets, where do they differ from and where do they resemble each other?
They are similar more on beauty consumption profile than in direct selling behavior. Culturally the countries are pretty different especially in the areas of community affiliation, people-to-people connection and social habits.
I find Turkish people very family and community-oriented, curious, sociable, entrepreneurial and easy to connect with. In Russia, they equally have very strong values especially related to the family but one needs to gain their full trust and respect before getting into their circles.
These aspects are generally differentiating the direct selling impact and potential. Even so, direct selling in Russia accounts for 22% of total industry and it keeps its relevance unchanged over the last years, despite retail aggressive expansion. In Turkey, I have seen very strong numbers like 750K sales force count growing every year, which means to me that the channel is very solid.
Economically, all emerging economies have somewhat been shaken due to the changes in the policies in the US. On top of this, Turkey has its own economic problems. How do you think all these would impact the direct selling industry in Turkey?
Let’s start with consumer journey during economic turmoil: consumers’ confidence declines, their spare time is shrinking, discretionary spending is suffering, and they need reassurance that their most precious resources, money and time, are secured during turbulent times.
Now, let’s get back to direct selling industry: we do offer personal service protecting their time and we do offer great value for the products they purchase helping their family budgets.
If it is to continue with women empowerment mission that direct selling offers, in the difficult times the relevancy of our channel would be even higher, as it directly offsets the unemployment impact and overall the declining income of small entrepreneurs.
We all know Avon is not having one of its magnificent periods globally. Within this context, how do you compare Avon’s performance in Turkey with other markets?
Avon is an iconic brand with a heritage of almost 130 years. 6 million representatives around the world are more than motivating for all of us to tackle all our recent global challenges and step by step restore Avon to its rightful position as an iconic beauty brand with products that consumers love and demand, reinforce our global leadership in direct sales, and continue to fulfill our mission of empowering women. Avon Turkey has very strong brand health indicators in terms of consumer awareness and penetration compared with other players in the market but also compared with other countries in the Avon portfolio.
Any major areas that you plan to tackle before others in Turkey?
We are looking to boost customers and representatives transactions with a compelling omnichannel shopping experience through improved portfolio of innovation and competitive commercial activation. We do look to evolve our position as a beauty social shopping channel and we aim to transform Avon in a compelling choice for “her” in the modern age.
Thank you so much, Angela. Would you like to add anything before we conclude?
I am very happy to see that there is a very active community of experts in the direct selling industry. And I congratulate you for your impressive activity and very good support for all direct sellers.