Jung, Andrea 1959–
Chairman and chief executive officer, Avon Products
Education: Princeton University, BA, 1979.
Career: Bloomingdale's, 1979–1985, vice president and merchandising manager; J. W. Robinson's, 1985–1987, general merchandising manager; I. Magnin, 1987–1991, senior vice president and general merchandising manager; Neiman Marcus, 1991–1994, executive vice president; Avon, 1994–1996, president, product marketing; 1996–1997, president of global marketing; 1997–1998, executive vice president and president of global marketing; 1998–1999, president and chief operating officer; 1999–, chief executive officer; 2001–, chairman.
Address: Avon Products, Inc., 1345 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10105; http://www.avon.com.
■ Andrea Jung was a trailblazer. One of only two women CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, she was also the highest-ranking Chinese American in corporate America. After becoming Avon's first female CEO, she began transforming the company. To become the global powerhouse that Jung envisioned, Avon needed to entice younger customers while still retaining middle-aged buyers. After three years at the company's helm, Jung had managed to retain core customers and sales reps while reaching out to a new generation of buyers and sellers. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Jung earned respect from both industry peers and the Avon direct sales force comprised largely of suburban mothers. Jung led one of the world's largest sellers of cosmetics, an operation with sales of $6.8 billion in 2003 and a presence in about 137 countries.
DESTINED FOR SUCCESS
Jung's parents were highly accomplished, first-generation immigrants from China who moved to the United States for their children's education. Her father, born in Hong Kong, received a master's degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her mother, born in Shanghai, was a chemical engineer and later an accomplished pianist.
Jung grew up in Massachusetts in a household that placed a high priority on achievement, and she responded with resolute drive. She once recalled coveting a box of colored pencils as a school child: "My mother said to me that if I got a set of perfect marks I could have that box. I got the box" (Financial Times, November 6, 2003).
Jung embraced her parents' high standards. Academically she earned high marks, learned classical piano, and became fluent in Mandarin. Her heritage was a source of pride that she brought to work each day. "My father was worried that raising me as a respectful Chinese daughter would be a barrier to what he perceived as the cut-throat traits of an American CEO. So, it has been interesting for me to marry my cultural background with succeeding in a tough business world" (London Times, June 29, 2002).
Jung began her career as a management trainee for Bloom-ingdale's, and she quickly revealed her drive to succeed. She became second in command at I. Magnin & Company in her late twenties and was in charge of all women's apparel for Neiman Marcus by age 32. Along the way, she developed key relationships, befriending such notable fashion executives as the designer Donna Karan and Anne Sutherland Fuchs, then publisher of Vogue. Jung even brought work home with her, marrying Michael Gould, CEO of Bloomingdale's, in 1993. Jung began to develop a keen sense of the importance her image could play. After moving to Manhattan, New York, she and her husband became regular fixtures in local newspapers' society pages.
A NEW ADDITION SHAKES UP AN OLD COMPANY
Jung left her job at Neiman Marcus and joined Avon in 1994. Immediately she made her mark. In one of her first contributions to the company, she unified Avon's assortment of disparate regional brands into powerful global lines like Avon Color. She fired Avon's ad agency and oversaw a complete packaging redesign. Her decisiveness caught the eye of then CEO James E. Preston, who appreciated her bold take on the business. Said Preston, "We looked at the market through one set of glasses. She had a fresh take on what Avon could be" (BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000). Preston became her mentor and ally, asking her to speak at board meetings and increasing her exposure to upper management, ensuring a quick climb up the corporate ladder. Just three years after joining the company, Jung was named head of global marketing at age 37.
In 1997 the Avon board began a search for Preston's successor, and Jung was temporarily passed over due to her lack of experience in operations and overseas business. But the board had noticed her talent, and she was promoted to COO in 1998. Some thought she was ascending the corporate ladder too quickly. Preston recalls the senior manager with 25 years of experience protesting her promotion, complaining that she would never be accepted overseas. He reversed his position after Jung earned high marks on a two-day visit to Latin America. As COO, Jung got the necessary grooming required to become the leader of Avon.
LANDING THE TOP JOB
In November 1999, shortly after the announcement of a dreadful fourth quarter that plummeted the company's shares by 50 percent, Charles R. Perrin resigned, and Jung became the ninth president and CEO—and the first woman to claim the title. The management shake-up left Jung with the daunting task of turning around a consumer products company whose direct sales business model seemed out of touch with modern business practices.
With little operating experience, Jung was not the obvious choice to run a company with millions of independent sales reps and operations in 137 countries. The pressure to succeed—and the possibility of a very public failure—loomed in every decision she made. The executive headhunter Herbert Mines said of Jung, "She's a young woman with a very big job. She has an opportunity to really demonstrate her abilities, and if she does well, others will undoubtedly reach for her" (BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000).
Jung was committed to both the task and her title. On her office couch she displayed a pillow with the affirmation "If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes." As CEO she quickly established her goal to resuscitate Avon's old-world image with a reorganization that would make Avon the one-stop shopping center for the modern woman. To achieve that goal, Jung had to contend with the fact that Avon's direct sales force required customers to track down an Avon representative. This method of doing business was an outmoded concept, an unrealistic notion for the millions of women in the workforce.
Jung knew that Avon must position itself so that its customers could choose whether they wanted to buy from a rep, on the Internet, or at a store. Jung announced a trial run of 50 kiosks based in shopping malls and, in a particularly brash move, a deal to create a separate line of products for sale at a major mass retailer such as Wal-Mart. The Internet represented another potential opportunity for growth.
REACHING OUT TO AVON REPS
But embracing these new distribution channels was not without risk. Ever since the first Avon representative, armed with makeup samples and catalogs, knocked on her neighbor's doors, direct salespeople had been the backbone of the company. The danger of alienating those reps became painfully clear with the advent of the Web. In the late 1990s, Avon printed its Web site on catalogs, only to find that its outraged reps covered them up with their own stickers. Additional criticism followed Avon's decision to sell online while prohibiting sales reps from setting up their own sites. Until Jung found a way to resolve those issues and integrate the reps into her new vision for the company, Avon's future would rest on a precarious foundation. Jung noted, "If we don't include them in everything we do, then we're just another retail brand, just another Internet site, and I don't see the world needing more of those" (BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000). To that end, Jung announced her decision to invest $60 million to build a Web site that would involve, not alienate, Avon's reps. Reps could sign up to become "e-representatives" for $15 a month, earning commissions of 20 to 25 percent on orders shipped directly or 30 to 50 percent for orders they delivered to customers themselves. The initiative promised additional income for Avon reps as well as considerable savings for the company. The cost of processing an order from the Web is 30 cents, or roughly one-third the cost of processing the paper order. The site gave customers the option of shopping with Avon directly or with the help of an e-representative in their zip code. Said Jung of the new opportunities for an Avon rep, "She can actually sell at retail in a licensed way, she can have a kiosk in a mall today. She has an Internet opportunity to have her own Web site" (The Early Show, CBS, July 26, 2001).
Avon reps responded enthusiastically to Jung's initiatives, made all the more remarkable by how little in common the CEO had with the suburban moms who sell Avon's products. Jung wore Chanel and pearl chokers. Her colleagues joked that she was allergic to casual wear. Yet Avon reps routinely waited in long lines for photo ops with Jung. The Avon executive Brian C. Connolly observed, "Four years ago, I saw an extremely private, incredibly brilliant person. Now I see a leader who's willing to tell the story of her heritage, her grandmother, her daughter. She's more comfortable in herself" (BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000).
EXPANDING PRODUCT LINES
In the early 21st century, Jung expanded Avon's lines of cosmetics, jewelry, and clothing by adding nutritional supplements and vitamins manufactured by Roche Holding, a line that the company said could generate $300 million in five years. Taking a cue from the Avon competitor Mary Kay, Jung launched Beauty Advisor, a program that turned Avon reps into beauty consultants who help customers choose the clothing and makeup that work best for them. She even floated the possibility of offering financial and legal services to women.
Throughout Jung's ambitious expansion, her management style was to emphasize open communication, goal orientation, and feedback from her sales force. To that end, she set up a CEO advisory council of 10 top salespeople from every level of the company internationally. In addition, she brought panels of Avon representatives to New York City to share their concerns and react to her ideas. She even enlisted as an Avon lady in New York City. "I was terrible," she said (London Times, June 29, 2002).
In the first half of 2000 Jung received an auspicious report card—sales and earnings were up 9 percent and 40 percent respectively. The investor Robert Hagstrom, senior vice president of Legg Mason Fund Manager and director of Legg Mason's Focus Capital, remarked, "She bit off a lot. The challenges are great. But at this point, it would be very hard to give her anything less than A's" (BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000).
BUOYED BY A RECESSION
The dismal economy of the early 21st century gave Avon a new relevance. Sales reps who were unable to find employment in the traditional job market flocked to the company, as did customers who were turned off by the high prices and non-existent service indigenous to department stores. In 2002 Avon's sales force grew by about 10 percent to nearly four million, and unit sales rose 13 percent worldwide. In Russia and other parts of eastern Europe, sales spiked 40 percent. Such fashion arbiters as Allure and Marie Claire even began mentioning Avon's products in their magazine pages. According to Thomson First Call, in early 2003 Avon had the strongest buy recommendations of companies that sold personal care products. Said one analyst with Goldman Sachs, "This is one of the highest-quality growth stocks that I cover" (New York Times, June 1, 2003).
Still, investors remained cautious about Avon's diversification efforts, especially since so many of its attempts under previous CEOs had failed. Some of Jung's own attempts also lost money. Only a few months after she signed a deal allowing JC Penney to carry a new Avon line of mid-priced cosmetics, the department store pulled the brand. A Penney spokeswoman said, "We wouldn't have given up a product that was profitable" (New York Times, June 1, 2003). Jung blamed the failure on Penney, saying that the company failed to provide enough support, and wrote off the venture as a learning experience.
Concurrent with the global recession that started in March 2001, it remained to be seen whether sales reps would seek other jobs once the economy turned around. Allan G. Mottus, a consultant to the beauty industry and publisher of The Informationist, a trade publication, remarked that "Avon does well in a recession, because it provides low-cost items that are sold by women who cannot move up in the workplace. In a full economy, a lot of good people are going to defect" (New York Times, June 1, 2003).
ADDING GLOSS TO AN OLD BRAND
Jung's underlying goal was to build a global name. In 2001 Avon was listed for the first time in the BusinessWeek annual survey of the world's 100 leading global brands. As with many multinationals, China factored largely in Avon's global strategy. The Chinese market had the potential to dovetail effectively with Jung's Chinese heritage. In 1998, after the Chinese government banned direct selling, Avon began opening standalone franchised stores; the company planned to open 500 stores a year for the foreseeable future. Jung was also working on a plan to launch a wellness program in China and planned to resume direct selling in China by 2005 (China was required to reverse the ban in order to gain entry into the World Trade Organization). But Russia remains the company's fastestgrowing market; in 2003 sales grew $100 million from the $140 million base of 2002.
In order to achieve Jung's stated goal of enticing younger customers while retaining middle-aged buyers, Avon began to offer new products, such as vitamins, weight-control programs, and other "wellness" offerings aimed at women 35 and older. Jung launched Mark. cosmetics—the punctuation is meant to emphasize women making their mark—a line that is used and sold by younger women. (Just a few months after the 2003 launch, Avon had recruited about 20,000 sales reps; sales of the line contributed one point of growth to the third-quarter sales in the United States.)
Ever conscious of the power of image, Jung also gave Avon's brochures a modern makeover, printing them on gloss-ier paper and featuring the tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. An Avon spa joined Fifth Avenue in New York City. The average age of Avon's typical customer proved that Jung was on the right track. When Jung became the first woman to head Avon in 1999, the typical customer was 43; as of 2003 she was 37.
A ROLE MODEL FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Jung's own career trajectory also contributed to the company's newfound relevance. "We have all of these three and half million representatives and the whole Avon story is about being able to make it—to make dreams come true. And I know that certainly they look at me and say, 'Well, at Avon, you really can do anything. You can start as a child of Chinese immigrants and go all the way to the top'" (The Early Show, CBS, July 26, 2001).
As a frequent speaker at women's leadership events, Jung expressed optimism that other females would soon be joining her in the corner offices of corporate America. For her ownpart, she encouraged flexible work schedules at Avon and even conceded that family sometimes takes precedence over work. When asked for her advice for balancing family and work, she replied in a speech that she learned that she cannot be everywhere at once. "Eliminate 10 out of 20 things you don't have to do, and pick the 10 most important things for your family. Some days the company loses" (Akron Beacon Journal, November 1, 2002).
PERSONAL VALUES FOCUS A COMPANY'S PHILANTHROPY
CEOs of leading multinationals frequently use charitable giving to further their business goals. Jung was no exception. Most fashion-related companies have been major supporters of the fight against breast cancer and AIDS, two diseases that have taken heavy tolls on fashion. In a true nexus of her own values and corporate citizenship, Jung personally led Avon's philanthropic efforts in the area of breast cancer. Her grandmother died of the disease at age 63 when Jung was 14. This loss had a deep effect on Jung, who recalled, "It was the early Seventies, and the C-word was forbidden in our house. She didn't want us around her in case it was contagious. There was such fear about the subject" (London Times, June 29, 2002).
In September 2002 Avon announced that it was making $30 million in grants to fight breast cancer. The grants were announced at the first-ever Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer Concert & Awards at Avery Fisher Hall. Natalie Cole headlined the concert, which itself raised more than $2 million for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. The campaign focused on funding five critical areas: breast cancer biomedical research, clinical care, support services, education, and early detection programs.
The motivation for Jung's corporate largesse transcended her empathy for breast cancer victims; she saw philanthropy as the duty of a corporate citizenry. "The new generation of leaders have to be committed to giving back more. Corporations have a responsibility to the communities where they do business" (London Times, June 29, 2002). But even Jung would not shy away from the positive publicity her charitable commitments brought to her company. Philanthropy is just good business.
See also entries on Avon Products, Inc., Bloomingdale's Inc., I. Magnin Inc., and The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories.
sources for further information
Byrnes, Nanette, "The New Calling," BusinessWeek, September 18, 2000, p. 136.
Deutsch, Claudia H., "In a Dull Economy, Avon Finds a Hidden Gloss," New York Times, June 1, 2003.
Foster, Lauren, "Mistress of the Turnaround Answers Avon's Calling: Andrea Jung Has Led a Revival at the Cosmetics Group. Now She Has Her Sights Set on Expansion," Financial Times (London), November 6, 2003, p. 14.
Gumbel, Bryant, "Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products, Discusses the Success of Avon and Their Move to Retail," Transcript of The Early Show (CBS), July 26, 2001.
Lin-Fisher, Betty, "She's No Boys Club Member," Akron Beacon Journal, November 1, 2002.
Preston, Morag, "Avon's New Calling," Times (London), June 29, 2002.
Halpern, Tim. "Jung, Andrea 1959–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (June 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500285.html
Halpern, Tim. "Jung, Andrea 1959–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Retrieved June 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500285.html
Andrea Jung (born 1959) went from being a lackluster student to attending the Ivy League's Prince- ton University, and went on to become the CEO of Avon Products. Institutional Investor wrote of Jung, "How many other chief executives embody their companies the way Andrea Jung does? Sleek, stylishly turned out, with signature pearl choker and mane of sable hair, she is confident and assertive, the perfect image for her newly invigorated Avon Products. Jung is the first female CEO at a cosmetics company who wasn't also its founder." Jung took the failing company out of the depths of marketing oblivion into a world of young, hip makeup products.
Born in Toronto
Jung was born in 1959 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her family moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, when she was only two years old. Jung's mother was born in Shanghai and was a chemical engineer; her father was born in Hong Kong and was an architect. Jung has one younger brother, Mark. When she was young, Jung studied not only the regular subjects offered at a Massachusetts school, but studied the Mandarin language as well. She also began piano lessons, taught by her mother, when she was only five years old. Jung has admitted to being a lackluster student. The only reason she got good grades at first was because her parents would offer her something she wanted in return for earning A's. When she was in fourth grade, for instance, she desperately wanted a set of colored pencils. Her parents told her that if at the end of the grade marking period she earned all A's, they would get it for her. She hunkered down to work, and by the end of the grade period those pencils were hers. It was something she never forgot. She has credited her parents and instances like this one with furthering her resolve and ambition.
In high school Jung used her determination to get involved in extracurricular activities, especially student government. She started out as class secretary before becoming president of the student body, and went on from high school to attend the elite Princeton University. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English literature in 1979, graduating magna cum laude from Princeton. She intended to continue her studies by going to law school after a short break, but decided on a detour. She had gotten a job at Bloomingdale's as a manager in training, and she saw the position as giving her the edge she would need to make it in the field of law.
Discovered Passion for Marketing
She did so well at Bloomingdale's that she moved to a job at the I. Magnin stores. From there she became the executive vice president in charge of merchandising for women's apparel, cosmetics, and accessories at Neiman Marcus. And with her change of companies came a change of careers. Law vanished into the background as Jung found herself in the midst of a world she liked. She wanted a new challenge, however, and found one when she started working for Avon Products, Inc., as a consultant in 1993. The company that had been around for over a hundred years was ailing, and needed a fresh burst of energy and life to keep it going. The higher-ups at Avon liked what Jung had to bring to the company as a consultant, and they hired her as president of the product marketing group for U.S. operations in 1994. In that position she worked on continuing the company's traditional branding efforts while trying to introduce more modern lines to the mix. She introduced the Avon Apparel line, which proved to be very successful. She also suggested getting rid of a large number of Avon's old fragrances and introducing new ones. She was behind the introduction of such new favorites as Far Away, Millennia, and Natori.
She also worked on coming up with a better marketing pitch for the company. She came up with the slogan "Just Another Avon Lady," which was launched in 1995. With her new slogan, Jung was trying to re-brand the company as younger and hipper, but also as being more sophisticated and quality-filled. This was helped by products such as Anew, which was the first skin cream with alpha hydroxy, made to help hide wrinkles. She also got Olympic athletes Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Becky Dyroen-Lancer to help with the campaign, and Avon became the official fragrance and cosmetics sponsor of the 1996 Olympic Games, held in Atlanta, Georgia. The company put together The Olympic Women exhibition, focusing on women athletes at the games, something that not only promoted female athleticism, but also helped put Avon into the spotlight. Because of all the things Jung set up in 1996 she was named "Marketer of the Year" for 1996 by Brandweek.
Became First Female CEO of Avon
Always looking for bigger and better ways to promote Avon, in 1997 Jung came up with the "Dare to Change Your Mind about Avon" ad campaign, something that showed the company knew about its outdated image, and was about to change it. Also in 1997, the CEO of Avon stepped down. It was thought that Jung might be considered for the job, but instead of promoting someone from inside the company, Avon hired from outside, choosing instead the CEO of Duracell, Charles Perrin. Someone must have felt that Jung was soon to step into power, however, because in 1997 she was named one of the top "25 Women to Watch" by Advertising Age. She was also given the National Outstanding Mother Award and the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Achievement award that year. Perrin, on the other hand, met with problems at the company, and a mere two years later Jung was made the CEO of Avon. She was the first female CEO in Avon's history, and that was quite a long history, as the company was 116 years old at that time. She became chairwoman of Avon in 2001. Prior to that, Jung had been listed at number eight in "Corporate America's 50 Most Powerful Women" in 1998.
Since becoming CEO of Avon, Jung has become known for her professional, businesslike demeanor and for her innovative ideas. Rarely personal in interviews, she once admitted to a reporter that she kept in her desk a letter her father wrote to her. In it he wrote, "Cultivate the absence of arrogance and boastfulness." She was raised in the traditional Asian manner, and her father had worried that as Jung took over as CEO of Avon she might become arrogant and hard, and he wanted to remind his daughter that it was not necessary or advantageous to be that way.
Continued to Raise Avon Out of Obscurity
Two years after taking over the CEO position at Avon, Jung talked to Harper's Bazaar about her job. "My job has its pros and its cons. There's the opportunity to be a role model, and then there's a lot of heavy responsibility that can be very difficult…. But I'm more comfortable now with my public role as it relates to my personal life than I was two years ago. Statistics show that it's still a story when women reach the very top of the ladder, and we have a responsibility to create paths for women to succeed." Since her rise to CEO, Jung has taken Avon international. It started out as an American company and is still run in a purely American way, with Avon "ladies" selling directly to buyers, but Jung has begun to expand the concept worldwide. By the early twenty-first century Avon was sold in over 143 countries. In 2001 nearly 40 percent of Avon's total profits came from South and Central American alone. In 2003 Jung pushed Avon to start a line of makeup called "Mark," aimed towards teenagers and college-age women. According to Crains New York Business, Jung said about the changes: "I want to keep it hip. We have to be able to change in a snap, to have an edge." She also has helped raise money for breast cancer, the disease that took her grandmother's life.
Since her acquisition of the CEO position, Jung has learned about personal compromise. She has been married and divorced twice. She has admitted that she has made mistakes as well as sacrifices, but also has said that she feels she is proof that a woman can succeed in business. Jung has two children: Lauren from her first marriage, and James from her second. A lot of public scrutiny has focused on her role as a mother, something she never expected. She has said that she has missed some of her children's events, but never the important ones. And there have been things about the company that have been put on hold so she could be with her children. She has also made an environment at Avon where parents can take time off to attend their children's functions and take care of their family, as long as their work does not suffer for it. She is on the board of General Electric and was nominated to be on the board of the New York Stock Exchange. She is on the boards of such non-profit organizations as the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Catalyst, a company focused on women in business. Jung is one of only two female Fortune 500 CEOs. She has been named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Business by Fortune magazine.
Future for Jung and Avon
As for Avon, the company did a turnaround after Jung took over. According to Fortune magazine, "In her first five years as CEO, Andrea Jung gave Avon a badly needed facelift. From 2000 through 2004, revenues rose from $5.3 billion to $7.7 billion, and profits nearly tripled." Jung was able to find popular and strong women to advertise the company on television, among them tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. Jung told Harper's Bazaar, "Venus and Serena's story was such a natural fit for us. They have proven to a global audience that women can do anything." With so much success, Jung's reign as CEO of Avon was one to continue to watch.
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Andrea Jung joined Avon in 1993 as a consultant, and a year later became president of its product marketing group for the United States. Her job was to reverse a decade of slumping sales and to change the way women thought of Avon and its products. In short, she had to take the company from a brand readily recognized but considered outdated by women and give it a hipper, more youth-oriented image. Jung proved to be just the right person for the task.
"I came to Avon because I fell in love with the concept that 115 years ago, the company gave women a chance to make money even before they could vote. When I started in marketing in the early nineties, my job was to reinvent the company's image without abandoning that heritage."
The Best of Two Cultures
Andrea Jung was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1959. When she was two, her family moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where Jung grew up with her younger brother, Mark. Her parents immigrated separately to Canada from China. They met while attending college in Toronto. Her father was born in Hong Kong. He received his master's degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her mother, born in Shanghai, was a chemical engineer before abandoning engineering in favor of becoming a concert pianist.
Jung's parents live in Boston, where her father is a partner in an architectural firm. "My parents kept the best aspects of the Asian culture, and they Americanized the family," Jung said in an interview with GoldSea.com, a Web site for Asian Americans. "My mother was a great example for me. She was a working mother with a good career, and from my father, I inherited his even keel, a balance between humor and taking things seriously."
Jung was an excellent student in elementary school. She also excelled in Mandarin language classes, which she attended on Saturday mornings. On weekday afternoons, she took piano lessons. Her mother introduced her to the piano at age five, teaching her basic chords. In high school, Jung became involved in school politics. She was elected class secretary and later student body president. She already spoke fluent Mandarin and as a teenager took classes in Cantonese and French.
Enters the Business World
In 1975, Jung entered Princeton University, and graduated in 1979 magna cum laude (with highest honors) with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature. She surprised her friends and family, however, by abandoning thoughts of a law career, instead opting for the world of business.
After graduating, Jung planned to work several years in retail and then return to school to pursue a law degree. She joined the executive training program at Bloomingdale's, an upscale New York department store chain, after being recruited at a college job fair. At Bloomingdale's, Jung learned how tough it was for a woman to succeed in a business world run mostly by men. She soon lost her timidity and became more aggressive in her job. She also realized that only a woman could understand the shopping philosophy of other women.
In 1987, Jung went to work for I. Magnin department stores, where she worked as general merchandising manager at the firm's San Francisco headquarters. Within several years, she was promoted to senior vice president. After nearly five years, Jung was hired by rival Neiman-Marcus to work at the company's Dallas headquarters. She became executive vice president in charge of women's apparel, cosmetics, and accessories. But after two years, Jung became bored, saying she felt there was little creativity in marketing the company's products to its mostly upscale, high-income customers.
Jung left Neiman-Marcus to go out on her own, becoming a consultant for Avon. After a few months, she accepted a full-time job with Avon as head of its U.S. product marketing group. Two years later, she became the company's president of global marketing. "When I came to Avon, it was perceived as an outdated, old-fashioned beauty company," she told Diane Seo in the Los Angeles Times. "We had great products, but women were saying, "This is my grandmother's makeup brand.'" Jung is generally credited with revamping that notion.
Immediately, Jung recognized the importance of the brand, complete with the image of the Avon Lady as a cultural icon. The image, however, was sadly outdated. Sean Mehegan described the Avon Lady in Brandweek as 'that matronly figure from the 1960s with the beehive 'do who showed up at one's doorstep hawking rouge and lipstick." In addition, by the 1990s, as more and more women joined the workforce, Avon ladies (and men) found that when they rang the doorbell, there were fewer answers. The customers had changed; most were working women who conducted their Avon transactions in the office.
When Jung entered the world of commerce, it was not with the approval of her parents, who felt she was squandering her expensive Ivy League education. "No one in my family had a retail or marketing background. They were professionals," Jung told ColdSea. "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."
In 1994, Jung spearheaded change by introducing the successful Avon Apparel line. She also ditched about 30 to 40 percent of the old fragrance offerings and launched new ones, including Far Away, Millennia, and Natori that came in sleek, upscale packaging. The new fragrances also came with higher price tags, but customers responded favorably. Avon's U.S. fragrance sales rose 8 percent in 1995, roughly three times the industry average for sales gains in that area. Cosmetic costs increased as well, but remained lower than competitors, and were accompanied by slicker packaging and catalogs. The firm also became an innovator with products like Anew, the first alpha hydroxy acid skin cream on the market, designed to conceal wrinkles. Jung set out to capitalize on those kinds of successes by pushing related skin-care items.
In addition to focusing on Avon products themselves, Jung came up with better ways to pitch them. In 1995, she launched the "Just Another Avon Lady" campaign. The campaign featured Olympic athletes Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962-) and Becky Dyroen-Lancer (1971-), and eventually tied in to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Avon was the official fragrance and cosmetics sponsor of the games, and also sponsored "The Olympic Woman," a multimedia exhibition in Atlanta spotlighting women athletes. "We believe it was more than just an Olympic sponsorship," Jung explained to Mehegan in Brandweek. "We were sponsors of women in the Olympics. We understand women and women's causes, and we went out on a grass roots effort to teach women and communicate winning in sports as part of self-esteem."
In 1996, Brandweek magazine named Jung one of the Marketers of the Year. She was promoted to executive vice president and put in charge of Avon"s product research and development, marketing research, strategic planning, and joint ventures and alliances. The next year, 1997, Jung launched the "Dare to Change Your Mind about Avon" ad campaign.
When Avon began looking for a new CEO in 1997, Jung was thought to be the leading contender. Instead, someone from outside the company, Charles Perrin, was hired from battery manufacturer Duracell. Instead of leaving the company as many insiders expected, Jung remained on board and forged an excellent working relationship with Perrin. She became president of the company in 1998. In 1999, Jung's perseverance paid off when she was picked as Avon's CEO after the departure of Perrin.
In 1999, at age forty, Andrea Jung became CEO of Avon Products, Inc., after six years with the company. At that time, she was only one of three women heading Fortune 500 companies.
During her first year as CEO, Jung visited twenty countries, including Japan, Poland, Russia, and China, where she addressed gatherings of Avon employees in fluent Mandarin. "I've met representatives from around the world … and I know that women today are far more alike than not," she told Harper's Bazaar. "Self-esteem is as important for them as their physical appearance. It's inspirational to me, particularly because my parents are from China. Consider the business opportunities that we're giving women in China, and then they see a Chinese American at the top. It's not so much about me; it's more that these women see that it's possible."
For More Information
Hastin, Bud. Bud Hastin's Avon Collector's Encyclopedia, 16th edition. Portland, OR: Collectors Books, 2000.
Brooker, Katrina. "It Took a Lady to Save Avon." Fortune (October 15,2001): p. 202+.
Byrnes, Nanette. "Avon: The New Calling." Business Week (September 18, 2000): p. 136.
Dignam, Conor. "Avon Calling: Andrea Jung is the Woman Who Decided the Avon Lady Could Be Sexy." AdAgeGlobal (October 2001): pp. 26-28.
"Executive Sweet." GoldSea.com, Asian American Supersite. [On-line] http://www.goldsea.com/WW/Jungandrea/jungandrea.htmI (accessed on August 15, 2002).
Menegan, Sean. "Andrea Jung: Maintaining Spirit Among the Troops While Revamping Product Lines." Brandweek (October 7, 1996): p. 98-102.
Pellet, Jennifer. "Ding Dong Avon Stalling?" Chief Executive (U.S. Edition) (June 2000): p. 26.
Rose, Sarah. "Remaking the Avon Lady." Money (February 1, 2000): p. 46+.
Seo, Diane. "Avon's Fresh Face; Cosmetics Giant Steps Up Efforts To Overhaul Image, Update Products." Los Angeles Times (January 8, 1998): p. DI.
Shea, Christine. "Avon's Lady." Harper's Bazaar (September 2001): pp. 244-246.
Avon Products, Inc. [On-line] http://www.avon.com (accessed on August 15).
"Jung, Andrea." Leading American Businesses. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (June 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3498000019.html
"Jung, Andrea." Leading American Businesses. 2003. Retrieved June 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3498000019.html