Avon beautifies recession

Wed May 20, 2009 1:44pm EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - As the economy gets ugly, droves of out-of-work Australians, male and female, are finding a career in beauty really pays.

Avon, the largest direct selling beauty company in the world, has recruited more than 7,000 door-to-door saleswomen -- and men -- in February alone, as the global financial crisis deepens and Australia's economy and jobless rate take a turn for the worse.

The company, which has tens of thousands of representatives in Australia, said in addition to the usual stay-at-home mums looking for extra income, new recruits include female executives and financial professionals, as well as a few more men.

"The downturn in the economy has seen a huge increase in Avon representatives," Avon's Advertising and PR Manager Michaela Groves told Reuters.

"We have seen a rise in women who have been made redundant from professional and corporate finance type roles, and who now need to earn money. We are also seeing women who worked part-time and are joining up to supplement the household income because things are a little bit tough at the moment."

With the economy in recession, the number of unemployed in Australia is rising, with experts predicting the jobless rate to almost double to 15-year highs of 8.5 percent in the next financial year.

Currently, Groves said three percent of Avon representatives are men, mainly drawn to the prospect of having a job, even if it's in a field traditionally reserved for women.

Avon representatives earn a percentage of the price of each product they sell, which can be as high as 50 percent, and the company allows them work at their own pace. A 2008 survey shows that 4 out of 10 Australian women are Avon customers.   Continued...