Avon Teams With Roche to Tap Consumer Health Market

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Avon Products Inc., New York, a $5.2 billion direct seller of beauty-related products, has agreed to partner with health and drug manufacturing giant Roche, Basel, Switzerland, to develop a new global line of vitamin and nutritional supplements aimed at women.

According to Avon spokesman Victor Beaudet, the companies have not yet mapped out their actual marketing strategy. A four-year phased rollout is in the works, however, including provisions for stress reduction and health and fitness management products. Avon's signature door-to-door global sales network is expected to be part of the program.

"The actual line won't launch until early January 2001," said Beaudet. "Right now we are in the middle of our 'Let's Talk' campaign, which is more broad-based, focusing on the beauty image of the company. Our print advertising for that began appearing in women's magazines in February, but our television campaign just started."

Beaudet said different versions of "Let's Talk" are scheduled to run in different markets around the world throughout the year but it is unlikely that any advertising will appear for the partnership's new line before the holiday season.

Cliff Clive, head of Roche Consumer Health North America, said the agreement would help Roche extend its market reach further into the consumer health arena. He said the company's expertise in vitamins, nutrition and health promotion would allow the development and distribution of a new line of products for women around the world.

Under the five-year agreement, Roche Consumer Health, a member of the global healthcare group, will develop and formulate a line of high-quality, science-based vitamins and nutritional supplements designed to address the health and wellness needs of women and their families. Roche Consumer Health also will provide marketing and regulatory support to Avon worldwide.

Avon will have exclusive worldwide distribution rights for the new line through its representatives and other sales channels, including the Net and retail kiosks. Roche and Avon plan to have the entire line available by the end of 2001 in 15 markets, including its five largest - the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United Kingdom - which make up 65 percent of the company's total sales. The line's brand name has not been finalized.

Avon markets its brand-name products to women in 136 countries around the world through an estimated 3 million independent sales representatives. Avon product brands include Anew, Skin-So-Soft, Avon Color, Far Away, Rare Gold, Perceive and Women of Earth. The company competes primarily with L'Oreal, Mary Kay and Revlon. Roche is among the world's largest research and drug manufacturing firms. n

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