经济学人:雅芳在南非 化妆行业带来改变
日期:2012-08-22 10:42


Avon in South Africa.
Cosmetic difference.
Lipstick changes lives south of the Limpopo.
FOR years Alice Mthini scraped by as a domestic servant. Becoming an "Avon lady" in 2009 changed everything. Discovering a talent for selling, she persuaded other ladies to part with 10,000 rand ($1,190) for Avon's make up and fashion accessories in her first month. She now earns enough to send her children to a private school. She has bought herself a laptop and a car (although she has yet to learn how to drive it). "Avon is my life," she grins.
爱丽丝·麦菲尼(Alice Mthini,音译)是一名家政女佣,多年来,一直以此勉强维持生计。2009年,爱丽丝被聘为"雅芳小姐"。这,改变了她的一切。渐渐地,她发掘出自己的销售才能,在就职的第一个月内便成功说服一些女性顾客消费10,000兰特(1190美元)购买雅芳的化妆品和时尚饰品。她现在的收入已足够让她的孩子上私立学校了。她还给自己买了一台笔记本电脑和一辆车——虽然她还未学会驾车。"雅芳让我有了现在的生活,"她咧嘴笑道。
The world's biggest direct seller of cosmetics has had little to cheer about of late. Bad management and poor investments caused its share price to plunge. But in South Africa, it is doing well. "You go to a doctor's room and everyone has got a brochure," says Eunice Maseko, another of Avon's many ladies in South Africa. "You start to think, where am I going to sell?" she laughs.
这家全球最大的化妆品直销商最近却高兴不起来。由于管理不善和投资失策,其股价大幅下跌。但在南非,它经营得还不错。"你去诊所里面(看看),每个人手里都拿着一本手册,"尤妮斯·马瑟科(Eunice Maseko,音译)说道,她也是一名雅芳在南非国内的销售小姐。"(然后)你就会开始想,该往哪儿销呢?"她笑着说。
The trick for direct-sales companies such as Avon is not getting people to buy your products, but getting people to sell them. That may be easier in a country where more than a quarter of women are unemployed and formal jobs are scarce, even for educated jobseekers.
Avon does not demand any formal qualifications; only a warm smile and a start-up fee of 75 rand. The firm, which has been operating in South Africa since 1996, is coy about how many people flog its wares there. But it says that in 2011 its sales in South Africa increased by a glossy 29%, whereas its global sales grew by a drabber 1%.
Most of those peddling Avon's products are black women. Researchers at Oxford University recently published a three-year study of Avon ladies in South Africa. They found that their incomes were above average for black women in their communities, and close to that of an average black South African man.
In rural areas, where many roads have no names and houses no numbers, Avon delivers merchandise to post offices so that reps can pick them up. Where there is no bank nearby, Avon organises payment through the post office or a big retailer. The company's credit checks have been eased to allow for the fact that few customers have any formal credit history or income. Avon has devised a rating system that takes account of small indices of permanence and responsibility, such as a mobile phone number or a formal address.
Linda Scott, one of the Oxford project's leaders, says that reps spoke of Avon in semi-religious terms, using words like "salvation". South of the Limpopo, it seems, lipstick changes lives.
琳达·斯科特(Linda Scott,音译)是牛津大学研究项目的带头人之一,她表示,那些直销人员谈起雅芳公司总会用到一些有宗教色彩的词,比如"救世"。 看来,在南林波波省这个地方,唇膏真的能改变生活。

  • plungev. 使投入,跳入,栽进 n. 跳入,投入 n.
  • spokev. 说,说话,演说
  • creditn. 信用,荣誉,贷款,学分,赞扬,赊欠,贷方 (复)c
  • addressn. 住址,致词,讲话,谈吐,(处理问题的)技巧 vt.
  • paymentn. 支付,付款,报偿,报应
  • scarceadj. 缺乏的,不足的,稀少的,罕见的 adv. 勉强
  • salvationn. 得救,拯救,赎罪
  • brochuren. 小册子
  • domesticadj. 国内的,家庭的,驯养的 n. 家仆,佣人
  • coyadj. 腼腆的,怕羞的,羞怯的 vi. 态度娇羞