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Avon vs. Mary Kay: Which Products Should I Sell?

Dani is a college student as well as a makeup and skincare enthusiast, as well as an Avon Representative.

Avon and Mary Kay focus primarily on cosmetics and skincare.

Avon and Mary Kay focus primarily on cosmetics and skincare.

Comparing Two Direct Sales Cosmetics Businesses

I've sold Avon in the past and have had friends who sold Mary Kay. While I made decent money while selling Avon, I no longer have the resources to continue being an Independent Sales Representative.

Quick Look at Selling Avon vs. Mary Kay

 AvonMary Kay

Price Point

Ranges from affordable to luxury

Luxury brand with prices to match

Business Strategy

Neighborhood salesperson—friendly lady next door

Cosmetics expert and party hostess

Selling Methods

Mainly brochures, little to no stock required

Mainly parties, a lot of stock required

Compensation, Commission, and Getting Paid

Compensation is handled differently at Avon and Mary Kay. There are two ways to earn money in these companies: direct sales and recruiting.

Direct selling is the most important part of both these businesses. While you as the salesperson can sell your stock for whatever price you choose, both companies have suggested rates and set discounts that determine your profit. These discounts determine your commission on sold products and impact how money you will make selling both Avon and Mary Kay.

  • Avon has a tiered commission rate, which allows you to earn 10–50% commission depending on your biweekly sales rate. You will always earn at least 10% commission selling Avon, and you will earn even more in the first beginning weeks through their Kickstarter Program.
  • Mary Kay, on the other hand, has a flat 50% commission rate on all products regardless of how much you sell. You can lose this discount if you don't maintain active status by placing an order of $225 worth of product every three months.

This distinction is one of the major differences between selling Avon and selling Mary Kay. You will always get an Avon discount no matter what your order size, but you must sell $225 worth of product to keep your Mary Kay discount. If you don't expect your business to boom quickly or are only planning to sell on a seasonal basis, Mary Kay may not be the right choice for you.

Both Avon and Mary Kay are companies by women, for women.

Both Avon and Mary Kay are companies by women, for women.

Who Sells Avon and Mary Kay?

Avon and Mary Kay have slightly different business strategies. Avon salespeople are known as Independent Sales Representatives, while those who sell Mary Kay are Independent Beauty Consultants. While these are mainly titles, they have a lot to say about the way both businesses operate.

The Avon Lady

Avon has a long history of being a friendly, neighborhood brand. The Avon lady has become an American icon—she’s your neighbor, a single mother, PTA member, a member of your church. Avon Sales Representatives are approachable and are always looking out for your best interest.

Mary Kay's Beauty Experts

Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants, on the other hand, are expected to be beauty experts and conduct their businesses in a more professional manner.

Similarities Between the Two Strategies

Both companies emphasize that their salespeople own their own business. Another important part of both Avon’s and Mary Kay’s business strategy is that most of their salespeople are women.

How to Sell Avon and Mary Kay

There are plenty of ways to sell both Avon and Mary Kay products, but each company has their own main method of selling.

Avon: Brochures

The most familiar and common tool for the Avon representative is the brochure. Brochures contain the newest and hottest products—the things that make both the Representative and Avon the most money. There are several brochures:

  • The regular Avon catalog that contains a little bit of everything
  • The mark. Magalog, which specializes in teenage and young adult attire
  • The Avon Living home good magazine
  • Various discount brochures

Mary Kay: Parties and Appointments

Mary Kay has a different approach to selling their product. Parties and one-on-one appointments are the most common ways Independent Beauty Consultants make their money. These events have a formal, professional undertone to them. The host or hostess of the party usually teaches his or her guests how to use the products they are showcasing and often gives out free samples. They are more truly a home-based business as their main center of operations takes place at home.

Is Avon Hard to Sell?

Being a salesperson is a difficult job, and direct selling businesses are no different. Avon and Mary Kay can have a very saturated market, meaning that there a lot of salespeople in an area already.

One of the hardest parts about being with Avon or Mary Kay is introducing yourself as a salesperson. In my experience, you get one of three responses when you tell someone you are selling Avon:

  1. They are very excited and want to see a brochure right now.
  2. They will tell you a story about how their mother/sister/aunt used to buy or sell Avon and they loved their perfume/lipstick/eyeliner and will take a book.
  3. They will politely decline.

More often than not, people are willing to take a book, and if they aren't interested in it, they are more than happy to pass it along to someone who might be.

Most People Have a Fond Memory of Avon

I have never received a rude response. While I can't speak for the Mary Kay business, I have never had a horror story of doors getting slammed in my face or losing friends and family because I started selling. An advantage of Avon is that everyone loves to look through magazines and most people are interested in at least looking at a book. Offering a free magazine isn't pushy, while trying to sell a kit or bundle can seem very salesy.

As cliche as it may seem, almost everyone has a memory of Avon and therefore a product or two that interests them. The Mary Kay brand also doesn't carry the same friendliness and familiarity that Avon does. Many of my customers have fond childhood memories of their experiences with our products.

Comparable Avon and Mary Kay Products and Prices

Mary Kay products are more expensive than Avon products of comparable function and size across the board.

Product TypeAvonMary Kay

Primer w/ Sunscreen

MagiX Face Perfector ($12)

Foundation Primer Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($18)

Lengthening Mascara w/ Defining Wand

True Color SuperExtend Lengthening Mascara ($8)

Lash Love Mascara ($15)

Loose Powder Foundation

True Color Smooth Minerals Powder Foundation ($12)

Mineral Powder Foundation ($20)

Eye Makeup Remover

True Color Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover Lotion ($6)

Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($20)

Eyeliner w/ Built-in Sharpener

Always On Point Eyeliner ($7)

Eyeliner ($12)

Is Mary Kay Hard to Sell?

I want to make it very clear I have never sold Mary Kay. I have however, had several close friends who sold the brand. From everything I can gather, Mary Kay is much more difficult to sell than Avon for one simple reason: It is much more expensive. Most Avon products don't sell for more than a comparable drugstore product, while Mary Kay is priced similarly to brands you would find at Sephora or Ulta.

Should I Sell Avon or Mary Kay?

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. How much money do you have to start your business?
    • Less than $25
    • $25 - $50
    • $50 - $100
    • $100+
  2. How much do you know about cosmetics?
    • Just a little, but I'd like to learn more.
    • Makeup really isn't my thing.
    • I know enough to do my own makeup and help out friends and family.
    • I'm already a beauty professional!
  3. Would you be interested in selling products other than cosmetics, fragrances, and skincare?
    • Yes, I'd like to diversify my products as much as possible.
    • Yes, I'm not really interested in those things.
    • No, I'm only interested in selling beauty products.
  4. Have you ever tried Avon products before?
    • Yes, and loved 'em! I still use them whenever I can.
    • Yes, and they were alright.
    • Yes, but I didn't like them.
    • No, I've never used Avon before.
  5. Have you ever tried Mary Kay products before?
    • Yes, and loved 'em! I still use them whenever I can.
    • Yes, and they were alright.
    • Yes, and I didn't like them.
    • No, I've never used Mary Kay before.
  6. Do you like hosting parties?
    • Yes, I do that all the time!
    • I don't a lot, but it sounds like fun.
    • I don't have the resources.
    • It doesn't sounds like something I would do.

Scoring

For each answer you selected, add up the indicated number of points for each of the possible results. Your final result is the possibility with the greatest number of points at the end.

  1. How much money do you have to start your business?
    • Less than $25
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
    • $25 - $50
      • ready to sell Avon!: +4
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -4
    • $50 - $100
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -3
    • $100+
      • ready to sell Avon!: +5
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +5
  2. How much do you know about cosmetics?
    • Just a little, but I'd like to learn more.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -3
    • Makeup really isn't my thing.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +1
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -5
    • I know enough to do my own makeup and help out friends and family.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +2
    • I'm already a beauty professional!
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +5
  3. Would you be interested in selling products other than cosmetics, fragrances, and skincare?
    • Yes, I'd like to diversify my products as much as possible.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +5
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -5
    • Yes, I'm not really interested in those things.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +5
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -5
    • No, I'm only interested in selling beauty products.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +3
  4. Have you ever tried Avon products before?
    • Yes, and loved 'em! I still use them whenever I can.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +5
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
    • Yes, and they were alright.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
    • Yes, but I didn't like them.
      • ready to sell Avon!: -3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
    • No, I've never used Avon before.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
  5. Have you ever tried Mary Kay products before?
    • Yes, and loved 'em! I still use them whenever I can.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +5
    • Yes, and they were alright.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +3
    • Yes, and I didn't like them.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -3
    • No, I've never used Mary Kay before.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: 0
  6. Do you like hosting parties?
    • Yes, I do that all the time!
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +5
    • I don't a lot, but it sounds like fun.
      • ready to sell Avon!: +3
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: +3
    • I don't have the resources.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -5
    • It doesn't sounds like something I would do.
      • ready to sell Avon!: 0
      • ready to sell Mary Kay!: -5

This table shows the meaning of each possible result:

ready to sell Avon!

Congratulations! You look like you're on the right track to become an Avon Independent Sales Representative. You're probably one of the friendliest people you know and love to help others find exactly what they need.

ready to sell Mary Kay!

Congratulations! You look like you're well on your way to becoming a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. You're likely the life of the party and already know your way around a makeup bag.

Looking to Join or Buy?

Whether you're looking to join the Avon opportunity or are ready to place an online order, feel free to take a look at my store here. To join, look at the black bar at the top of the screen or to buy, fill up your cart and wait for your goodies to arrive!

What are your experiences with direct sales? Have you ever given these companies any thought? Let me know in the comments below!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Dani Merrier

Comments

Loraine Magowan on January 02, 2020:

Im looking to get into a small business of my own. Ive been in real estate sales and a furniture sales rep in my past carrers. Im retired now. Still extremely active and find myself wanting to sell and meet people.

Bette on December 09, 2019:

Your data may be a little off. Mary Kay folks only have to buy $225 WHOLESALE per quarter if they have recruits that are actually making sales if you want your commission override. If you are in Mary Kay for discounts for yourself and family, you can order $225 WHOLESALE per YEAR and still be active. You have one year from your last order to continue getting your 50% discount. Failing that, you can sign up again for $100 plus tax and you get a brand new kit with new products that you can use and essentially not have to order for several months if you are only buying for yourself and not interested in a business.

$450 RETAIL per year in cosmetics and skin care for you and friends and family is very doable.

I did a cost comparison for the eye makeup remover mentioned above. It is not an equal comparison. Today, 12/09/2019, Avon's is $8 for 2 ounces. Mary Kay is $17 for 3.75 ounces. If you price that out, they are almost the same. Frankly, I have tried both. Mary Kay is a little better. Avon's is still good.

I used to use Estee Lauder - a true luxury skin care but the prices went to the moon. Mary Kay quality is just as great and much more affordable.

I have been a consultant with both companies. Your income is based on your WORK, not product line. 10% may not be much with Avon but it is better than no percent. However, since the prices are very similar per ounce per product, I like 50% much better. :)

Cindra Shiplet on December 03, 2019:

I have been selling Avon for 14 years in the Baltimore area & love it. I sell over $60,000/year in products & have a customer base of 350 that I maintain each month. I have a downline of 15 reps. Just this year, 2019, Avon was bought out by LG & is incorporating their high-end, natural, Korean beauty products in the back of all the Avon brochures starting in Campaign 24. So I have decided to sell both Mary Kay & Avon & LG Faceshop products. All of Avon's Outlet brocures will be discontinued in 2020. Avon Mark & Home Living brochures were already discontinued. I have looked into selling Mary Kay & will become a MK Rep the end of this December. I have some Avon customers that will start buying Mary Kay products when I register for MK. I had found a very good MK Director that is close by & will help train me to earn money with MK.

Tedda Sue Alexander on March 30, 2019:

I Love Marykay Just Became A Beauty Consultant

A mind of my own on May 12, 2018:

I feel everything is not for everybody. I If i don't do good with this one. Maybe i should try this one. Thats why we also have options. Dame it maybe i do good at both. Options