Avon: Quality Assurance, Motivation and Attitudes Change

Avon Products is a leading cosmetics company based in the USA. The company operates in a highly competitive industry and requires high standards of products and environmentally friendly policies. Quality assurance programs will help Avon Products to improve its production and satisfy customers’ needs and expectations. The two major issues, affected quality at Avon, are production processes (low quality) and poor motivation among workers that lead to low product quality and a great number of defects. The example of Avon Products shows that environmental issues have, over the past few years, increasingly aroused our concern both as members of the community and as customers. To the voice of the former, a customer can be assured policymakers have been and will continue listening; and consumers make a potent force for production change (Beckford 2002).

The proposed strategies will be based on ISO 9000 standards and the zero Defects approach. To be effective, ISO 9000 standards should be a part of the philosophy and vision of the company. Whether the issue is global warming as a result of burning fossil fuels or accelerated air, land, and water pollution caused by producers and consumers alike, or opposition to the use of animal extracts for perfumes and colognes, the effect is, and will probably continue to be, a preference for products which are environmentally neutral (that is, do not have any impact on the environment). Clearly, therefore, however trivial and trite it might appear to be, not only must important customer needs be determined, measuring how well these needs are being provided for is also critical (Chase and Jacobs 2003). “The aim of these changes is to encourage organizations to think about their management processes and react to the changing demands placed upon them” (Beckford 2002, p. 222). The first stage of ISO 9000 standards implementation is to develop the implementation plan. The aim of the standards is to ensure that every employee understands his potential and responsibility to the organization. To the extent possible, all processes within the organization should be carried out supported b ISO 9000 standards, so that the new quality approach can be made available to the widest possible audience of employees (Johnston 2003). Avon Products needs to provide support for the preparation of ISO 9000 documents. The company also needs to provide a quality standard capability, so that documents can be exchanged for the purposes of annotation and revision. “This, in turn, enables audit of the product or service delivered and monitoring of customer satisfaction and of competitor and market performance” (Beckford 2002, p. 224).

The second proposed program is Zero Defects. In order to introduce this method, the company should develop a team of 5-6 employees responsible for implementation and control. Zero Defects program will be based on four main principles:

  • quality is conformance to standards,
  • defect prevention is preferable to quality inspection and correction,
  • Zero Defects is the standard itself,
  • quality is measured in monetary terms (Beckford 2002).

During the first stage, it will be important to change the attitudes and values of workers. The management should motivate workers and introduce rewards systems (Johnston 2003).

Zero Defects will help Avon to follow agreed standards and meet the main principles of quality and continuous improvement policies. Instill in the organization not merely a tolerance of, but even a desire for a higher level of mutual dependence. Overcoming the inherent urge to be independent and insulated calls for top management who can be diplomats, straight shooters, and firefighters all rolled into one. Whether the organization is for manufacturing or service, and irrespective of which part of the value chain is under consideration, the instinctive human tendency to provide margins of safety must be tackled and overcome. Initially, a firm recommendation if not the outright imposition of tight linkage may be the best medicine to prescribe. Changing layouts in production, eliminating inventory “cushions” in finished goods, raw material, or working-process (which could affect distribution, suppliers, and internal operations, respectively), linking Marketing Research and Applied Research using Quality Function Deployment, and so forth, are some of the possible steps. A change has to be effected from a relatively cozy existence in which individual and group efforts are exerted in isolated splendor to a state of possible turmoil, at least initially, where finger-pointing, feelings of guilt, and a generally increased sense of responsibility could be accompanied by spasms of frustration. This transition obviously could and should be eased to prevent the shock waves of resentment from rocking the organization’s stability. This might include steps to improve equipment reliability through Total Productive Maintenance or implementing Statistical Process Control, balancing the chain of operations, the use of equipment of lower capacity to increase flexibility, and the encouragement of self-supervision to get employees acquainted with, even drawn to, the notion of taking responsibility for one’s tasks and activity performance (Johnston 2003).

For Avon Products management, it will be important to check output for defects. The company should develop a special team of three-four persons responsible for checking and records reviewing. Also, this team will be able to introduce necessary changes and make continual improvements. Though information flow is a significant component of timely response, other types of activities could assume importance as well. Customers who, for instance, would like material delivered in smaller lots every day rather than in large batches every week are not just asking for information about the Avon Product’s capability. They want a decision, a commitment, and a demonstration of the ability to deal with the new set of circumstances. Improvements in operating cycle efficiency (OCE) achieved by chipping away at the “waste” times like storage time, material handling time, waiting time, and time lost due to quality lapses can certainly help. Though improvements in quality typically increase both the firm’s emphasis on value creation activities as well as the output rate (more cars produced per day, more guests checked in per hour, and so on), Quality still remains an efficiency measure. In a standardized operation where efficiency (resource utilization) and hence costs are the predominant considerations, Quality and allied efficiency indicators might suffice as performance measures. On the other hand, for firms that wish to deliver continuously rising value through tight linkage to the customer, flexibility/responsiveness indicators must be tracked to supplement the efficiency meter (Johnston 2003).

In sum, quality assurance programs will be based on two important methods, ISO 9000 standards, and Zero Defects. The two aspects represent the two faces of the coin of customer value. To be effective, a quality assurance program will involve changes in motivation and attitudes of employees towards standards and quality itself. Quality gaps make the chase of value a frustrating experience since the attainment of internal quality targets does not ensure the satisfaction of customers’ quality needs. Wherever information crosses boundaries (whether between value activities or hierarchic levels) distortion and even loss or suppression of information can occur. For Avon Products, time is both an irreplaceable resource and a prominent dimension of value. It also plays a crucial role in unifying Avon products by vesting customers’ needs with a sense of urgency.


Beckford, J. (2002). Quality. Routledge.

Chase R.B., Jacobs R.F. (2003). Operations Management for Competitive Advantage, Hill/Irwin; 10 edition.

Johnston R. (2003). Cases in Operations Management, 3rd Edition Pearson Education Limited.

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