ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com)---Many Americans still equate Amway with evangelical Christianity and distributors through whom they could find hard-surface cleaners, moisturizers and God at the same time.
The reality of Amway today is a global direct seller primarily of beauty products and nutritional supplements with $8.4 billion in sales -- about the size of Nivea marketer Beiersdorf -- 90% of which come outside the U.S., said Candace Matthews, CMO of Amway Corp., in a talk at the Association of National Advertisers conference in Orlando Oct. 16.
She didn't directly address Amway's legacy image in the U.S. other than mentioning the oblique "knowledge gap" the brand faces where "people over 40 think one thing about us" and people younger know little about the brand.
In part, that stems from Amway's since-disregarded effort to create a second brand last decade, Quixtar. In part, it also stems from so much of the company's focus being overseas, particularly China, now its largest market.
Despite a difficult start that included a ban on direct selling by the Chinese government up to 2005, China is now Amway's biggest market through a combination of more than 200 stores opened prior to the ban being lifted and a growing direct-selling organization, she said.
Ms. Matthews claimed Amway now has 100% awareness and 85% favorability in China through a highly successful market-development effort that focused first on government relations.
In the U.S., she said, Amway is now the No. 1 online seller of health and beauty products and has increasingly expanded awareness of itself as a beauty retailer through TV ads and sponsorship, such as acquiring naming rights for the Amway Center in Orlando, where the NBA's Magic plays.