Avon Wellness: David Cross

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When Avon Products launched its Wellness line last May, skepticism was natural. It seemed a stretch for a beauty-care brand to leap into such categories as dietary supplements after U.S. supplement sales declined in 2000.

But David Cross, a 20-year veteran of Avon, wasn't skeptical. As executive director-global health and well-being, he was part of a group charged by CEO Andrea Jung to expand Avon into new areas. Customers and Avon sales reps told them pursuing "inner beauty" was the most promising path.

By September, Avon was proving the doubters wrong. Originally projected for 2001 sales of $50 million, the Avon Wellness line was tracking to reach $75 million. Key to Avon Wellness' success has been what Mr. Cross, 47, calls "an integrated, holistic" approach that also includes exercise equipment, stress-reducing music CDs and aromatherapy candles, plus Avon direct sales reps to make sense of it all for customers.

PR efforts generated 116 million impressions. The wellness message also dovetails with an in-house-produced ad campaign featuring sibling tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, who author a "Sisterly Advice" column in a magalog sent to 16 million women every six weeks.

"You may go into a major mass-merchandise store and find nutrition in one corner, exercise products in another and beauty products somewhere else," Mr. Cross says. "I think we're able to uniquely pull all those pieces together."

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