By Amber Middleton
Mary Kay Cosmetics is not a traditional cosmetics company, as it sells its products directly to consumers through a sales force rather than in retail stores. Each member of the Mary Kay sales force is an independent contractor with the company. Mary Kay Cosmetics is a company known for providing women with exceptional opportunities for professional achievement and economic success and rewarding women for their success. Mary Kay Cosmetics uses several programs to motivate, recognize, and develop its beauty consultants, which include recognition in a monthly magazine, annual events, gifts, and prizes.
One of Mary Kay’s most effective strategies is incentives for consultants. Mary Kay Ash realized in the early 1960s that that her female sales force was highly motivated by what she called “Cinderella gifts”, items they would not be likely to buy for themselves. These gifts included vacations, fur coats, and jewelry. The highest achievers received Mary Kay’s signature prize, a pink Cadillac.
Consultants earn rewards by selling products and recruiting other consultants. To date, more than 130,000 consultants have qualified for a “Mary Kay career car”, and the company spends more than $50 million annually on rewards and prizes for the independent sales force. Although recognizing employees in this manner is costly, Ash, who passed away in 2001, believed it was worth it. “We treat our people like royalty. If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you.”