Case | HBS Case Collection | March 1990 (Revised October 1999)

Mary Kay Cosmetics: Sales Force Incentives (A)

by Robert L. Simons and Hilary Weston


Describes the incentive system by which Mary Kay Cosmetics motivates the sales force of 200,000 independent agents who comprise the firm's only distribution channel. Illustrates the powerful effect on sales-force behavior that results when creative types of employee recognition are combined with financial incentives. Focuses on the challenges that managers face when they try to reduce program costs by modifying the VIP automobile program that awards the use of pink Cadillacs and other cars to successful sales agents. A detailed description of the parameters and formulas that drive the recognition and reward programs is provided.

Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Cost Management; Salesforce Management; Distribution Channels; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; United States;


Simons, Robert L., and Hilary Weston. "Mary Kay Cosmetics: Sales Force Incentives (A)." Harvard Business School Case 190-103, March 1990. (Revised October 1999.)