Starbucks Corporation

With a sales force exceeding 2 million, Mary Kay Cosmetics(r) is considered to be one of the top brands in the cosmetic industry. 70% of the employees at Mary Kay are women and the company offers a diverse range of incentives in order to motivate them. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay believed in providing its female workforce with opportunities to thrive and succeed and therefore, several motivating techniques have been implemented in order to achieve this. (Mary Kay Inc., 2010).

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The incentives offered at Mary Kay are not merely monetary because within Mary Kay exists a strong culture of ‘praising people to success’ (The shoe that fits, 1996). The company has managed to attain a competitive advantage due to the motivating techniques deployed. Mary Kay Cosmetics was recognized by the Working Woman magazine for the commendable working atmosphere provided for the female executives to prosper and flourish. When the motivating strategies were implemented back in 1982, the company saw a 16% annual increase in sales and realized a 30% annual increase in profits (Fox & Bruce, 1994).

So what motivating technique adopted was that led to this company achieving soaring profits? At Mary Kay, it is believed that “the road to long term success is paved by short-term achievements” and therefore, 6 levels of awards are offered to the sales force (The shoe that fits, 1996). Achieving a sales quota or bringing in new people for sales are two of the criteria on which benefits are rewarded. Moreover, creativity is also rewarded and ideas that reduce company costs or save money are compensated. The company embraced a positive reinforcement approach, whereby employees are rewarded on the basis of their performance.

Praise is the ‘no expense’ motivating solution adopted by Mary Kay: employees achieving their sales quotas are listed in the company’s monthly magazine, Encore. This way, the company ensures that all efforts are recognized (The shoe that fits, 1996) and the morale of the employees is boosted. If Mary Kay’s employees do something that she likes, then they are praised with a hand written letter and a few gifts which shows the warmth and support of Mary Kay towards her employees. In addition, the workforce may be gifted something as simple as the basic necessities of life such as kitchen appliances and sports equipments to recognize their efforts. As per Mary Kay Ash, women require appreciation and motivation throughout. From the first week itself, the employees get rewarded for their first $100 sale.

Moreover, the annual program consists of trips to exotic locations such as Paris which are rewarded to top achievers. 2 of the emblematic rewards offered by Mary Kay are quite well known to the public: the pink Cadillac, also known as “the Caddy” or the “Wheels of Fortune” (Mary Kay Inc., 2010), and the “diamond bumblebee” (Templeton, 1985). A new pink Caddy is offered to the top national sales directors every 2 years for life. Likewise, during one of the seminars, Mary Kay distributed $1million in diamonds and furs not only to the employees but also to their spouses (Templeton, 1985).

Recognition is the something extra that is offered for doing something extra and this has seemed to work very well at Mary Kay Cosmetics, for both the employees and the company itself (Templeton, 1985).The reinforcement theory proved to be a potent management tool at Mary Kay. An ingenious reward system was applied by Mary Kay Cosmetics which resulted in the significant motivation of employees and extensive profits for the company.


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Templeton, J. 1985, “A team with star quality. (sales team).”, Sales & Marketing Management, No. 134, pp 80, Available at: Proquest Central, [Accessed April 5, 2010]

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