Traditionally when people thought of direct selling Tupperware parties would spring to mind. However, the industry has made enormous strides since 1950s post-war Britain. In 2013 there were over 4.8 million direct sales, netting over £2bn for the UK economy. Given this growth what would the direct seller of early post-war Britain would make of today’s industry?
Defining Direct Selling
Over the course of time the fundamental concept of direct selling has remained largely the same. According to The DSA it’s “a method of marketing and retailing goods and services directly to the consumers, in their homes or in any other location away from permanent retail premises.” By selling goods outside a fixed retail environment, it offers complete flexibility for the seller enabling them to expand their business as much or as little as they want.
Identifying the direct seller
In early post-war Britain direct selling was particularly popular among mothers. Being a flexible business model, it offered an additional source of household income at a time when keeping the home was a full-time job. Today the industry is branching out to a much wider audience. The number of stay-at-home mums active in the industry now accounts for 29% of direct sellers, while men account for 24% of the sector.
Stepping back to early post war Britain, Tupperware parties were the order of the day. Now the industry is open to a range of products that can be showcased at parties including cosmetics, cleaning products, nutritional products, homewares and paper craft supplies to name a few. The breadth of choice means the contemporary direct seller will inevitably find a product they like.
Available sales channels
Traditionally direct-selling was associated with the door-to-door sales approach. By no means a redundant technique, in a modern context it is important to consider this process as part of a broader mix of activity. Stampin’ Up! UK is a leading craft company which operates via a network of direct of sellers. In our experience, demonstrators particularly like to host product parties and offer creative classes as they are a great way to meet new people.
Online platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook will also help you to share your product to a wider audience anytime, anywhere and video formats such as YouTube enable you to build your profile and interact with your audience.
Are there startling contrasts between the direct seller of today and yesteryear? The industry at present is vibrant and dynamic, appealing to a broad audience; but certain aspects have endured with time. Direct selling is a business model that has always emphasised social interaction. Sales are typically conducted face to face with products demonstrated to an individual or a group. The key to direct selling success lies in a holistic approach which incorporates classic face-to-face interaction with digital communication.