Direct selling, or multi-level marketing as it commonly referred to, is nothing new. Companies like Amway and Shaklee have been in business over 50 years. Mary Kay and Tupperware have been around for 50+ years and Avon harkens back to humble beginnings from a struggling door-to-door book salesman in 1886! Most anyone who works in an office or has a child in school has been on the receiving end of a pitch for a 31 Gifts party or wrapping paper fundraiser sale. In the late 1990s, I went kicking and screaming to a neighbor’s Pampered Chef party and ended up having a great time and buying a bunch of products I had no idea I even needed! Regardless of your opinion of the direct sales approach, it is obviously here to stay. In 2014, over 18 million people in the U.S. were involved in direct selling, with retail sales totaling $34.5 billion dollars and wellness products leading the way. After all, if your friend’s skin glows from using a certain product, or they lost weight by drinking meal replacement shakes, chances are you’re going to want to try those products, too. A personal product endorsement is a powerful selling tool.
Companies like House Party partner with brands and then consumers apply to host parties to promote products. There is no cost for the consumer to join or participate, the value to the brand is in the consumer feedback and organic social media promotion and reach of the party participants. The party host receives a party pack with samples, coupons, and product information to share and agrees to promote the party in a variety of ways. Smiley360 takes an even more personalized approach, providing product samples based on surveys to narrow participants’ demographics in exchange for social media promotion by the products’ recipients. These kinds of direct selling models make the combination of social media and brand promotion possible from the comfort of your own home, not unlike the lyrics in Sam Hunt’s country music hit House Party, “if you’re gonna be a homebody, we can have a house party.”
If this sounds a bit like sponsored content, it’s because the lines of social media and consumerism are blurring. Everyone with a hand in the social media realm is looking for ways to increase traffic and make money off of their site, whether through targeted ads, affiliate marketing sites like Ebates, or suggested posts based on users’ internet search history. In the 1970s, market research consisted of people with clipboards standing around at the mall asking people’s opinions on products (don’t make eye contact!), whereas today’s hi-tech, targeted marketing efforts are frequently something consumers choose to opt-in on rather than avoid like the plague.
Whether you ship brand-sponsored party packs to consumers; need to fulfill online and/or catalog sales; or want to scale your direct selling efforts internationally, Fulfillment.com makes worldwide fulfillment easy.