Suzanne Sproul, writer for Inland Valley Daily Bulletin shared a heartwarming article on the rise … or return of home party marketing:
In the 1950s, Brownie Wise started throwing parties. But they weren’t just like any party. Wise’s parties featured bonus gifts like speedboats and trips to Florida, sparking a revolutionary sales method coined party-plan marketing. She was the mother of Tupperware parties — and her method is making a comeback.
The depth and breadth of products one can buy while sitting on the living room couch with a few friends is virtually limitless. More than six decades after the first Tupperware party, people are now hosting parties where guests can check out personal self-defense items (Damsel in Defense) and tea collections (Zendigo Teas) to nail polish (Jamberry Nails) and pet products (pawTree).
In a time when technology can seem overwhelming to many, the personal touch of the home party is not only fun, but fills a need for personal selling and customer service, said Deb Bixler, creator of the Virginia-based Cash Flow Show, a service-based business model.
“The No. 1 commodity in the 21st century is fun,” she said. “When a home party-plan consultant creates a fun environment it becomes a way for guests to have a great night out while shopping with friends. They learn more about the product line and how it may add value to their lives. Between the personal touch and the fun factor, the home party plan is a great way to earn income and to entertain.”
Sarah Quezada of Ontario is a consultant for three direct sales companies — Miche, a fashion handbag and jewelry company; Origami Owl, a custom jewelry company; and, most recently, Tupperware.
“I worked for 10 years and then 2 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” Quezada said. “I tried but wasn’t able to continue to work where I was. I wanted to find some way of contributing to my family.
“I started selling Miche handbags, but realized there are just so many purses you can sell,” she added with a chuckle.
So she diversified and eventually added Tupperware because of its long history and reputation for success. Being able to host the parties provides the stay-at-home mother of two a chance to earn some extra income while socializing with others, like during Quezada’s recent Miche and margarita party.
Dawn Monge, also of Ontario, hosted an Origami Owl gathering with Quezada and decided to add a Christmas cookie exchange to the mix.
“I wanted to get some items for my grandmother so I knew I needed them and decided to have a get-together. We had lasagna, people brought salads and appetizers, we exchanged cookies and then Sarah did her presentation. It was about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish and was a great time,” Monge said.
The full-time teacher used to work with two direct sales companies herself, but now Monge’s involvement is hosting a party every now and then when it fits her schedule.
“I like getting together with women outside of the workplace and without the kids. As hostess, if I earn something free for having the party, that’s a nice perk, but I just enjoy the fun of getting together,” Monge said.
Quezada and Monge are among the 16.8 million people who have contributed to the continued success of the party-plan model, which hit $32.6 billion in estimated retail sales in 2013, according to the Direct Selling Association in Washington, D.C. Top products sold were geared toward wellness and services, while those of clothing/accessories and leisure/educational remained steady.
Zendigo Teas is among the newest to the party-plan direct sales industry and is eager to contribute to those statistics. The Duarte-based company began operations in October.
“At Zendigo, we have Zendigo tea experiences instead of parties. We don’t want people to expect cucumber sandwiches and scones,” said Jean Stroud, director of field development for Zendigo.
“What all our consultants do is provide education along with the experience in a comfortable home setting. They explain how to brew or steep tea, they talk about the health benefits of tea and the ways a body reacts differently to the caffeine in tea versus the jolt of energy one gets from coffee — things like that,” she noted.
“The idea is to build a relationship with a consultant so when a customer needs something they have someone to go to.”
What this article shares is that network marketing is making a shift in many ways. What was once frowned upon (being in multiple companies) is now a force to be reckoned with as individuals grab hold of the retail market and essentially turn their backs on the power of team building. Whether this is a better direction to go into is something that remains to be seen.