What is Direct Selling?
Direct Selling is the sale of a consumer product or service, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location. These products and services are marketed to customers by independent salespeople. Depending on the company, the salespeople may be called distributors, representatives, consultants or various other titles. Products are sold primarily through in-home product demonstrations, parties and one-on-one selling.
DSA’s 2000 Direct Selling Public Attitude Tracking Survey, conducted by Burke Marketing Research, assessed public attitudes toward the direct selling industry. This study updates the findings of an earlier DSA study conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide (1997). Data from both surveys indicate that direct selling remains a vibrant marketing method that engenders considerable loyalty among its representatives and customers. Recent marketing innovations such as use of the Internet and mall kiosks, while less prevalent than traditional direct selling approaches, are gradually increasing in importance. Some particular points of interest include:
The direct selling industry has touched a majority of adult Americans.
- The direct selling industry has touched a majority of adult Americans: In 2000, 55 percent of American adults reported having, at some time, purchased goods or services from a direct selling representative. This represents a slight increase over the Wirthlin figures.
- In the 2000 survey, one in five American adults (20%) reported they are now (6%) or have been (14%) a direct selling representative.
- Among direct selling customers, three out of four (77%) have attended an in-home demonstration or party.
The market potential for direct selling.
- Thirty-eight percent of adult Americans surveyed in 2000 have some interest in purchasing a product or service in the future via direct selling, but only 27 percent had actually made a direct selling purchase in the past year. Both figures are about the same as in the earlier survey (Wirthlin Worldwide, 1997).
- With public interest in purchasing through direct selling (38%) exceeding those who have purchased (27%), these recent figures suggest there is an opportunity for growth!
Are America’s shopping patterns changing?
- As reported in 2000, the 55 percent of American adults who have ever purchased by direct selling is exceeded only by the percentage of those who have ever purchased via retail stores (96%) or through mail order catalogs (83%).
- The percentage of American adults who are somewhat, very or extremely interested in using the Internet as a method of purchasing products and services in the future has increased from the 30 percent of American adults reported in the 1997 survey to the 50 percent reported in 2000.