In a job market where formulaic career opportunities prove scarce, Generation Y’s entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing in less conventional work environments. Direct selling companies are witnessing this trend firsthand, as a growing number of young people pursue the open-ended opportunity available through direct sales.
Amway, the No. 1 direct selling company in the world, has witnessed a steady rise in interest among the Gen Y demographic. In 2005, millennials represented about 10 percent of Amway’s global salesforce. That number climbed to nearly a third in 2012.
Australia’s Business Review Weekly recently featured Amway Australia’s growing number of Gen Y distributors. The company has been actively pursuing a digital strategy to cultivate “deeper and richer communication” with its Gen Y audience.
Amway, which previously distributed print magazines every month in Australia and New Zealand, is successfully gleaning data and connecting to young people through digital publications. Transitioning to digital platforms—Amway Australia currently has 35 active publications—has enabled the company to easily update and enrich the material.
Amway’s strategy for connecting to a younger generation also encompasses several social media platforms, particularly Facebook. “The sort of business we are in is very much dependent on word-of-mouth referrals, and in many ways it’s a hand-in-glove fit with social media,” said Michael Coldwell, General Manager of Amway Australia.
Cosmetics giant Mary Kay has also focused on online tools to connect to younger consumers and salespeople. The company’s success is apparent in its U.S. distributor base, half of whom are under 35. In Canada, where The Globe and Mail recently reported that young workers are discovering a fresh opportunity in direct sales, millennials represent over 20 percent of the company’s salesforce.
“They have a very strong entrepreneurial spirit,” said Lynda Rose, Vice President of Marketing at Mary Kay Canada. “They’re saying, ‘We want to travel with our business and we want to have it at our fingertips.’ … Their income is reflective of the amount of effort they put into their business, and they love that.”