Scholarly Papers enhance your reputation and Inform the channel.
Direct selling is experiencing many positive changes—both in its growth and its perception. The outdated notions and beliefs surrounding our channel are evolving, and direct selling is becoming more mainstream and accepted.
Many factors have contributed to this boost in reputation. A renewed emphasis on customer acquisition, the rise of the gig economy and shifting perspectives and beliefs surrounding social selling and sharing all play important roles. The challenge for direct selling companies is spreading the word—overcoming the obstacles of lingering bad press and celebrating all of the positive things happening in the channel.
At Direct Selling News (DSN), our mission is clear: to serve and inform the channel. We achieve this by being the channel’s daily resource for breaking global news, emerging trends and powerful stories. DSN is always looking to broaden and deepen our scope by providing new tools designed to help hard-working direct selling companies and distributors educate the public about the channel.
An Important New Resource for Direct Sellers
With that in mind, we have added an exciting new resource on our website. Found under the research tab are several scholarly papers co-authored by University of Texas at Austin Professor Robert A. Peterson and former DSN Editor John Fleming.
Based on extensive research and surveys, these papers provide key insights into the gig economy and the people who succeed in it. They tackle misconceptions and inaccuracies about who is involved and what kind of work they do. Most importantly, they give concrete and powerful proof of the long-term viability of the side hustle culture.
We will continue to build out this resource over time in order to provide a current and compelling snapshot of the gig economy. We encourage and invite our readers to utilize the content and data these papers have compiled to educate your field and prospects and edify the industry.
Here’s a sneak peek at the valuable insights and information found in the papers.
1. Surprising Demographics Surrounding Gig Workers
One of the research papers, The Implications of the Gig Economy, discusses the scope of the side hustle movement and addresses several of the issues and complexities surrounding it—for the government, for the companies that hire independent contractors and for the contractors themselves.
Several interesting demographic facts about gig workers are uncovered in this piece.
- 55% work more than one gig
- 31% work more than three
- 41% work via online platforms
The paper also dispels commonly held myths about gig workers—including that they are making less money than they expected to. In fact, 80 percent of gig workers earn what they anticipated.
The paper further illuminates the lifestyle changes the gig economy contributes to. Overall, the workforce is looking for more flexibility. Gigs allow people to not only work when they want to and how they want to, gigs give them the freedom to be unrestricted by location as it eliminates the need to commute to a traditional office.
2. Separating Fact from Fiction
The second paper, Dispelling the Myths of the Gig Economy, disputes some of the negative connotations surrounding direct selling’s legitimacy and viability with powerful and compelling evidence.
One of the prevailing myths about independent contractors is that they are somehow exploited or mistreated by the companies that utilize them. The responses from participants in the side hustle culture clearly refute this.
The vast majority of gig workers—87 percent—rate their experience as positive, and 86 percent would recommend gig work to a friend or colleague. Additionally, 90 percent have healthcare coverage, which is contrary to the claims that it is difficult for them to obtain health and retirement benefits.
The idea that gig workers are somehow on the margins and vulnerable to exploitation is also based on misinformation. The paper documents that gig workers tend to be well educated; nearly three quarters indicate they have college degrees.
In fact, a relatively large proportion of gig workers are attorneys, accountants, web designers and coders, freelance writers and other professionals who simply prefer flexibility and whose primary clients are corporations, rather than individual consumers.
3. Redefining the Nature of Work
The final paper, Independent Contractors: Efficient and Very Satisfied, addresses the impact the gig economy has on how work is defined and rewarded. Much gig work is performance based. Rather than being strictly compensated by hours worked or a predetermined salary, gig workers are most often compensated on the basis of completed tasks.
This is a model that easily translates more efficiently to digital platforms which is evidenced in service fields such as child care, dog walking and long-haul trucking. Professions such as college instruction and architecture, which could be characterized as “pay for performance,” could easily follow suit.
Perhaps most importantly the research and papers clearly demonstrate that people engage in gig work because they want to control their work schedules. Gig workers seek flexibility associated with their work location and hours—which is why the model is proving to be so popular and to have real staying power.
The most apparent problems with gig work could potentially be lack of training and reduced loyalty due to the transient, transactional nature of these endeavors. But the overwhelming majority of gig workers are satisfied with the compensation and lifestyle side hustles afford them.
These three papers and the research and surveys that were conducted to produce them can be a valuable resource for direct selling companies to utilize in better understanding the wants and needs of gig workers and to promote relationship marketing as a viable option for them.
From the July 2021 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.