As new companies bring an innovative approach to direct sales and existing companies evolve, consumers and investors alike are taking note of the industry’s momentum and adaptability to the demands of a digital age.
A recent Crain’s New York Business article highlights some up-and-coming direct sellers who are building their brands with a strong focus on technology. Chloe + Isabel and Ruby Ribbon—both two-year-old startups—generate much of their business through a strong online presence. Launched this year, style advice site Keaton Row uses social networks to connect women to one of its trained and vetted personal stylists.
As the writer points out, these newcomers are not “your grandmother’s Avon Ladies.” However, today’s Avon Ladies are not those of your grandmother’s day either. Avon more than holds its own as the No. 2 direct selling company in the world, with $10.7 billion in revenue in 2012. As she begins her tenure at the 100-year-old brand, CEO Sheri McCoy has committed to invest $200 million in updating the company’s information systems and cultivating digital platforms.
Recent startups have brought valuable innovation to direct sales, but the core of the business model remains something your grandmother’s Avon Lady would recognize: social connection. Industry sales rose 6 percent in 2012, and that number will continue to increase as more companies enrich their business model through digital tools.