Beyond Pills and Potions: The New Landscape of Direct Selling Products

Apr 5, 2022Sheffield Blog

Older people think of Tupperware parties or the “Avon lady” when they think of direct selling. Multilevel marketing has an even deeper history since it evolved from the early days of the Yankee Peddler. Avon itself was founded by David McConnel who long-ago sold Bibles door-to-door. He figured out early that offering free perfume samples made selling Bibles much easier, and eventually the perfumes won over.

Today, direct selling companies are commonly associated with nutritional and weight loss products, or skincare and cosmetics. It’s true that many of the greatest MLMs have centered on these categories, because they can provide consumable products with unique value and high margins. But in reality, the industry embraces a vast range of products and services, many of which lie far from the traditional categories of “pills and potions.”

Let’s take a look at a few. Companies like Primerica offer debt solutions and life insurance, and companies like LegalShield offer legal services for ride sharing, debt collection, and estate planning. Artsy, Inc. offers painting parties, where hosts sell tickets to painting parties where friends can get together to learn how to paint as a hobby or for full-time income. Bedroom Kandi offering adults-only products. 

The lesson is, you can sell just about anything through the direct selling channel, if you do it right. Nevertheless there are some important factors to take into consideration when choosing a product/service to sell through a multilevel marketing business plan. Products that perform well will meet several of these criteria:

Stimulates word-of-mouth marketing

Products and services that invoke customer enthusiasm are worth their weight in gold because people talk about them. Word-of-mouth marketing is more trusted by consumers than traditional paid advertising and spread more quickly as one person after another tells another about the greatness of a product.

Solves a problem/Creates a convenience

Think of the historic success of Tupperware. What obvious problem did they solve? Easy, affordable, lightweight food storage. Not only are problem-solving products easy to demonstrate, but they are loved by end-consumers.

Creates recurring revenue

Consumable products create a lifetime customer. You invest time and effort to capture the customer once, and then they buy again and again. Selling consumable products can provide a continuous revenue stream for both the independent distributor and the company.

Has reasonable margins

When choosing a product, be sure it has reasonable margins. The retail price must be substantially higher than the cost of the product for the business. This is important in direct selling because you need to compensate your growing voluntary army of distributors at multiple levels.

Has a story behind it

Another characteristic of a good MLM product is that it has a story that needs to be told, one that can’t easily be communicated on a store shelf or in a 30-second TV ad. You don’t have to depend on your distributors to tell the story, but they will motivate prospects to visit your website or watch your videos. Needless to say, your distributors should be using the product so they can speak authentically when they share it with others.

Is unique in the marketplace

The more distinct your product is, the more successful you are likely to be in the direct selling industry. If it’s just “another one like the other one” distributors will be competing with all the alternatives available online or in the stores. So, focus on originality wherever you can. Best of all is a patented product that no else can copy. 

Learn more about product selection and other important topics from Sheffield Global Academy, the only online course for founders and executives of direct selling companies. Or call for a free consultation: 480-968-6199