Direct selling’s greatest strength is its ability to tap into power of communities. These communities are, however, changing especially in terms of the way the internet is altering how everyone communicates. Successful direct selling companies find balance in a smart web presence, proactive recruitment of online and offline representatives and product development. Smaller players are gaining ground from opportunities left untapped by the established companies.
The category of “others” remains large across most Western European markets. On the one hand, this development is driven by the channel being seen as a low-cost and low-risk sales gateway for companies over the last few years which has made it very attractive for smaller players. On the other hand, the growth of smaller operators has been a direct result of the growth opportunities left untapped by the larger and more established companies.
Distributors are key in direct selling. Getting trusted figures in communities to embrace a direct selling platform can work wonders in building a customer base, but this process is easier to initiate and sustain with value-added products. Success across Western European markets can best be achieved by striking a balance between recruiting and product development. Customer service, however, also proves key for success especially for categories such as consumer appliances that require technical support.
The future for direct selling will be challenging given stronger competition from the online channel and growing pressure from younger, more sceptical shoppers. That being said, growth prospects for the industry in Western Europe are healthy overall, and the model is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The success of certain brands in the region such as Thermomix, for example, indicates growth potential. Companies are transforming their strategies and including brick-and-mortar retail as well, turning stores into their showrooms and playgrounds for successful consumer engagement. Over the next five years, direct sellers will continue to diversify their strategies in order to maintain relevance in the evermore experience-driven and digitalised retail landscape.
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