Direct Selling in Western Europe

June 2019

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.

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Key Findings

Smaller players gain traction

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.

Direct selling’s greatest strength is its sales force, but products and customer service matter too

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.

Embracing the internet and possibly physical stores may prove key in the future

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.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Western Europe has the third-largest historic sales growth globally
The region registers healthy performance in value terms
The low-cost and low-risk sales channel is attractive for smaller players
Beauty and personal care: the largest single product category
Performance across markets and categories remains largely positive
Mixed performance across countries and categories
The continuously challenged and shifting business model

Leading Companies and Brands

Direct selling remains fragmented in Western Europe
Vorwerk leads the way
Global giants expanding horizons in 2017
Strong performance in Italy results in changes in top 10 ranking

Forecast Projections

Mixed performance across markets expected over the forecast period
Direct sellers to reshape the sales experience

Country Snapshots

Austria: market context
Austria: competitive landscape
Belgium: market context
Belgium: competitive landscape
Denmark: market context
Denmark: competitive landscape
Finland: market context
Finland: competitive landscape
France: market context
France: competitive landscape
Germany: market context
Germany: competitive landscape
Greece: market context
Greece: competitive landscape
Ireland: market context
Ireland: competitive landscape
Italy: market context
Italy: competitive landscape
Netherlands: market context
Netherlands: competitive landscape
Norway: market context
Norway: competitive landscape
Portugal: market context
Portugal: competitive landscape
Spain: market context
Spain: competitive landscape
Sweden: market context
Sweden: competitive landscape
Switzerland: market context
Switzerland: competitive landscape
Turkey: market context
Turkey: competitive landscape
UK: market context
UK: competitive landscape


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