Trends influencing the Direct Selling industry during COVID-19
While the whole world is grappling with the impact of Covid-19, there arises an unprecedented circumstance where most sectors are witnessing massive layoffs due to the declining sales and dwindling revenues.
Owing to this, many people are now opting towards alternate employments, which comes with zero or meager initial investment, and provides them an opportunity to be their own boss.
Here is an opportunity to give a fresh look at the world of Direct Selling - an emerging trend in the gig economy.
With the rise of digitalisation, the direct selling industry has proved to be a boon for many millennials, young emerging entrepreneurs, students, and naive graduates. Considering youth who are digital savvy and appreciate mentorship, looks to be agile in their workspaces.
While a lot of envoys of this generation prefer full-time jobs, many of them crush time for freelancing. In all probability, Direct Selling is a cost-effective product and a business opportunity that offers an opportunity to earn a fee on sale model along with full-time income.
Simultaneously, it is also providing livelihood to millions of people dealing with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Direct Selling has been in practice since the 20th century, and has been providing a non-traditional successful income-generating model to earn a living. Besides entrepreneurs, the industry also bestows great benefits to consumers serving as an alternative to offline retail outlets.
Unlike retail counterparts, Direct Selling adds personal demonstration and explanation of products, home delivery, and guarantees generous satisfaction on comparatively low-cost modules.
The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations represents the global direct selling industry in more than 170 countries.
In India, more than 5 million people are involved in direct selling of which 60 percent of them are women. India has witnessed a total number of direct sellers rise to 5.7 million in 2018-19 from 5.1 million in 2016-17, equivalent to the addition of 800 people every day.
Quantified by the ASSOCHAM report, Direct Selling industry in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 4.8 percent to reach Rs 15,930 crore by 2021. This mounting number can be attributed to the suppleness and creative nature of the direct selling industry.
Technology advancements like AI, chatbots, and voice bots are presently providing the best user experience in the direct selling industry.
This also helps to gather customers’ previous inquiry data and provides enough inputs for predictive analysis of the customer. This is a smart way of providing stability into the direct selling business, isn’t it?
Digital payment in India is growing faster than other countries, and has increased by 55 percent compared to other Asian countries. Digital transaction methodology avoids delays in payment and leads to low dependency on the representative.
Moreover, upholding the current pandemic situation, going digital is an imperative factor to avoid potential hygiene issues as well around the exchange of cash. This also maximizes the flow of sales and provides a satisfactory customer experience.
Internet & Social Media
Digitalisation and social media are playing the budding role in leading businesses. A speedy internet network helps to expand the reach of businesses and create sales opportunities. It is a direct approach to find your direct customers.
Instead of connecting socially, now one can easily expand the business and connect with customers via sharing of e-brochures, market pitches, business content, product blogs and articles, etc.
Influencer marketing to gauge more attention of buyers
Influencer marketing has brought in a new trend to the Direct Selling industry. The traditional ‘word of mouth’ approach can be highly impactful if done through an influencer. This can even expand your reach to an international scale.
The survey shows that approximately 92 percent of companies believe in influencer marketing as an effective technique of reaching out to a large audience.
Emerging trends in health and wellness products
As per WFDSA, in 2019, out of the total sales in 2019, the wellness product category comprised of 55 percent, followed by Cosmetics & Personal Care product category, which contributed 27 percent in India. This rising trend is expected to continue in the times to come.
The pandemic has led the Direct Selling industry to evolve more into Health and Wellness space. The companies are manifesting awareness towards building immunity and developing a healthy lifestyle. Likewise, the channel creates a trustworthy impact on users owing to a direct approach and no duplicity of products.
Personal care and consumer health products have become the most popular category sold via direct selling in India since the rise in Covid-19.
Some of the examples are Gut Health probiotics, Immune Health supplements, etc., which can help people to empower immunity and could be an ideal solution to tackle the epidemic situation.
The world of mobile phones is an important medium for direct selling. These days, people relate to their mobile phones rather than connect in-person. The device acts as the fastest medium of marketing for communication.
This trend creates an opportunity via email marketing, promotions through SMS, subscriptions, mobile apps, ecommerce, promotional calls, etc.
In summation, the industry has continued to grow stronger despite the challenges. It has emerged as a viable career option for people, including Gen X and Y cohort who are looking for a comfortable business model and seek a work-life balance at the same time.
With the latest trends and features, many Direct Selling companies invest in digital and technology; products and R&D; and distributor incentives in India.
An explosion in the gig economy, health and wellness, and social communities built on social platforms are the ‘tailwind’ for Direct Selling a business in India.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)