January is traditionally a time for reflection on the previous year and planning ahead for the following year. In times of a Pandemic, too much forward planning can feel futile, so instead we want take stock of what the last year has meant for the Network Marketing sector.
The benefit of having detailed insights into the financial performance of our Network Marketing clients – and regular communication with the business owners – is that we get to know our clients’ business, their industry and the owners themselves quite well. And with the UK officially in a recession, we were pleased to see that overall, the Pandemic seems to have had a positive effect on their businesses. Some have even seen treble digit growth since March 2020!
Here, we look at why the Network Marketing sector has fared relatively well in the UK, despite the tricky economic landscape.
Seizing new opportunities
COVID-19 has created more opportunities for the direct-to-consumer business model, especially in the fitness, wellness, cooking and beauty sectors. With most of the population spending more time at home – working, exercising, socialising and doing domestic duties – there was a new opportunity to tap into with an increase in demand.
Even before the Pandemic hit, there had been a trend towards selling parties, where a host would invite a group of friends and a consultant would demonstrate the products. Whilst these couldn’t take place in person anymore, they simply had to be moved online, with the likes of Facebook, Zoom and House Party offering the ideal platform to facilitate online parties.
The difficult economic climate and ensuing job losses have meant that our clients have reported an increase in new consultant sign ups. Most of them found themselves looking for alternative streams of income that would work around furlough, home schooling and job losses. The fact that anybody can start their Network Marketing business – regardless of background, level of experience and circumstances – certainly made it an appealing proposition for many who found themselves looking for a flexible job.
Playing to the strengths
The nature of the Network Marketing business model helped consultants adapt quickly and actually played to their strengths. Supply chains and e-commerce platforms were already established, whereas many bricks and mortar stores had to get these set up when the Pandemic first hit.
Nowadays, consumers want authenticity and a personal touch, and with many customers unable to leave their houses, many consultants were able to continue servicing their customers by doing local door stop deliveries and connecting local people through digital parties. A focus on community and supporting each other has always been an essential part of the Network Marketing ethos, which was amplified through the increased community spirit.
Our experience was echoed by the participants of a recent roundtable discussion facilitated by the Direct Selling Association UK (DSA UK) who represent the interests of their members in the direct selling space. In the discussion, representatives from leading direct sales organisations share their experiences from 2020 and expectations for 2021. You can view the full recording here.