Direct selling goes mainstream

Sector appealing to broader demographics with rise in over 50s and non-British direct sellers.

The direct selling industry is booming in the UK with over 4.8 million direct sales transitions in 2013, netting over £2bn for the UK economy. New figures released today from the Direct Selling Association (DSA), the trade body that represents direct selling companies in the UK also reveal the sector is appealing to increasingly broad demographic groups, and more people are direct selling ‘full-time’.

Direct selling is where goods are sold direct to consumers outside of a fixed retail shop. The DSA surveyed its 60 member companies including Avon, Kleeneze and Herbalife and discovered that on average 38% of direct sellers are over 50, representing a rise over 32,000 people since 2011. There are now 152,000 over 50 year old direct sellers in the UK, who are frequently attracted by the flexibility and social aspects of direct selling.

Direct selling is also increasingly appealing to a multi-cultural audience. For the first time the DSA surveyed its members about this and discovered 30% of direct sellers (120,000 people) in the UK are non-British.  DSA member companies attribute this to a rise in interest of people from places like Asia and Eastern Europe, where direct selling has an even larger presence.

People are turning to direct selling as a real alternative to traditional employment, with 68,000 direct sellers (17%) working full time hours (over 30 hours a week).  This is up 20,000 from 12% in 2011. The traditional direct selling demographic of stay-at-home mums now accounts for 29% of direct sellers, while men account for 24% of the sector.

Lynda Mills, director of the Direct Selling Association said: “We’re seeing a broader audience involved in direct selling than ever before. These figures represent a move away from the traditional perception of direct selling as a part time job for mums – this is a vibrant, modern industry that appeals to a wide cross section of people of all ages and backgrounds, and offers a real alternative to traditional employment for many.

“Direct selling really has entered the mainstream, thanks in part to the solid community including more and more over 50s and different cultural groups.  It’s an attractive alternative to traditional full time work, letting people work how and when they choose, and build their own businesses.”

Direct selling lets anyone start their own business and begin selling products directly to their friends, family, neighbours and wider contacts. It’s completely flexible; with direct sellers able to pick the hours they work to suit their own lifestyle and commitments.  The Direct Selling Association is the trade body for the industry, responsible for promoting the sector and regulating member companies.


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