I just returned from a keynote for the Direct Seller Association; the industry dedicated to selling products to individuals in their homes. One might think in the Internet era that such an industry is on the skids; yet organizations like Avon, Mary Kay, and new direct selling companies continue on a growth trajectory; through innovation in traditional markets, and through fascinating growth in the Asia Pacific region.
My keynote focused on two primary trends: how the customer of today is changing; and how marketing and advertising are changing. I then spoke about how these organizations need to continue to keep up with the rate of change that is occurring around them.
So what’s with the picture? One of the trends I covered was that today’s consumer is influenced differently when it comes to their purchasing activities. It used to be all word of mouth; it still is, but WOM has changed to a significant degree: it’s widened to include the world of social networking.
For example, a recent New York Times article commented on the role of Celebrity Baby Blog when it comes to the clothes that parents are choosing for their children. US Weekly also comented on this trend, noting that when it comes to selling, “In the 1990s, everyone wanted to know about handbags…..now it’s all about, ‘What stroller is Naomi Watts’s child in?‘” (Apparently it’s a Strider 3 Steelcraft in slate at $449US).
That’s but one trend of about 20 key consumer, advertising and marketing trends I took a look at. House parties have been social-networked too, through Houseparty.com! As noted in the Times, “Jarden Consumer Solutions, which sells appliances under names like Mr. Coffee and Sunbeam, hired House Party to put on 1,000 parties over the Memorial Day weekend to promote the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction line of drink-making machines, which cost $199 to $379.” To a degree, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Direct selling still happens; the mechanism and methodology is changing furiously.
The key issue is this: no matter who you are, what you sell, and who you sell to, your markets, products, customers, touch points and brand issues are changing at a furious pace, and you need to as well. That’s why innovation in the consumer goods sector is critical.