If you are a Millennial female with Facebook, I’ll make an educated guess that you have at least been invited to join a LuLaRoe group. Or perhaps you have recently attended (or hosted) a Stella and Dot party. Companies such as these have consultants who engage in “social selling.” For those unfamiliar with this trend, think of Tupperware parties of the past now in Facebook form where consultants can sell their leggings, jewelry, makeup, etc., from the comfort of their living room directly to their family, friends, and extended network.
Peer-to-peer selling is nothing new. Cosmetic companies like Mary Kay and Avon have used these technique for many years. However, the popularity of this method has recently seen explosive growth, in part due to the growing acceptance of the gig economy as a way to both make money and make social connections. Additionally, the rise of social media has lent itself as a quick, easy, and effective way to make a sales pitch to a large number of “friends” on the receiving end of posts.
Remarkably, a Pew Research Center survey reveals that one in five Americans (18%) have earned money in 2015 by selling something online. Further, 75% of direct sales consultants are women. Social selling companies offer these consultants the opportunity to make some income while retaining flexibility over when, and how much, they work. These are likewise the hallmarks of the gig economy in general. Coupling the popularity of online shopping with the sociable benefits of social media has resulted in a fun and profitable “gig” for many consultants. Whether the trend will continue to include more goods and services remains to be seen.