Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The In-Home

The in-home purchase party is endlessly fascinating to me. Tastefully Simple, Avon, Pampered Chef, CAbi, Stella & Dot, and Beauty Control are just a few of the direct-sales-via in-home-party conglomerates getting a piece of this $30 Billion annual pie. It has become so widespread that there are now in-home parties where you can purchase bags to transport all of the items you purchased at the other in-home parties.Although it varies slightly from company to company, the basic model is as follows:

1.      Sales consultant for company contacts friends, family, or parole officer asks them to host a party.
2.      If said friend agrees to entrepreneurial home-invasion, they receive incentives in the form of “host rewards” which are usually discounts proportional to the amount of sales generated at the party.
3.      Consultant will take a percentage and attempt to continue the process by getting a party attendee to host their own shindig until the process becomes self-sustaining or you run out of acquaintances. 
As you can imagine, this business model is made possible by the fairer sex. I suspect this is because it combines the thrill of shopping with the allure of a social event. Can you imagine an in-home party hosted by and catering to men?
I would like to thank you all for attending and wanted to remind you any orders placed before July 15th will receive complimentary FRAM oil filter and a set of Dremel accessories as a part of our ongoing Month of Masculinity promotion. There are plenty of store-brand pork rinds and Natural Light left by the microwave, so help yourself. I also wanted to reiterate that if anyone needs their drywall knife monogrammed there is a $5 convenience fee for nicknames over 12 characters or containing profanity.

Interestingly, one of the fastest growing areas of in-home shopping involves adult novelties. So called “passion parties” promise an opportunity to acquire items previously only available to those with Internet connections or people who live near an Arkansas Interstate ramp. I fully understand why no one has tried these with men since it would take a full 20 minutes for the chuckling to die down once the first product was introduced. Plus, there would likely be a fist-fight once an attendee took the “I tried using one of these once but Frank’s wife didn’t seem to enjoy it” jokes too far.

There is one category of man parties that are colloquially known as “meat-ings” whereby the host provides alcohol, burgers, and pay-per-view entertainment to lure buddies over for a sales pitch. Generally speaking, this level of male generosity is only deployed once a bet has been lost or you have finally worked up the courage to ask your buddies to help you move on a Saturday. I suppose a group of liquored up male house-guests would be susceptible to certain specialized items (Snap-On calendars, LED grill-spatulas) but generally I doubt these are very successful.

I would like to get in on the action, so I am contemplating starting a company that performs in-home consultations that help prospective party-hosts decide which brand of direct sales marketing is best suited to their needs. Think of it as an e-Harmony for direct sales. We would use a detailed questionnaire and proprietary algorithm to determine which direct-sales company is most likely to generate the largest sales thereby getting you the best rewards. For instance, you would invite all of your friends to the house and we would gauge your social-circle’s level of interest in Tastefully Simple versus Thirty-One. This type of prep work would help hosts avoid those awkward situations where Sister Roberta gets invited to the “Tickle My Fancy” gathering and the CAbi consultant finds herself in the community center at a nudist colony. If you refer a friend I will even toss in a complimentary organizer bag for all your organizer bags.

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