Tupperware has been a household name for over 65 years and is arguably one of the founders of the direct marketing/MLM model business. Back in the 1950’s the company, via its VP of marketing, Brownie Wise, refined the “Party Plan” aspect of product selling, enabling Tupperware to achieve impressive yearly revenues. Successful Tupperware consultants were rewarded with lavish ‘jubilee’ events and sales awards, a tradition that continues to this day.
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What is Tupperware all about?
Tupperware currently offers a line of kitchen accessories and food storage products that are not only functional and durable but even pretty to look at. The following photo showcases a representative group of Tupperware products:
Regular individuals can sign up to sell Tupperware from their home, office or even online. Such Tupperware consultants, as they are called, join the company by first purchasing a starter pack for $99.
If a potential consultant doesn’t have the $99, there is the Confident Start Program, wherein one puts down only a $35 down payment. If that consultant then makes $1,000 or more in personal sales in his first 90 days, the remaining $64 is compensated for by the company.
Consultants make 25% commissions from product sales up to $1,500. After that amount, an additional 5% bonus is received from the company. At $10,000, the company bonus becomes 10%. So, a truly successful consultant can earn up to 35% in commissions even with no downline.
However, the downline, called a unit by Tupperware, enables consultants to earn even more money. Beginner consultants who recruit others are called managers and earn a percentage of sales from their unit up to three levels down. In addition, managers who achieve a team sales volume of at least $2,500 start earning an additional bonus, called the Vanguard Bonus. The Vanguard Bonus applies until managers exit their rank and become directors.
Once at director level, which actually consists of eight total levels, a different commission structure comes into play. Directors still earn 25% on their personal sales and up to 35% depending on sales volume. However, directors also earn a 6-8% bonus in commissionable team sales. This commissionable amount is calculated as 75% of team total sales. So, if a director’s team sells $20,000 of product, its commissionable sales will be $15,000, which will result in a personal bonus of $1,050/month.
Obviously, using this bonus and incentives structure, higher level consultants are encouraged to motivate others to sell, and to sell more.
Tupperware’s MLM model
In the Tupperware MLM structure, each consultant, whether a beginner consultant, manager or director, is encouraged to complete three tasks on a regular basis:
Welcome and/or promote 1-2 consultants each week. This means that you are either recruiting 8 new consultants each month or, if you are a director, promoting consultants from within your team to higher level positions. At the top-level director positions, you are actually encouraging your already promoted consultants (i.e., managers and directors) to promote other consultants. Promotion means that these consultants are qualifying for those advanced positions via their selling and recruitment activities.
Host 2 personal parties each week. No matter what their level, all Tupperware consultants are expected to host parties per week in order to sell their expected volume.
Tupperware pros and cons
As with any business, there are positives and negatives to entering and working at Tupperware.
Quality brand– Tupperware has decades of brand name recognition and there are very few complaints about its products.
Large market– Anyone who eats can use Tupperware products. Also, Tupperware items are often used for non-food storage purposes such as holding sewing kits, bait, office supplies, screws and nails, etc.
Generous recruitment commissions– If a consultant is talented at recruiting others to sell Tupperware, she can earn sizable bonuses on her team’s sales. Once sales reach the 100K to million dollar ranges, the bonuses include trips to exotic locales and even sports cars.
Required quarterly volume– Consultants must sell at least $250 of product every 4 months or they are deactivated. While $250 in product sales doesn’t sound like a lot, it can become a pivotal factor if you need to take a break from selling because of a vacation, sickness, new baby or other disruption in your schedule.
Warm market emphasis– I’m not sure what information is presented at the events that Tupperware throws for its consultants; however, the content on its website is all about selling to one’s “warm” market (i.e., family and friends). Unfortunately, a warm market won’t sustain repeated and large volume sales. To truly become successful in an MLM, one must learn how to reach out to cold markets and have them buy- and buy repeatedly. It’s uncertain if Tupperware provides any sales training to this end.
High wholesale cost– Consultants purchase Tupperware products at only 25% off their suggested retail price. This is not a huge discount and creates a problem for consultants who may want to sell their products through a promotion or product discount. It also leads to the nagging question of who exactly is the real customer here, the consultant or their ‘customer?’
Discounted products– eBay, Amazon and even yard sales all offer lots of discounted Tupperware product. When one can purchase an entire box of pre-owned Tupperware for $25, why should he pay a consultant ten times that amount for brand new items?
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Tupperware is a great product but a so-so business
Tupperware is sold in almost 100 countries and its quality is known the world over. Supposedly, 9/10 households in the U.S. own at least one Tupperware product. Frankly, the bright colors and unique designs of Tupperware containers make them fun to use.
However, selling Tupperware as a personal business is fraught with risk. To begin with, the wholesale inventory isn’t cheap- and if it doesn’t sell, one is stuck with some rather expensive product. Also, selling successfully requires a large customer base, not just one’s network of friends and relatives. Finally, it doesn’t appear that Tupperware teaches its consultants how to vary their selling strategies to include online advertisement, brick-and-mortar stores, kiosks, fairs and trade shows, etc.
Do you currently sell or have you sold Tupperware as a consultant? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.