From Tupperware to Scentsy: The gendered culture of women and direct sales. D'Antonio, Virginia. Sociology Compass. May2019, Vol. 13 Issue 5, pN.PAG-N.PAG. 1p.

Consumer culture has transformed the lives of working women and family life for well over a century. Perhaps one of the most gender distinct forms of consumer culture introduced in the 20th century was the direct sales industry. The business model of direct sales depends on women’s social circles as a means to market products directly to consumers, antithetical to retail spaces of malls and shopping outlets. In this literature review, I explore how women construct meaning behind products in this sales culture, while examining the emotional investment that women make as direct sales consultants and the personal outcomes of this investment. To begin, I include a brief history of the direct sales industry with a focus on three pioneering companies: Avon, Tupperware, and Mary Kay as foundational to women’s contributions and involvement in the industry today. Next, I explore the pathways that motivate women’s draw to direct selling as a form of emotional labor that allows them to balance professional work and family life while yielding minimal financial gain. I analyze the messaging of direct sales companies that cleverly speak directly to women’s needs for recognition and assist in constructing personal identity and self‐worth. Finally, I examine trends for the future of direct sales companies as they look to maintain relevance through global markets and brand recognition that will expand beyond women’s social circles and parties.