Using Reference Groups

to Sell: Home-Party and Office-Parlv Selling


Highlight 6.2

Allas Bratcher Born 1911

overcome this problem, most party-plan sellers have followed their customers into the workplace with office-party selling. For example. Avon now trains its 400,000 salespeople to sell through office parties during coffee and lunch breaks and after hours. The company once sold only door to door, but currently picks up a quarter of its sales from buyers at businesses. The well-known home Tupperwaru party has also invaded the office, as Tupperware 'rush-hour parties' held at the end of the workday in offices. At these parties, office workers meet in comfortable, familiar surroundings, look through Tupperware catalogues, watch product demonstrations arid discuss Tupperware products with their friends and associates. Tupperwarc's 85,000 sales representatives now make about 20 per cent of their sales outside the home.

Home-party and office-party selling is now being used to market everything from cosmetics, kitchcnware ;ind lingerie to exercise instruction and hand-made suits. Such selling requires a sharp understanding of reference groups and how people influence each other in the buying process.

SOURCES: See Shannon Thumiaii, 'Mary I\:iy still in the pink', Advertising Age (4 January 1988), p. 32; Len Strazewski, "Hipperware locks in a new strategy", .AiJoeitfsfTig Age (8 Febniary 1988), p. 30; ICate Ballen, 'Get ready for shopping at work', Fortune (15 February 1988), pp. 95-8; Vie Sussman, '1 was the only virgin at the party', Sales and Marketing Management (September ] 989), pp. 64-72.

social class is not determined by a single factor, such as income, but is measured as a combination of occupation, income, education, wealth and other variables.

Not only do class systems differ in various parts of the world: the relative sizes of the classes vary with the relative prosperity of countries. The 'diamond'-shaped classification (few people at the top and bottom with most in the middle) in Table 6.1 is typical of developed countries, although the Japanese and Scandinavian scales are flatter. In less developed countries, such as in Latin America and Africa, the structure is 'pyramid' shaped with a concentration of poor people at the base. As countries develop, their class structure moves towards the diamond shape, although there is evidence that the gap between the richest and poorest in the English-speaking countries is now widening.

Some class systems have a greater influence on buying behaviour than others. In most western countries 'lower' classes may exhibit upward mobility, showing buying behaviour similar to that of the 'upper' classes. But in other cultures, where a caste system gives people a distinctive role, buying behaviour is more firmly linked to social class. Upper classes in almost all societies are often more similar to each other than they are to the rest of their own society. When selecting products and services, including food, clothing, household items and personal-care products, they make choices that are less culture-bound than those of the lower classes. Generally, the lower social classes are more culture-bound, although young people of all classes are less so.N

Anna Plores' social class may affect her camera-buying decision. If she comes from a higher social class background, her family probably owned an expensive camera and she might have dabbled in photography.

Advertising With Circulars

Advertising With Circulars

Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.

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