Industry Spotlight: 3 Direct Selling Industry Trends in 2022 and How Technology Can Respond to Them

As we see the post-COVID workforce come into being, this will have implications for direct selling and the performance enablement platforms (PEPs) that such companies use. And so it’s important to watch out for direct selling trends.

PEPs, and B2B technology more generally, must evolve along with the economy in order to service their customers and provide advanced solutions that can foretell the trends of tomorrow. Otherwise, they risk falling behind, reflecting an industry and a workforce that exist only in the past. Here, in another context, one can recall the warnings from a few years ago that the US risked falling behind China on technological innovation.

Below, we dive into a few major change drivers for the economy in general in 2022 and into 2023; how these might affect direct selling field workforces; and how technology partners can help companies react to such transformations. Your PEP (or other type of direct selling-oriented platform) should be able to account for these changes using its technology and expertise.   

1. Post-Pandemic Fatigue

Yes, folks are going to be excited to reenter a reopened economy – fully participating in the world for the first time since before the pandemic. (We’ve previously written about our predictions for a post-pandemic gig economy.) Yet the fact is that people are going to be fatigued, tired, and anxious after two years of lockdowns, hesitant reopenings, and a general sense that their lives have been slipping out of their own control.

People aren’t built to suddenly emerge from two years of fear and anxiety. Even as the pandemic wanes it is clear that the mental health issues that arose in spring 2020 are still, well, issues, experts say.

What can direct selling do? What does the future of direct selling hold? Direct selling’s advantage in this context is that it is basically a social activity. Many direct selling reps use communication and social bonds to hit their sales targets. Whether they’re recording makeup tutorials or demonstrating cookware in public, they’re engaging with audiences, speaking to others about products they love.

Communication Tools | Motivation Engines 

Indeed, experts contend that social interaction (often facilitated by social media) helped relieve depression during the darkest days of the pandemic. Direct selling can use the right technology to create sociality and foster ties between customers and reps – and between reps themselves.

Rallyware, for instance, includes segmented communication groups, message boards, private messages, and other communication tools. These help individuals feel seen and heard by their peers and connect with their customers. 

2. Price Volatility and Inflation

Though it might seem that the war in Ukraine would not affect direct selling very much, there’s one way in which it could. (Full disclosure: Rallyware, the author of this article, is a global organization with a strong presence in Ukraine.) Namely, gas price volatility might impact the ability of direct selling reps and distributors to travel. It has already impacted rideshare apps. Some distributors rely on road and air travel to make their sales targets. 

Similarly, inflation numbers affect the ability of distributors and consumers to purchase products. At the last measure, inflation was at 8.5% in March. Most experts expect the war in Ukraine and inflation to continue through the summer. This could increase prices at the pump while ricocheting across the chain of consumer goods and must-have commodities.

So what should decision makers and executives hunt for in technology, in order to counteract these direct selling trends? Likewise, which aspects of technology should direct selling tech partners emphasize? Well, technology with strong e-learning tools can help to overcome increased gas prices and inflation. 

Learning Paths | Increased Distributor Performance 

PEPs with smart, personalized learning paths for each user can teach distributors how to persuade customers that products are worth their time and money. If you’re using Rallyware, your platform will be able to sense exactly when a distributor needs to receive the exact-right learning module for your company and show it to them. It learns their preferences and skills and then helps them learn.

Learning modules can take many forms – here are some examples.

  • Inflation Persuasion: You can design learning modules that show distributors how to convince customers to purchase products in spite of price rises – for instance, because these beauty products will increase their quality of life.
  • Closing the Gap: Another related learning module could teach users how to close a deal when prospective and clearly interested customers are nonetheless hesitating.
  • Customer Empathy: Still a third lesson might show users how to empathize with concerns surrounding price rises while continuing to make the case for a sale.

Of course, every company will have modules that match their own obstacles, needs, and products. Still, the point is to have a PEP that is forward-thinking enough to have adequate technology.

3. Increased Interest Rates

As a point of fact, trend #3 dovetails with change driver #2. The United States Federal Reserve Bank is set to raise interest rates in the next couple quarters. The point of this is to slow consumer spending, cool the economy, and curb inflation. Consumers will find it more expensive to take out auto loans, mortgages, and other forms of credit. They may thus have less disposable income.

What is direct selling to do? This could prove to be a pain point for direct selling as consumer spending slows following an estimated $13.9 increase in revenue in 2020. The answer here, at a time of possible consumer retrenchment, is fairly clear. Technology – the right technology – can use data-driven, personalized tasks and activities to improve distributor performance, helping to make up for declines in spending. A more knowledgeable, upskilled, and engaged field can pick up the slack caused by an economic slowdown. 

Rallyware is a signal example of technology that can drive a smarter and more capable workforce. Our data shows that Rallyware’s PEP results in 24x ROI, +47% workforce engagement, +32% workforce productivity, and more. 

Those are exactly the kinds of numbers you’re going to want to run up if you’re going to react to the change drivers of 2022. Get your demonstration of Rallyware today to see how you can transform today’s challenges into achievable opportunities to enhance your market share.