We’re all Avon ladies now

by Bronwyn Williams: Futurist, economist and business trends analyst at Flux Trends.
One of the more interesting trends emerging from the world of ecommerce is that of peer-to-peer selling.

In essence, this trend involves a shift from influencer marketing as we know it into direct (virtual) door-to-door selling: In other words, the contemporary version of the Avon business model. Instead of paying influencers to subtly (or not so subtly) showcase products on their social media channels, as they would pay other media partners for advertising; brands are shifting towards commissioning commission-based social media sales armies.

Pay-per-sale arrangements mean that businesses only pay for the actual business the social seller brings in, rather than paying for the more abstract quality of “influence” or “exposure”. Influencers, however, may feel that these more transparent commercial arrangements are damaging to their personal brands (or their pride). Nonetheless, commission-based social selling is fast becoming a global phenomenon.

The explosion of livestream shopping, which is perhaps best described as DIY social media infomercial content, created and broadcast live by influencers hawking products to their followers, is one of the most obvious incarnations of the social selling trend. In China, livestream shopping generated around USD61 billion in 2020 alone. Now, the phenomenon is catching on in Western markets too: Walmart partnered with TikTok for the retailers first livestream selling event in December 2020, and Amazon now lets influencers from all around the world livestream for sales commissions on Amazon Live.

In the future, we could all be singing for our supper.
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