The most viewed article on my site since I started it over a year ago is a somewhat obscure piece called, "7 Direct Selling Companies For Men". Intrigued by this, I began looking at the search terms that brought traffic to the site, and found that, overwhelmingly, people were arriving at ButlerAdvisors.com via Google by searching for "direct selling companies for men", or some variation of that.
Typing that search term into Google, I found it was one of the most searched terms in direct selling, and my blog had the #1 organic search result.
So are men desperately seeking direct selling companies for men? Yes. Everyone knows direct sellers are predominantly women. The companies being started in our industry are predominantly serving women. Women, selling to women.
But clearly, there seems to be a demand by men for companies & products that men will feel comfortable selling. Although men sell Avon Products, they are the few and the brave.
So does a direct selling company that ONLY targets men exist?
Mancave tags themselves as the "first home party for men... and it's about damn time". These wife-approved MEATings get men to bbq's to drink beer, eat award-winning brats, and make some real money. Their website claims an average party can reach $1,000 and their reps make 25% commission. Mancave is a great start, but time will tell how real this earning opportunity is. This is a great part-time gig, but the ability to have a full-time career and earnings should be the goal of any serious direct selling company. We will have to see if Mancave can deliver.
My favorite new option for men is J. Hilburn. I love how they are revolutionizing the best elements of traditional retail and direct selling into a new powerful alternative for men to shop for great quality menswear. They allow their customers to order custom fitted clothing at prices that traditional retail just can't get close to.
J Hilburn is a fast growing direct selling company (#221 in last year's Inc. 500 List) and have many women listed as stylists, but I love how many of their male customers are quickly seeing the value in being a stylist themselves.
Let me toss out a couple of facts & figures in order to frame the opportunity in this space. By the end of 2013, the world market for womenswear is expected to hit $627B. That is a huge market space. It makes perfect sense, and I've met with several entrepreneurs over the last year who are starting direct selling companies in this space. A new startup, Ruby Ribbon, recently raised $11.5M from venture capital.
Menswear is just as impressive with a world market size of $402B. And looking at the graph above, Health & Wellness represents the largest dollars in the Direct Selling Industry. But world wide, the market size only reaches $290B. That clearly shows just how unrepresented the clothing industry is in direct sales.
While not every man uses wellness or beauty products, they all wear clothes. The fact that the direct selling model with products meant exclusively for men is so untapped is positively an opportunity for growth and competition in the next few years.
The most powerful part of males as consumers is the fact that they don't really like to shop, but they will spend a lot when they do. So if you do all the work for them, and recommend the right styles, they will sell by word of mouth, and by wearing it. Some men are turning to new startups like Trunk Club. While researching this article, I learned that one of my family members was Trunk Club customer! He claims it's all very simple: you sign up for free and receive a consultation from a stylist via Skype. Then Trunk Club will start sending you clothes in the mail. It's an interesting concept that sounds a lot like direct selling.
Yes, the women's market may be larger, but the most powerful aspect of pursuing direct sales to men with menswear is to see how excited men get about buying clothes! Not only can their personal stylist go directly to their home or office, but they become gleeful at the thought of outsourcing their shopping. Then once their stylist begins to understand their own personal style, the stylist can recommend more clothes, or even get a monthly budget, to shop for more clothes. High recurring revenue is the dream for any investor. I expect to see more investment in this field.