Tupperware may have started as an American company, but its primary sales markets have been overseas for years. Germany took top place for a while; today though, the biggest market for the plastic food container systems is Indonesia, where the company earned approximately $200 million in sales last year.
The reasons for its growth in Asia include some familiar notions but also some relatively notable distinctions. For example, a growing middle class leads consumers of virtually every country to look for ways to use their disposable income. Tupperware offers a target that is both fun and practical. In addition, as economies grow and consumers gain access to modern conveniences, such as refrigerators, food storage products become a newly discovered need.
But Indonesia also is unique, in that it has strongly mandated, legally established roles for women that requires them to serve as caretakers in their families, while their husbands take the position of head of the household. Required to remain at home to care for their families, many middle-class women seek approved social interactions, such as those created by Tupperware parties. Friends can come together to shop and chat, allowing the women a break from their daily routine.
This combination also makes Tupperware an ideal means for women to enter the workforce. Despite conservative social attitudes against women working, the at-home operations enable many of them to make a career out of selling Tupperware and convincing others to do the same. Thus the sales force in Indonesia currently includes about 250,000 women.
The social networks that enable the sales of Tupperware also resonate well in Indonesia, which has a long tradition of arisans, or gatherings in which women pool their money, then award the pot to a different member at each meeting. When the arisans include a Tupperware component, the pot of money usually helps the winner purchase a full set of products, which she would not have been able to afford otherwise.
Finally, the career prospects offered by Tupperware represent a viable means for women to escape poverty. One woman reports earning approximately US$2400 per month, six times what she and her husband combined earned previously. Thus, whereas “Initially, my husband refused to let me sell Tupperware even part-time.… Now he works for me.”
What value does personal selling offer to Tupperware consumers in Indonesia?
Source: Joe Cochrane, “Tupperware’s Sweet Spot Shifts to Indonesia,” The New York Times, February 28, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com