Tupperware To Reach Out To Party No-Shows In Cyberspace
By Gilles Castonguay NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tupperware Corp.-- famed for
throwing living room parties to pitch its products -- is prepared to go as far
out as cyberspace to make contact with working women too busy to attend its get-
Tupperware, known for its plastic containers to keep leftovers fresh, is
considering using kiosks, infomercials and the Internet to get their attention.
"We know that there are people who would love to buy our products but don't
know how to find us, or people who want them but don't want to go to Tupperware
parties," said Christine Hanneman, spokeswoman for the Orlando, Fla.-based
Tupperware's U.S. sales have fallen dramatically in the last 15 years as
more women have entered the work force, said Eric Bosshard, an analyst for
Midwest Research. Fewer housewives have meant less people at Tupperware
parties, which first became popular in the 1950s.
In the 1998 fourth quarter, the United States made up less than a fifth of
the company's total sales of $313 million.
"The challenge in the United States has been to find people with the time
to attend Tupperware parties," said Rommel Dionisio, an analyst for Friedman,
Billings & Ramsey. "Frankly, when was the last time you went to a Tupperware
Hanneman said the company was thinking about airing infomercials on
television and placing kiosks in shopping malls at the end of the year. She
said it also plans to let people make orders through its Web site
(http://www.tupperware.com) and direct mailing network.
Bosshard agreed: "The issue has never been product or brand name, but
Kiosks and infomercials could redefine the way the direct seller brings its
colorful cups, salad bowls and storage containers to market, Dionisio said.
"It represents a quantum shift in their distribution strategy," he said. "I
think it will help reestablish the brand name."
Investors have welcomed the news of Tupperware's new strategy, which broke
Wednesday during a conference call with analysts, pushing the stock price
higher three days in a row.
At midday Friday the stock was up 31 cents to $20.44 on the New York Stock
Thursday, Wall Street firm Raymond James raised its rating on the stock to
accumulate from neutral.
Hanneman insisted that the company's new strategy would not circumvent the
work of the tens of thousands of representatives who sell the company's
products throughout the United States.
"(They would) complement our direct selling system, not replace it," she
Earlier this week, Tupperware reported a 25.1-percent drop in earnings for
the 1998 fourth quarter before special items, amid a drop in overseas sales.
But it forecast a modest increase in sales and profits for the 1999 first
quarter before the impact of foreign exchange.