Direct selling, an industry largely known for offering part-time work opportunities for women, has seen an increase in the number of men in its workforce. In India, men account for around 42.4% of personnel in this business.
“Globally, men account for 20% of the workforce in direct selling. In India, this has risen from 37.5% in 2011-12 to 42.4% in 2014-15. Moreover, we are seeing direct selling growing into the interiors with small companies being state or region-specific, which may explain greater numbers of men joining up as direct sellers," said Rajat Banerji, national head of corporate affairs at Amway, who is also the chairman of the Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA).
The development comes at a time when the number of direct sellers has actually come down. From 43,83,287 in 2013-14, the number of direct sellers has actually come down to to 39,29,105 in 2014-15.
In contrast, share of women in the total number of people employed in direct selling has been shrinking. According to data from the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the share of women in total base of direct sellers stands at 57.6% in 2014-15 as compared to 62.5% in 2011-12, while share of men stands at 42.4% in 2014-15 as against 37.5% in 2011-12
Payakkal Devadas, director, KLink Healthcare India Pvt Ltd said, “Unfortunately, direct sellers’ job is increasingly being misperceived as something that involves lot of travelling, conducting seminars, training sessions that go late into the evening. There is also a misconception that, as a career, it requires great oratory skills and takes time to master knowledge about company's products and services. While none of this is true, sadly, this is keeping the ratio of women in direct selling lower."
Direct selling, as an industry, has contributed towards self-employment generation in a big way. Currently, it offers self-employment to more than 39 lakh individuals.
Women have captured a larger pie in total base of direct sellers against men. The share of women has always been more than 55% in direct selling over the past many years.
However, share of men in direct selling is rising gradually, which is an indication of mounting preference for this form of channel in the society, noted the PHD Chamber.
SP Sharma, chief economist & director — research, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "Indian men are looking up to this sector as a supplementary earning opportunity as cost of living has been skyrocketing in recent years. It becomes difficult for anyone to manage his personal finances in these times. Further, the consumption basket of families has also swelled up over the years. So, men are not only dependant on their regular income and are exploring the employment opportunities for earning alternative income."
He added that, among males, it has also been noticed that students are fast picking up to earn extra money to support their short- or medium-term goals.
The industry’s gross sales stood at Rs 7,958.3 crore in 2014-15 against Rs 7,472.2 crore in 2013-14. It has also registered a growth rate of about 6.5% in 2014-15 as compared to 4.3% in 2013-14, Banerji said.