A Significant Number of Americans are Interested in Flexible, Entrepreneurial Opportunities

New study also reveals new insights into direct selling as a valued channel for independent work and ‘shop local’ consumer experience

The author(s)

  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, March 3, 2020— A new Ipsos study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Direct Selling Association shows that a significant number of Americans are interested in pursuing a flexible, entrepreneurial income opportunity with the highest interest coming from young people. The comprehensive study also confirmed the positive perceptions of direct selling as both an attractive entrepreneurial opportunity, as well as an ideally personalized and convenient way to ‘shop local.’

“The Consumer Attitudes & Entrepreneurship Study revealed that 77 percent of Americans are interested in flexible, entrepreneurial opportunities, with the most interest coming from young people,” said Lisa Gudding, Executive Vice President at Ipsos. “We saw strong interest in both ‘gig’ work, such as ride-sharing services, as well as direct selling where people can share a variety of products in a face-to-face or online setting. These entrepreneurial opportunities also met several of the study participants’ top criteria, including ranking high for flexibility and ability to earn supplemental income.”  

Americans’ Interest in Entrepreneurship Led by Younger Generations and Fueled by the Desire for Supplemental Income

Given the data related to people’s desire for flexible, entrepreneurial/income-earning opportunities, Ipsos noted that while U.S. unemployment rate is near a 50-year low, average wages have been stagnant over the past 50 years, and household debt has increased, it is fueling a desire for ways to earn supplemental income and increase financial security. Among the 77 percent of Americans who expressed interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity, the greatest interest came from younger generations, with 91 percent of Gen Z’s and 88 percent of Millennials interested in entrepreneurial opportunities. Also, of note, interest in starting an entrepreneurial opportunity was relatively equal among men (79%) and women (76%).

‘Gig’ Work and Direct Selling Rank High as Attractive Entrepreneurial Opportunities

‘Gig’ work, such as a ride-sharing service, as well as becoming a direct seller, were both seen as favorable options for earning supplemental income, with 81 percent of respondents ranking ‘gig’ work favorably and 79 percent ranking direct selling as an attractive option. Both entrepreneurial opportunities were seen positively for being flexible and enable the earning of supplemental income.

‘Buy Local’ Consumer Trends Evident as U.S. Consumers Positive About Their Personalized and Convenient Direct Selling Purchase Experience

According to the survey, perceptions toward direct selling have remained stable at about 80 percent  over the last ten years, with the majority of consumers finding value/appeal in the good feeling of supporting a small business (69%) and the personalized service (67%) that direct sellers provide. There is also a growing shift to purchasing online from direct sellers. 89 percent of Americans reported being on at least one social media platform and most users saying they log in at least once per day. The study showed that almost half (46%) of Americans would welcome contact from direct sellers regarding business opportunities on social media.

“We were pleased to have Ipsos focus their market and opinion research expertise on the important areas of entrepreneurship and consumer perceptions, particularly as it relates to the direct selling channel,” Joseph N. Mariano, president and CEO, U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA). “These insights help us better understand the increasing desire for entrepreneur opportunities in our rapidly evolving labor market and the unique benefits that direct selling provides to all involved.”

About the Direct Selling Association

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is the national trade association for companies that offer entrepreneurial opportunities to independent sellers to market and sell products and services, typically outside of a fixed retail establishment. In 2018, direct selling took place across the United States, generating $35.4 billion in retail sales. More than six million entrepreneurs in the U.S. are selling products or services through the direct selling channel, providing a personalized buying experience for more than 36.6 million customers.

For more details on the Consumer Attitudes & Entrepreneurship Study, go to www.dsa.org/CAE20  

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 business solutions are based on primary data coming from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.

About the Study

These are findings from an Ipsos survey conducted October 18-29, 2019 on behalf of the Direct Selling Association. For the survey, a sample of 2,006 adults age 18+ were interviewed online in English.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the national population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments.
While in previous years of the study the demographics of this study had been shifted more towards female, in the 2019 survey the sample design has changed to be more representative of the US population. To make comparisons to previous years of the survey, a dual weighting scheme has been used. The general population weights used the U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey as the source of these population targets. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. The trend weights used 2016 demographics as the population targets. Slides notes indicate whether gen pop weights or trending weights are used. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, education, race/ethnic, and region.

All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,006, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=2.7).
For more information on this news release, please contact:

Jennifer Berg
Director, US
Public Affairs
+1 773 251-0171
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

The author(s)

  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs