Votre Vu, a Sugar Grove, Ill., company that sells products containing ingredients from France, uses, in addition to parties, Twitter and iPhone applications to move merchandise. Mark, a line from Avon that is geared toward women ages 18 to 34, uses Facebook and iPhone applications as well as e-boutiques and celebrity endorsements. And Mary Kay cosmetics, one of the most recognizable brands in direct-sales cosmetics, has a one-year-old Facebook page that has attracted more than 300,000 fans who engage in online polls and makeover contests and watch YouTube videos about new products. The cosmetic brand’s page also links to eight Facebook pages, including Mary Kay cosmetics in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Spain and Canada.

As always, direct-sales companies use incentive programs that award high-end items such as trips and cars to top achievers. There is, of course, the iconic pink Cadillac top sellers for Dallas-based Mary Kay earn the right to drive. About 1,500 Mary Kay salespeople currently drive a pink Cadillac, qualifying for the two-year privilege by reaching $90,000 in annual sales. Other rewards include jewellery and trips. High-earning salespeople for Tustin, Calif.-based botanical skin-care line Arbonne receive a one-year lease on a white Mercedes of their choice; the top 10 sellers earn trips to France.

Cosmetics and skin-care products marketed through direct sales typically use representatives, or “brand ambassadors,” who sign up and pay a fee for a starter kit of products that they in turn sell to friends and acquaintances, and, eventually, a wider network of people. These salespeople aren’t salaried; rather, they receive a commission (generally 30 per cent) based on their overall sales. As they sign on new salespeople to the brand, they typically receive additional commissions based on the sales of their recruits or, collectively, their “team.”

Logo from Votre Vu