Not Your Mother’s Tupperware Party

While many businesses are suffering under the pandemic, the shift in consumer behavior that resulted from lockdowns and restrictions created new winners, including an old brand name, Tupperware.

Back in the 20th century, Tupperware operated with salespeople that came to people’s homes and showed samples to get orders. It was the same model that Avon used for cosmetics with its Avon ladies; the commercial I can recall clearly identified as a “Tupperware lady” who had “the freshest ideas for locking in freshness.”

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If you’re not old enough to have seen these commercials of my childhood, here’s a compilation on YouTube.


The way to reach the most people with that kind of D2C approach before the web was a thing – was via shopping parties. Naturally, one would not encourage gatherings for a Tupperware party when trying to maintain social distance today. The brand has been experiencing terrific sales, though, simply because people who used to eat out shifted to preparing their own meals at home and needed containers for storing their food.

As the AP News report on Tupperware’s explosive growth in 2020 put it, “Restaurant pain has turned into Tupperware’s gain with millions of people in a pandemic opening cookbooks again and looking for solutions to leftovers.”

The Tupperware Party dates all the way back to 1948. The products became available in stores in 1951. Back then, home cooked meals were the norm rather than the exception, as they became in our century.

But things turned around due to COVID19. Tupperware’s reported earnings were triple what Wall Street had anticipated. Anyone who bought the company’s stock for just a buck in March could have sold it for $28.80 a share on Wednesday.

As the report notes, “Tupperware stands apart from most other companies that have thrived in the pandemic. Unlike Netflix,, Peloton or even DraftKings, it doesn’t rely on a hi-tech platform.”

But that doesn’t mean that technology does not play an essential role in the company’s success. Its CEO, Miguel Fernandez, credits digital sales with the rise in sales when stores were closed, and the people at home wanted to equip their kitchens.

Remember my earlier observation about Avon being a counterpart to Tupperware? That’s the company that Fernandez led before stepping in at Tupperware in March. His timing worked out very well, as Avon sales remain depressed while Tupperware’s are soaring.

But we have to credit Fernandez not just for timing but for adapting the sales model to meet the needs of the times.

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