DIRECT SELLING

REPORTER: JAMES THOMAS

Representative of the Direct Sellers Association, John Holloway represents the 500,000 Australians turning over more than $1.2 billion dollars.

John says the recession is direct selling's new best friend. "During recessions, we see an increase in the number of people joining our companies", he said.

That's because, when you lose your job, selling makeup sounds like fun. Victor Grant was a truck diver -- now he's selling Avon.

Avon's traditional selling model is door to door. It's a technique that's been around forever, but door to door can be a hard slog.

Tim Shaw spent the 90's in our lounge rooms as TV's greatest seller of steak knives. It's a decade on but "Mr. Demtel" is still at home with housewives.

The gathering is not a gaggle of girls gossiping about their husbands -- this is serious business and direct selling's booming model -- the home shopping party. Rebecca Davies works for Lorraine Lee Linen. She gets a friend to supply the cakes and coffee and importantly, the people, then she supplies the product.

We supplied Tim Shaw as a surprise for the girls and a novel way of talking up the party plan model. He wasn't complaining. ""How lucky am I? Yummy mummies everywhere", Tim said.

It's true that party plans are dominated by females and around the country they are having parties to sell products ranging from linen, to botox and of course, cosmetics. Hillary Finch claims to make $100,000 dollars a year selling Nutrimetics.

It's an age old selling technique -- soften your targets with drink and then soften their cynicism with free product, and don't get too evangelical.

Sonya one of the guests at the party, is smiling. She left full time work and says she now supplements her income with Nutrimetics.

John Holloway is first to recommend direct selling as a legitimate business, but admits sections of the industry are responsible for a cult like image, which is now the stuff of satire. The mockumentary "Believe" takes the mickey out of direct selling, but it should be said in the real world, people are making real money -- and enjoying real products.