As business consultants, we are often asked about the differences between a network marketing company and a home party plan company.  Both types of companies have independent sales representatives who earn commissions on personal sales and bonuses on the sales of others.  However, there are important differences between them in naming conventions, sales techniques, compensation, productivity, and characteristics of customers.

Naming Conventions 

Network marketing companies tend to refer to their sales representatives as distributors, associates, IBO’s, and independent agents.  These are male-sounding words with action implied.  It’s no coincidence that the average network marketing sales rep is a man.

Home party plan companies use terms like consultant, demonstrator, stylist, and counselor.  These are feminine terms.  About 98% of home party representatives are women.

In creating your company, think about the composition of your sales force.  If most will be men or most will be women, it would be wise to give the representative a name them fits them.

Sales Techniques

Network marketing representatives typically sell products and services one-to-one, whereas home party plan representatives use primarily a group selling approach.

If your products sell best when they are demonstrated or explained, a home party plan format may be a good fit for you.

However, if in an average group of potential customers less than 80% will buy at least one item, then the home party plan format may not work well for you.


Since most of the sales of a network marketing company are made to its sales representatives, activity requirements of these companies are most commonly set using amounts appropriate for “personal consumption.”

However, since most of the sales of home party plan companies are made to others, activity requirements are usually set based on the sales volume generated by an average-sized home party.

Network marketing and home party companies each have compensation plans by which their sales representatives are compensated.  The compensation plan for either type of company should be built with consideration for the company’s margins and the types, pricing, and consumption patterns of the products.


Annually, active network marketing representatives typically generate about $500 to $1000 in sales for an average company.

Home party plan representatives on the other hand generate between $5,000 and $10,000 in sales per head each year.

So, a home party plan company with 1,000 representatives can generate sales volume comparable to a network marketing company with 10,000 representatives.

Customer Characteristics

Within most network marketing companies, the sales representative is the customer.  In these companies, generally there is very little retailing of product to non-participants.  Instead, the sales rep is encouraged to sign-up for an AutoShip program to create residual income for upline participants.

Conversely, home party plan representatives are encouraged to sell their products and services to customers who are not representatives.  Personal consumption by reps is a very small portion of a home party plan company’s sales.


Since most network marketing companies don’t have a strong base of customers who are not sales representatives, the only way to earn money as a network marketing rep is to recruit others who buy products from the company for personal use.  Simply put, without a viable retailing component, if you don’t recruit, you won’t earn any money.

Home party plan representatives can earn significant income by selling without recruiting.  In fact, the average home party plan participant who earns $300 to $500 per month earns little or nothing on the sales of others.


The business model you select is important, for each motivates and rewards different behaviors.

With 22 years of experience with hundreds of direct selling companies, Sylvina Consulting provides an extensive list of business development services as well as expertise in addressing software requirements to all direct selling companies, from startups at the concept stage to the largest multinational firms and to companies in between.

To request our monthly newsletter and receive a free copy of our "20 Secrets of Success for Direct Selling Companies" article, visit or contact Sylvina Consulting directly at 503.244.8787.



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