Marketing Styles

Earl Tupper’s Tupperware did not originally sell well; department stores first sold Tupperware. Tupper knew he needed a new strategy. Brownie Wise originally sold Stanley home products through home parties. 1 Tupper learned of Brownie Wise’s home parties and sought her home party system to reach women.

Wise’s home parties were geared exclusively to women because while women became entrepreneurs, they were still in the home space. The parties were held at the host’s house where a representative, Wise, would show off the Tupperware to be sold at the parties directly to the guests.2

Before home parties, which were used primarily by Stanley home products which sold cookie cutters and other plastic wear, women were reached by direct selling techniques. Direct selling meant that the person selling the product sold a product immediately to the customer. Women were also reached by magazine advertisements and magazine ordering of products.3

Direct selling involved either door to door salespeople or salesmen at department stores. Department stores were seen as a feminized space and started “personal hygiene” departments. These parts of the store were staffed by female salespeople to make women feel comfortable while buying birth control.4  

The ideal female space during this time period was the home. Therefore, Brownie Wise built on the idea of sections in department stores selling products by women to women.5    Similar to the women salesmen in department store selling birth control to women, Wise sold Stanley products directly to women in the home.  Brownie Wise took the domestic sphere and made women the entrepreneurs of it because they were the ones who knew it the best.6

Photograph of Brownie Wise leading a Tupperware party
Fig 1. Brownie Wise Papers, 1938-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. AC0509-0000003.

Brownie Wise called Earl Tupper during his disappointing years selling Tupperware unsuccessfully from the shelves at department stores and reccomended her home parties to sell Tupperware. Brownie Wise became the instigator of Tupperware home parties where women could sell directly to other women in the comfort of their own homes. Since kitchens used Tupperware extensively, Tupperware was inherently gendered towards women. 7

Tupperware Parties
Fig 2. “Tupperware Parties,” Ann and Thomas Damigella Collection, 1951-1997, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. AC0583-01058309. http://americanhistory.si.edu/sites/default/files/file-uploader/1058309.jg

Footnotes

1. Bob Kealing, Tupperware Unsealed: Brownie Wise, Earl Tupper, and the Home Party Pioneers. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008, 11.
2. Ibid, 15
3. Andrea Tone, “Contraceptive Consumers: Gender and the Political Economy of Birth Control in the 1930s.” Journal of Social History 29, no. 3 (Spring 1996), 485.
4. Ibid, 487
5. Bob Kealing, Tupperware Unsealed: Brownie Wise, Earl Tupper, and the Home Party Pioneers. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008, 20.
6. Ibid, 26.
7. Ibid, 35.

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