|Founded||1948 in Orlando, Florida|
|Key people||Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO, Brownie Wise|
|Products||Preparation, storage, containment, serving products for the kitchen and home and beauty products|
|Revenue||$2,300.4 million (2010) |
|Operating income||US$ 326.5 million (2010)|
|Net income||US$ 225.6 million (2010)|
|Total assets||US$ 2,015.8 million (2010)|
|Total equity||US$ 789.8 million (2010)|
|Employees||13,500 (2010) |
Tupperware is the name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, containment, and serving products for the kitchen and home, which were first introduced to the public in 1948.
Tupperware develops, manufactures, and internationally distributes its products as a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent company Tupperware Brands Corporation and it is marketed by means of direct sales through an independent sales force of approximately 1.9 million consultants.
Tupperware was developed in 1948 by Earl Silas Tupper (1907–83) in Leominster, Massachusetts. He developed plastic containers used in households to contain food and keep it airtight. The formerly patented "burping seal" is a famous aspect of Tupperware, which distinguished it from competitors.
Tupperware pioneered the direct marketing strategy made famous by the Tupperware party. Brownie Wise (1913–92), a former sales representative of Stanley Home Products, developed the strategy. During the early 1950s, Tupperware's sales and popularity exploded, thanks in large part to Wise's influence among women who sold Tupperware, and some of the famous "jubilees" celebrating the success of Tupperware ladies at lavish and outlandishly themed parties. Tupperware was known—at a time when women came back from working during World War II only to be told to "go back to the kitchen" —as a method of empowering women, and giving them a toehold in the post-war business world.
The tradition of Tupperware's "Jubilee" style events continues to this day, with rallies being held in major cities to recognize and reward top-selling and top-recruiting individuals, teams, and organizations.
In 1958, Earl Tupper fired Brownie Wise over general difference of opinion in the Tupperware business operation. Officially, Tupper objected to the expenses incurred by the jubilee and other similar celebrations of Tupperware, however, the real reason was that Tupper had been approached by several companies interested in buying him out; he felt that he would not be able to sell with a woman in an executive position. Rexall bought Tupperware in 1958. Tupperware spread to Europe in 1960 when Mila Pond hosted a Tupperware party in Weybridge, England, and subsequently around the world. At the time, a strict dress code was required for Tupperware ladies, with skirts and tights worn at all times, and white gloves often accompanying the outfit. A technique called "carrot calling" helped promote the parties: representatives would travel door to door in a neighborhood and ask housewives to "run an experiment" in which carrots would be placed in a Tupperware container and compared with "anything that you would ordinarily leave it in"; it would often result in the scheduling of a Tupperware party.
Rexall sold its namesake drugstores in 1977, and renamed itself Dart Industries. Dart merged with Kraftco to form Dart & Kraft. The company demerged, with the former Dart assets named Premark International. Tupperware Brands was spun off from Premark in 1996; Premark was acquired by Illinois Tool Works three years later.
In 2003, Tupperware closed down operations in the UK and Ireland, citing customer dissatisfaction with their direct sales model as an issue. There has been limited importer-distribution since then. The company announced a formal relaunch in the UK in mid-2011, and recruited UK staff, but in December the relaunch was cancelled.
Tupperware is now sold in almost 100 countries, after peaking at more than a hundred after 1996.
Tupperware is still sold mostly through a party plan, with rewards for hosts. A Tupperware party is run by a Tupperware consultant for a host who invites friends and neighbors into his or her home to see the product line. Tupperware hosts are rewarded with free products based on the level of sales made at their party. Parties also take place in workplaces, schools, and other community groups.
In most countries, Tupperware's sales force is organized in a tiered structure with consultants at the bottom, managers and star managers over them, and next various levels of directors, with Legacy Executive Directors at the top level. In recent years, Tupperware has done away with distributorships in the U.S. This has allowed Tupperware more flexibility, and more generous commission and rewards for their consultants.
In recent years, Tupperware in North America has moved to a new business model which includes more emphasis on direct marketing channels and eliminated its dependency on authorized distributorships. This transition included such strategies as selling through Target stores in the US, and Superstores in Canada, with disappointing results. Tupperware states this hurt direct sales. In countries with a strong focus on marketing through parties (such as Germany and Australia/New Zealand), Tupperware's market share and profitability continue to decline.
In many countries, Tupperware products come with a lifetime guarantee. In India, there are some restrictions on the lifetime guarantee clause. In the UK/Ireland the guarantee is 10 years. The company is best known for its plastic bowls and storage containers, however in recent years has branched out into stainless steel cookware, fine cutlery, chef's knives and other kitchen gadgets. After experiencing a slump in sales and public image in the mid-1990s, the company created several new product lines to attract a younger market.
In some countries including Belgium, Australia, Ireland and the US, Tupperware markets their parties and career opportunities through mall kiosks from time to time.
In China, Tupperware products are sold through franchised "entrepreneurial shopfronts", of which there were 1,900 in 2005, due to laws enacted in 1998 aimed at pyramid selling. The Chinese characters 特百惠 are used as the brand name, and translate as "hundred benefit".
Cultural and historical impact
Tupperware created a means for the housewife to maintain her obligations in the domestic sphere of the household while creating an independence from the home in a sociable atmosphere. The Tupperware Party allowed for women of the 1950s to work and enjoy the benefits of earning an income without completely taking away the independence granted to women during the Second World War when women first began entering the labor market, all the while keeping their focus in the domestic domain. The "Party" model builds on characteristics generally developed by being a housewife (e.g., party planning, hosting a party, sociable relations with friends and neighbors) and created an alternative choice for women who either needed or wanted to work. Brownie Wise, a divorcee who did not have any prior sales training, realized Tupperware's potential as a fun commodity. She realized, however, that she had to be creative and threrefore started to throw these Tupperware parties. Tupper was so impressed that Brownie Wise was made vice president of marketing in 1951. Wise soon created Tupperware Parties Inc. The reciprocity that emerges at the “parties,” which are traditionally composed of friends and family members of the hostess, creates a nurturing atmosphere without a direct sales feeling. Studies show that the creation of the “Tupperware party” is a gendered construct aimed at appeasing the general ethos of the domestic arrangements of the era where men were the sole earners and it was the women's responsibility to manage the housework. It was the Larkin company, however that were the forerunners of these types of "parties", during the 1890s, that were popularized by such organizations as Tupperware. Earl Tupper invented the plastic for Tupperware in 1938, however, the product only worked with the emergence of the sale through presentation in a party setting. It has been argued that the repercussions of the Tupperware boom in American households and the American economy are the elevation of the status of women in the labor market along with increased status within the home and facilitating their entrance into the labor market in further years.
Feminist views vary regarding the Tupperware format of sales through parties, and the social and economic role of women portrayed by the Tupperware model. Opposing views state that the intended gendered product and selling campaign further domesticates women, and keeps their predominant focus on homemaking. The positive feminist views consider that Tupperware provided work for women who were pregnant or otherwise not guaranteed their position at work due to the unequal gender laws in the workplace. The company promoted the betterment of women and the endless opportunities Tupperware offered to women; whereas, the negative view includes the restriction of women to the domestic sphere and limiting the real separation between running the household and a career. The emergence of Tupperware on the American market created a new kind of opportunity to an entirely underrepresented labor demographic; women, and especially suburban housewives, which subsequently facilitated the calls for equal rights between men and women in the workplace.
Tupperware's product ranges are often marketed under different names in different markets, and the product ranges and colors themselves differ between markets. Tupperware's most popular lines include:
- Eleganzia (UK, DE), Illusions (AU): a "glasslike" range of serving dishes
- Wonderlier (US, Canada, UK), Bowl Maravilloso (URU): round storage bowl sets in bright colours
- FlatOut! (US), MiniMax (UK), Go Flex (AU), Compactware (URU): bowls that flatten for storage, and can be expanded when needed
- FridgeSmart (US, UK, AU), PrimaKlima (DE), Marine (URU): with air control vents, FridgeSmart containers are modular containers intended for refrigerated fruits and vegetables. FridgeSmarts have air control vents intended to allow different levels of airflow around different types of fruits and vegetables, as well as a corrugated bottom to allow them to store securely on a refrigerator shelf.
- Stuffables (US, AU), Bungee: refrigerator storage with flexible lids for overfilling
- UltraPro (DE, AU, UK), UltraPlus : plastic casseroles advertised as being safe when used in a microwave or a conventional oven, with heat-resistant properties
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