Tupperware Inventor: Chemist Earl Silas Tupper
In the 1940’s, people didn’t like plastic products much. They considered plastic dirty, slippery, stinky and wasteful. But chemist Earl Tupper saw a product that could be used to preserve items.
Before inventing Tupperware, Earl Tupper was a subcontractor for DuPont’s plastics war production. In the 1940s, he began experimenting with polyethylene with the intention of creating a commercial product.
Liquid-Proof, Airtight Tupperware
In 1942, Tupper was given some waste product by his supervisor at DuPont. He purified the slag and molded it to create lightweight, non-breakable containers, cups, bowls, plates, and even gas masks that were used in World War II.
Tupperware’s first products: Wonderlier Bowl and the Bell Tumbler upper shelf
By 1946, Tupper had designed and invented what we now know as Tupperware: liquid-proof, airtight lids, inspired by the secure seal of paint can lids. This an airtight, watertight lid and container were made of a tough, nonporous, and non-smelling substance, which was more appealing to consumers.
Tupper’s first public consumer plastic products the Wonderlier® Bowl and the Bell Tumbler which were introduced in 1947. They offered a unique benefit that traditional food containers did not: they were lighter and less likely to break than traditional glass and crockery.
“Inventing Tupperware isn’t really an unfortunate way to be remembered” – Earl Tupper
The Tupperware Home Parties
Brownie Wise and her mother owned a business named Patio Parties, where she sold products from different producers. One of her products was Tupperware. Tupperware was doing poorly in department stores and when Earl Tupper heard of how Brownie was selling his products, he was impressed and offered her Vice President position with his company. Brownie accepted the position in 1951, planned large scaled parties, and so the business and her job for Tupperware Home Parties, Inc. began.
Home Party Empowerment – Jubilees
Tupperware pioneered the direct marketing strategy. The new idea of a home party business gave women (and men) to start their own entrepreneur business. One of these reasons was because consumers needed a personal touch to understand it and how it was used. In the home party, the product could be thrown on the floor, to demonstrate its durability. It could be tossed around to show how light it was and show the Tupperware ‘burp’ that seals in the flavor of food could be demonstrated firsthand.
Brownie also created a whole new type of sales network, one that relied on fun sales conventions — jubilees, she called them — that were filled with skits and awards.
By 1958, business was booming. Earl Tupper was making the products and Brownie Wise was selling. Unfortunately, she got bossy and arrogant. He got jealous and testy when people started viewing her as the reason for Tupperware’s success. Without notice, Earl fired her and he sold the company to Rexall Drug Stores
Rexall talked of scrapping Brownie Wise’s innovations like the sales jubilee, but employees informed the new company president that such a move would be a disaster and Rexall backed off and didn’t mess with success.
As of 2013, Tupperware Brands sales totaled $2.7 billion and women are still holding parties and attending jubilees in countries around the world.
Tupperware is still sold mostly through a party plan, with rewards for hosts by a Tupperware consultant. Hosts are rewarded with free products based on their level of sales that are made at their party, similar to the jubilees introduced by Brownie Wise.
Parties still take place at the home, but today they are found in workplaces, schools, community groups, online and at special events such as Dixie Longate’s Tupperware Party that takes place in auditoriums.
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.