Mary Kay Inc.: Direct Selling and the Challenge of Online Channels

Kellogg School of Management Cases

ISSN: 2474-6568

Publication date: 20 January 2017


Mary Kay is one of the best-known direct sellers of women's cosmetics in the world. Its channel strategy is to use independent beauty consultants, who are independent distributors, to sell directly to consumers. Its compensation plan is multilevel, providing commissions to distributors on their own sales as well as the sales of the distributors they recruit. At the time of the case, the company is grappling with a well-established change in consumer behavior—the decline of the stay-at-home mom as she returns to the workforce—combined with the opportunities offered by Internet selling. Focuses on the company's efforts to move with consumer demand and behavior, while remaining true to its core goal of “Improving Women's Lives.” Discusses ways Internet technology can be used throughout the company's channel and supply chain structure, not just as a route to market.



Coughlan, A. and Goldman, E. (2017), "Mary Kay Inc.: Direct Selling and the Challenge of Online Channels", Kellogg School of Management Cases.

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