Thread Number: 36750  /  Tag: Brand New Vacuum Cleaners
Door to Door sales and their relevance in 2018 and beyond...
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Post# 393185   6/13/2018 at 18:50 by godfreys_guy (Melbourne, Australia)        

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So based on my recent post about ultra premium machine prices, I feel like the discussion swung to this...
So my interpretation on this one is quite is quite simple, basically the brands that still use this method do so because their machines are often more than a vacuum cleaner and therefore to build the value on their system, they need to show people what it can do and how it can benefit that customer. Brands like shark don't really need to do that as they are just a vacuum. Could you imagine a customer believing a rainbow can wash and dry clean their carpets by just staring at a box in a store and be willing to pay say $2499.00?

People need to haggle for these machines but hey, the quality is there.

Post# 393192 , Reply# 1   6/13/2018 at 21:12 by Paul (MN)        

When one considers the era in which door-to-door sales originated it seems to be a method whose time has come and gone.

In the early- to mid-20th century most married women were housewives that stayed home much of the day; husbands either walked, took public transportation, or drove the only family automobile to work. Therefore, direct sales at homes were both a convenience and a welcome interruption to housework and child-rearing for women. Some things changed as women entered the workforce outside the home in greater numbers: sales more frequently took place in the evenings and items such as Kirby's Handi-Butler and Electrolux Corporation's Turbotool attachment options were added to appeal largely to men who might otherwise have been indifferent to purchasing a vacuum cleaner. Another factor is that vacuum cleaner consumers used to make long-term investments, which required a more thorough and personal sales pitch. Lastly, community members were by-and-large more respectful of one another's welfare and the companies they represented; so trustworthiness was the rule rather than the exception.

In the 21st century most women work outside their homes; families have more resources and needs to be mobile in the course of a day; the overall mindset regarding vacuum cleaner purchases is consumerism: buy for the short-term and replace instead of repair; big box stores have increased purchasing options; public trust among strangers is on the decline; and most companies are more concerned with their profits over or rather than customer service; along with their common practice of planned obsolescence.

Moreover, consumers lean more toward renting carpet extractors or hiring carpet cleaning companies rather than self-maintenance; so all-in-one cleaners (such as Kirby or Rainbow) or total care systems (such as Aerus or Hoover) are not as popular as they were in the past.

Home demos do have an advantage over store demos, but are just not enough to tip the scales when everything is weighed together.

Interestingly, Hoover USA made the change from direct- to indirect-sales 60 years ago this year, which has been to its advantage.

Post# 393195 , Reply# 2   6/14/2018 at 01:34 by electromatik (Taylorsville, North Carolina, U.S.A.)        

I am sorry if I helped "swing" the subject on the other thread you started. You only brought up the truly high-end machines and most of those happen to be sold door-to-door. I thought that was the purpose of the other thread.

Regarding Rainbow machines, I can perhaps see why Rexair prices are more expensive. It is literally two major machines in one. You are getting a vacuum and a shampoo system. Still, I would never pay $3,000 for any machine, no matter what it does.

Aerus has been known to include a shampoo/polisher machine with a package deal also.

Post# 393207 , Reply# 3   6/14/2018 at 10:42 by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        

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As long as Kirby stays in business, they will sell their system Door to Door. And here's why:


Can you imagine seeing a Kirby Avalir on display at your local Walmart with a price tag that reads $1999.95? Who would buy it?


But if the same machine is sold Door to Door in upscale neighborhoods where it's cleaning performance, it's ability to be converted into an  above the floor canister cleaner and a carpet shampoo system can be demonstrated in the prospected buyer's own home, then the sales numbers go way up. Seeing is believing!



Post# 393209 , Reply# 4   6/14/2018 at 11:24 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
In my opinion

It ALL depends on the salesperson...That's why I see so many newer Kirbys at the Goodwill for 5.00 to 50.00 depending on the store, Just last week there was a beautiful Sentria for 5.00 at the Goodwill Outlet, I WOULD have bought it but it had the hose connected and no rug nozzle, but still....A Kirby, while still being a quality, good performing vacuum, is WAYYYY too heavy for the average housewife to use, A Rainbow, though once a real high quality machine, is now just another hunk of plastic, that takes a lot of upkeep and is too heavy...why do these sell, the presentation! then after a few months, the woman gets tired of lugging the Kirby around, or changing water in the Rainbow, so She takes them to the Goodwill and buys something easier to handle, this is why Oreck and Shark are still in business, both are not that great, but they are not heavy...

Post# 393215 , Reply# 5   6/14/2018 at 13:52 by bryan1980 (Texas)        

As mentioned previously, DTD is the only way for Rexair, Kirby and the like to sell at their pricing levels. They either keep selling using that method, or fold. No one these days is going to buy a $1K plus vacuum, when it's sitting on the shelf next to a Bissell or Shark for less than $200. Even using an "authorized dealer" model wouldn't work, since the aforementioned brands are still priced higher than Tacony, Miele, or Sebo products. A cheap, big-box vacuum will pick up surface debris, which is all most consumers today care about. Deep-cleaning ability is something that has to be demonstrated.

Post# 393216 , Reply# 6   6/14/2018 at 14:26 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

One thing I will disagree with you on. "Up scale neighborhood". When I sold Kirby, there was a better chance selling in the trailer park, and "rough" part of town that there was the Upper neighborhoods.

Because I was in a college town, the upper neighborhoods were mostly college related professionals who either had maid service, or they had store models for the stay at home spouse to use. It was rare if I ever actually got in the door in those houses.

Post# 393219 , Reply# 7   6/14/2018 at 16:50 by bryan1980 (Texas)        

Your experience jibes with some news stories in the past, where Kirby salespeople were selling to elderly people on fixed incomes, some of whom were even disabled. One story was about a woman who had two new Kirbys, having paid $3,500.00 for one of them.

Growing up, I only remember one DTD (Rexair) vacuum salesman coming by. I was young, but I do remember that he was there forever! Couldn't convince my mom to buy. I've never had one knock on my door in all of my years of home ownership.

Post# 393220 , Reply# 8   6/14/2018 at 17:22 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Another major thing that has changed dramatically since the heyday of door-to-door sales is the advent of the Internet and e-commerce. People have become accustomed to researching products and making large purchases in excess of $1,000 online these days. As that becomes more the norm, people become increasingly averse to the high-pressure tactics employed by door-to-door salesmen, which makes that antiquated sales model all the less viable in the modern world.

The more I think about it, manufacturers that have traditionally relied on the door-to-door model would do well to cut out the layers of middle men that drive their products' retail prices up to such stupidly high levels and sell direct to consumers via the Internet at more realistic and competitive prices that would still maintain their profits at sustainable levels. Doing this would preserve the best parts of their business model--incredibly well-built vacuum cleaners--while ditching the absolute worst parts--the shady salesmen.

Post# 393226 , Reply# 9   6/14/2018 at 20:45 by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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When I was a kid, my mom would bring me to her friend's homes when she went for coffee in the afternoon. All the housewives got together in the afternoon for coffee. Of course I would always check the closets to see what kind of vacuums they had. The Rainbow model D was the most popular...4 of her friends had them, one had a model C, 2 had an Electrolux, and we had a Filter Queen.


Post# 393228 , Reply# 10   6/14/2018 at 21:10 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
In my hometown of Lenoir NC

Everyone who could had a Electrolux, I saw one Rainbow model D in the early 70s, My Aunts neighbor had one and I thought they must be out of business as I had never seen another, likewise there was one Filter Queen I knew of, a few Kirbys, more GE canisters than anything but Electroluxes were what people of means had.TONS of OLD AirWays though, none newer than a 66, a few Compact C-6s, none older none newer..

Post# 393236 , Reply# 11   6/14/2018 at 21:44 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

That wasn't the case at all.
1. I was eghical, and worked for an ethical distributor.
2. The full package on the tradition. Was $898. Retail.

What i was meaning the richer households either didn't want it, or wouldn't part with the money. The poorer households would buy something in the pricing because they saw the value.

I also can't tell you how many sales fell through because they couldn't get financed. In those days all you had to do was be breathing for United Retail, Kirbys' finance arm to approve you, so they must have had either poor credit, or lack of ability repay.

In the time I was selling i rarely had someone pay cash, it happened, but rarely.

Post# 393248 , Reply# 12   6/15/2018 at 11:43 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
My hometown local Kirby Dealer

And his wife who did ALL the repair work and ran the office, were the most ethical, honest people anyone could ever want to deal with, Buell and Janet Pearson, fine folks, Janet closed the office when Buell died.

Post# 393253 , Reply# 13   6/15/2018 at 13:52 by bryan1980 (Texas)        

My comment in no way applied to all Kirby dealers/distributors, so please don't take offence. However, there have been cases of unscrupulous dealers in the past:

It's easier to commit these types of abuses with a direct sales model, where it's virtually impossible to compare prices.

Post# 393256 , Reply# 14   6/15/2018 at 16:17 by Kirbysthebest (Wichita, KS)        

There are crooks, and they prey on the elderly. Unfortunately it happens. It isn't just DTD, but repair persons, roofers, etc. All a factor of isolation as you state, as well as in some cases high pressure.

We did not high pressure, because we lived in that town.

Post# 393295 , Reply# 15   6/16/2018 at 02:55 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

DTD sales abuse--ALL of the DTD companies are guilty of this-NOT just Kirby.All of them need to clean up their acts.With more "demos" being shown on the internet DTD sales just could end up being a thing of the past like buggy whips!At this stage at least "Lux gives the buyer other choices of cleaning systems and other cleaning-home care products.Kirbyand most other DTD don't offer this.

Post# 393324 , Reply# 16   6/16/2018 at 12:50 by relhall (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)        

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I won't name names but will toss this out there:

I sold a DTD brand starting around 1997 (under three different dealers) which sold (depending on the dealer) anywhere from $1499 to $1999. The biggest difference came from what "level" the dealer was at the time as the higher you are in their network, the cheaper you get to purchase the machines for.

I was sent with another person to pick up a load of new units and had a pre-written check from the dealer. I did not know how many units he was buying until we got to the warehouse at which point the math was simple. There were ten units there ... so I knocked off a digit and moved a comma and low and behold, the biggest secret the dealer had was revealed to me.

Just to use a round number, the check was for $3000.

I was stunned.

I was still new at the time and never really understood why I was along for that ride, but it truly opened my eyes.

I later learned that he would eventually get them even cheaper (once he sold more and went up a level) but paid quite a bit more per little silver pig when he started out.

I now understood (part of) how this man drove a brand new Corvette and his (incredibly hot) wife had the newest BMW whilst neither even finished high school. It also explained how he was able to pay his top performers $400 per sale (assuming the customer had perfect freakin' credit ... which they never did!)

The organizations are designed to stay afloat with even minimal unit sales, and as long as there are hopeful "salespeople" that will take the next appointment or knock the next door, the guys at the top don't have to do a thing but keep hiring.

I also believe that at any point Kirby or Rainbow or any other DTD brand (as we are referring to them) could sell well in Walmart or Costco or Best Buy IF they would restructure their entire organizations from the top down AND sell the units at a fair retail price. $600. $700 and you get all the silly attachments. Of course ... I know ...

BTW & Keep in mind, this is not all DTD companies, but it is also not just vacuums that get sold DTD. I had some window guys stop by that just would not leave, so I started asking him what kind of vacuum cleaner he uses at home, how he likes it, and if he was ready to try a new one. This got them packing up ~

Post# 393373 , Reply# 17   6/17/2018 at 09:25 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
door to door prices

There is no doubt that the price of door to door sold vacuums is majorly inflated. As an example, a new Rainbow sells for $2500 to $3000, Rexair sells them to their distributors for $650 a piece. So the rest of the price is all related to each person in the chain getting part of the sale. Rexair now has some competition though, the Sirena is sold in vac shops for around $800 and the Quantum sells on line for $500, these will clean just as well as a Rainbow if not better. I do think the day will come when Rexair will have to change their sales method or they will not survive. The Rainbow is a good machine, I'm glad I have one because I am a collector, but would I suggest it as the first choice if someone was looking for a water machine? No, absolutely not, I would suggest the Quantum. It does some things better than the Rainbow does.
The Vivenso, Hyla and Roboclean also sell for high prices, I got a good discount on them because I went to the distributor and said I was interested, they did not have to pay someone to come and give the demonstration which saved them some money so they gave me a discount.

Post# 393454 , Reply# 18   6/18/2018 at 00:37 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Vivenso,Hyla,Roboclean--are these DTD vacuums?Don't usually see those.Do have a Hyla that was traded in to a Rainbow.The Rainbow is honestly a better quality machine-built better.I am not a fan of watertrap filter vacuums.Just not convenient to me.Do have some in my collection-just don't get much use.The vacuum dealer here has a Sirena that has been on his sale floor for a number of years-no one wants it.Can see why he is a Sebo and Miele dealer-those are just so much easier to use!!In my area Only Rainbow and "Lux still survive.The others are gone.My Kirbys cxome from Raleigh or even Atlanta.The salesperson I deal with now works from Atlanta.And yes,he drives from Atlanta to deliver them to me!! Been very pleased with his service.Have all of the Avalir models now.For the time being I am kinda Kirbyed out.Love them but just don't need anymore until a truly new version comes out.

Post# 393469 , Reply# 19   6/18/2018 at 08:36 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
water machines

These are the only bagless machines that I use, when you dump them the dust does not go all over the place, a bit more work than a bagged machine but not nearly as bad as other bagless machines where the filters always clog.

Post# 394942 , Reply# 20   7/14/2018 at 16:06 by jp10558 (Southern Tier, NY, USA)        

I don't honestly see the point in Door to Door sales anymore. You can get the "convenience" without the hassle with Amazon etc. While I think education can help you get the most out of what you buy, it's kind of backwards with the DTD model. You should select what you want, and then, if you want, get some "training"...

Post# 394969 , Reply# 21   7/14/2018 at 22:28 by eurekaprince (Montreal, Canada)        

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It would be so cool to see the famous Kirby vacuum cleaner for sale in a dependable chain store like Home Depot...right alongside their major appliances. Or maybe in floor covering specialty stores. I bet you their revenue would soar after moving over to a normal retail sales process.

Post# 394971 , Reply# 22   7/14/2018 at 23:20 by fan-of-fans (USA)        

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I'm not sure how these types of vacuum would do in a normal retail enviroments next to plastivacs. On one hand a lot of people are just going to go for whats cheap.

But you might also have some that really want a Kirby or Rainbow, etc but never really gave it any thought because they never see a salesperson. Or maybe they didn't even know they still make them. In that case they may go for it if they find out they can buy one.

You do hear a lot about these high pressure sales tactics and taking advantage of people. It seems almost as if it's a scam or some kind of "cult" organization, although in this case, the product is actually very good, it's just the sales tactics can be bad.

I don't really see door to doors sales as being as relevant anymore. Mostly because a lot of people, especially women work anymore, so not as likely for someone to be home. Plus people these days don't really care what all a vacuum can do if it costs that much money. They'd rather have a cheapo bagless that works well enough. Quality isn't really a big deal when they see the price.

Post# 394996 , Reply# 23   7/15/2018 at 11:13 by sptyks (Skowhegan, Maine)        

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No one will buy an expensive Kirby system from a retail store especially when placed next to cheap plastivacs.


The Kirby System needs to be fully demonstrated in the home so that prospective buyers can see what it is capable of and therefore justify the expense.



Post# 395008 , Reply# 24   7/15/2018 at 15:24 by vacuumdevil (Denver)        

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Door-to-door sales work by pressuring consumers and nasty sales tricks. Sadly enough door-to-door sales makeup for more vacuum sales then independent vacuum stores.
However usually you can find a current model door-to-door vacuum at the local vacuum store for much less usually with some sort of warranty. Definitely a better deal in my humble opinion. You can also often find these things for sale on Craigslist/Eaby for next to nothing after a year or two of them being out. So as a collector stay away from door to door vacuums salesman.

Post# 395009 , Reply# 25   7/15/2018 at 15:31 by jp10558 (Southern Tier, NY, USA)        

Honestly, what got me away from cheap plastivacs was that they weren't that cheap (we were spending $200 every other year on a bissel or whatever) and they spent as much time "sort of working" and "broken" as working well. This was around 2005ish. Actually, it was my mom back then buying the vacuums, and I don't recall why we were spending $200 or so for them - were there no $50 ones, or maybe she just figured that a $50 vacuum was never going to be any good.

I honestly don't know if the masses will buy a $199.95 vacuum over a $200 vacuum because it's "cheaper" or if there's some sort of "close enough for the real thing" that you just step up.

I'm kind of amazed by the niche Shark has today. It would be understandable if they were $80 still, but I'm seeing many at $250 or so. That's very close to enough to go to a vacuum store IMO. You won't be TOL, but you can likely get several entry level vacs for less than double.

I guess for me, "cheap" is only a quality if it's actually noticeably cheaper. I'll compromise if I can get it for 50% or less of the "real deal". But when I'm at 70% or more, I always wonder if I'm actually saving anything.

None of that works for the DTD $2k + systems though. And I'm not at all sure there's actual value there for many people. I mean, you might need a Vacuum, but do you need the 5 other things a Kirby does? Does it actually save you space over dedicated tools? Is it as good as the dedicated tools?(Probably not)...

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