Tupperware is the brand name of a home products line that includes preparation, storage, and serving products for the kitchen and home, which debuted in 1946.
Tupperware develops, manufactures, and internationally distributes its products by 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 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tupperware Brands Corporation.
In 2004, Tupperware Brands Corporation began using egg whites in the container manufacturing process. Although this cuts down on their greenhouse gas emissions, the process has been criticized for its wasteful nature.
In 2008, Tupperware Brands Corporation ranked #2 on Fortune Magazine’s coveted ‘Most Admired Household Products’ list.
Tupperware was developed in 1946 by Earl Silas Tupper
(1907-1983) in the USA
. 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 (1913-1992), 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 demonstrators, managers and distributorships.
In 1958, Earl Tupper fired Brownie Wise over general difference of opinion in the Tupperware business operation. It is believed that Tupper objected to the expenses incurred by the jubilee and other similar celebrations of Tupperware.
Tupperware spread to Europe in 1960 when Mila Pond hosted a Tupperware party in Weybridge, England, and subsequently around the world. In 2003, Tupperware closed down operations in the UK, but relaunched in 2005.
Tupperware is now sold in almost 100 countries. The top eleven consumers of Tupperware are:
- Australia/New Zealand
- South Africa
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 their 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 salespeople at the bottom, managers over them, and distributors at the top level. Most distributorships are run by married couples, with the former manager in charge of all salesforce related issues, and their partner responsible for warehousing and administration.
In recent years, Tupperware in North America has been moving to a new business model which includes more emphasis on direct marketing channels and reduced 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. Although this marketing channel was discontinued in 2003, it had a significant negative effect on the core sales channel's ability to recruit and host parties. 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 grow.
In many countries, Tupperware products come with a lifetime guarantee. In India, there are some restrictions on the lifetime guarantee clause. 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 South East Asia, Australia and US, Tupperware market their parties and career opportunities through mall kiosks from time to time.
Tupperware's product ranges are often marketed under different names in different markets, and the product ranges and colors themselves differ between markets. Some of Tupperware's most popular lines include:
- Modular Mates (US, AU), Space Savers (UK), Kompakt-System (DE): These are oval and rectangular shaped containers that stack in a modular fashion to save pantry space and preserve food. Modular Mates have air-tight seals intended to keep food at optimum freshness for long periods of time.
- Rock 'N Serve (US, AU), CrystalPlus (UK): These are containers for re-heating food in microwaves, and are advertised as freezer safe, stackable and dishwasher safe.
- FridgeSmart (US, UK, AU), PrimaKlima (DE): With air control vents, FridgeSmart containers are modular containers intended for refrigerated fruits and vegetables. FridgeSmarts which 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.
- OvenWorks (US, AU), UltraPlus (UK, DE): plastic casseroles advertised as being safe when used in a microwave or a conventional oven, with heat resistant properties.
- Sheerly Elegant (US), Eleganzia (UK, DE), Illusions (AU): A "glasslike" range of serving dishes
- FlatOut! (US), MiniMax (UK, DE), Go Flex! (AU): Bowls that flatten for storage, and can be expanded when needed
- Stuffables (US, UK), Bungee (DE): refrigerator storage with flexible lids for overfilling
In popular culture
- Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America (Smithsonian Institution Press 1999) authored by Professor Alison J. Clarke, provides a detailed cultural history of Tupperware and the story of its instigators Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise.
- In 2004, academic Laurie Kahn-Leavitt produced, wrote and directed the documentary feature Tupperware! for the American Experience strand on PBS in the US, about the early history of the company. It has also been screened around the world at film festivals and special screenings. The documentary has been optioned as a feature film, and although Sideways writer Jim Taylor was initially announced as scriptwriter, the rights have now passed back to Laurie Kahn-Leavitt.
- Tupperware products and the Tupperware party are sometimes alluded to in popular culture for comic effect, often making fun of middle-class aspirations or suburban life.
- A new stage comedy Sealed For Freshness by Doug Stone opened off Broadway in February 2007 at New World Stages. The comedy is set in the 1960s and explores the lives of five mid-western women during a Tupperware party "gone awry."
- In the Wu-Tang Clan song called "Unpredictable" off 8 Diagrams, Inspectah Deck raps "Notice how we bang with the knuckles bare//Wu-Tang, keep it fresh like Tupperware//"
- The cult TV show Eerie, Indiana had an episode called 'Foreverware' whose plot involved a special type of plastic container that was "guaranteed to keep anything fresh".
- The Drama Desk nominated show "Dixie's Tupperware Party", which ran off-Broadway in 2007, is set for a national tour starting in September 2008. It is the story of one of Tupperware's real-life top sellers that combines a traditional Tupperware party with hilarious improvisation and comedy.
"Chain of Confidence" program
On May 9, 2007, Tupperware announced Brooke Shields
as the celebrity spokesperson for Tupperware’s "Chain of Confidence" campaign in the USA. The campaign invites women to celebrate the strong bonds of female friendships and the self-confidence derived from those relationships.
serves as an online community where women can share their confidence stories with one another and join an online discussion about the importance of female friendships and confidence.
As part of Chain of Confidence
, Tupperware is donating over one million dollars to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America
to sponsor SMART Girls
— a program dedicated to promoting confidence in young girls ages 8-17.