Trends Shaping the Gig Economy

New Opportunities for Direct Selling (from

That the Gig Economy is growing at an ever-increasing rat is an irrefutable fact.  With more than 57 million Americans involved and $1.4 trillion+ changing hand annually, the gig economy reflects people’s desires for more flexible work opportunities and grater freedom as to how, when and where work is performed.  For the past few years, we have been observing the gig economy and it workers in considerable detail, focusing on exploring the nuances that exist in gig economy work and the similarities and differences among gig workers.  Our most recent research has undercover broad trends that may portend the future of the gig economy;  the trends have specific implications for direct selling.  We discuss here four trends we discovered through extensive, nationwide survey research conducted in July 202 and October 2021:

  1.  We found a tendency for more individuals to pursue multiple gigs in 2021 than in 2020.  More specifically, people entering the gig economy over the past year were more interested in pursuing multiple gigs than simply working a single gig.  Research findings relating to this trend have special meaning relevance to direct selling.  Direct selling is a retail channel used by top global brands and smaller, entrepreneurial companies to market products and services to consumers.
  2.   We also found that gigs are more likely to be carried out through online platforms in 2021 than I. 2020.  The movement, due to both technology advances and the increasing adoption of online platforms by a variety of companies -both large and small- also would seem to bode well for direct selling whose distributors work from home.  Online-related gigs would appear to have he potential to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the direct selling process if the direct selling companies can “stay ahead” of the technology curve and provide their distributors with appropriate technology tools and support.
  3. Another trend we observed is that the number of individuals calling themselves direct selling distributors declined slightly.  Overall, the number of individuals who pursue a direct selling opportunity is a relatively small percentage of “eligible” gig workers with more than one gig.  Theis suggest the pool of potential gig workers remains relatively large for those direct selling firms with viable distributor attractions and retention strategies.
  4. The final trend we discovered is a continuation of realistic earnings expectations among gig workers.  Whereas our prior research found that about two-thirds of the people entering the gig economy expected to earn less than $500 per month from a gig (and actually di so), our current research indicates that this income expectation has actually increased a bit.  About 71 percent of the gig workers surveyed in October 2021 have that same expectation.  More than 80 percent of the gig workers surveyed in 2020 and 2021 stated that paying bills, saving and investing more and improving personal lifestyle motivated their gig work.

In Summary, the gig economy and its associated gig workers are here to stay and represent opportunities for forward-thinking direct selling companies.  These many choices support the needs and desires of all segments in society -from Generation Z to Millennials to Get X to Baby Boomers -who seek an opportunity to embrace alternative ways to work and use their entrepreneurial skills.

Phenomenon Stats:  57 Million American Involved, 1.4 Trillion to U. S. Economy, 36% of Workforce involved, 40% or Workforce, 40% of Income, Up to 80% May Be Interested, Independent Workers Growing 3X, 88% Are Satisfied.

As of October 2021…TYPE OF WORK:

Professional who freelance             17% (down from July 2020 when was 26%)

Transportation.                                14% (was 12%)

Multiple Gigs.                                     4%. (was 6%)

Work Less than 4 Hours/Wk.           84% (was 80%)

Expect of Earn Less Than $1K/Mo. 85% (was 80%).

Courtesy Authors John T. Fleming, Ideas & Design Group                                                                                                and Robert A. Peterson, UT Austin Professor



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