Fast Growth Propels Direct Selling Brands onto Inc. 500

Inc. magazine has announced its 2014 Inc. 500|5000, and the exclusive ranking once again features several direct selling brands. The Inc. 5000 is a list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, with the Inc. 500 representing a special ranking of companies in the top 10 percent.

Limited to U.S.-based, privately held companies, the Inc. 5000 measures revenue growth from 2010–2013. This year’s list includes direct sellers Plexus Worldwide (No. 8); Jeunesse Global (No. 258); It Works! (No. 290);North American Power (No. 476); Ambit Energy (No. 2074);WorldVentures (No. 2333); Viridian Energy (No. 2381); 5LINX (No. 2916);YOR Health (No. 3528) and Isagenix (No. 3764). The full Inc. 500 list will appear in the September 2014 issue of Inc. magazine.

Plexus Worldwide, the highest ranking direct seller on the list, got its start eight years ago in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has since expanded into Canada and Australia. With a strong focus on weight-loss and pain-relief products, Plexus is the No. 2 health company in this year’s ranking. The direct seller generated 16,458 percent growth over three years, closing out 2013 with $159.8 million in revenue.

“At Plexus, our mission is to enhance the health, wealth and happiness of our Ambassadors and employees. And we’re seeing that happening across the country,” Plexus CMO Alex Clark shared in a recent feature for DSN. “Eventually we’ll see it happen across the world. I anticipate being here for a long time because what Plexus has is a true partnership between its executives and Ambassadors.”

Based in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Jeunesse Global recorded 1,788 percent growth over the past three years. Jeunesse has expanded aggressively into 92 markets since launching in 2009. The company’s personal-care and nutrition products generated sales of $224 million in 2013.

With three-year growth of 1,565 percent, It Works! ranked No. 290 in its fourth consecutive year on the Inc. 5000. The company generated revenue of $456.2 million in 2013 and recently upsized its corporate headquarters to a new facility in Bradenton, Florida. It Works! markets a line of health and wellness products anchored by its Ultimate Body Applicator, a 45-minute tightening and toning wrap.

In 2011, Forbes named North American Power to its list of America’s Most Promising Companies. The U.S. energy provider has lived up to its promise with 991 percent growth over the past three years. North American Power’s retail electricity and natural gas services generated $263.2 million in revenue last year.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Order reprints of Wendy Lewis’ profile here.


Jenuesse Products
Jeunesse


Wendy Lewis
Founder and CEO, Jeunesse Global

For a female executive visiting an international boardroom for the first time, interaction and respect in a male-dominated culture is never a given. “Sometimes, I feel I have to prove myself,” says Wendy Lewis, Founder and CEO of Jeunesse Global.

“However, I feel very comfortable and confident when answering questions about our business and the industry, in general, so after I speak they seem to relate to me and trust my competence.”

Lewis spends a great deal of time abroad, traveling to the company’s many international offices. Developing personal relationships with distant employees and learning about the cultural differences in the people and within the international industry is what she loves most about her job. “Meeting new people from around the world and connecting with them on different levels is an amazing learning opportunity for me,” Lewis says.

Wendy Lewis, Founder and CEO, Jeunesse GlobalJeunesse looks to Japan, Europe and Latin America this year for major business growth and with that will come even more opportunities for Lewis, who says, “I am extremely excited about continuing to grow the overall culture of Jeunesse, while enriching thousands of people’s lives around the world.”

As a leader, Lewis lives what she believes in and tries her best to set the example she wants others to follow. “I try to listen and be compassionate while at the same time establish parameters that we all have to live within,” she says.

Her comfort zone in her role as CEO is planted firmly in people and mathematics. Lewis thrives on solving personnel issues and working with programmers. “We can react more quickly to promotions and enhancements than most companies due to my understanding of compensation plans and our actual database and code. In other words, I can speak the same language and react accordingly to support their needs,” she says.

In anticipation of significant international growth, expanded domestic business, and some “lofty” financial goals, Lewis wants to add executives this year, while strengthening existing regional executives. “With the current number of available top-level people in the marketplace, I feel we have a good possibility of finding excellent top management candidates,” she says.

According to Lewis, while it seems to be easier to find top women executives internationally than it is within the United States, she sees the search as worth the challenge. “I think with our particular products and our predominance of women in the field, it would be wonderful and truly ideal to find more women for executive positions within our company,” she says.

“I do target finding and developing female executives, but I find it difficult to locate the right people who are female,” Lewis says. Mid-level female executive candidates are more plentiful, and Jeunesse proudly promoted two women to director-level positions at their corporate headquarters last year. But still, Lewis frets, “The applicant pool for top-level executives for headquarters seems to be populated by mostly men.”

Wendy Lewis on personal development…

“I attend seminars and try to learn from others who have been in the industry longer and have proven track records. This allows me to keep in touch with the industry as a whole, and it gives me new, fresh ideas that I can take back to headquarters and share.”

Jeunesse Global

Jeunesse, based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., is a direct selling leader offering anti-aging and beauty products in more than 80 countries around the world. Jeunesse combines breakthrough science and innovative product formulas to create a skincare system that enhances youth by working at the cellular level. By focusing on the health, longevity, and renewal of cells, Jeunesse helps people enjoy vibrant, youthful results that last.

In 2013, the company launched two new, science-based, clinically proven products, Luminesce ultimate lifting masque and Finiti, within the Jeunesse Youth Enhancement System (Y.E.S.).

On the heels of winning the Direct Selling Association’s Rising Star Award in 2012, Jeunesse more than doubled its sales last year. They earned the trust of 28,000 new members in December alone, and some 8,200 members flocked to the 2013 Annual World EXPO hosted by the company’s Thailand market.

Jeunesse Kids, the company’s corporate charitable foundation, contributed over $1 million in donations in 2013 and provided over 10 million meals to hungry children across the globe.

With $126 million in sales in 2012, Jeunesse ranked 78th on the Direct Selling News 2013 Global 100 list.

Order reprints of Wendy Lewis’ profile here.

Jeunesse Global: Pioneering International Success

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Click here to order the December 2013 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Photo above: Jeunesse Founders Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis greet distributors at the company’s fourth anniversary event in Thailand.


Jeunesse

Company Profile

  • Founded: 2009
  • Headquarters: Altamonte Springs, Fla.
  • Executive Team: Randy Ray, Founder, CEO; Wendy Lewis, Founder, COO; Rob Dawson, Chief Legal Officer; Scott A. Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer; Ryan Ogden, Chief Financial Officer; Darren Jensen, Chief Sales Officer; Brandon Scott, Chief Marketing Officer; Debbie Kurley, Director of Customer and VIP Relations; Lucy West, Director of Sales; David Matichak, Director of International Logistics; Geri Dorman, Director of Research and Network Administration; Colin McCormick, Director of Field Communications and Events; and Miguel A. Beas, Director of Latin America.
  • Products: anti-aging

Beginning with its auspicious launch date—09-09-09—four short years ago, Jeunesse Global prioritized international platforms and expansion over an early domestic sizzle. The U.S.-born and Florida-headquartered direct selling company bucked trends, focusing energy and resources on efficient global infrastructure, and by all measures the strategy paid off.

The status quo launch pulls most U.S.-based direct selling companies toward establishing a hot brand—marketing that’s worthy of building U.S. consumer markets fast—but Jeunesse didn’t go that direction. Instead, they prioritized less glamorous but highly lucrative projects that would increase growth abroad. They registered products, established in-country entities, obtained licenses and joined direct selling associations across the globe.

It took three years and the diligence of a behind-the-scenes focused couple like founders Wendy Lewis and Randy Ray to build a highly sustainable, global footprint—one that now boasts more than 20 operational offices with 200 employees; 200,000 distributors; and customers in 85 countries around the world.

It’s little wonder Wendy and Randy set up shop beyond the glitzy fray of marketing to build Jeunesse. For the better part of two decades prior to the company’s launch, the pair created back office computer systems necessary for direct selling startups to grow into big-name players in the industry.


Jeunesse Global now boasts more than 20 operational offices with 200 employees; 200,000 distributors; and customers in 85 countries around the world.


Their work was all about the details—writing computer code for software systems that expedited shipping and created efficient customer support programs that produced loyalty.

As launch sequences go, Wendy and Randy’s work was as vital to these direct selling startups as Randy’s previous programming success was to NASA when his team’s efforts propelled the Space Shuttle into space in the early 1980s. (In his early 30s, Randy earned a huge commission after selling a launch processing system to NASA.)

Maybe the influence of Randy’s early contributions to the advancement of space travel is at work in the Jeunesse corporate philosophy, because there’s a visionary and pioneering bent to this company that goes beyond its unconventional launch. It permeates everything—product development, use of technology and even corporate philanthropy.

The Direct Selling Association awarded Jeunesse Global with the ETHOS Rising Star Award in June 2013 for their dedication to achieving high standards of excellence in business performance, while celebrating the company’s spirit, dedication and philanthropy. For Jeunesse, it was yet another acknowledgment that their pioneering spirit is delivering at mach speed.

Jeunesse Founders Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis 

Jeunesse Founders Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis


Pioneering Medical Technology

Randy Ray’s knees were shot—not literally, but his time spent as a soldier in Vietnam, paired with the abuses of aging, had eroded the cartilage in both knees. He was in pain and looking for a solution when President Barack Obama signed legislation legalizing stem cell research in March 2009.

It wasn’t long before Randy and Wendy caught a flight to Beverly Hills to visit world-renowned cosmetic surgeon and dermatologist Dr. Nathan Newman. They were intrigued with a new injectable procedure intended to regrow cartilage using a patient’s own stem cells from adipose or fat tissue.

Stem cell technology, they learned, had far more applications than eliminating Randy’s knee pain. Dr. Newman had the world’s only stem cell skincare facial serum that would minimize premature aging without surgery. It was cutting edge without the use of a scalpel or laser.

Scott A. Lewis

Scott A. Lewis

“Ding, ding! The light went on,” says Scott A. Lewis, Jeunesse’s Chief Visionary Officer. Instinctively, Wendy and Randy’s years in close proximity to the direct selling industry kicked in. They tried the serum and loved it. Brainstorming, eventually their pioneering spirits told them what came next—Jeunesse.

Wendy and Randy had no illusions about launching a direct selling business, but together they had experienced much entrepreneurial success and had taken multiple companies public. Scott says they had seen “the good, the bad and the ugly.” Hard work inspired them. They’d tried to retire before, but it never stuck. So the two set out to build Jeunesse—a pioneering, no-nonsense kind of company.



Pioneering Product Philosophy

Jeunesse—whose name translated from the French means “youth”—adopted a broad, pioneering product philosophy at the outset. “We wanted to be one of the most innovative, progressive network marketing companies in regard to anti-aging technologies. We wanted to create our own niche, our own identity and focus on youth enhancement, which would ultimately establish our culture,” Scott says.

Propelled forward by stem cell technology’s ability to utilize growth factors to support the body’s natural power to renew, restore and rejuvenate the skin, Jeunesse launched in 2009 with Luminesce, a cellular rejuvenation skincare serum. Enhancements to Dr. Newman’s formula allowed Luminesce international compliance, and it became the company’s flagship product.

But Jeunesse was never going to be exclusively about anti-aging skincare. Their second product, Reserve, harnessed the power of resveratrol just when studies were showing its ability to activate the Sirtuin 1 gene, which can delay or slow the aging process. Reserve, one of the first gel-based antioxidant supplements, soon anchored the Jeunesse nutritional line.


“We wanted to be one of the most innovative, progressive network marketing companies in regard to anti-aging technologies.”
—Scott A. Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer


The company’s innovative, youth-enhancing product scope expanded most recently in 2013 with the exclusive rights to TA-65® and the launch of Jeunesse Finiti. Based on Nobel Prize-winning research, the patented TA-65® is meant to enhance the length of critically short telomeres.

Telomeres are a shoestring-like attachment to chromosomes. Some 8,000 scientific studies directly relate shortened or broken telomeres to the aging process.

“You can look outside and inside the industry when it comes to anti-aging and see that the stem cell technology of our skincare line is unique, especially the technology we have in Finiti with TA-65®. It’s pretty exciting, innovative and exclusive stuff that we’re working with,” Scott says.

Today, a call to embrace “Generation Young” is reverberating throughout the Jeunesse distributor field as the company’s Jeunesse Youth Enhancement System—affectionately dubbed Y.E.S.—continues to evolve and bring forth new anti-aging technologies.

Pioneering Direct Selling Technology


Youth Enhancement System


“You can look outside and inside the industry when it comes to anti-aging and see that the stem cell technology of our skincare line is unique, especially the technology we have in Finiti with TA-65®. It’s pretty exciting, innovative and exclusive stuff that we’re working with.”
—Scott A. Lewis


Easily delivering samples of those pioneering products into the hands of consumers across the globe took a feat of technological expertise.

J-Social, part of the company’s larger J-World marketing platform, is more than a way for distributors to learn the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter. This system allowed Jeunesse to build a shopping cart and video widget within any social media environment around the world. The implications of which, for a global company, are incredible.

“One of our distributors can send a prospecting video asking a prospect if they’d be interested in trying the product. Literally, that prospect, within Facebook or any social media environment, can enter their credit card information to get a sample. They just pay for shipping. All of this processes directly within the social media environment,” Lewis says. The patented technology is called Cinsay, and Jeunesse currently has exclusive licensing rights.

The company’s insistence on global accessibility and understanding of everything—from prospecting and sampling technologies like J-Social to multilingual customer service and back office support to global enrollment—factors largely into their success. Even the significance of the number “9” in Chinese culture—meaning longevity—was woven into their online corporate launch (09-09-09).

No detail was too small for this company so focused on the world as their marketplace. And the world has repaid them time and again. Zero to $126 million in three years.

Some 8,000 distributors from 30 countries and hundreds of cultures gathered recently in Thailand for “We Are Generation Young” to celebrate Jeunesse Global’s fourth anniversary, on the heels of a record-breaking month in both sales ($30 million) and recruitment (25,000).

The Direct Selling News Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world, ranked Jeunesse No. 82 in 2012. They placed third on the list for greatest growth for 2012 at 93.8 percent. With sales of $180 million as of September 2013, Jeunesse projects sales will be $250 million by year’s end, taking the growth curve to 125 percent for 2013.

“We feel Jeunesse is in a unique position to leverage our global platform by closing out this year in record fashion. We have set up a solid global infrastructure, which we feel will allow the company to not only expand our current foundational leadership but sustain the growth for many years to come,” Scott says.

Asia Pacific is about 80 percent of Jeunesse’s revenue, according to Scott, which is unusual for a company started in the United States. In fact, of Jeunesse Global’s top 10 markets with respect to revenue, the U.S. marketplace ranks eighth.

Jeunesse emerged from the back office last year and donned the appropriate “window dressing” for the U.S. market, undergoing a branding makeover. “We’re still a ground-floor opportunity when it comes to the U.S. market, Europe and Latin America,” Scott says. “Even though Jeunesse has the infrastructure and the platform of a 4-year-old company, it’s still a very new, exciting, fresh opportunity for the U.S. market.”

Scott continues, “It’s refreshing for a leader to find a company that they’ve never heard about that has truly innovative anti-aging products and a very lucrative financial rewards plan, with owners and an executive team like ours and a family culture. They can literally put people into the business and share the products from almost anywhere in the world.”

From a corporate perspective, the pressure to “go global” simply doesn’t exist. Jeunesse has been there and done that. They started their business focused on the intricacies of operating in a broader world. They worked through the challenges, got over the speed bumps and readied the infrastructure for a global distributor base to soar to new direct selling heights.


Some 8,000 distributors from 30 countries and hundreds of cultures gathered recently in Thailand for “We Are Generation Young” to celebrate Jeunesse Global’s fourth anniversary.


Pioneering Compassion and Philanthropy

More activities at Jeunesse’s recent anniversary event in Thailand.

More activities at Jeunesse’s recent anniversary event in Thailand.


With sales of $180 million as of September 2013, Jeunesse projects sales will be $250 million by year’s end, taking the growth curve to 125 percent for 2013.


 

Regardless of where distributors live, how old or young they may be, their gender or educational background, it is the Jeunesse Global mission to provide a level playing field. “Everybody has the same opportunity to leverage our platform in creating their own success story,” Scott says.

Distributors located a world away from Wendy and Randy’s home base in Florida feel the “home” the couple has established at Jeunesse, he says. There’s a family-oriented culture that creates a sense of place, security and fairness for all who are connected to the company. Wendy and Randy, in many ways, head the family and connect to their field as parents would. “There’s love in their hearts, and people just get a warm feeling when they speak,” Scott says of watching the pair onstage at large, international Jeunesse events.

But this caretaking atmosphere translates beyond Jeunesse itself and into the world’s communities where they do business. Because nothing is more valuable than human life, Jeunesse established Jeunesse Kids, the charitable arm of the company, dedicated to feeding children.

“It’s something that really touched people’s hearts when we launched it last year at our Evolution conference in Hong Kong. It has become a big part of our culture,” Scott says.

Since announcing their partnership with Global Village Champions Foundation, a nonprofit founded by 2012 and 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yank Barry, Jeunesse distributors have raised enough funds to feed more than 3 million children around the world.

“We’re very much a global company with a global platform and presence, so we wanted to be sure we were aligning ourselves with an organization that could get the food to the children where we wanted to focus our efforts,” Scott says.

Global Village Champions has been feeding hungry kids the world over since the early 1990s. Their networks of volunteers provide soy protein meals in more than 40 countries, and donations go to hungry people in immediate need. By year’s end, Jeunesse distributors will feed 6 million meals to children in China.

Blurred Lines: Generation C’s Power and Promise Beyond Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Click here to order the August 2013 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


DSN Cover

Direct selling is a pliable industry. Network marketing or party plan, direct selling can be what distributors need it to be at any given life moment, equally meeting the needs of retiring baby boomers and 20-something moms.

Few industries can boast this flexibility. Yet to stay relevant and competitive, direct selling companies must expand their understanding of a customer and distributor base that’s morphing before their eyes.

Generational lines are blurring and a new era of the connected consumer—Generation C—is at hand. “The connected consumer is the stranger you must get to know, and in contrast to the customers of the past, this group is only growing and it’s traversing demographics,” says Brian Solis, new media thought leader and author of What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences.

“Nowadays, age ain’t nothing but a number. It is how people embrace technology—from social networks to smartphones to intelligent appliances—that contributes to the digital lifestyle that is now synonymous with Gen C,” Solis says.


“Nowadays, age ain’t nothing but a number. It is how people embrace technology that is now synonymous with Gen C.”
—Brian Solis, author and new media thought leader


It matters little to which traditional generational demographic these connected consumers were born. What’s more important is they behave differently than their traditional counterparts. There are now two very different sets of baby boomers fretting over dwindling retirement accounts, and while the majority of Gen X and Gen Y are connected, “pencil and paper” girls still exist outside the digital majority.

For direct selling, these connected consumers are not only customers but also distributors. To better understand the opportunities created by their arrival, it’s important to sample the industry’s current distributor demographics.

Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y

Generationally, baby boomers, Gen X and Gen Y all bring something different to the direct selling table. Maturity, stability and experience make boomers terrific mentors, while Gen X brings an energy and tenacity for finding new ways to do things. Gen Y is out for adventure and understands the hip factor associated with branding.

Company distributor demographics vary based on product offerings as well as the market itself. Some companies skew older, some younger, but across the board direct selling appeals to the full generational spectrum.

Baby boomers, roughly age 48–66, make up the middle of Univera’s North American distributor bell curve, with Matures (over 67) and Gen X (33–47)/Gen Y (under 32) on either end, says President Randy Bancino. Univera’s average distributor age is 52.

A focus on health with Univera’s metabolic fitness products skews the company’s distributor base older. However, an opportunity to make a better future is also in the mix for Matures and baby boomers.

“We have a combination of people who are thinking about how much money they have for retirement and are looking for ways to supplement that nest egg, and people who are reinventing themselves. It’s kind of the second act of their career life. Our business allows people to explore that without jumping off a cliff,” Bancino says.

J.Hilburn’s stylist demographic, on the other hand, straddles Gen X and the baby boom. Co-Founder Hil Davis points out that custom men’s clothing is not a self-consumable product, which sets J.Hilburn up uniquely in direct selling. Their average stylist, between 35 and 55 years old, is first and foremost a salesperson, earning $20,000 a year in revenue by servicing 30–40 personal clients, which typically skew older due to product price point.

Jeunesse, a rapidly growing promoter of healthy living, also occupies this demographic. “We’re right there on the border of Gen X, and then depending upon the market we’re heading into the early years of the baby boomers,” Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis says.

But Jeunesse is a global company, and distributor trends vary by market. “In the U.S. we haven’t tapped into Gen Y. But in Thailand, for example, we have our youngest Diamond Director ever, and he is just 29 years old,” Lewis says.

Gen X and Gen Y are Initials Inc.’s “sweet spot,” says Britney Vickery, Co-Founder of the direct seller of personalized handbags and accessories. In fact, 95 percent of their Creative Partners are 25 to 45 years old. They are new to direct sales, and 86 percent have kids younger than 9. “It’s that former professional woman. It’s the one who might still have a job outside of the home. It’s one who might be looking for a job to stay home with children,” Vickery says.



Shifting Young: Is Gen Y the Answer?

While Gen Ys are often the go-to solution for growth there’s more to this demographic than just youth, and understanding why they behave as they do is the only way to truly see the wider opportunities at hand.

“It’s a natural thing to say, ‘How do we get young people?’ ” Bancino says. “But you have to be true to who you are. It depends on what product you are selling and your value proposition. You can’t appeal to a younger generation by just repackaging something that’s not really in their wheelhouse.”

Gen Ys, or the millennials, grew up in a precarious time for the United States. Suddenly terrorism was within arm’s reach inside the country. China breathed down our proverbial necks, altering global competition forever. Then the 2008 worldwide financial crisis pitted large-scale, traditional financial institutions and employers against Main Street and Mom and Dad. Unemployment rose sharply, career optimism shrunk and Gen Y absorbed it all.

Collectively, Gen Y responded in ways baby boomers didn’t understand. Those in this segment put their heads down and their fingers to work on smartphones, laptops and iPads, as cheap computer power let them share goods and information at record speed. They began idolizing the “geeks”—Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg—who made it possible for them to depend less on corporate America and more upon themselves. Pretty soon Gen Y’s social connectivity—the ability to find, create, share, provide and get feedback—rose in value. They turned authenticity into virtual currency and began to influence the way people of every generation lived.

To misunderstanding eyes, Gen Ys look perpetually distracted. They have no focus. Noses buried in screens all day long, they play on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So an “us versus them” mentality surfaced among baby boom bosses who just didn’t get millennials. “This ‘us versus them’ mentality actually misses the entire point of the opportunity. What ‘they’ do is a shaping of behavior based on how behavior is evolving,” Solis says.

Disruptive technology like social media permeates the lives of Gen Y, and until companies better understand its impact on all customers and prospects, it will remain an “us versus them” expression.

“This is a big challenge because direct selling is often a very traditional business, similar to many traditional business models,” Solis says. “They can still look at demographics, and they may tend to look at trends like technology very reluctantly. But business as usual won’t thrive in an era dominated by ‘business unusual.’ ”

Gen C = Business Unusual

It turns out this younger generation was really just the catalyst that prompted the “business unusual” era. It’s the fast-approaching, multigenerational surge of connected consumers known as Generation C that wields even more potential power.

Fair warning to direct sellers: Disregarding or underestimating this different type of customer who lives online and is always connected will be bad for a company’s health.


Fair warning to direct sellers: Disregarding or underestimating this different type of customer who lives online and is always connected will be bad for a company’s health.


Generation C is “anyone who places increasing emphasis on technology as part of their daily routine. In many ways, their behavior mimics that of millennials, and as a result, they prove elusive or immune to traditional marketing and service,” says Solis, who coined Gen C in his book The End of Business As Usual.

Gen Cs use smartphones to compare prices online while shopping in stores; browse products through websites or apps on their iPads while watching television; search for online reviews, coupons, and retail locations; and even scan barcodes for product and price information.

Look to Nielsen for proof that Gen C is upon us. Between 2002 and 2012, U.S. Internet access doubled from 132.2 million to 274 million. Smartphones dominated and laptops surpassed desktops for the first time.

IBM’s connectivity sampling of 1,056 people predictably lists Gen X and Gen Y leading, but baby boomers don’t lag far behind. Eighty percent report social-site online accounts. Regardless of age, people are connected to media sharing, microblogging and blogging sites, spending 81 billion minutes there in 2012, according to Nielsen.

“Boomers are, in many cases, as tech savvy as Gen X guys,” Bancino says. “Univera’s boomers are more likely to use email where Gen Xers text. They are all using technology, especially social media. I have more baby boomers on Facebook. I have more Gen X on Twitter. The technology is spreading across all of the groups.”

The Connected and the Not-So-Connected

Connectivity is the essence of Generation C, and for direct selling companies that are paying attention this is where everything begins to change. “You start to see that your customer actually is multidimensional and your customer isn’t just one audience anymore. You have the traditional customer, and now you have this connected customer. Where they go, how they talk, how they communicate, what they value is different in so many ways. You’re having to appeal to two different customer sets,” Solis says.

Amber Olson Rourke, Vice President of Marketing and Culture at Nerium International, says, “Traditional ways of doing things are not conducive to reaching all demographics. You have to be able to meet the needs of many types of customers today. You can’t just communicate by email and phone calls anymore. You have to change the format. Younger generations like to receive text message updates. They like to get blogs and podcasts and things they can digest easily when they have a few minutes of downtime.”


“Boomers are, in many cases, as tech savvy as Gen X guys.”
—Randy Bancino, President, Univera


Vickery agrees: “The major shift we’re seeing, particularly within our demographic, is to electronic: Facebook and text messaging. They just want some things quickly.”

Never before has the customer journey been so complex, especially within the direct selling industry, where customer and distributor journeys run parallel. Direct selling companies must deliver product and business opportunity information in compelling fashion for connected consumers, while keeping their eye on an already existing traditional demographic. And that can get muddy.

“The better you can hone in to find who you are, the better your ability to go out and grab people who are attracted to that,” Vickery says. “Look at who you are, what you are trying to accomplish in the company. What is that vision you want to grow?”

Solis adds, “That’s a philosophical discussion, and that’s a discussion that takes vision and leadership qualities to just press pause and say, ‘How can we do all of this better?’ ”


“It’s not about millennials versus boomers versus Gen X. It’s about a series of profiles of customers. What they value, how they think, how they interact, where they interact.”
—Brian Solis


A metamorphosis is necessary for companies to engage both traditional and connected consumers. “This isn’t easy. This is really complicated stuff because what you’re starting to do is essentially change the very model of your organization and at the same time not completely upset it, but expand or augment it,” Solis says.

The first step is acceptance. Things are not as they used to be. Gen C and disruptive technology may have upset the status quo, but that is where opportunity lives. The second step is introspective analysis and digging deeply into the demographics of the connected consumer.

“When you start to profile your customers, you realize it’s not about him or her. It’s not about millennials versus boomers versus Gen X. It’s about a series of profiles of customers. What they value, how they think, how they interact, where they interact. You start to see they actually paint a series of personas that require product innovation, service and sales innovation, and marketing innovation because no one way reaches them and no one product appeals to every one of them,” Solis says.

The third step is finding the components to attract new customers and distributors in the smartest ways for both traditional and connected consumers.

Digital Darwinism

A real fear for companies across all segments of business is falling victim to Digital Darwinism—where technology and society evolve faster than the ability of business to adapt.

Direct selling companies were some of the first to reimagine disruptive technologies like social media as tools for business growth. “It suited us. It suited the industry. It suited the way we did business. Our people figured out ways to utilize it to enhance their relationships and business-building activities,” Bancino says.

But Solis warns, “Businesses tend to think that they’re adapting because they are seeing an inflowing of social media strategy or they’re creating an app or trying new things. But the challenge here is in thinking technology is the solution.”


A real fear for companies across all segments of business is falling victim to Digital Darwinism—where technology and society evolve faster than the ability of business to adapt.


Vickery agrees: “I’m not going to be able to forge a great relationship with you if all we ever do is text, right? I need to be with you. I need to know who you are. I need to understand where you want to go with your business. You’ve got to teach people how to use technology smartly. You can’t hang out on Facebook all day and grow a successful business. You just can’t.”

But when business objectives are clear, properly harnessed social media tools are a competitive advantage. Jeunesse has a unique, patented sampling technology tied to social networking. “Literally right within Facebook, in the window where a free sample video is posted, it has an open shopping cart where consumers can enter their credit card info for shipping costs only and a shipping address,” Lewis says.

“It allows us to tap into any difference in generational groups because it can be offered through really any social media platform.” Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and any number of international social media sites are all compatible.

Typically, online free samples open up a new URL once clicked, but consumers stay put with this Jeunesse technology. Keeping users glued to a familiar online environment makes social media companies happy and it makes life a little easier for consumers as well.

J.Hilburn’s online closet technology keeps its customers and distributors on the cutting edge of men’s fashion. “We build closet features where, as a customer, you go online and it builds outfits based on what you’ve bought in the past. Our customers always see what’s going to be relevant to them,” Davis says.

For J.Hilburn, the customer value proposition drives every decision. “It’s our first goal,” he says. “The benefit of direct sales is going directly to the customer so you can offer a better value proposition because you’re theoretically cutting out the distributor—the middleperson—and passing the savings along to the customer.”

They build customer relationships based on that strong customer value proposition. “The product is so compelling. Tell a guy he can get a custom-made tie and shirt for $89 and it sells. Where are you going to find that anywhere else in the world?” Davis says.

Where Belly-to-Belly Meets the Share Button

Ever advancing connectivity changes people from traditional consumers to connected ones, and as behavior changes so too must the direct selling approach to relationship building. Belly-to-belly relationships will always have a place in this industry, but the opportunity to instigate and nurture relationships in the online world has infinite advantages too; after all, direct selling’s power lies in sharing.

“Just think about how younger generations are growing up. I mean, they are growing up with the ‘share’ button,” Davis says. “They are actually able to find true like-for-likes, someone who pairs with their needs and their wants very well. The Internet makes that very, very achievable. It connects people that you wouldn’t normally have access to, and it serves up all the different things you can do in the world.”

Vickery says, “The majority of who we serve are women, and they are master mavens.” She loves identifying Initials Inc.’s Creative Partners as “mavens” because they so precisely meet author Malcolm Gladwell’s definition in The Tipping Point. “They connect people,” she says. “They can’t go shopping and get a good deal on something and not go home and tell five friends about it, right?”


“Just think about how younger generations are growing up. I mean, they are growing up with the ‘share’ button.”
—Hil Davis, Co-Founder, J.Hilburn


The same thing happens online, but results are exponentially larger in a networked economy of connected consumers. “It’s this influence that changes the game for how consumers and organizations connect in the future,” Solis says.

Not that long ago, Univera’s baby boomers lamented their lack of digital savvy, but Bancino told them, “I frankly have never in all the years I’ve been in this industry seen anybody build a business by sitting at home in their jammies at their computer. It’s still a relationship kind of business, and technology has enhanced relationships, but in no way has it ever replaced relationships.”

Solis says, “This is actually, I think, a big moment in time where every business could go through an exercise to find greater relevance and meaning in what it is that they’re doing. As millennials arrive, and Generation Z behind them, and more everyday people just become more and more connected, it creates a sense of urgency.” He adds, “It’s not too late, but we are on the cusp of going into full-blown crisis mode, where we’re going to have to change from the inside out in order to not just stay in business, but grow in business. This is not an overnight thing. No one is threatened imminently, but ultimately, everybody’s threatened. “One of the inherent values of a direct selling organization is its focus on relationships from people to people because that is where technology is really going,” Solis says. “Technology is making us all a little bit more human even though it’s making us more digital at the same time. Direct sellers have that naturally built into the model. Now it’s just a matter of adapting that into a modern and constantly evolving era.”

The 1 Percent Difference: Direct Sellers Continue to Make Positive Global Impact

by J.M. Emmert


IN THIS ISSUE:

• Cover Story • 10 Things to Know • Line List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

BRAVO AWARDS: 
• Leadership • Growth • Momentum


Direct Selling News, June 2013

It’s fascinating to consider the numbers: Of the 7 billion people on the planet, a little over 1 percent are direct sellers.

Just 1 percent. At first, that doesn’t sound like much. However, 1 percent actually equals over 91.5 million people worldwide who have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by choosing to become small-business owners.

Indeed, direct selling—that microcosm of people from all walks of life and from all regions of the globe seeking new opportunities—is having a tremendous impact on the global stage.

What can 1 percent do? Collectively, it can transform millions of lives for the better, effect much-needed social change, safeguard natural resources and stand at the forefront of job creation. And it can do it all amidst challenging economic times and changing consumer attitudes.


Over 91.5 million people worldwide have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by choosing to become small-business owners.


Impacting the Economy

Challenges always walk hand in hand with opportunities. That is the nature of any business model. And the direct selling industry has certainly faced its share of challenges.

When the global economy began its decline in 2007 there was cause for concern. How would the industry react? Would it remain stable while the economy plummeted to depths not seen since the Great Depression? When U.S. retail sales steadily declined over the four-year period from 2006 to 2009, that concern grew exponentially.

But the industry always seems to reinvent itself. It is that direct selling moxie that always prevails—that spirit and courage and boundless energy—and allows the industry to shake off the threats, pull up its bootstraps and look for new opportunities to help its people succeed.

It is the ability of established companies to embrace change, and the dogged determination of startups that contribute to the continued success of the industry.


Of the Top 10 companies on this year’s DSN Global 100 list, eight reported double-digit dollar growth over the past three years.


Of the Top 10 companies on this year’s DSN Global 100 list, eight reported double-digit dollar growth over the past three years. And if the first quarter of 2013 is any indication, the future looks promising for direct selling. Several top public companies exceeded expectations or set new records for sales growth, including Herbalife (17 percent), Nu Skin (19 percent), Tupperware (3.6 percent), Natura (5.9 percent) and USANA (9.7 percent).

Looking closely at the Global 100 list, there might be something very telling about this industry and the people who comprise it. Seventeen companies with less than 10 years in the business made their way into the DSN Global 100 list for 2012, accounting for $5.3 billion of the $72 billion the listed companies achieved in 2012. Six of those 17 companies are less than 5 years old, proving that economic uncertainty cannot keep the entrepreneurial spirit down.

And that entrepreneurial spirit is what is needed most today. An estimated 200 million people worldwide are without jobs. Last month, the International Labor Organization reported that the youth unemployment rate is expected to climb from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent, leaving some 73 million between the ages of 15 and 24 out of work.

So where will the jobs come from? According to a recent USA Today interview with the International Monetary Fund, the global organization dedicated to fostering high employment and sustainable economic growth, unleashing creative potential and the enterprising spirit will encourage growth and lead to job creation.

And when looking for companies that show significant growth and provide business opportunities for those millions out of work, look to the direct selling industry.

Greatest Growth Percentage

Impacting Public Perception


Growth companies and not large corporations are where the action is.


When Inc. magazine released its 31st annual Inc. 500|5000 ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for 2012, it noted that, “Now, more than ever, we depend on [these] companies to spur innovation, provide jobs and drive the economy forward.” Growth companies and not large corporations, the magazine noted, are where the action is.

The Inc. ranking, which offered a comprehensive look at America’s independent entrepreneurs with substantial sales growth, included several direct selling companies: Stella & Dot (No. 57), J. Hilburn (No. 221), Scentsy (No. 516), It Works! Global (No. 662), YOR Health (No. 1220), Ambit Energy (No. 1305), Initials Inc. (No. 1555), 5LINX Enterprises (No. 2900) and Isagenix International (No. 4951).

The success of such companies is just the tip of the iceberg for an industry focused on changing public perception of the direct sales channel of distribution. The Yankee peddler image that has pervaded the consumer consciousness for more than a century is slowly giving way to a new view of direct sellers.

Today, several direct selling companies stand with the giants in the corporate world. Berkshire Hathaway, parent company of direct sellers The Pampered Chef, Kirby and World Book, ranked fifth on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies. Medifast Inc. (Take Shape for Life) was ranked at No. 10 on Forbes’ list of the Best Small Companies in America.

Tupperware was ranked No. 2 in the Home Equipment category for the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune. And Ambit Energy and Primerica were both recognized on the 2012 Information Week 500 list of Top Technology Innovators, an annual listing of the nation’s most innovative users of business technology.

Global Direct Sellers

Impacting Small-Business Owners

Over a century ago, Walker Agents, Fuller Brush salesmen and Southwestern representatives were among the direct sellers aided by a new invention that made it easier to reach customers: the telephone. Today, the innovative use of social media and mobile devices by technology-savvy direct selling companies has allowed would-be entrepreneurs to reap the benefits by staying closely connected to consumers.


What remains the greatest advantage is that direct selling is an environment in which all people have an equal right to success.


But technology is just one of the advantages for those testing the entrepreneurial waters in direct selling. What remains the greatest advantage is that direct selling is an environment in which all people have an equal right to success. Age, gender, religion, education or financial resources do not limit the opportunities.

For those individuals willing to put in time and energy, direct selling truly has significant earning potential. However, people get involved in direct selling opportunities for a variety of reasons, from making a car payment or paying off a debt to making a career change or building a large business. Some become direct sellers in order to purchase products or services they love at a discount. Certainly, being one’s own best customer has advantages.

And the industry—one about people and for people—makes the transition to owning a business easier. There are fewer barriers to entry, with most initial investments less than a few hundred dollars, and ongoing support is provided by their companies.

That support includes training in business skills as well as opportunities for personal development and coaching, which are unequalled in other industries.

The industry also empowers entrepreneurs to use their businesses to make a difference in the lives of others. Many direct sellers are drawn by a company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. Direct selling, recognized as one of most charitable industries, comprises companies that have been founded on the principle of giving back to others.

In addition, many companies are focused on conservation, helping to create a sustainable environment. São-Paolo, Brazil-based Natura, the No. 5 direct seller in the world, was recently ranked the second most sustainable company on the planet by Canadian research firm Corporate Knights. Companies such as Viridian Energy, which is committed to renewable energy, and Momentis, which instituted a green energy initiative to help consumers offset their carbon footprint, are among the direct sellers striving to save natural resources.


Consumer Goods and Services Offered through Direct Selling


Impacting Consumers


Today a company is measured by its products or services as well as its behavior and respect for the community.


In today’s socially responsible culture, a commitment to others is not only a prerequisite of small-business owners, but also consumers. Today a company is measured by its products or services as well as its behavior and respect for the community.

Today’s consumers want to know the company behind the product—how it behaves and if it respects the environment. They want to feel that when they make a purchase, their money is working to help others, benefiting charities and organizations.

This change in consumer behavior—how and why people are deciding to buy—is changing consumer-supplier relationships. But what has not changed is the industry’s focus on providing quality products and services that enhance people’s lives.

Direct selling companies offer a wide variety of consumer goods, from cosmetics and wellness products to telecommunications and insurance. The most common sales method remains person-to-person, which accounts for 70 percent of sales. (The party plan method accounts for 35 percent.) According to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, 74 percent of Americans have purchased products from a direct seller.

The industry is intent on self-policing and protecting consumers by voluntarily following a strict Code of Ethics, set forth by national direct selling associations and overseen by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, which since 1978 has pursued the highest level of ethical conduct in the global marketplace.

If the $160 billion in global 2012 sales across the world is any indication, direct selling will continue to flourish. In fact, many companies are expanding their operations into both developed and emerging markets. Last month Amway announced plans to invest $20 million in a second manufacturing site in Vietnam. Nu Skin is expanding its operations in China, which it expects will top $1 billion in sales for 2013.


If the $160 billion in global 2012 sales across the world is any indication, direct selling will continue to flourish.


LifeVantage and Mannatech are launching in Hong Kong; Neways and Stemtech are venturing into Thailand. Jeunesse Global is opening operations in Australia and New Zealand. And Oriflame, the No. 9 direct seller, is expanding into India.


Top 10 Direct Selling Regions


A 100 Percent Difference

Whether the 91.5 million people around the globe who call themselves direct sellers have been attracted to the industry by the products or the business opportunity, one thing is clear: Direct selling empowers them to better themselves, their families and their communities.

This small minority is helping people enjoy the benefits of world-class products and services, live free from debt, join in the efforts to save the environment and reach out to those in need.

It’s clear that just 1 percent can make a 100 percent difference.


Participation in the DSN Global 100 Ranking

Direct Selling News will again host the DSN Global 100 Celebration in April 2014, based on each company’s 2013 performance. If you believe your company would qualify for the Global 100 ranking and you would like to be notified when research begins this December, please send an email with your complete contact information (name, title, company name and phone number) to editor@directsellingnews.com.

Wendy Lewis-Founder and CEO, Jeunesse Global – One of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

Jeunesse

Wendy Lewis

Wendy Lewis admits it. She’s a serial entrepreneur. The summer camp she started from her parents’ back patio when she was 8 foreshadowed a lucrative career building companies and selling them. Lewis laughs about it now. “I charged neighborhood kids to come make arts and crafts projects and play games like Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light,” she says.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Lewis’ medical software and computer hardware maintenance companies both ranked nationally for performance and both sold. Lewis tried retirement, but it didn’t stick. Expertise in mathematics and statistics had Lewis back in the entrepreneurial game developing back-office software for companies with a multilevel marketing structure and constructing compensation plans.

Launching Jeunesse Global was a natural progression.

“When we did this, it was more for the gratitude we feel and to help other people achieve their goals and be successful,” Lewis says. “I love working with the salesforce distributors and leaders, helping them find personal success and seeing people who have never been successful rise and become successful entrepreneurs.

“What this industry does for people is make it a level playing field. It doesn’t matter if you have a Ph.D. or graduated high school. If you can listen and learn how to do the business, you can be extremely successful,” she says.

But, Lewis believes, “Personal development needs to transcend to our corporate employees as well as the salesforce.” Lewis loves to hire women, but sometimes it’s not easy to find them for high-level positions. “I think the problem is women are still trying to gain the self-confidence to let their voices be heard. They are often afraid to be assertive, afraid of criticism. I even find that in myself sometimes.”

Admiration for…

Her mother: “She taught me the most important things: compassion, patience and independence. I hope that’s what I’ve taught my daughter. Be your own person, have your own career and your own life besides having a husband or significant other.”

Hillary Clinton: “Not necessarily from a political standpoint, but I respect that she is brilliant. It takes a lot of independence, compassion and intelligence. First we saw her as the wife of a president, but now we see her as a person who can do so much more in her own right, not just as the first lady.”

On Building a Company…

 

“If you listen to what the customers are telling you, you know what you have to do. You have to listen to what the distributors think. You can’t build a company on just how you see it in your mind.”

Jeunesse Global: Youthful Aging

JeunesseThe founders of Jeunesse™ Global have a special fondness for baby boomers—the company’s best customers.

Husband and wife team Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis, now CEO and Chief Operating Officer, respectively, founded Jeunesse in September 2009 to market an anti-aging serum, Luminesce™. The couple learned about Luminesce from its creator, Dr. Nathan Newman, a world-renowned cosmetic surgeon. Ray was considering a trip to Singapore for stem cell treatments for his injured knee, but he heard about Newman’s work with stem cells. He visited Newman in hopes that he could receive the treatment he was seeking closer to home. That discussion led to the foundation of Jeunesse. Since then the company has expanded the product line, maintaining focus on anti-aging solutions based on cutting-edge science, such as adult stem cell technology, DNA repair and nutrigenomics. Products are made in the United States and are exclusively formulated for Jeunesse.

The company, located in Altamonte Springs, Fla., is fully operational in 11 countries across the globe, with shipping available to 81 countries. In 2011 its 92,000 salespeople produced $65 million in net sales. Jeunesse uses a single-level compensation structure.

Earlier this year, Jeunesse acquired direct seller GreatLife International.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox and Barbara Seale


Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.


CONTENTS
Page 1 Mona Ameli,
Belcorp
Dr. Oi-Lin Chen,
Sunrider International
Angela Loehr Chrysler,
Team National
Kathy Coover,
Isagenix
Marjorie Fine,
Shaklee
Page 2 Shelli Gardner,
Stampin’ Up!
Marla Gottschalk,
The Pampered Chef
Jessica Herrin,
Stella & Dot
Andrea Jung,
Avon
Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh,
Silpada
Page 3 Wendy Lewis,
Jeunesse Global
Tami Longaberger,
Longaberger
Candace Matthews,
Amway
Cindy Monroe,
Thirty-One Gifts
Kay Napier,
Arbonne
Page 4 Joani Nielson,
Tastefully Simple
Jill Blashack Strahan,
Tastefully Simple
Connie Tang,
Princess House
Heidi Thompson,
Scentsy
Page 5 The Icons of our Industry

October 2012

Throughout the world, more than 65 million women find direct selling to be the answer to gaining control of their own time, often while working in other full- or part-time careers and while being wives and mothers—managers of households. All 65 million, and the hundreds of millions who have gone before, demonstrate the special skills and attributes women bring to an industry built upon the power of relationships.

In celebration of their efforts, along with the celebration of all women in the corporate home offices, Direct Selling News asked 20 of the most influential executive women in direct selling questions about motivation, inspiration, leadership, career advice, opportunity and mentorship.

The path each woman took to the heights of direct selling corporate management is as unique as the individual. Yet all 20 are inextricably linked by the influence they have on the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions of women across the globe who work in direct sales to enrich their families, make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others, and reach for their own dreams.

Direct Selling News selected this group of women based upon their executive leadership roles in companies that achieved the DSN Global 100 list and $100M Club. It comprises women who help guide our industry through their leadership and vision. There are many women hard at work in far more companies than we’ve listed here. But by proudly honoring these 20, Direct Selling News salutes every female leader—corporate or field—who strives for more, respects those who blazed the trail, and reaches out to those on the way up.

For a detailed list of The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling click here:

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