ACN Targets Asia in First Market Expansion in Two Years

Essential services and health products firm ACN is expanding internationally for the first time in two years with the launch of operations in Japan.

Initially, the company is making its Benevita health and wellness line available to Japanese consumers. ACN introduced Benevita three years ago in select international markets, diversifying a longstanding portfolio of essential services such as wireless, Internet, and gas and electricity. ACN plans to roll out some of those services in Japan in the future.

The move into Japan puts the company in 26 markets worldwide. The island country is the first market ACN has added since July 2014, when operations commenced in Mexico. The North Carolina company branched into Asia in 2010 with the launch of its South Korea business.

“As the fifth-largest direct selling market worldwide, Japan was incredibly appealing to us,” said Greg Provenzano, President and Co-Founder of ACN. “But it was the people that sealed the deal when selecting Japan to continue our Asian expansion.”

The market will be served by a new regional headquarters located in Tokyo. In addition to corporate offices, the facility houses meeting spaces, a call center and a retail storefront. ACN’s Vice President of Sales, Danny Bae, will oversee operations in the country. Bae, who initially joined ACN as an Independent Business Owner, has been key to the company’s expansion into Asia.

Origami Owl to Roll Out Dreamworks-Inspired Collections

Photo: Products on display at an Origami Owl Jewelry Bar event.


Though the designs are still under wraps, this fall customizable jewelry company Origami Owl will introduce character-inspired collections through a new licensing deal with Dreamworks Animation.

The collaboration is Origami Owl’s largest to date, and the first foray into social selling for Dreamworks, creators of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon,Kung Fu Panda and other popular film franchises. Origami Owl will launch its first character-inspired offerings Oct. 1, in connection with the release of Trolls, a new animated comedy from Dreamworks. The Arizona-based company said the collection will include its signature Living Lockets, Charms, Dangles and even new product categories.

“It’s been wonderful to collaborate on the pieces,” said Chrissy Weems, Origami Owl President, who co-founded the company in 2010 with her then 14-year-old daughter, Bella. “The film’s themes parallel Origami Owl’s core values and mission ‘to love, inspire and motivate others.’ The feature’s vibrant colors and upbeat, happy music also reflect the sense of joy and energy evoked by the Origami Owl brand.”

Though no specifics have been announced, the company said its agreement with Dreamworks is a long-term one. Following the launch of the Trolls Collection, Origami Owl customers can expect to see additional collections inspired by favorite franchises and characters.

Youngevity Acquires Renew Interests, Owner of SOZO and Integris

Youngevity International LLC on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands.

California-based Youngevity sells a wide range of nutrition, coffee and lifestyle products through its growing direct sales platform, described as a “network of networks.” The company’s vertically integrated coffee business also serves the commercial and retail channels.

The addition of SOZO and Integris, part of Youngevity’s ongoing acquisition strategy, will expand both the company’s salesforce and its product offerings across the nutrition, coffee, weight-loss, energy and skincare categories.

“The brands we acquired in this transaction exceed our high and stringent quality standards,” said Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity. “I believe SOZO’s emphasis on the coffee berry as an ingredient will have particular appeal to our growing customer base.”

SOZO Global’s Co-Founder, President and CEO, Mark Adams, said Youngevity’s extensive product lines, business structure and support system, and experienced management team made joining forces an attractive proposition. “Our team at SOZO Global viewed the unique opportunity provided through Youngevity’s platform as an opportunity we could not pass up,” said Adams.

Founded in 2009, SOZO takes its name from a Greek term meaning health, rejuvenation and wholeness. The Austin, Texas-based company sells a range of wellness and personal-care products. Integris, launched in 1996, is a maker of health supplements and shakes formulated with natural ingredients.

In Nepal, doTERRA Partners with CHOICE on Earthquake-Ready Schools

Photo: Nearly a year after the 2015 earthquake, rubble still fills the streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal.


Essential oil seller doTERRA International and CHOICE Humanitarian recently completed the first two earthquake-resilient schools in Nepal, after a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated the region last year.

In September 2015, doTERRA announced that it would team up with CHOICE to provide aid and create jobs for poverty-stricken communities in Nepal. The international nonprofit is dedicated to ending extreme poverty and improving quality of life through a self-developing, village-centered approach. In Nepal, that approach has included the construction of local schools. The first two, built in partnership with the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, are also the first in the country to comply with new structural regulations instituted by the Nepali government.

“Through the amazing generosity of our doTERRA Wellness Advocates and those working in Nepal, together we’ve been able to help families begin to reestablish themselves,” said Emily Wright, doTERRA Co-Founder and Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Something as simple as having a school to attend or a safe home makes all the difference. We are honored and happy to be able to play a part.”

In the past year, doTERRA and its Wellness Advocates have donated more than $636,000 to rebuilding efforts in Nepal. The company also has sent several groups to assist in projects CHOICE is orchestrating on the ground. On the manufacturing side, doTERRA is investing in some of the most affected regions of the country through Co-Impact Sourcing of its wintergreen essential oil. The company’s co-impact initiative is focused on forming long-term partnerships with small-scale growers and distillers to bring sustainable income to underdeveloped economies.

Nature’s Sunshine Reports Sales Up, Driven by Growth in Asia

Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc. (NATR—NASDAQ) on Monday reported second-quarter net sales revenue of $89.4 million, up 10 percent compared to sales of $81.2 million in the second quarter a year ago.

This marks the eighth consecutive quarter of net sales growth for the company’s operations in the U.S. and Canada.

The natural health and wellness company said it recorded net income of $2.4 million for the quarter, or 14 cents per common diluted share. On a local currency basis, net sales revenue jumped 11.5 percent.

The Lehi, Utah-based company’s Synergy Asia division delivered 28.5 percent local currency growth in the second quarter.

Unfavorable currency exchange rates caused a negative impact of $1.3 million on net sales revenue. The company also saw sales decline in NSP Russia and its Central and Eastern European segments.

For the first half of 2016, net sales revenue hit $171.8 million, up 4 percent from $165.1 million compared to the first six months of 2015. The growth is driven by an $8.9 million or 23.7 percent increase in Synergy Asia and incremental net sales revenue increase of $4.4 million related to sales through Hong Kong.

Net income for the first six months of 2016 is $4.2 million or 24 cents per diluted common share.

Chairman and CEO Gregory Probert says, “Sustained local currency growth in both NSP United States and NSP Canada continues to reflect the strong foundation within our most mature markets and is a reflection of our high quality products and effective business model. The improvements we have put in place at Synergy WorldWide are delivering strong results across all geographical regions.”

Probert is optimistic about its new market opportunity in China and remains encouraged by the success of Nature’s Sunshine’s patent-pending IN.FORM weight-loss and daily habit of health program.

Nature’s Sunshine shares have risen 25 percent since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Monday, shares hit $12.66, a decrease of 2 percent in the last 12 months.

Le-Vel Donates $240K in Support of Hoyt Foundation

Photo: Jason Camper (left), Dick Hoyt and Paul Gravette at Le-Vel’s annual convention.


Health and wellness company Le-Vel Brands LLC recently announced a $240,000 donation to the Hoyt Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life for those living with disabilities.

The funds came from sales of Le-Vel’s limited-edition Hoyt Derma Fusion Technology (DFT), a patch worn on the skin to support the body’s metabolism process. In June, Le-Vel allocated $5 from every purchase to the Hoyt Foundation, which aims to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life.

Last year, the company ran similar cause marketing promotions in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Toys for Tots, generating nearly $400,000 in overall donations.

The Hoyt Foundation was formed in 1989 by Dick Hoyt, a retired lieutenant colonel, and his son, Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to speak our use his hands and legs. Despite these challenges, the father-son team has gained recognition for competing in more than 1,100 athletic events in the last 37 years, including 32 Boston Marathons and six Ironman competitions, with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made wheelchair as they run.

“The Hoyts are proof that, with perseverance, belief and a strong support system, we can achieve incredible things,” said Paul Gravette, Co-Founder, Co-Owner and Co-CEO of Le-Vel. “On behalf of our employees, independent Brand Promoters and their customers, we’re honored to support Team Hoyt and the Hoyt Foundation in their tireless efforts to help the disabled and physically challenged live their lives to the fullest.”

The contribution is part of an ongoing partnership between Le-Vel and Team Hoyt. The virtual company, which uses cloud-based technology for its day-to-day operations, previously donated $50,000 to the Hoyt Foundation, and the senior Hoyt was a surprise headline speaker at Le-Vel’s annual salesforce convention in April.

Herbalife Beats on Earnings, Boosts 2016 Guidance

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF—NYSE) boosted its guidance for the year in its latest earnings report, released late Wednesday and watched closely by investors following the nutrition company’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Results exceeded Wall Street estimates for the quarter ended June 30, just weeks before Herbalife announced a settlement with the FTC. The long-awaited deal concluded a U.S. probe into the company’s business practices that had stretched on for more than two years, following accusations by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman that Herbalife rewards distributors for recruiting new members rather than sales of its shakes and supplements. Ackman has backed his claims with large bets against the company’s stock.

In its complaint, the commission did not accuse Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme, and the company is able to continue its U.S. operations, with some new restrictions. Herbalife agreed to pay a $200 million judgment and implement various policy and procedural changes, including distinguishing between those who sign up to sell products and those who only wish to purchase products at a discount.

Additionally, to compensate distributors at current levels, at least 80 percent of Herbalife’s product sales must be to legitimate end-users, rather than for the distributor’s personal consumption.

Taking into account the impact of these changes, management expects full-year adjusted earnings of $4.50 to $4.80 a share, up from May guidance of $4.40 to $4.75.

The company recorded a second-quarter loss of $22.9 million, or 28 cents a share, including a $203 million charge related to regulatory settlements. Excluding items, earnings were $1.29 a share, up 4 percent from a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted $1.21 a share.

Overall sales rose 3 percent to $1.20 billion, in line with the $1.19 billion expected by analysts.

The company is developing new tools and apps to help distributors implement agreed-to changes within the 10 months provided by the FTC. During a call with investors, Chairman and CEO Michael Johnson said Herbalife will “likely roll out” many of the changes globally, once it has studied affects in the U.S.

Avon Sees Higher Profit in Second Quarter

After spinning off its North America business in March, Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) began to improve its bottom line in the most recent quarter.

The beauty company is implementing a cost-cutting plan introduced in January that will include trimming its staff and supply chain and moving its headquarters to the United Kingdom. After three years, the plan is expected to save Avon $350 million a year before taxes.

In the quarter ended June 30, the company cleared a profit of $33 million, up from $28.8 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings slipped to 6 cents from 7 cents a year ago. On an adjusted basis, earnings were down from 9 cents a share to 7 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 2 cents a share.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $1.43 billion, beating the $1.41 billion predicted by analysts.

Earlier this year, the beauty company inked a deal with Cerberus Capital Management LP for majority ownership of Avon’s domestic operations. Cerberus agreed to inject $435 million into the business, which it then took private as New Avon LLC, along with another $170 million investment in Avon Products.

Revenue was down across the company’s remaining segments, hurt by foreign exchange rates. Constant-dollar revenue was up in all segments except Asia Pacific, where the company logged a 5 percent decline.

“Our performance improvements were broad-base with nine of our top 10 markets growing in local currency,” said Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products. “We continue to make steady progress on a number of fronts: improving pricing discipline; driving additional cost out of the business; and continuing to build our brand and enhance the Representative experience,” said Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products.

Following Tuesday’s release, shares in Avon climbed as much as 21 percent to $5.04—the stock’s biggest intraday jump since Feb. 12. Ahead of the report, the shares were up 2.7 percent this year.

Take Shape For Life to Take on New Name in Brand Evolution

Photo: Optavia Chia Berry Bliss Smoothie.


Take Shape For Life, the direct selling division of weight-loss firm Medifast Inc., introduced a new name and strategic vision to company Health Coaches during its recent National Convention.

The annual event took place in Austin, Texas, over the weekend, with more than 3,400 Health Coaches in attendance. From the stage, TSFL leaders unveiled a collection of new products under the Optavia brand, which it will adopt company-wide over the course of the next year.

“The announcement of Optavia marks a significant evolution in Take Shape For Life, putting it in prime position in the health and wellness market and the direct selling industry for growth and global expansion,” said Michael MacDonald, Chairman and CEO of Medifast.

The new name, meaning “optimal way” in Latin, is part of a wider effort to reposition the weight-loss company as a lifestyle company focused on optimal wellbeing. Since launching in 2003 as the direct selling arm of Medifast, TSFL has become the company’s largest segment, with revenue of $202 million in 2015. The parent company’s weight-loss plans and products also are sold through the web and national call centers, Medifast Weight Control Centers and a national network of physicians.

Under the Optavia brand, the company will operate as its own entity, offering exclusive products. “For the first time in the company’s history, we have created and built a fully exclusive offering that is only available to our family of Health Coaches and Clients,” said Mona Ameli, President of TSFL.

The company plans to add more health products, called Fuelings, to the Optavia line and upgrade its existing meals, snacks and bars to the new standard. The entire company is set to adopt the new branding and name by National Convention in July 2017.

For more in-depth coverage of Take Shape For Life’s brand transition to Optavia and new product roll-out, look for our August issue of Direct Selling News online and in print next week.

Mary Kay to Unveil Custom Sales App at Annual Seminar

At its annual salesforce meeting, which kicks off Monday in Dallas, Mary Kay Inc. will unveil a new, custom sales app, the result of a multi-year partnership with Dallas-based app development company Bottle Rocket.

The technology went live earlier this month, and company officials told DSN that early adoption of the app has exceeded expectations. On launch day the beauty company sent text notifications to consultants at the National Sales Director and Sales Director levels, alerting them to the availability of the app, Mary Kay my Customers+. Within the first week, Mary Kay was halfway to its Oct. 1 goal for subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month to use the app. The company reports 5,100 subscribers to date.

Though not Mary Kay’s only app, myCustomers+ is the company’s most hardworking. A cross-departmental team set out to design a tool that enables the consultant to run a business from the palm of her hand. “We were looking for a customized solution for our salesforce,” said Jill Wedding, Mary Kay Director, Consultant Marketing. “They do so much every day in the field, and we wanted to make it something that allows them to easily track their inventory in real time and simplify how they run a Mary Kay business.”

One of the app’s primary features is the point of sale, where, rather than filling out a paper sales ticket, the consultant can pull up the customer’s profile and place a new order. Using a scanning tool, she can scan any product to automatically add it to the order. The scanning feature also assists in managing inventory, another focus of the app. When a consultant receives a new shipment, a scan of the Mary Kay shipping label instantly updates her inventory. The consultant is also notified when inventory levels fall below her set minimum.

Additional features support the daily activities of building a business. Consultants who have been with Mary Kay for any amount of time will recognize “My 6 Things,” a task list that appears on the screen in interactive bubbles. The list is based on a practice taught by Mary Kay Ash, the company’s founder, who trained consultants to make a daily “6 Most Important Things to Do” list. A tagging tool in the app allows the consultant to target designated groups of customers. She also receives a notification when a customer makes an order on her personal Mary Kay website or has an anniversary or birthday.

Despite the app’s numerous capabilities, Mary Kay wanted to provide a tool that anyone—tech savvy or not—could navigate with ease. That was the impetus behind what the team calls the “magic button,” a fixed button at the bottom of the screen that, depending upon what page is open, will automatically pull up the functionality most commonly associated with that page. “We wanted an app so easy to use that no matter who you are, when you open it up, it is intuitive and you can figure out where to find things and how to do things,” said Hope Elston, Manager of Digital Tools Consultant Marketing at Mary Kay.

Taking myCustomers+ from ideation to launch was a process of about three and a half years—or many lifetimes in technology years. According to Wedding, the team at Bottle Rocket transitioned fluidly whenever advances in technology added layers of complexity to the project. David Holl, President and CEO of Mary Kay, has called Bottle Rocket one of the best vendors ever to work with the beauty company. The app developer, which counts Coca-Cola, Disney and Vogue among its clients, pulled together a designated team of employees to collaborate with Mary Kay for the duration of the project.

The official launch of myCustomers+ will take place from July 24–Aug. 6, when 30,000 Mary Kay consultants converge upon Dallas for Seminar, the company’s annual salesforce training and recognition event. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that Seminar 2016, which will take place in four waves, will pump close to $35 million into the local economy and support 2,000 jobs in the area. Mary Kay plans to promote myCustomers+ throughout the event with special expo areas, social media promotions and giveaways, and giant iTab touchscreens featuring the technology.

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