Letter from John Fleming, April 2013

John Fleming

Reasons to celebrate!

Many have chosen the direct selling method of distribution as the core way to make their products and services available to the public. The philosophy behind the business model is stated in many ways and the descriptions of the products and services vary greatly. Regardless of the specific words used to describe any one of the companies who make up the industry, for those of us who participate in the storytelling and reporting of direct selling it is always quite simple: This industry attracts people, engages people, supports people, builds people and, consequently, businesses are built at a local level that culminate in the building of a larger business, the corporation.

Our Direct Selling News Global 100 ranking of those companies that submitted their annual revenues (certified) for 2012 reveals some amazing results that are true indicators of the role direct selling opportunities have played in the lives of people over the past year. Overall, the top 50 companies grew by approximately $4 billion—$2 billion of that growth coming from the top 10 companies. Eight of the top 10 posted increases and four of the top 10 posted double-digit increases, led by Nu Skin’s 29 percent increase over prior year. In 2011 the top 50 companies represented approximately $59 billion in revenue, and in 2012 that same group grew to $64 billion in annual revenues. Twelve new companies also entered the DSN Global 100 ranking.

As we have often stated, the media may have made “jobs” a No. 1 topic; however, the business case for opportunity and for a business model that focuses on the development of people appears to be rising, not shrinking, and in some cases in an extraordinary manner. The DSN Global 100 ranking for 2012 is announced at our banquet on April 3 and will be posted on our website. However, the numbers and the ranking are only part of the story. Behind the numbers are millions of lives changed, from customers to independent sellers/business owners who have found their “choice” relative to products and services. From weight that has been lost and health gained to self-esteem boosted through fashionable and personalized choices, services acquired, homes made more enjoyable, economic security enhanced and, the fun and often exhilarating experience, direct selling companies continue to prove they are part of a global solution! These companies are now doing business in over 22 countries that are classified as Billion-Dollar Markets extending the most unique value proposition of perhaps any industry.

As we came to the final months of 2012, some of us were taken by surprise by the attacks on the direct selling business model. A few wolves in sheep’s clothing—a hedge fund manager, a consumer advocate and even a reputable magazine—stated they were acting in the public good when they attacked what we consider a positive way of life. For a brief moment, our anticipation for celebration was tempered by a concern for the companies being attacked and the implications on all companies within the industry as well as those contemplating the business model. Based on solid performance, we now know that the major companies that were unfairly challenged with biased opinions of their business models posted increases for the year—even stellar results—demonstrating that the model is actually one “of the people and built by the people.”

At recent industry-related meetings we were reminded that predators still exist that do nothing to drive or build the economy. They thrive on something that they believe to be a weakness without always finishing the investigation and exploring the facts. Lions in the jungle may think that they can take down every elephant they see, but the stories about such thinking reveal that elephants have prevailed. There is balance in the jungle!

Free economies need the direct selling business model! This is precisely why we here at Direct Selling News are proud to tell the stories that need to be told and bring you the information that supports the stories. The DSN Global 100 is approached with the preceding in mind. We celebrate with you the enormous achievements of all companies who collectively make the industry what it is. We especially thank those companies who choose to share with us, for the benefit of all, their accomplishments and relevance in a world that needs to better understand how the masses can be engaged and rewarded through access to and the distribution of some of the most unique products and services in the world.

Through their marketing courses, business schools now emphasize the importance of “relationship selling”—two words direct sellers have been familiar with since the creation of the model. Direct selling companies, in all cases, have marketed to a segment of one! Party plan might change the stat just a bit, but the follow-up and service provided has always been to a segment of one. Whatever the label currently used—and there are many—the direct selling business model embraces people, engages people, rewards people and develops people! It’s all good and that is also why this month’s celebration is not just about those who are the role models but all of those who make it all possible.

Until next month… enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

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About Direct Selling News
Direct Selling News Magazine has been serving direct selling and network marketing executives since 2004. Each issue of Direct Selling News offers content on topics that shape the dynamics of our industry.

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