The September 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!

Cover Story

Keys to Success part 1: Customer Acquisition

by Andrea Tortora

Of all the misinformation about direct selling, perhaps the most often repeated—even by those who work most closely in the field—is the description of direct selling as an industry. Read more…


Celebrating success is a hallmark of direct selling, and we have two opportunities for you to recognize the great work being done by your corporate teams. Read more…


Like the pink Cadillacs it awards to top sellers, today’s Mary Kay retains a classic feel while embracing innovative thinking and design. Read more…


When husband and wife team Mark and Tracy Jarvis set out to launch their own company, they had listened to numerous suggestions for the name until “zurvita” was proposed and immediately touched and won them over. Read more…


In the year 1855, Reverend J.R. Graves started a mail order company selling books, religious tracts and Bibles. Read more…


It’s another year and you’re gearing up for your convention. Read more…


Over the past decade, rapid developments in technology have fundamentally changed how direct selling organizations operate. Read more…


The speculation started immediately. As soon as the news—Herbalife Settles with FTC—began popping up on mobile alerts and news outlets early Friday morning, July 15, observers inside and outside the direct selling channel began scrambling to understand the bigger picture. Read more…


The U.S. Direct Selling Association held its Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 5 to 7, bringing together direct selling company executives, academics, suppliers and global direct selling leaders for collaboration and conversation about the trends shaping the channel. Read more…


The direct selling industry is at a critical juncture in its long history. Read more…


The role of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) has never been more clear: to serve as a “listening post,” a place to collect, analyze and address the aspirations and concerns of the direct selling channel. Read more…


For more great stories, please click on our subscription button and subscribe to DSN

Advertisements

Note from the General Manager, December 2014

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the December 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


2014: A Year of Growth

LaurenI’m writing this letter from my hotel room in marvelous Rio De Janeiro, home to the 2014 World Congress of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. The event has brought together approximately 400 people from companies based around the world, all united for one purpose: supporting the direct selling path of entrepreneurship and the opportunity it presents to people from all walks of life. It also serves as time to reflect on the state of our community today: the challenges we face, the lessons we’ve learned and the opportunities ahead.

There’s no question that direct selling is enjoying a period of growth. Direct selling companies generated combined revenue of $180 billion worldwide in 2013, with the World Congress host country alone reporting 7.2 percent growth. As writer Judith Emmert explores in our cover story, beginning on page 16, more than a dozen U.S. companies have surpassed $500 million in annual revenue this year and are continuing to climb toward the $1 billion peak. During the reporting for the cover story, USANA President Kevin Guest told us, “As we knock on the door of $1 billion, most of our challenges have related to becoming a $1 billion organization before we actually hit that level of sales. This means that we need to think, act and behave like a $1 billion organization before we can become one.”

Here at Direct Selling News, 2014 included a number of significant initiatives designed to support growth throughout direct selling. First and foremost was our groundbreaking survey work conducted with the team at Harris Poll. We began the relationship by commissioning Harris Poll to conduct a survey in the spring answering the question: How prevalent are direct selling products in the United States. (The answer: Very! Two-thirds (66 percent) of adults—an estimated 156 million people—have ever made a purchase from a direct seller. One-third (34 percent) have done so in the past six months.) In late August, we went back to the field with a more in-depth study examining both direct selling consumers and distributors, and we look forward to continuing to bring you more in-depth analysis from this exclusive research. During the year, we also published a special insert in The Wall Street Journal, crafted to communicate the positive attributes and dynamic nature of direct selling with the Journal’s high-level audience, and a special edition during the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting, highlighting the event’s content and awards.

It was my privilege to join the Direct Selling News team in February, and I look forward to continuing to expand our work as we head into 2015. I could not have asked for a more gracious welcome and am particularly thankful for the continued support and guidance of Publisher and Editor in Chief John Fleming. The stories of companies dedicated to serving as beacons of hope and opportunity through direct selling throughout the world are captivating.

Until next time, I wish you and your teams a holiday season filled with joy.

All the best,

Lauren Lawley Head
General Manager

Letter from John Fleming, November 2014

Click here to order the November 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


John FlemingNovember is always a special month! Gratitude flows as we move closer and closer to the designated day of Thanksgiving across the United States of America. Thanksgiving was essentially a harvest-related festival, a special day to acknowledge gratitude for a successful year of planting and reaping the food so essential to the lives of the people. Though Thanksgiving is said to have originated in America, a number of other countries celebrate harvest-related festivals with different names. Therefore, even though November may not be the month to celebrate Thanksgiving in other parts of the world, we take this moment to share with friends everywhere our gratitude for your friendship and partnership during the past year. We may not be exactly like the farmers who originally selected a special day to celebrate the harvest of crops, but in many ways we share our gratitude for the abundance of so many things—friendships and business relationships, businesses that offer the opportunity of harvest through salaries and wages for employees, and the entrepreneurs who come to the direct selling business model as a way to make some of their dreams come true… the business harvest of earnings.

This November also marks a special moment in time for Direct Selling News. I have served as Publisher for 105 months and have contributed to this page 104 times. It has been nothing less than one of my life’s most extraordinary pleasures! To serve with some of the greatest people I have met and publish many of the stories that needed to be told, and to be able to do it out of a commitment to be nothing less than a trusted journalistic resource that would add to the credibility and image of an industry you love so dearly…it just does not get any better! I am not leaving Direct Selling News, but the torch is being passed. Lauren Lawley Head was hired at the beginning of the year to lead the DSN effort to even bigger places and create even greater impact, not only here in America but eventually around the world. Lauren has the experience having been involved directly with business journals in major cities in the country, most recently as Editor of Dallas Business Journal. She is more than qualified. Her contributions as new General Manager, in a very short period of time, have been many! You have heard from her in previous issues, and it is now time to bring her to what I will refer to as the main stage… this page. I know you will enjoy Lauren’s insights and perspectives, and I will continue to share from time to time in other parts of the magazine.

As mentioned earlier, November is always a special month! This particular November has an even greater treat in store as we are delighted to release the top-line findings from the most recent research conducted on the direct selling industry, commissioned by Direct Selling News and conducted by Harris Poll. Lauren, as a new member of our staff, took the lead position on this project, which quickly became the most extensive research project ever conducted by Direct Selling News. Back and forth we went with the researchers to develop the right questions to truly explore both consumer attitudes and those of independent contractors. Over the past several months, we finally arrived at the questions. Once the questions were finalized, we anxiously awaited the completion of the process and the resulting data that was to be derived. The day we received the first round of data, joy would be the one word I might use to describe our enthusiasm! We had real data to share that reflects the population in its entirety. Our friends at DSA were made aware of the findings immediately, and we will work together to explore the many ways this valuable information can be used for the benefit of all of you! Enjoy the cover story in this issue… it’s all about the real direct selling industry!

We, like all of you, are busy preparing to close another year. It has been a good one for us because, once again, we were able to tell the stories that needed to be told. As we approach the new year, you can look forward to more from Direct Selling News. New pathways will be charted by Lauren, bringing even greater value to those we cherish and serve. Simply put… in 2015 DSN will bring you more!

Save the date, April 8, to join us in celebrating the sixth DSN Global 100 banquet! The event has grown each year with over 300 industry executives attending last year. A special and classy evening of reception and programing will also include recognition of special achievements during 2014.

On behalf of all of the DSN staff, please know that we are always grateful for the opportunities we experience in sharing the stories you create. To our supplier friends—our customers, the fuel that allows us to make it all happen—and to all of you who read this magazine, Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!

Until next month… enjoy the issue… and go Lauren!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, September 2014

Click here to order the September 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


It’s Fourth Quarter!

Conventions and annual meetings have served to inspire. A few hundred thousand lives have been personally touched by the many corporate events of the past few months. Last month, in this column, we provided an optimistic outlook on 2014 direct selling industry performance based on our collective observations and views.

John FlemingOn July 28 the research team supporting the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations posted their worldwide results for 2013. Total global retail sales were $178.5 billion for 2013, up 8.1 percent from 2012’s total of $165.2 billion. The number of independent contractors globally rose as well, up 7 percent to 96.2 million. (To see the full global statistics go to www.wfdsa.org) This data also confirmed our outlook—direct selling is growing as a channel of distribution around the world! We should really expect no less. Any channel of distribution that can serve to engage people from basically all walks of life has to be considered for its relevancy during times of growing interest in entrepreneurship. The strengths of this most unique channel of distribution are many, and over the past year much more attention has been directed toward the industry. Therefore, as we now move through the final quarter of the year, projections for year-end results will begin to set the stage for reflections on what we have learned from 2014 in particular. We certainly believe the number of media impressions about direct selling is probably up over prior year. There is always a mix of opinions, and there is no way to quantify the balance between positive and negative press—there is always some of both. Local and niche media have actually done an excellent job on many occasions of publishing some very impressive and positive stories. And, I might add, DSN published an excellent insert that was distributed in The Wall Street Journal (reprints are still available).

As we (DSN) reflect on this past year, in particular, the following thoughts appear to be noteworthy:

  1. Journalists covering direct selling need to be encouraged to keep an appropriate balance between the stories that are a reflection of the best of the industry and those that show concern about the direct selling business model and how it is being utilized and promoted. This is an industry that self-regulates probably better than any other and one that has available a very strong code of ethics developed by the Direct Selling Association. We must simply find more ways to advocate the best of what the industry stands for. Better balance is essential, and each player has the opportunity to influence what gets reflected in the media. Ultimately, better balance will negate the perception that the media only desires to cover the negative.
  2. Every company using the direct selling model in any of its many variations, regardless of the label being used, is an actor/actress on the big stage. The big stage is the global marketplace where the audience tends to recognize the direct selling industry as “ONE,” regardless of the label being used. ONE was actually the theme of this year’s Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting, a very appropriate theme for an industry that is searching for its redefinition of who we are and what we do. Regardless of how we are defining ourselves individually, the audience tends to see ONE; therefore, it behooves us to realize even more so that the audience is always there. The audience is often learning, enjoying the play, and marveling at its uniqueness, it’s symphony of talent, its mix of ingredients and the results of the production. Some in the audience are simply there to report, and what they report can often be what they see, not what they understand—meaning all characters in the play are quite important. Therefore, it’s our duty to pay attention to all characters.
  3. Industry growth means a lot of things are going well and a lot of people are finding success! Growth should support an ever increasing positive perception of what the industry does and how it accomplishes so much through a channel of distribution based on engaging people from all backgrounds. As the cast continues to develop—the many companies who are utilizing and growing through use of the direct selling model—the cast will find itself performing before a larger and ever growing audience that is informed and often equipped to share their observations and experiences quickly and effectively. Each of us can ensure that the play is one of the finest productions ever brought to stage by simply playing our unique roles well and with authenticity! And as we do, we will capture the imagination of the audience and deliver on the promise of a better future! No need to overpromise… this industry provides opportunity like no other!

One of the ways we can leverage the cast is to celebrate what we have accomplished and what we will accomplish as we now work toward the close of 2014. There are fewer and fewer days left in this year. On the next pages, Lauren Lawley Head will unveil DSN’s 90 Days of Direct Selling, and how we plan to celebrate our great industry!

Enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, July 2014

Click here to order the July 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Those of us who attend the DSA Annual Meeting in June always find something that serves to inspire us to the promise of the future. This is one of the most basic motivations for attending, along with that once-a-year opportunity to interact with those who we know have a common interest in entrepreneurship through the direct selling model. We have already posted highlights on our website, and our article in this issue will provide you with an overview of the meeting.

John FlemingOur most recent DSN insert in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) was also distributed to subscribers of the WSJ on June 10, one week after the DSA Annual Meeting. Copies of The New Main Street: Where Entrepreneurship Meets Millions of Today’s Consumers were shared with all DSA Annual Meeting attendees, and the reprints are now available for purchase on our website at:https://directsellingnewsproducts.com/special-reprints/the-new-main-street-in-the-wall-street-journal-50-pack.html.

The DSN/WSJ insert represents a concise and contemporary view of direct selling, the exact opposite of what has been published in many major media outlets as the accusations against one company and the industry received attention—much of which was reported in a biased manner that leaned toward the negative. Billion-dollar hedge fund managers do have a voice, but so do we. Through the DSN insert in The Wall Street Journal, we spoke loud and clear! Our collaborative effort included representation from a few companies as well as our friends at DSA. More importantly, we wanted this insert to be quite unlike any other we have done in the past. First, we did not want any company advertisements that would allow the insert to be perceived as a commercial advertisement. (Advice was provided by company CEO and C-level executives.) Secondly, we wanted the content to tell the story about direct selling as it should be told. Thirdly, we wanted this insert to be one of which every company and every direct seller could be proud, as this is the first major piece of information distributed through major media that informs, educates, shares the benefits of the direct selling experience and provides an outlook for the future of the industry and its alignment with trends. Highlights of the recent survey commissioned by Direct Selling News and conducted by Harris Poll are also included for the benefit of all. We know you will find the highlights to be valuable and supportive of the great future that lies ahead.

Pick up copies of The New Main Street inserted in the Wall Street Journal

We are very proud of what we do here at DSN to provide the direct selling industry with support. There is no better example of our pride than the effort that goes into projects such as the DSN/Wall Street Journal insert, and I would be remiss not to mention the team that made this last insert possible. Teresa Day, our Editorial Director played her role as always in extraordinary fashion in leading the development of the insert content while Jennifer Mills and Emily Reagan carried on with the normal production process. Marci Allen did the layout with help from our SUCCESS Partners team. Lauren Lawley Head, our recently hired new General Manager, was incredible! She came to us with a great journalistic background and took on the role of Project Leader for the WSJ insert. The result is the very best insert we have ever published and all in support of you! Lauren takes The Back Page in this issue, but don’t be surprised when you see us flip flop between our pages. She has much to say, and you will love her perspective.

Now back to how and why the use of reprints can support exponential distribution of perhaps the best story told and shared through major media about direct selling thus far in 2014. Whether you define your company with the words direct selling or not, the story supports all. Only a few companies could be quoted in the limited space of 16 pages and six stories; however, the quotes used are representative of an entire industry, not just a company.

What if you order reprints to include in every new distributor/consultant starter kit for the next 90 days? What if every attendee at your next major meeting received a copy of the insert and you had the insert customized with your company story on the back cover? (If desired, we can do that for you.) What if you promote the availability of the inserts through your company communication vehicles, and you do it consistently for 90 days? Simply share this link for ordering, and you never touch any inventory:https://directsellingnewsproducts.com/special-reprints/the-new-main-street-in-the-wall-street-journal-50-pack.html. What if the greater percentage of your distributors/consultants purchased at least 50 copies of the insert? What if your leaders purchased more copies? What if the majority of your representatives provided each of their customers with a copy of the insert in their next delivery of product or you included a copy in all product shipments for a period of 90 days?

I hope I have simply activated your thoughts as to how the messages in the latest DSN/Wall Street Journal insert might serve our industry beyond the 1.2 million WSJ subscribers that would have received a copy on June 10. We can grow the distribution exponentially… we know we can! This is our chance to spread the word! Our thanks and gratitude to those who made it happen!

Until next month… enjoy the issue!
John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, June 2014

Click here to order the June 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

We are always proud to announce the DSN Global 100! Those companies that participate reveal not only a level of performance, but a very transparent look at who they are and what they do. The ranking allows for a compilation of stats, facts and profiles that serve to identify the impact these companies are having on lives and economies around the world. We now know that the ranking is often used by companies and observers as somewhat of a benchmark. Every company in every slot participated by sharing their basic information for the greater benefit of showing the impact the direct selling channel of distribution has on the lives of people. Behind the numbers are the many stories of people from all walks of life who are benefiting from the products and services sold by independent business owners. There are so many stories to tell, and in this issue we will tell a few about the companies and individuals who were recognized for special achievement due to performance and their individual work.

John FlemingOn April 23 at our annual celebration, we presented our 2013 Bravo Awards in three categories, Growth (both percentage increase over prior year and revenue increase over prior year), Leadership and Humanitarian effort. We think you will enjoy reading the highlights of everything that happened and more about the honorees who received those awards. Most importantly, we extend our appreciation and gratitude to all who joined us on the evening of April 23 and all of the companies who sponsored tables, which enabled a most enjoyable event.

For us, each year of hosting the DSN Global 100 Celebration has certainly resulted in a feeling of “this was truly the best ever or best to date.” Our keynote speakers have delivered messages that have served to inform and inspire, captivate and motivate the audience of attendees to realize the long-term effect of what the direct selling industry does in offering an opportunity for people to be primary players in the free enterprise system. Our performance as an industry is always based upon the combined efforts of all of the cast members; for the Global 100, it is the many different companies that comprise what we refer to as the direct selling industry.

Direct Selling may not be the two words every company uses to describe itself, but in all cases, the companies that are using this channel are about the people—about community—and we have been about these things since the formation of the direct selling business model. At the DSN Global 100 banquet, we celebrated all of the preceding. Truman Hunt, President and CEO of Nu Skin and keynote speaker for the evening, shared beyond expectations as did every keynote speaker we have ever invited.

Our first award was historic, going to Origami Owl. It was our Bravo Growth Award Based on Percentage. I mention this award in the limited space of this note because of the extraordinary accomplishment, but also because of the founding story. This company started as a result of a 14-year-old, a goal and a parent’s insistence upon the teenager earning the privilege of enjoying what she may have thought to be an ordinary request for a 16th birthday celebration. This particular teen’s request was denied and turned into a challenge that required her to earn the prize versus being gifted it. The result: An enterprising mind-set was formed that led the teen from one idea and experience to another and finally, the founding of a big idea—Origami Owl, the company that walked away from stage with the honor of being the company with the greatest percentage increase over the prior year (870 percent), also landing in the No. 50 slot of the DSN Global 100. Bella Weems and her mother, Chrissy, accepted the award with the grace and humility of seasoned entrepreneurs, and yet their story has just begun.

Enjoy this issue and keep it for reference. Every story we tell is a reflection of the many stories you create each and every day as you lead the efforts of your companies to change lives for the better through an entrepreneurial opportunity.

The opportunity to engage in a growing and preferred channel of distribution allows the ordinary to become the extraordinary! It serves consumers the way they most enjoy—in a personal manner. The recent Harris Poll that DSN engaged tells us over two-thirds of Americans have purchased from a direct seller! The direct selling industry is leading the way in creating the New Main Street! The New Main Street is not where you find the bricks and mortar of traditional retail but where you find what you need through the personal and social interaction with another person who represents what you need, want, or want to know more about. On June 10, anotherDSN insert will be distributed in The Wall Street Journal, a subscriber-only edition, to define the New Main Street and what direct selling is really all about. We will offer reprints through our DSN Store—you won’t want to miss this!

Until next month… enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, May 2014

Click here to order the May 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The DSN Global 100 ranking of companies for 2013 has now been published on our website for the world to see. On April 23 of this past month we had the honor of once again hosting industry executives at our DSN Global 100 Celebration Dinner. We always look forward to rolling out the red carpet and hosting an evening of celebration inclusive of the DSN Global 100 recognition. We honor 100 companies, but the evening is always about celebrating all who make the direct selling industry possible. We are going to press with this column prior to the actual banquet, so you can look forward to a complete recap in our June issue.

John FlemingThere is much optimism regarding the outlook for the direct selling industry. During our banquet we always provide insights as to what the ranking of the top 100 companies actually means. From a growth perspective, the top 10 DSN Global 100 companies grew by approximately $3.5 billion, led by Nu Skin with dollar growth over prior year of $977 million (DSN 2014 Global 100 Growth Honoree). When looking at percentage of growth over prior year, the team at Origami Owl (DSN 2014 Global 100 Growth Honoree) has posted results like we have never seen before, at least from our perspective and knowledge. The company revealed revenues of $24 million for 2012—their first year in business—and 2013 revenues were reported to be $233 million! This is our newest example of how possibilities are unlocked when the direct selling channel is utilized effectively. For any reader not familiar with the company, Origami Owl was the vision of a 14-year-old. There’s more information to come in our June issue.

Some of the negative publicity and activities that challenged the industry during the latter part of 2012 and carried over into 2013 may very well have ignited a positive wave of interest in direct selling opportunities. When companies and the direct selling business model are challenged, lives and livelihoods are challenged as well. Therefore the stories we share throughout the industry become of critical importance to those who seek to understand a very unique form of enterprise.

Here at Direct Selling News, we know we have a responsibility to bring you the greatest value possible through the information we share and the stories we write about. As we came into 2014, we reviewed the challenges, examined our present, and explored our future to determine where we go from here and how we more effectively serve the industry. Three primary directions emerged, which we have now implemented. No. 1: We realized that we have to participate more in the research the industry so desperately needs; No. 2: We realized that we have to look beyond our borders, as the most significant growth in the industry is coming from global expansion to fill the need of entrepreneurship in every country that supports choices for how people can participate in free enterprise opportunities; and No. 3: It became obvious that we have to expand our staff and invest in the future.

In order to support the research needed, we knew we did not need to duplicate any efforts presently going on within the U.S. Direct Selling Association or the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. Therefore, we developed objectives that DSN could feasibly execute to enhance credibility. We went to the best in the business for conducting surveys and supporting research: Harris Poll. We envision a long-term relationship enabling us to provide third-party information relevant to an understanding of the direct selling channel of distribution. We will have more to report on this effort over the next few weeks.

As we are also committed to focus more on the global scene, we knew we had to expand our staff. After months of searching, we found the experience and skill we were looking for in Lauren Lawley Head. Lauren brings the experience of business journalism and strong academic credentials from one of the great schools of journalism in the country, along with 16 years of experience, most recently as the Editor of the Dallas Business Journal. Lauren will fill the new role of General Manager here at DSN and lead the expansion of the brand and all efforts to increase our digital presence. Most importantly, Lauren brings a passion for the work of journalism and the role she can play in supporting an industry that is focused on making the lives of people better. I know you will enjoy meeting Lauren on the following page.

Our cover story this month focuses on a most important component of the direct selling business, the Starter Kit. I know you will also gain from the great information shared by Arbonne executives on the transformation they have been going through. It’s a great story! We also explore Scentsy’s extensive philanthropic efforts in our Industry with Heart segment and put the spotlight on Seacret and the interesting story of the company’s founding and their strong sense of community.

In closing, be sure to read Orville Thompson’s important message about our opportunity to inform Congress about our business model.

Until next month… enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, April 2014

Click here to order the April 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

John Fleming

For our 2014 DSN Global 100 list, the information is still being processed, and the ranking is almost complete. In a few short weeks we will announce this year’s list during our annual banquet on April 23. It’s been an amazing year with amazing results—true indicators of the role direct selling opportunities have played in the lives of people during 2013. Every time we compile the information needed to publish our global ranking, it becomes more and more obvious to us that free economies benefit enormously from the direct selling business model! Every number we process is a reflection of lives engaged and people served with products, services and, yes, opportunity! This is precisely why we are proud to tell the stories that need to be told.

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, significance and relevance, particularly in a world that needs to better understand how the masses can be engaged and rewarded through use and distribution of some of the most unique products and services available. We especially extend our respect to those privately held companies that submit their revenue even when there are decreases versus prior year. This ranking is not about the placement number as much as it is about a collective of companies that form the foundation for a most unique pathway to entrepreneurship throughout the world.

The facts are: Others are watching. And they are watching to better understand direct selling, to more clearly identify with who does what within the industry, and to determine the overall positive impact the business model may have on economies local, national and global. There are some who use the direct selling business model and do not identify with the industry, so our DSN Global 100 ranking is never inclusive of every company utilizing the business model.

It is noteworthy, however, that in looking at the data, we see the top 50 companies grew by approximately $3 billion; $2 billion of that growth comes from the top 10 companies. In 2012 the top 50 companies represented approximately $64 billion in revenue, and in 2013 that same group grew to approximately $67 billion in annual revenues. Ambit is the fastest company ever to reach $1 billion—just seven years.

Our cover story this month shares the highlights of nine direct selling companies that have surpassed the milestone of becoming a billion-dollar company. It is most fitting that these stories are being told in the timeframe of our 2014 Global 100 release. All companies in the DSN Global 100 top 10, as well as at least three others, have surpassed the billion-dollar mark, and several more are on the door step. What got these companies there and how long did it take? More importantly, what are the common denominators to getting there? You will find the answers to these questions and more as you read the article. Once again, the cumulative impact on lives engaged and often changed for the better, people served, and communities of positive, like-minded individuals developed (the sales organizations) represents far more than what the revenues of these billion-dollar companies depict.

In the shadow of all of the amazing results we will release later this month at our DSN Global 100 Banquet on April 23—we will be posting to Facebook and Twitter live from the event—is the ongoing story involving the accusations of a hedge fund manager against Herbalife, one of the top 10 direct selling companies in the world. As we prepared to go to press, Herbalife announced and welcomed the FTC investigation called for and initiated by the hedge fund manager’s accusations. Most interesting has been the recent article in The Wall Street Journal and the recent investigation by The New York Times revealing tactics used by the hedge fund manager to solicit those who have been used as complainants against Herbalife. Investigations are a part of the checks and balances built into our culture and democratic form of government. However, when accusations are built upon profit motives on the part of an accuser and turn into possible lies or misinformation or use unethical tactics, every citizen should pay close attention.

The world of journalism is often accused of focusing too much on the negative side, but there is also the positive side, which often helps to keep the scales of justice in balance. We believe this investigation will dispel much of what has become media chatter, and that is why Herbalife extended the welcome. In the meantime, the 3+ million Herbalife distributors around the world did not waiver in 2013, which is an example of what underlies the strength of all sustainable companies—a culture and community of people who believe in their chosen endeavor and the mission, principles and values upon which the company is built.

Until next month… enjoy the issue!
John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, March 2014

John Fleming

In our cover story for this issue, it is our honor to recognize “The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling.” The feature is focused on the role women play in the industry and the impact of their leadership. Our industry can be proud of the fact that 75 percent of the participants at the independent contractor level are women. These women are often mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters and friends—and also leaders who impact the lives of others around the world. No other industry that actually delivers a product or service can claim as great a participation of women at the level of business transaction. Critics of the direct selling business model might serve themselves better if only they knew who really benefits from what direct sellers do. This is an industry we are proud to write about each month, especially when we have the opportunity to salute those we honor and cherish—the women!

I would also like to share that after Amway announced their 2013 results to the public on Tuesday, Feb. 4, we were eager to spend a few minutes on the phone with DSN’s currently ranked No. 1 company in the world, based on the Global 100 list. We spoke with the Amway communications team, as well as Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos about Amway’s reported revenue of $11.8 billion for 2013, a new record capping seven consecutive years of growth. This is, of course, a new revenue record for any single company in the direct selling industry. The largest direct seller of all time has been built over the past 55 years, from a humble beginning to a global company dedicated to making a free enterprise-based distribution system available to people from all walks of life.

What most may not remember about the Amway story are the battles they fought and won, the challenges they incurred due to negative press, the education they provided about the direct selling business model at a very critical moment in time, and the benefits gained by the entire industry. When we spoke with Steve and Doug about another year of incredible growth in 80 percent of their top 10 markets, we were not surprised with their very first comments—they both immediately spoke with reverence about the Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs) around the world who build their businesses in pursuit of their own personal objectives, with the support of Amway brands and opportunity. Addressing a privately owned enterprise, we did not expect a conversation about margins, profits, brands (NUTRILITE and Artistry are two of the largest brands in the world), new products and increased market share; however, Amway is accomplishing all of these things while also enhancing the communities in which its people live and work.

The economic footprint that Amway is making on the world is enormous. From original office space in what was a former gasoline station to now 21,000 employees worldwide, 3 million IBOs, 15 manufacturing facilities around the world, 6,400+ acres of certified organic farmland on four farms dedicated to sustainable farming, and 75 R&D/Quality Assurance laboratories worldwide, Amway is changing lives.

In the Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report released last November (www.AmwayEntrepreneurshipReport.com), Amway researchers revealed for all of the direct selling public—and those who look to better understand the direct selling business model—why it works. The research sample included over 26,000 respondents from over 24 countries utilizing the primary research methods of face-to-face and telephone calls to collect the information. Key findings included the great potential for self-employment even though self-employment rates remain very low in most countries. The Amway report also reveals that 70 percent of the respondents (average) and 77 percent of respondents under the age of 30 had a positive attitude toward entrepreneurship. The primary challenges to involvement in entrepreneurship are related to the financial barriers to entry and the “fear of failure”. The report further points out that an interest in entrepreneurship is not all about the money. The desire for independence and “better compatibility of family, leisure time and career” is highly appreciated. The report is available to the public on the Amway website.

Another article of interest to executives in the industry as well as those who seek information about the direct selling business model is written by Ibi Fleming, Herbalife North America Senior Vice President and Managing Director. The article, a response to a question, was recently published in the Los Angeles Daily News. You can find a reference to the article in the Headline News section on the DSN website.

In summary, when you reflect on the positive attitude toward entrepreneurship around the world as well as direct selling’s pathway to entrepreneurship and its ability to eliminate major barriers, it is clear that the direct selling business model is at the forefront of satisfying a growing need around the world.

Until next month… enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Letter from John Fleming, February 2014

Click here to order the February 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


John Fleming

Optimistic is the word that comes to mind as we now anticipate collecting information from many companies, which will lead us once again to the identification of the DSN Global 100. We are optimistic that we will find substantial growth to report within the industry. Inspired is another word that comes to mind when reflecting on some of the outstanding, record-breaking growth of some direct selling publicly held companies. We are able to see those results at the end of each quarter as a result of the published quarterly reports. The public companies that we watch—the ones using direct selling 100 percent as their method for revenue generation—indicate an average increase in share price of 188.25 percent (year-end 2013 over year-end 2012). The preceding represents 19 companies that are in our primary domestic group. Five foreign direct selling companies that we follow increased share price on average 14.94 percent.

With such strong overall performance by publicly held direct selling companies in 2013, our outlook remains strong and positive for the performance of the industry overall. Such a performance provides us with many more stories that need to be told. That is why in April we have scheduled The Wall Street Journal for another insert to be distributed to its 1.2 million subscribers. This insert, unlike previous inserts, will be devoted strictly to editorial and will not include advertisements for specific companies. The story of customers satisfied and lives changed is a compelling one, and The Wall Street Journal provides a great platform to tell that story. We are grateful to all friends who have supported us in this effort, and we know you, as the industry, will be proud of the information we create and publish. Reprints will be made available to enhance the spread, life and impact of the information on the public we serve.

Our cover story this month highlights a group that is often behind the scenes but so very essential to the success and sustainability of any company. Suppliers are usually experts at what they do, and they consistently make very significant investments in their products and services. They have to do this in order to maintain competitive advantage and most importantly, to be able to provide clients with a source committed to keeping their business on pace and in front of trends and best practices. Newer companies just beginning to venture into supplier relationships will certainly appreciate the perspectives provided. We ventured into this article out of deep respect for the suppliers we have gotten to know via the publishing of this magazine. Because of them, we have gained so much knowledge about the industry and accumulated so much information. We have truly learned their value as strategic partners.

Nature’s Sunshine Products (NSP) has shown steady growth throughout its history, but executives strongly believe in its potential to grow more rapidly, and they’re investing in the company’s future. Many elements are new in the 42-year-old company, beginning with several members of the management team. Get to know them through our Company Spotlight.

Nerium International is still a young company when looking at years in business, but in that short time, the company’s impact on lives appears to be beyond measure. The company’s commitment to personal development and philanthropy represents another example of how a direct selling company can impact lives in such a positive way.

In this month’s Top Desk, Amway’s John Parker explores ideas of community and why community is such an integral part of a direct selling company’s success. In fact, John says, “Lasting communities form around causes or values—not products or brands.” This is a most interesting and valuable article contributed by the Chief Sales Officer of the industry’s top company.

Another article we think you will find interesting is the contribution by industry attorney Kevin Thompson. Here at Direct Selling News, we have not jumped into every conversation about the points of view that arose over the past year relative to some of the industry’s publicly held companies. Herbalife was the center of many conversations, and the success of the company in 2013—in spite of some very severe challenges—is another testimony to the strength of the direct selling business model, the quality of people attracted to it, the leaders developed by the company and, of course, the quality of the management team at the top of the company. Kevin points this out in his article, “Ackman’s Folly: 7 False Assumptions on Herbalife,” edited exclusively for Direct Selling News.

As we now move through the month of February and into March, we eagerly look forward to the year-end reports that will create many of the stories for 2014, and we look forward to seeing many of you at this year’s DSN Global 100 banquet. It will be quite a celebration!

Until next month… enjoy the issue!
John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief