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…


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Herbalife Settles with FTC

Herbalife Ltd. and the Federal Trade Commission have reached a long-awaited settlement agreement resolving an investigation of the Los Angeles-based nutrition company that began more than two years ago. The deal, which requires Herbalife to make specific changes to its U.S. operations and pay $200 million, will be studied closely by the wider direct selling channel.

Herbalife also reached a settlement with the Illinois Attorney General, resulting in the company agreeing to pay $3 million to the office, separate from the FTC agreement.

Company executives and investors responded positively to the settlements, with shares in the company trading above $66 at midday, an increase of more than 10 percent.

“The settlements are an acknowledgment that our business model is sound and underscore our confidence in our ability to move forward successfully, otherwise we would not have agreed to the terms,” Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson said in a statement announcing the settlement. The statement went on to say that the company believes many of the allegations made by the FTC are factually incorrect but that the settlement is in the company’s best interest in light of the financial cost and distraction of protracted litigation. Herbalife said management can now focus all of its energies on continuing to build the business.

The FTC commenced an investigation into Herbalife 26 months ago, following accusations by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman that the company is defrauding customers. Ackman launched a campaign against the supplement seller in December 2012, backing his claims with a $1 billion short position in Herbalife stock.

As part of the deal, the company will pay a $200 million judgment and has agreed to various business procedures and policy enhancements. The $200 million figure is what Herbalife had floated in its first-quarter financial report as the company’s best estimate of a settlement. The FTC said this is the largest such consumer redress settlement obtained by the FTC and that it will provide information at a later date about how it will make those funds available for consumers.

The business procedures and policy enhancements included in the settlement pertain largely to Herbalife’s compensation model and marketing claims, which the FTC criticized in its complaint against the company. The settlement stipulates that the company must distinguish between individuals looking to build an Herbalife business and those who sign up simply to purchase products at a discount—a practice Herbalife management, in fact, implemented several years ago. Discount buyers are not eligible to sell product or earn rewards. The company is also required to ensure that at least two-thirds of rewards paid out to distributors are based on verified retail sales, rather than distributors’ personal consumption. And, in order to pay compensation to distributors at current levels, at least 80 percent of Herbalife’s product sales must be comprised of sales to legitimate end-users. If that threshold is not met, rewards to distributors must be reduced.

The company also agreed to:

  • require distributors to complete their first year, as well as a …

 

Click here to read the rest of the article at Direct Selling News.

Youngevity Hires on Loren Castronovo as Chief Marketing Officer

Youngevity International on Thursday announced that Loren Castronovo, a marketing and brand management veteran, is joining the company as Chief Marketing Officer.

Castronovo’s 30-plus years of experience has been gleaned at top beauty and fashion brands such as Chanel, Estée Lauder and Revlon, as well as companies within the direct selling channel. Throughout her career Castronovo has held the roles of Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President of Sales and Vice President of Product Development, among others.

“Since 2010, Ms. Castronovo and her teams have won 21 Addy Awards; [Direct Selling Association] Ethos Awards in Education/Leisure, Product Innovation, and Sales and Marketing; the prestigious 2011 Rebrand Award and the 2011 Minnesota Best Brand,” said Steve Wallach, Youngevity Chairman and CEO. “We are excited to have such a winner join our winning company.”

According to Dave Briskie, Youngevity President and CFO, Castronovo stood out from other candidates for her considerable experience and ability to blend traditional marketing with direct selling. “Loren will certainly bring fresh vision to Youngevity, and all our distibutors and customers will gain from her work,” said Briskie.

That fresh vision will serve Youngevity well in light of a May announcement that the company is pursuing a strategic growth plan, including a capital raise and possible stock uplisting. Youngevity sells a wide range of nutrition and lifestyle products through the direct sales channel, and is a vertically integrated producer of gourmet coffees sold through commercial, retail and direct sales channels.

The May 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!!

The May 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!!

Cover Story

Direct Selling: Our Unique Position in the YouEconomy

by Courtney Roush

A seismic shift is occurring right now in the American workplace. This shift is happening; there is no stopping it, and the impacts are not yet fully imaginable. Read more…


Publisher’s Note

Let’s Celebrate!

by Lauren Lawley Head

We’re wrapping up a month of celebrations at Direct Selling News, first with the April 1 publication recognizing our inaugural class of Best Places to Work in Direct Selling honorees and then just a few days later the seventh annual Global 100 Celebration. Read more…


The 17th annual SUCCESS Partners University, held at the Dallas Omni Hotel April 7-8, once again provided a platform from which C-level executives and guest speakers shared insights and information with the more than 600 registered guests. Read more…


It’s an oft-told sidebar in the retelling of the Scentsy story: How the multimillion-dollar international party plan company began in a 40-foot metal shipping container on a sheep farm in Meridian, Idaho. Read more…


A wonder kid of sorts that exploded onto the direct selling scene in 2009, LifeVantage has seen its fair share of exponential growth and powerhouse performance of its products. Read more…


On Jan. 5, Gary Young stood amidst the extreme devastation in Nepal, brought about by a massive earthquake a little over nine months earlier. Read more…


Every salesforce has its traditions, whether it’s a quick ritual to gear up for the week or a unique way of approaching follow-up calls.Read more…


If you ask 100 people “What is big data?” you would likely get 100 different answers. Read more…


I love the University of Georgia football team. I’m a big Bulldogs’ fan and go to every game I can. Like a lot of sports fans, I have some peculiar habits in relation to my team. Read more…


John Addison, now President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group and Leadership Editor for SUCCESS magazine, engages and inspires audiences with his relatable messages. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc., a company he joined more than 35 years ago. DSN Publisher and Editor in Chief Lauren Lawley Head had an opportunity to sit down with him this month to talk about his vision and the future of direct selling. Read more…


The direct selling industry today is at a critical juncture. Read more…


The theme for DSA’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix this year is Reimagine. I’ll provide some context. Read more…

The Social Age

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the January 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


The Social Age is here. If you’re not taking full advantage of the tools and technologies that social platforms have to offer, you and your company are likely to be left behind as the competition leaps ahead. Now well into its infancy, the Social Age is and will be making a tremendous impact on the sales industry, especially within the world of direct selling. The changes already cannot be ignored.

Technology drives everything—recruitment, retention and revenue—for most companies. Those businesses that realize what they can achieve when all of their internal, back office, social media, field tools and software systems work together are equipped to innovate and leverage essential data that will let them thrive in the future.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are potent tools that companies and consultants are learning to use as they build connections with customers and grow sales. Other apps such as Periscope and Google Hangout are gaining traction, too. Yet many executives and companies are slow to embrace these advances. A study from CEO.com and Domo finds that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence. Among the 30 percent who do, they only use one social channel. Here LinkedIn was the chosen platform.

In contrast to that study, it does appear that C-level executives within direct selling are more plugged in to the benefits of these engagement tools. A recent study conducted among members by the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA), titled The 2015 Managing Your Company’s Web Presence and Technology Systems Survey, indicates that nearly six in 10 companies surveyed report that one or more of their chief-level executives have company-associated social media accounts that they actively engage in
(57 percent).

Additionally, over half of those also indicate that the chief executives create the content for those accounts. At Scentsy, the Idaho-based wickless candle company, it’s common for an executive to personally respond to field achievements or post in conversations on Facebook, the social media platform most used by Scentsy Consultants.

Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer at Utah-based company USANA, refers to the focus of today as “Digital Humanism.” He says, “The consumer-driven Internet of things has many components, but the most prominent one is social.”

As direct sellers work toward more fully embracing the Social Age and everything that comes with it, a few things are clear…

Click here to read the full article in Direct Selling News.

Direct Selling Companies Donate Millions in Gifts to TODAY Toy Drive

This holiday season direct selling companies have donated more than $15.4 million in cash and products to the TODAY Show Holiday Toy and Gift Drive, which supplies gifts to underprivileged children across the U.S.

The partnership with TODAY has been an initiative of the Direct Selling Assocation (DSA) for more than a decade. On Dec. 22, DSA Senior Vice President Melissa Brunton will appear on the show to thank the companies that participated and acknowledge the work direct selling entrepreneurs do for their communities throughout the year.

This month a handful of company executives have visited the TODAY set to present donations on behalf of their employees and salespeople. On Dec. 1, Thirty-One Gifts President and CEO Cindy Monroe delivered an assortment of products worth $5.5 million—one of the largest donations in this year’s toy drive. To date, the seller of functional bags, home organization products and accessories has contributed more than $36.4 million in products to the program.

“We are excited and honored to be part of the DSA’s toy drive support,” Monroe said in a statement. “Our charitable mission, through our philanthropic outreach Thirty-One Gives, is to assist organizations that empower girls and women, and strengthen families. The TODAY show makes it easy for us to enable our many sales consultants across the country to be involved with the donation too by selecting local charities where they can deliver the products.”

The following direct selling companies donated cash or products in this year’s toy drive:

•    Amway
•    Arbonne
•    Good Will Publishers
•    Initials Inc.
•    Jordan Essentials
•    Living Fresh Collection
•    Lulu Avenue
•    Mary Kay
•    Origami Owl
•    PartyLite
•    Shaklee
•    SpenserNation
•    Stampin’ Up!
•    Stella & Dot
•    Thirty-One Gifts
•    USANA Health Sciences
•    Vantel Pearls

Heather Chastain Named President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada

Nutrition and personal-care products seller Shaklee has brought on Heather Chastain as President of Shaklee U.S. and Canada, a role supporting the growth and success of Independent Distributors in the company’s key North American markets.

Shaklee’s new President brings 20 years of experience in direct selling, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer at another personal-care and wellness brand within the industry. In a statement, Shaklee describes Chastain as an executive with a “strong, collaborative and relational style of management and leadership.” Her previous roles have included responsibilities in sales, marketing, manufacturing and operations.

“We are very fortunate to have Heather join our Shaklee family. She is a superb executive with a proven track record of generating growth in the direct selling industry,” Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett said in a statement. “In addition, she is truly a delightful person and will be an outstanding partner to me and our entire Shaklee family.”

Over and above her corporate roles, Chastain has provided leadership to the wider industry by serving on the board of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) and as Chair of the DSA Ethics Committee.

“Shaklee is an iconic brand in our channel with outstanding products and a strong track record of integrity and innovation,” said Chastain. “It’s exciting and such a privilege to be working with this group of professionals to help create the next chapter of growth for this legendary company.”

Pleasanton, California-based Shaklee reported revenue of $844 million in 2014, earning the No. 21 spot on this year’s DSN Global 100. The century-old company operates in eight markets through a network of 1.25 million Independent Distributors.

Direct Selling Day Brings More than 500 Distributors to Capitol Hill

Photo: Direct Selling Day participants gather outside the U.S. Capitol.


More than 500 direct selling entrepreneurs converged upon Washington, D.C., Thursday for the third annual Direct Selling Day on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) initiative is an opportunity for independent consultants to share with lawmakers the value of the business model, both to individuals and the economy.

Throughout the day participants from 32 states took part in one-on-one meetings with representatives and heard from congressional speakers from both parties. The event also featured a Direct Selling Marketplace in the Rayburn House Office Building, where Members of Congress and their staffs could see firsthand the kinds of products and services sold through direct selling companies. In a statement from the floor by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Co-Chair of the recently formed Direct Selling Caucus, the House of Representatives marked the occasion by formally recognizing Oct. 29, 2015, as Direct Selling Day.

“As a full-time student, direct selling provided me with the flexibility necessary to pay for college while in school,” Blackburn said of her own experience in direct selling. “Running my own business was an extremely rewarding experience and served as great preparation for my career in public service. It is a vibrant sector of the economy that embraces entrepreneurship and helps people achieve their American dream.”

Blackburn also emphasized the importance of the business ethics and consumer safeguards put in place under the DSA’s leadership. Those efforts were the topic of discussion at the DSA Global Regulatory Summit, held two weeks earlier in Washington, D.C. The summit brought together regulators, law enforcement officials, and industry leaders to explore various challenges facing direct selling companies, including issues raised by the Federal Trade Commission’s ongoing pyramid scheme lawsuit against Vemma Nutrition Co. and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s three-year short campaign against Herbalife Ltd. Both Direct Selling Day and the Global Regulatory Summit are part of what DSA President Joseph Mariano calls a “tapestry of communication and advocacy” the organization is weaving at the federal and state level to provide an accurate picture of direct selling.

“We want to have the important and sometimes difficult dialogue with regulators on issues that are of concern, but we also want to have this important conversation with lawmakers and policymakers, as a demonstration of who we are, and then we want to have involvement in the community by our member companies and members of the field,” Mariano told DSN. “It’s all of those things together, along with the day-to-day activities of the association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) that will end up, we trust, creating a positive understanding of direct selling and protecting and supporting us in the marketplace.”

Seldia Names Katarina Molin as Executive Director

Seldia, an association representing the interests of direct selling companies in Europe, has named a new Executive Director, Katarina Molin, ahead of its European Direct Selling Conference on Oct. 7 in Brussels, Belgium.

Molin, a native of Sweden, hails from the Association for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), where she served as Director General. Her EU policy and communications experience also includes the role of Environmental Strategy Manager for Hewlett Packard and work as a policy adviser in the European Parliament.

“I am delighted to join Seldia,” Molin said in a statement. “I look forward to actively engaging with EU policymakers and other stakeholders to showcase the contribution and relevance of responsible direct selling within the EU jobs and growth agenda.”

Formed in 1968, Seldia now counts 28 European direct selling associations as members. Molin will manage the organization’s office in Brussels and oversee Seldia’s strategy for advocating direct selling at the European level.

The Future of Direct Selling in the U.S.

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Direct selling in the United States is undergoing a transformation fueled by innovative approaches rooted in classic business practices. The power generators leading the way for direct selling as a channel of distribution can be found in what Direct Selling News has identified as the upper middle market: those companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion.

Because most direct selling companies are privately held and many decline to disclose their financial results, it is difficult to create a definitive list. Our research honed in on a group of more than 30 U.S.-based companies, most of which are experiencing significant growth. Some of them are on the cusp of reaching $300 million, and some likely have recently passed the $1 billion mark. But together they are critical to direct selling’s competitiveness and future. They tend to be among the fastest growing when it comes to revenue, and they account for a large slice of the job creation pie.

An in-depth analysis of this group reveals a high level of consistency when it comes to executing on key common strengths. The ability of these companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

Companies emphasize each area in different ways, but in general these leaders:

  • Harness data. The upper middle market knows how to mine the data it has to gain insights that lead to more and better sales. Executives train leaders and consultants to use data to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
  • Stay true to classic business practices. Technology and social media do not replace person-to-person interactions, they complement them. Upper mid-market firms build relationships with customers that maintain the consultant-client affiliation but also allow the customer to have a connection with the company itself.
  • Use compensation plans that span all levels of engagement. To cultivate trust and long-term relationships, comp plans are created to appeal to new customers, product enthusiasts, fierce advocates and influencers—all the way up to the entrepreneur who is all in. Payments also follow a more modern schedule.
  • Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Consultants are allowed and encouraged to go far with personal marketing (think YouTube videos) while maintaining brand identity. Companies deliver superior and frequent training and messaging to make this happen.
  • Maintain a laser-focus on selling. The sale of a product, a group experience or an opportunity all lead to more sales, which generate positive results.

No matter the specific approach, one thing all upper middle market companies excel at is …

Click here to read the full article at Direct Selling News.