Direct Selling News Honors Oriflame Chief with 2016 Bravo Leadership Award

Photo: Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, addresses his direct selling peers at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration. (Jason Kindig)


Direct Selling News on Thursday named Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, the recipient of the 2016 DSN Bravo Leadership Award.

Each year, the award goes to one direct selling executive who embodies exceptional leadership qualities—providing inspirational vision for their company, motivating their teams toward a common goal, serving others by equipping them to do the best job possible, and especially by empowering them to reach new heights.

Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News, and John Fleming, the publication’s Ambassador, presented the award to Brännström at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration, held Thursday evening in Dallas. Brännström delivered the keynote address at the event, which marked the unveiling of the DSN Global 100, a list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world, as well as a regional subset of the list known as the North America 50.

This year’s Global 100, led by Ada, Michigan-based Amway, hail from 17 different countries and represent aggregate revenue of $82 billion. Under Brännström’s leadership, Oriflame has perennially ranked among the top companies on the list, and this year is no exception. The Swiss beauty company came in at No. 14 with annual revenue of $1.35 billion.

Brännström began his direct selling career in 1997, serving in executive posts in Russia, the Baltics and Asia as he worked his way up the corporate ladder. He became CEO of Oriflame, a legacy direct selling company, in 2005 and has continued to lead the business through a dynamic period of technological and geopolitical change. Oriflame now operates in 60 countries—Russia being its biggest market—through a network of more than 3 million consultants.

Like all Bravo Leadership honorees, among them Ambit Energy’s Jere Thompson and Amway’s Doug DeVos, Brännström has exhibited a vision for the future that extends beyond any one company. He is a fierce advocate for the direct selling channel as a whole, and former Chairman of the Board for Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association.

‘The Future of Work’ Podcast Features Amway President Doug DeVos

Photo: Doug DeVos, President of Amway.


Amway Corp. President Doug DeVos recently joined host Jacob Morgan on The Future of Work, a podcast that explores the evolution of work, to discuss entrepreneurship in the age of the freelancer economy.

DeVos is no stranger to the independent contractor model, which powers Amway’s business in more than 100 countries. The direct selling giant sells its wide range of products through millions of Amway Business Owners worldwide. With advances in technology, an increasing number of services—think Upwork for freelancers, Airbnb for lodging, and Uber for transportation—are creating similar opportunities for individuals to be their own boss.

According to the 2015 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report, the desire to start a business is strongest among those 35 or younger. The group cited independence and self-fulfillment as the most appealing aspects of entrepreneurship. On The Future of Work, Morgan and DeVos dig into the results of the survey, common characteristics of entrepreneurs, the importance of unleashing innovation in the workplace, and entrepreneurs versus intrapreneurs—those working as entrepreneurs within large companies to drive innovation and growth.

Listen to the full conversation with Doug DeVos.

Amway Reports Sales of $9.5 Billion in 2015

Photo above: Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Michigan.


Amway Corp. on Wednesday released its 2015 financial results, announcing annual sales of $9.5 billion.

Despite constant-dollar sales growth in 70 percent of Amway’s top 20 markets, revenue fell 12 percent from a year ago, hurt by currency fluctuations and soft sales in China, where the economy experienced its slowest growth in 25 years. The company reported similar trends in 2014, when revenue dropped 8 percent to $10.8 billion—a performance that nevertheless secured Amway the No. 1 spot on the 2015 DSN Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world.

In 2015, the company’s top 10 markets were China, South Korea, United States, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Taiwan, Malaysia, India and Ukraine. Management also singled out Brazil and Mexico as emerging markets that recorded considerable gains.

“We experienced growth in seven of our top 10 markets, and emerging markets in Latin America and elsewhere continue to perform well,” Chairman Steve Van Andel noted in Amway’s report. “Several markets achieved record sales levels in 2015 with others producing their best performance in some time. An increasingly competitive environment in China and unfavorable currency exchange rates mask a positive year overall for Amway globally.”

Nutrition remains a powerhouse category for the company, accounting for 46 percent of 2015 sales. Amway Nutrilite is the world’s leading brand of vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, according to research by Euromonitor International, and the company last year expanded the line with BodyKey by Nutrilite, a personalized weight-management program. BodyKey utilizes a genetic test or comprehensive, scientific assessment to provide a tailored plan for managing weight.

Beauty and personal care products accounted for 25 percent of sales, and durable products, such as the company’s eSpring water treatment system and Atmosphere air treatment system, made up another 16 percent. The remaining 13 percent was split between home care products and assorted other offerings.

Last year also marked the culmination of Amway’s three-year manufacturing and R&D expansion. The company has poured $335 million into strengthening its global infrastructure, opening five manufacturing facilities and a major R&D site in 2015 alone. Other investments included new digital tools to help Amway Business Owners showcase products and manage their businesses.

In 2016 and beyond, Amway leadership sees plenty of cause for optimism, particularly in light of its 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report. The report, based on a survey of 50,000 people in 44 countries, quantifies attitudes about business ownership and the entrepreneurial spirit.  All told, 75 percent of respondents were positive about starting a business, and that number increased to 81 percent among those 35 and younger.

“Globally, more and more people are seeking an opportunity to do something on their own—whether it’s to earn a little extra or for a bigger commitment to earn more,” said Doug DeVos, Amway President and Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. “We’re well positioned to meet that demand with a low-cost, low-risk business opportunity selling world-class products.”

Direct Selling’s Strength in the World’s Billion Dollar Markets

by Andrea Tortora

Direct selling continues to gain ground worldwide, with global retail sales and the total salesforce both reaching record highs in 2014.

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) estimates that retail sales rose 6.4 percent to $182.8 billion in 2014, up from $171.8 billion in 2013, with all regions and three-quarters of direct selling countries posting gains. The total salesforce grew by 3.4 percent in 2014 to 99.7 million people, up from 96.5 million in 2013. All of which lights the stage for coming geographic shifts in market dominance.

“The most recent figures highlight the increasing opportunities that direct selling offers,” says WFDSA Chairman Doug DeVos. “Customers seek personalized service and quality products, and direct sellers are able to meet those needs in a way that is convenient and enjoyable. At the same time, people who aspire to earn a little extra or launch a full-time business venture are drawn to direct selling due to its flexibility and pay-for-performance structure.  It’s exciting to see more people, both customers and distributors, enjoying the benefits of direct selling.”

As part of WFDSA’s annual global statistics gathering, data is collected in local currency figures, which are then converted to U.S. dollars using 2014 exchange rates for all years. When comparisons are made to determine year-over-year change, this practice eliminates the impact of currency fluctuation, explains Judy Jones, Market Research Insights Leader at Amway and Chair of the WFDSA Global Research Committee. The 2015 report comes with an expiration date of May 2016, when the next year’s data will be published. For some markets, sales are estimated until the respective country reports its official figures to the WFDSA. At that time, actual data is restated and accounted for the next year.

These most recent figures confirm direct selling’s strength and its ability to keep reaching more people—as sellers and consumers—in all corners of the globe. The industry’s 6.5 percent three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2014 is evidence of that power.

The Top 5 countries account for 61 percent of all global sales. All but one report a positive CAGR (2011-2014):

  1. United States, 4.9 percent
  2. China, 18.7 percent
  3. Japan, -2.3 percent
  4. Korea, 8.1 percent
  5. Brazil, 6.7 percent

In all, 23 countries posted retail sales from direct selling of $1 billion or more in 2014. That group accounts for 93 percent of global sales from direct selling.

Leading the pack of the Top 5 countries once again is the United States, where the 2014 sales of $34.5 billion set a record and grew by 5.5 percent from the prior year. The U.S. CAGR for 2011 to 2014 is 4.9 percent. There are 18.2 million people who distribute products, up 8.3 percent from 2013. Nearly 75 percent are women, which means 14 million females are building their own businesses.


Overall estimated retail sales rose 6.4 percent to $182.8 billion in 2014, up from $171.8 billion in 2013.


Companies that are members of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (U.S. DSA) employ 55,300 people who are highly trained experts in their field. For example: 3,000 employees are science professionals, including chemists, biologists and engineers.

“Robust salesforce and revenue figures only tell part of the story behind direct selling’s success in the United States and around the world,” says Joseph N. Mariano, President of the U.S. DSA. “Our channel also provides …

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

China Gives Morinda the Green Light on Direct Selling

Morinda Inc. is the latest company to secure a direct selling license from China’s Ministry of Commerce. Government officials have issued just 48 licenses since the country lifted its direct-selling ban in 2005. Morinda plans to market its juice blends and TruAge nutrition products in the city of Chongqing, a hub of over 32 million people, as it awaits additional permits.

“We’ve spent several years and a lot of effort pursuing this license,” said Morinda President John Wadsworth. “This is an expression of our commitment to the future of Morinda.”

China is the industry’s fastest-growing market, accounting for $27.3 billion in 2013 retail sales. In the same year, only eight new companies received approval to launch direct selling operations. The Chinese government’s narrow regulations have posed challenges to many companies within the industry, including Amway, which obtained a new license in 2006 after modifying its business to accommodate the ban.

“The rules in China are still unique,” Amway President Doug DeVos wrote of reinventing Amway China in a piece for the Harvard Business Review. “The way we operate our business and compensate our salesforce there is very different from what we do in other parts of the world. But we’ve learned a lot, and our revised business model is working.”

Since launching in 2003, Morinda’s Chinese subsidiary, Tahitian Noni Beverages (China) Ltd., has established offices in nine cities across the country. The company also opened its own GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) plant in Chongqing in July 2014.

Amway Plucks Asia Pacific CMO to Head up Global Marketing

Amway has selected one of its Asia Pacific executives to serve as the brand’s new Chief Marketing Officer. South Korea native Su Jung (SJ) Bae is transitioning from the role of Asia Pacific CMO to oversee Amway’s global brand, corporate social responsibility and public relations efforts. Former CMO Candace Matthews vacated the position to serve as Amway’s Regional President for the Americas.

Bae’s Amway career began in Korea, where a recent independent survey found that 58 percent of households own at least one Amway product. She came on board at Amway Korea in 1995 to market the company’s Nutrilite supplements.

As Asia Pacific CMO, Bae led the Artistry brand sponsorship of the Busan International Film Festival and helped establish Amway’s Asia Beauty Innovation Center. Her team also worked with local companies to launch new technologies and product ideas across Amway’s global networks. Amway has built a strong presence in the Asia Pacific region, where direct selling is experiencing rapid growth. China, Japan and Korea trailed only the U.S. in 2013 retail sales, according to a World Federation of Direct Selling Associations report.

Heading up Amway’s global marketing efforts, Bae will oversee strategy and execution of category marketing for the company’s nutrition, beauty and home brands. In a statement on Amway’s blog, she expressed her intent to create “an environment where global marketing teams embrace the creative friction and trial and error needed for true innovation.”

In other company news, Amway announced Wednesday that 2014 sales dipped to $10.8 billion, down 8 percent from the company’s record in 2013. Though it does not release sales figures by country, Amway cited foreign currency fluctuations and lower revenue in China. The company noted strong growth in neighboring South Korea and Taiwan, as well as several of its South American markets.

“Looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, we are optimistic and feel we are well positioned for growth,” Amway President Doug DeVos shared in a statement. “We will be opening five new manufacturing facilities and many new Amway Experience Centers to support our ABOs, and improving virtual experiences online. Additionally, attitudes toward, and interest in, entrepreneurship remain at all-time highs.”

World Congress CEO Panel Discusses Future of Direct Selling

A powerhouse panel of direct selling company CEOs spent nearly two hours on stage as part of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations 2014 World Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mary Kay Inc. CEO David Holl, Amway President Doug DeVos, Oriflame Cosmetics CEO and President Magnus Brannstrom, Herbalife International CEO Michael O. Johnson, Avon Products Inc. CEO Sheri McCoy and Nu Skin Enterprises CEO Truman Hunt participated in a conversation moderated by WFDSA Chairman Alessandro Carlucci. Their topic of discussion: “The Future of Direct Selling in an Increasingly Connected and Borderless World.”

Their message: Each company must choose the right technology, at the right price and right time, and then provide the right training in order to maximize the return. At the same time, it is important to remember that direct selling, at its core, is not about technology at all. It is about one person sharing a product or opportunity with another.

“One of the things that I have championed and people who have come before me, I think, have championed as well is to keep this business simple,” Holl said. “You can come up with a lot of technology. In my opinion if you let the IT department lead you down that path, it will be great technology but the sales force might not use it because it is overwhelming.”

DeVos echoed that advice to keep things simple, recounting Amway’s experience with its launch of the Internet-focused company Quixtar. “We got ourselves …” Read the rest of the story at Direct Selling News.

Read more coverage of the 2014 WFDSA World Congress.

Direct Selling Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting Welcomes over 1,000 Attendees

Photo Above: CEO Panel discusses unity within DSA.

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

Exclusive Coverage | Shaklee’s Marjorie Fine Inducted into DSA Hall of Fame | DSEF Circle of Honor Welcomes Elizabeth Owen | 2014 Direct Selling Association ETHOS Award Winners | Roundtable with Direct Selling’s Female CEOs


The Direct Selling Association held its 2014 Annual Meeting this past June 1–3. More than 1,000 executives from direct selling and vendor partner companies gathered in Orlando to celebrate achievements and to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the industry.

Underscoring the meeting’s theme of ONE, the first two general sessions on Monday delivered a clear message about the importance of the industry presenting a united front and sharing the same message for those outside the industry: that direct selling offers a better life for 16 million Americans in addition to providing economic independence, a sense of fulfillment and a quality of life others cannot achieve through traditional workplace environments.

In the morning session, keynote speaker and acclaimed author of Good to Great and Great by Choice, Jim Collins, shared his extensive research on what produces great, enduring companies. “Whether we fail or thrive depends more on what we do to ourselves than what the world ‘out there’ does to us,” he told the crowd.

That sentiment was echoed in the afternoon session by the seven direct selling CEOs who took the stage to discuss unity across the entire industry. The panel, led by Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt, included Natura CEO Alessandro Carlucci, Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson, The Pampered Chef Founder, Interim CEO and Chairman Doris Christopher, Amway President Doug DeVos and Thirty-One Gifts Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe.

The group encouraged industry action to ensure companies can continue to thrive despite outside forces, such as the calculated attacks by short sellers and the regulatory challenges around the world, and affirmed the need to unite in securing vital political influence.

“This is a moment we should be thinking about unification more than ever before,” said Johnson, whose company has spent the past 18 months weathering attacks by Herbalife short seller Bill Ackman—a campaign Johnson described as “selfish, self-righteous and egregious in ways you don’t even know.”

New Officers, Directors for DSA Board

During the DSA’s 2014 Annual Meeting, the DSA Board of Directors nominated and approved Truman Hunt, CEO of Nu Skin Enterprises, as Chairman. In addition, the following executives will also serve for the 2015 term:

  • Vice Chairman: David Holl (Mary Kay)
  • Vice Chairman: Lori Bush (Rodan + Fields)
  • Treasurer: Matt Blok (Amway)
  • Immediate Past Chairman: Orville Thompson (Scentsy)
  • Past Chairman: Brett Chapman (Herbalife)

 

Eight new Directors will help form the class of 2017. They will serve three-year terms:

  • Doris Christopher (The Pampered Chef)
  • Jonathan Gelfand (Team Beachbody)
  • Erik Johnson (Hy Cite)
  • Allison Levy (AdvoCare)
  • Raymond Mily Jr. (The Kirby Company)
  • Doug Robinson (LifeVantage)
  • Frank VanderSloot (Melaleuca)
  • John Wyckoff (Dove Chocolate Discoveries)

The attacks aimed at Herbalife affect the entire industry, said Monroe. Party-plan companies like Thirty-One Gifts have a mutual interest in protecting the independent status of their salespeople, which is why the company has worked to ensure their earnings opportunity extends to all levels of the organization.

“With everything we do at Thirty-One, we try to make sure we’re helping the salesperson make as much money as possible,” she said. “As an industry, we have to show the statistics that our sales reps are making income, and they are making it regardless of whether they have to invest in tools.”

DeVos encouraged executives to actively support initiatives that give direct selling a greater voice in Washington. “We have to have a purpose, a plan and the financial and human resources necessary to stand up and be counted,” he said.

Christopher emphasized participation in the DSA and its initiatives as a key to furthering the conversation in Washington. “As a part of it, we all share reputation, responsibility and a love of the opportunity we offer to our independent contractors,” she said. “The most effective way to fight challenges is to do it together.”

During the three-day event DSA’s Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting. Among a number of items of business for the session, the group elected new executives and directors to the Board and unanimously approved a number of changes to the Code of Ethics.

“The most significant changes are to the explanatory provisions,” DSA President Joe Mariano noted. “The changes relate to how the Code defines a pyramid scheme, the buyback policy and inventory loading, and are the result of some self-examination of the industry due to the attacks we’ve been facing.”

The Code of Ethics is regularly evaluated to ensure it meets the demands of the current marketplace environment. Changes are considered continuously as challenges arise, and as the Code of Ethics Administrator indicates, they are necessary to continue the sales channel’s exemplary history of self-regulation.

The Board Directors were also introduced to the new executive director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation, Gary Huggins.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Gary to the Foundation,” said Amway Chief Sales Officer and DSEF Chairman John Parker. “Gary comes to us with a great deal of experience in advocacy roles for nonprofits in the education arena in particular. He’s here with us throughout the meeting, and I’d love for him to have the opportunity to talk to and learn from all the great leaders in this room about the industry.”

The Board was also briefed about ongoing and upcoming government relations activities in response to current marketplace challenges. Incoming Government Relations Committee Chairman Michael Lunceford of Mary Kay briefed the body about his expectation of industry activity at the federal level to respond to current events, either involving passing legislation friendly to direct selling or killing legislation that is harmful to it.

DSA Immediate Past Chairman Orville Thompson passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Truman Hunt.DSA Immediate Past Chairman Orville Thompson passes the gavel to incoming Chairman Truman Hunt.


“There are steps that need to be taken right now,” Lunceford advised the Board. “Get to know your Member of Congress—DSA can help you with this… and survey your field and ask them who they know. You’ll be surprised at the contacts they have…. Introducing a piece of legislation and passing it is arduous. It is far harder than trying to kill one. Do these small things to help yourselves.”

“To move the things we’re talking about takes a lot of time, money and effort,” noted DSA Executive Vice President Adolfo Franco. “It takes years… we need the commitment now for the long haul.”

Since 1910, DSA has worked to promote the impact of direct sellers and ensure a fair and open marketplace. The Annual Meeting provides an opportunity for industry executives to unite in the interest of their shared vision, message and future.

This year’s event featured an adjusted schedule from the previous years, including enhanced time in the exhibit hall for learning opportunities on Sunday afternoon, before the Grand Opening Reception. Express Learning Sessions featured more than 30 mini-workshops by vendor partners and a 90-minute interactive Perfecting Partnerships Roundtable helped executives and vendor partners forge deeper, strategic working relationships.

From innovative uses of technology to marketing tactics to international expansion fundamentals, the more than 40 speakers at this year’s DSA Annual Meeting offered a closer look at today’s crucial business-building topics.

The 2015 Annual Meeting will be held in San Antonio, Texas, from Sunday, May 31 through Tuesday, June 2.


Exclusive Coverage | Shaklee’s Marjorie Fine Inducted into DSA Hall of Fame | DSEF Circle of Honor Welcomes Elizabeth Owen |2014 Direct Selling Association ETHOS Award Winners | Roundtable with Direct Selling’s Female CEOs

The $100 Million Growth Club

by Teresa Day

Click here to download this issue to your mobile device. Watch here for the print version to become available.

DSN Cover, July 2014

Several years ago, the staff at Direct Selling News began the research necessary to create an industry list that demonstrated the impact and contribution of direct selling companies worldwide. The DSN Global 100 list has become a respected ranking, and each year the research team increases its ability to gather the necessary and relevant information. This annual list creates an opportunity to understand the significance of our industry as a whole, and showcase companies above a certain revenue threshold, which marks them as significant contributors to local and global economies.

We have been very pleased to hear that “making the list” has become a goal for many company executives as they work through their strategic planning for growth. Though the Global 100 list only presents 100 companies, we recognize that there are hundreds of smaller companies all working within our industry that offer excellent products and services, and serve both the needs and dreams of customers and representatives alike. We celebrate and salute them all!

While at work on the 2014 list (which is based on 2013 revenues), the DSN research team recognized a remarkable pattern emerging among a significant number of companies—18 companies, to be exact. These 18 companies achieved such a remarkable milestone during their course of business in 2013 that we knew we had to write about it and share this achievement with you, our readers.

In fact, the achievement appears to be so rare in the general business world that there is actually little written about it anywhere, furthering our decision to bring the information forward. The achievement is this: Eighteen companies on the Global 100 list grew by over $100 million in one year.

While we were, at first, definitely impressed as we saw this pattern and thought about these 18 companies, it was in doing further research on the growth of companies in general that turned our admiration into downright astonishment, and ultimately, extreme pride in their achievements.


Very few companies in any industry ever achieve a growth level of $100 million or more, much less in a single year!


Here’s why: Very few companies in any industry ever achieve a growth level of $100 million or more, much less in a single year! With that knowledge we, of course, felt compelled to call out and celebrate this achievement, and further, discover what we could about how and why these companies could reach such a milestone.

However, before we move onto the commonalities of these companies, let’s point out a few pertinent differences. These companies range in age from 2 years old to over 50 years old in operating age. These companies sell vastly differing products, from jewelry to health and wellness and from energy and essential services to cosmetics and skin care. These companies operate in one market to dozens of markets. They are headquartered all over the U.S. and even the globe—Noevir in Japan, Vorwerk in Germany and Telecom Plus in the U.K. Maybe the most apparent and extreme difference in these companies is their size—companies that grew over $100 million ranged from those producing $24 million (Origami Owl) and $37 million (Plexus) in 2012 to five companies already in the billion-dollar range.

We point out all of these differences to emphasize that remarkable growth is possible, regardless of product offered, number of markets served and even company size. In other words, remarkable growth is not only the purview of an already giant, established company.

As we considered this growth number—the $100 million threshold—we found some very interesting commentary on the validity of this number measuring something important. Paul Kedrosky, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, contributing editor with Bloomberg Television and founding partner at SK Ventures—an early-stage venture capitalist firm—has written about and studied this $100 million number in conjunction with business growth, and his thoughts on the subject are quite revealing.

In a report issued by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in May 2013, titled “The Constant: Companies that Matter,” Kedrosky writes, “There are few constants in entrepreneurship—perhaps none. That is why when something appears to be even semi-stable across meaningful periods, it is usually worth further investigation.” The “something” he is discussing in his paper is the question of how to measure a company “that matters.” In Kedrosky’s estimation, a company that can promptly go from founding to $100 million in revenue qualifies as a company that matters. Why? Because these companies impact the economy. Because these companies create jobs and wealth for stakeholders. But primarily because so few actually do it.

According to Kedrosky’s research, which is presented in this Kauffman Foundation short paper, there are roughly half a million (552,000) new “employer firms”—those that employ others as workers—opening in the U.S. each year, every year. Since 1980, the number of those firms that reach $100 million in revenue at some point has been pretty stable, and it’s a very small number—only between 125 and 250 firms out of the entire half a million.

Let’s break that number down into a percentage. If half a million employer firms are created every year, and at the high end, only 250 of them ever go on to achieve $100 million, that’s less than one-half of 1 percent. Supporting data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that even during a six-year window, only 175 companies out of the half a million new ones every year ever achieve the $100 million mark. No wonder Kedrosky uses this achievement to qualify a company as one “that matters.”

This data says that ever reaching $100 million in annual revenue marks you as a company that matters; a company that has significant staying power; a company that puts you in the top quartile of companies within your industry, no matter what it is. But we feel that this stunning statistic makes our $100 Million Growth Club even more of an outstanding achievement for these companies, because not only have they achieved and exceeded a mark that less than one-half of 1 percent ever reach, but they have duplicated that effort in a one-year time frame! We again salute and celebrate these 18 companies for a truly remarkable achievement.

Of course, the natural next question is how on earth did they do it? So we took a hard look at this group of remarkable companies, and though they are incredibly diverse, we found that they did, in fact, have some best practices substantially in common.

  • They have tremendous focus on their brand and product.
  • They utilize tools for their salesforce.
  • They invest in customer acquisition.
  • They emphasize personal development in their culture.
  • They focus on developing strong leaders.

Focus on Product/Brand

Staying focused has the natural result of bringing things into alignment, and since you can’t be focused on multiple things at once (focus just doesn’t work that way), staying focused automatically generates simplicity.

Peter Drucker, hailed as the father of modern management, very precisely puts it this way: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” In addition to identifying what should be done, focus helps identify those things which should not be done.

Staying focused requires discipline and attention. It can be difficult; it can feel ”boring”; it can feel like putting a straitjacket on creativity; it can feel too simple; it can feel that opportunities are passing you by as you focus on one main thing; however, those companies that have been able to do this have reached this remarkable achievement. Their leaders would tell you that the benefits of the discipline far outweigh any opportunity that would have distracted you.

It Works! is one of the 18 companies in our $100 Million Growth Club, and CEO Mark Pentecost is one executive who set his sights on “making the Global 100 list” a couple of years ago. Prior to this decision, it’s important to note that It Works! had been a successful company for nine years, and had grown at a respectable rate each year to $45 million in 2011. Placed against the data presented in this article, It Works! had already achieved success. But Pentecost wanted more, and he knew that by creating a simple message and staying focused upon it, his team could achieve it.

Pentecost says, “I’ll never forget that day near the end of 2011 when I met with members of our team—both corporate and in the field—and we made one decision that will forever be a milestone in our company history. We set a goal to double the company in 2012. That was a big goal. That meant we would create over $100 million in sales in the next 12 months.”

With singular focus, the small, respectable company truly exploded into growth. In 2013, the company debuted on the Global 100 at No. 56 with 2012 revenue of $200 million. This year, it moved up to No. 26 with 2013 revenue of $456 million.

“Anyone can complicate things,” Pentecost says. “It takes genius to simplify it. We had one message from the top down, and we worked hard to stay focused. We said no to anything else that came up.”

Researcher and celebrated business author Jim Collins writes about the “Stop Doing” principle, something he learned from a grad school professor at Stanford and has applied ever since to his own thinking. He writes, “… the ‘stop doing’ list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year’s resolutions—a mechanism for disciplined thought about how to allocate the most precious of all resources: time.” Collins also incorporated the Stop Doing List into his criteria of what makes a company great in his celebrated book Good to Great, giving examples of great leaders who were able to make big decisions about what to stop doing in order to achieve the greatness they were capable of.


“Anyone can complicate things. It takes genius to simplify it. We had one message from the top down, and we worked hard to stay focused. We said no to anything else that came up.”
—Mark Pentecost, CEO, It Works!


Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt and his team utilized the “Stop Doing” principle when they scaled back their products and brands to one anti-aging line, AgeLoc. The focus has clearly paid off. It was however, a very big decision. Nu Skin had expanded its operations to include three distinct opportunities: Nu Skin products, Pharmanex and Big Planet. Different management teams ran each division, and they competed with one another. Hunt decided to focus the opportunity on one path.

Hunt says, “We took advantage of that moment in time to evaluate all business issues. There were no sacred cows, and it resulted in an overhaul of our organization and strategy. The process was not without pain, but it was also clearly a key point in the growth of our company.”

Two companies among the 18 are exceptional primarily because of their extreme focus on offering one product in one market. Interestingly, the two companies couldn’t be more different—one is skin care, and one is energy. Nerium achieved over $200 million in revenue in its second full year with only one product in one country. Ambit has been the fastest company to achieve the billion-dollar threshold—within seven years—in only 14 states in the U.S. with one product. Focus clearly has played a central role at both of these companies.

Tools for Salesforce Support

Applying disciplined focus to your product line and brand will only get you so far if you don’t also carry that focus into your field support and training. No matter what product or service is being sold, every sales field needs simplicity and clarity in order to achieve the kind of growth our 18 companies achieved. It’s important to remember that those entrepreneurial souls who are your brand ambassadors are also very creative. In the absence of simple, clear and duplicable tools and systems, creative salespeople tend to create their own processes and selling methods. While this may produce enormous success for one or two individuals, it does not translate across the field to everyone. In order to achieve uniform success across the entire salesforce—which is necessary to generate $100 million achievements—the field needs simple and duplicable systems.

In just two remarkable years, Nerium has developed an expert ability to provide its salesforce with simple and duplicable tools. By so doing, they have maintained incredible consistency for their independent representatives in the form of support tools, training materials and back-end support, enabling even brand-new IBOs with no experience the ability to set up shop quickly and dive right into their businesses.

Each new representative receives the same starter kit, which includes a DVD that trains the individual on company business practices, along with other standardized materials to get them and keep them on the right track. From their first day in business, each representative has access to online support tools that are personalized for them. Every representative has the same experience, and every customer has the same experience, enabling the company to present a uniform, and clearly successful, approach to the business.

With two decades’ worth of experience in creating back office systems for other direct selling companies, Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis were well-versed in tech support tools when they decided to launch Jeunesse, the anti-aging skincare company, which grew from $126 million to $267 million in 2013 (growth of $131 million) and was seated at No. 46 on the Global 100 list. Their prospecting system easily allows a distributor to share a video on any social media platform, and the viewer can immediately request a free sample (paying only shipping). The company’s extensive tools support allows a distributor to enter the business and share products from almost anywhere in the world.

Most, if not all of the 18 companies on our list use consistent and simple tools to support and train their sales field such as DVDs, magazines and brochures, mobile apps and websites. Herbalife’s President Dez Walsh told DSN that he believes the continued use of systemized training methods to support distributors is a primary reason for his company’s sustained growth.

Investment in Customer Acquisition

Though in our industry many distributors are also customers, a business can’t grow to the levels we are discussing without creating a strong customer base.

In looking at our 18 growth companies, we found they had various means of reaching new customers, including investing in technology and reaching out to Gen Y, expanding physically into new markets and territories, and reaching out to new customers through sports sponsorship programs.

In all customer acquisition strategies, it is imperative that the company follow the customer. A company can no longer insist that a customer follow them; the balance of power has shifted, and it is now necessary for the company to meet the customer where they want to be met, whether it’s on Facebook or literally in a new market.

For example, Vemma has developed a customer acquisition strategy targeted at the very tech-savvy 80 million Generation Y’ers, the oldest of whom are now in their mid-30s. According to a study produced by Oracle on Gen Y’ers’ banking habits, their annual spending next year is projected to be $2.45 trillion. They don’t read newspapers, they don’t pay attention to TV advertising and they pretty much disregard anything that isn’t digitally produced. Vemma has captured their hearts and minds by tailoring the message and the messenger to be exactly what they want. Once these young people got their own revolution going at Vemma (YPR—Young People Revolution), they propelled an already somewhat successful company onto the Global 100 list at No. 81 with $117 million in revenue; and then skyrocketed the company to No. 53 on this year’s list with over $100 million in growth.

When Herbalife came to understand in some of their markets that people don’t shop the way Americans do—by stocking a pantry and large refrigerator with days’ and days’ worth of food—they made an effort to understand what was happening, and why. As a result of understanding their customers’ habits, they created a daily consumption model that mirrored the way people actually behaved in those markets.

The daily consumption and nutrition club model has also revealed additional benefits for Herbalife that have aided in their sustained growth. A social aspect has developed around the clubs, producing more and more frequent customers; and customers go to the distributor—rather than the distributor going out to them—which creates great efficiencies for the distributor.

AdvoCare puts its brand in front of millions of fans of NASCAR racing, professional soccer, and both college and pro football through its sports sponsorship programs. AdvoCare is the first-ever jersey sponsor for the Major League Soccer team FC Dallas—prominently displaying the company logo at every match, including those broadcast on national television. Other sponsorships include the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014, driven by the youngest-ever winner of the Daytona 500, Trevor Bayne. Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints and MVP of the Pro Football World Championship Game, is AdvoCare’s official National Spokesperson and helps lead the AdvoCare marketing efforts.

Expansion of the customer base is a foundational practice of each of the 18 companies on our list, regardless of their product, markets or even methods.

Emphasis on Personal Development

Today, personal development is an integral component of most direct selling companies, and its roots can be traced way back to the inspirational and motivational leanings of David McConnell, Mary Kay Ash, Mary Crowley and others who forged our industry.

Including a personal development program for representatives actually provides the company with great benefits. Mary Crowley, Founder of Home Interiors & Gifts in 1957, said, “If you grow your people, you will grow your business.” Many executives can testify to the truth of this statement. The 18 companies on our extraordinary growth list all pay attention to the personal development and growth of their salesforce.

Giving your salesforce access to personal development materials can take many forms, including utilizing tools, speakers, systems and opportunities to create a culture based around personal growth and awareness. It’s a cultural mindset and requires investment—just as product development and marketing efforts require attention and investment. Access to personal development material should be a critical part of the new representative’s first experiences. This can be accomplished by including CDs, DVDs, reading material such as magazines, or access to subscription services for personal growth.

Personal development and culture development can also be facilitated by your event strategy. Great events on consistent rhythms create great cultures. Great companies have powerful cultures. In fact, it’s that unique culture of your company that attracts the people you want in your organization and keeps them there.

ACN’s large-scale quarterly events represent an essential component to the company’s success system, which is why event after event, year after year, IBOs turn out in droves for its events. Almost 20,000 of them from around the world flocked to ACN’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, for the company’s International Training Event last September, and they continue to host sold-out events quarter after quarter.

“It’s not a coincidence that the top people in ACN never miss an event,” observes Greg Provenzano, President and Co-Founder. “We hold them quarterly and they truly provide the motivation and fuel our IBOs need to build their businesses. For a brand-new person, there is nothing quite as powerful as walking into an arena of 20,000 excited, supportive IBOs. It truly is the best way to be exposed to our opportunity and to see the big picture of ACN firsthand.”

Vemma and It Works! recently went from a one-event-a-year system to four events a year. Many of the other growth companies are having at least two events a year on a national basis, plus regional and leadership events. These companies are creating consistent local, regional and national rhythms with their events as they try to build their culture and build their companies. By staying in front of your people, you can keep them engaged, keep them motivated, keep them fired up, keep them going when they don’t feel like it. We all know great events and great rhythms build great cultures. They also create an emotional attachment between your salesforce and the company—and the salesforce among themselves.

Focus on Developing Strong Leaders

Great cultures also create great leaders. The 18 companies in the $100 Million Growth Club all adhere to one final best practice: They create positive environments where people, particularly women, have the ability to grow into strong leaders capable of successfully replicating their business opportunities through others.

That positivity derives from the shared belief that anyone has the potential to succeed in direct selling. Two of the Global 100’s top 10 companies—one a network marketing company and the other a party plan company—have proved over the last half-century that focusing on leadership skills strengthens not only the individual but the business itself.

The No. 1 direct seller in the world, Amway, was founded by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel with the core belief that people, not products, were the greatest resource. The company, which recorded $11.80 billion in net sales in 2013, embraces “diversity of opportunity” which, according to current Amway President Doug DeVos, “enables stronger global expansion and [helps] manage change and opportunity.”

Amway IBOs are provided with leadership skills training upon joining the company and as they climb through the different levels of the organization: Platinum, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond and Double Diamond. They are also provided with the assurance that leaders in their upline maintain the highest levels of honesty, integrity, responsibility and accountability. “They can count on these values to be placed front and center when it comes to ensuring products are safe, individuals are reliable, compensation is fair, training is effective, and support and guidance are readily available,” Doug DeVos states.

Mary Kay, which broke into the Global 100’s top five this year with $3.60 billion, has since its inception been an organization that has grown exponentially because of its development of female leadership. Of course, such skill training was of the utmost importance to its founder, Mary Kay Ash, who in a 1985 Inc. interview stated, “I feel like I’m doing something far more important than just selling cosmetics. I think we’re building lives.”

Today the company’s beauty consultants can count on leadership training as they progress from consultants to sales directors and national sales directors. “You cannot keep a determined person from success,” Mary Kay once exclaimed. “If you place stumbling blocks in her way, she will take them for steppingstones and will use them to climb to new heights.”

The Clues of Success

The 18 companies that achieved over $100 million in growth in a single year did something so remarkable that very little is written about it. We hope this brief article showcasing these companies and sharing some of their common strategies will inspire many more to focus on a similar achievement for themselves. These companies have not been successful by accident; they have left clues for everyone else to see and follow.

We expect that next year even more companies will achieve the remarkable milestone of growing $100 million or more!


The $100 Million Growth Club