DSN Makes Its Global 100 Celebration an Event to Remember

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the June 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


2017 DSN Global 100 List
2017 Profiles
DSN Makes its Global 100 Celebration an Event to Remember
Frequently Asked Questions about the Global 100 Ranking
By The Numbers


Leadership: It Works! CEO Mark Pentecost: On the Road to Legendary
Leadership: Isagenix’s Jim & Kathy Coover: Agents of Change
Growth: Jeunesse: Forging an Uncharted Path to Billion-Dollar Growth

In appreciation of those companies that lead the way in offering an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to start their own businesses through shared connections, Direct Selling News honored the group during its eighth annual DSN Global 100 Celebration. The awards ceremony and dinner, held April 19 at the InterContinental in Dallas, served as the backdrop for the unveiling of our exclusive ranking of the top revenue-generating companies in direct selling.

DSN’s Lauren Lawley Head and John Fleming hosted nearly 400 executives from around the world. In fact, the Global 100 list represents companies based in 17 countries this year and is a collective effort to show the impact and potential of the $183.7 billion direct selling industry.

“Each year, the DSN Global 100 gives us an opportunity to recognize the leading companies in direct selling today,” said Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News. “The companies on the list represent a wide range of products and services, but they share a passion for developing a community of independent business owners who share those products and services with customers in their personal networks. It is a unique and powerful distribution channel.”

Fleming added, “The announcement and reveal of the top 100 Direct Selling Companies in the world is a most exciting moment in our year! Congratulations are always extended to those companies who are listed.”  He continued, “The DSN Global 100 is not a competition, it is a listing. The privately held companies who voluntarily submitted their certified revenue for the previous year contribute to the transparency needed to constantly inform a global audience of the impact direct selling companies are making on economies and individual lives around the world.”

For the fifth consecutive year, Ada, Michigan-based Amway claimed the top spot as the No. 1 direct seller in the world, with $8.8 billion in revenue in 2016. The company is truly a global giant, with a large portfolio of brands—including the best-selling nutritional brand in the world, Nutrilite, skincare brand Artistry, as well as the XL Energy Drink business. Amway does business in over 100 markets through more than 3 million independent Amway business owners.

In attendance and accepting the award on behalf of Amway was Jackie Nickel, Chief Marketing Officer of the Americas.

“We’re truly honored to be recognized as a leader in this great industry,” Nickel said. “We credit such a privilege to our millions of Amway Business Owners worldwide, who are at the heart of our business.”

Special Guests

DSN welcomed very special guests to the dinner, esteemed members of Direct Selling Association’s Hall of Fame and the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s Circle of Honor: Charlie Orr, CEO of Canada’s Immunotec; Brian Connolly, CEO of AdvoCare; Stan Fredrick, Chairman of the Board, Mannatech Inc.; and our own John Fleming.

Also in the audience was President of the Direct Sellers Association of Canada James Smith and Chairman of the Direct Selling Education Foundation Dave Wentz.

DSN Global 100

In all, the Global 100 companies achieved more than $82 billion in net sales in 2016, up a fraction from 2015.

The Top 10 companies achieved $40.53 billion in revenue, with the total number of salespeople at about 24 million. It is also a testimony to the power and strength of the direct selling channel that a number of companies reached milestones in 2016. Ten companies grew $100 million or more last year, and 22 companies each reported annual revenue of $1 billion or more.

TextJackie Nickel, Chief Marketing Officer of the Americas at Amway, accepts the night’s top prize for the company, which placed No. 1 on the Global 100.

By region, there were 46 companies from North America in the Global 100; five from South America; nine from Europe/Africa; and 40 from Asia/ Asia-Pacific. A total of 17 countries were represented on the list—Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Companies appearing in the ranking for the first time included Quanjian from China (No. 8); Marketing Personal from Colombia (No. 81); Global Ventures Partners from the U.S. (No. 92); and Shinsei from China (No. 99). Companies returning to the list were JoyMain from China (No. 13); SUN HOPE from China (No. 23); LegalShield from the U.S. (No. 43); Faberlic from Russia (No. 48); Merro International from China (No. 56); KK Assuran from Japan (No. 64); New Image Group from New Zealand (No. 86); Vestige Marketing from India (No. 91); Immunotec Research from Canada (No. 96); Nefful from Singapore (No. 97); and Captain Tortue Group from France (No. 98).

The Bravo Awards

Each year, the DSN Global 100 celebration endeavors to recognize an industry executive who embodies exceptional leadership qualities that have propelled his or her company to extraordinary new heights. Whether it is inspirational vision that has built solid corporate cultures, innovation that has strengthened the company infrastructure, or creativity that has created new opportunities for independent business owners, our Bravo Leadership Award aims to acknowledge such achievements of a direct selling leader.

This year, one recipient for the Bravo Leadership Award was simply not enough, for there were two remarkable stories that unfolded. The first Bravo Leadership Award was presented to Jim and Kathy Coover, co-founders of Isagenix and a leadership team that has grown their business 247 percent over the past five years, propelling the company into the Top 30 of the DSN Global 100 with $924.3 million in annual revenue. The team recently celebrated their 15th year in business

“As leaders, I think we have an incredible opportunity to step up and demonstrate to the world what a powerful distribution channel we are, and more importantly, what a powerful agent of change we can be,” Jim said. “We have always tried to stay true to our motto of ‘if it isn’t right for our associates and customers, it isn’t right for the company.’ ”

The second recipient of this year’s Bravo Leadership Award was Mark Pentecost, Founder and CEO of It Works! His wellness company did not enter the Global 100 ranking until 2012, when it debuted at $200 million, but over the past four years, the team at this company has grown its revenue 274 percent, reaching No. 33 with $686 million.

TextDebbie Coffey, who accepted Avon Products’ award for its No. 2 ranking on the Global 100, reinforced the importance of companies helping people change their lives.

Leading It Works! to exponential growth during the past few years was reason enough to recognize Pentecost; however, the way in which this former math teacher and basketball coach has taught his team to “live on the offensive” is truly inspirational. As he shares with the audience his personal—and victorious—battle with cancer, he tells a very compelling story of the individual courage to face life’s toughest challenges head on, while doing so with an abundance of integrity and grace

“My team had big plans for 2016, having to deal with cancer wasn’t one of them,” he said. “We can’t plan for every obstacle that is thrown our way, but we can put the team in place and surround ourselves with the best people. When something is thrown your way, you have the support to handle it.”

Pentecost still has big plans for It Works! and for how he and his team can impact the world by being positive change makers. “Good is having a strong company. Great is increasing profits or opening new markets. But legendary is changing the lives of people who need it the most,” he said.

Youth enhancement brand Jeunesse received the Bravo Growth Award for its increase in annual sales by $1 billion over a two-year period—from approximately $400 million in 2014 to $1.4 billion in 2016. It debuted on the Global 100 in 2012 with $65 million in sales, breaking into the top 20 of the Direct Selling News Global 100 list in 2015 and advancing to the No. 14 spot this year with $1.41 billion in net sales. Based in Lake Mary, Florida, the company sells its anti-aging products and nutritional supplements in 140 global markets.

Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis accepted the award and commented, “We are pleased to have been chosen by Direct Selling News as their 2017 Bravo Growth Award recipient and appreciate this meaningful recognition. In addition, it is truly an honor to be listed among the top 15 companies in our industry, and we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Jeunesse family from across the globe, who we congratulate for making this accomplishment possible.”

Direct Selling News’ Lauren Lawley Head and John Fleming toast the Global 100 honorees.

Impacting Lives for Better World

Debbie Coffey, Vice President, Corporate Communications, New Avon LLC, who accepted Avon Products’ award for its No. 2 ranking on the Global 100 with sales of $5.70 billion in 2016, reinforced the importance of companies helping people change their lives. She is also an Avon Foundation board member.

“Thank you Direct Selling News for this recognition of Avon Products, Inc. performance in 2016. We owe our success to our 6 million Avon Representatives around the world who are changing their lives and the lives of those around them through the Avon opportunity. They are our greatest motivation and inspiration,” said Coffey.

TextMarily Penttinen accepts Mary Kay’s award for placing No. 5 on the Global 100.

“2016 was an exciting year for us at Avon, It was our 130th anniversary, and, as an Avon Foundation Board Member, I am very proud to share that it was the year we reached $1 billion raised globally for women’s causes,” added Coffey, who is also an Avon Foundation board member. “We are so proud to give women living with breast cancer and domestic violence help for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Jackie Nickel, who accepted Amway’s award for No. 1 direct seller in the world, spoke too about purpose and the efforts the company takes to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“This award is a testament to the work we do each and every day to help people live better lives, discover their potential and achieve their goals,” she said.

The following companies sponsored tables at the DSN Global 100 Celebration:

Platinum Table Sponsors – ACN, Amway, Isagenix, It Works!, Jeunesse, New Avon, Total Life Changes and World Global Network; Gold Table Sponsors – AdvoCare, Ambit Energy, Mannatech, Mary Kay, MONAT, Oriflame, Plexus Worldwide, SeneGence, Stream, WorldVentures, Young Living and Zurvita.

This year, six special suppliers also chose to support Direct Selling News in sponsorship of the banquet: SUCCESS Partners, Avalara, Exigo, Hyperwallet, InfoTrax and Multi Image Group.


Isagenix Makes Room for Growth with New World Headquarters

Isagenix International on Monday cut the ribbon at its new 150,000-square-foot world headquarters in Gilbert, Arizona.

Company co-founders Jim and Kathy Coover, as well as Gilbert Mayor John Lewis and other local dignitaries, were on hand to celebrate the opening of the new facility. The three-story headquarters initially will house more than 500 employees, with room to accommodate hundreds more.

“We are extremely excited about our new global headquarters,” Jim Coover, CEO, said in a statement. “Gilbert is a wonderful, thriving community within the greater Phoenix area and is a great location for us to further our mission to transform the lives of people around the world.”

Now approaching 15 years in business, Isagenix is a maker of health and wellness products addressing weight-loss, energy, fitness and skincare needs. Among its newest offerings is a line of fair-trade coffee, which the company rolled out in August 2015 at its annual salesforce event.

Isagenix relocated its headquarters from nearby Chandler, Arizona, where employees were dispersed among three separate locations as a result of rapid growth. The business generated revenue of $725 million in 2014, earning the No. 27 rank on the DSN Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world. Management reports that 2015 revenue was up 20 percent to nearly $900 million.

The company’s new state-of-the-art headquarters reflects a commitment to employee wellness, with an abundance of natural light and an onsite cafeteria stocked with healthy food options. The facility is part of a bigger mixed-use development that includes a fitness center, eateries and shops alongside office spaces. Isagenix also has outfitted its headquarters with a 300-seat auditorium, interactive lobby museum and various laboratories dedicated to product development.

January Events Boost Philanthropy at AdvoCare, Isagenix

Both AdvoCare International LP and Isagenix International leveraged corporate events in January to raise $100,000 in support of select charitable partners.

Salesforce training events and company-wide conventions are a regular occurrence among direct selling companies, and these gatherings—sometimes attracting crowds in the tens of thousands—often include a philanthropic focus. At AdvoCare’s recent series of AdvoNation training events, that focus was feeding children, which the company did in partnership with food banks across the U.S. Isagenix’s 2016 New Year Kick Off in Dallas spotlighted Make-A-Wish International, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

At each stop on its 10-city AdvoNation tour, AdvoCare made a $10,000 donation to a local food bank, a practice the company initiated three years ago. Texas-based AdvoCare selected recipients from the 200 food banks affiliated with Feeding America, a network that feeds more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs across the country. The funds were designated to Kids Café and Back Pack programs that support childhood nutrition. Over the past three years, the health and wellness company has donated more than $600,000 to local food banks.

“Proper nutrition is crucial to a child’s health, academic achievement and overall development,” AdvoCare’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Allison Levy, said in a statement. “We believe no child should ever be left hungry, and AdvoCare is committed to providing the resources and nourishment they need to build the best versions of themselves.”

Arizona-based Isagenix has contributed more than $4.3 million to Make-A-Wish in four years of partnership. Last year’s fundraising marked a new high, with company Associates and employees donating $1.8 million to the nonprofit. During an annual three-day conference held last week by Isagenix, attendees donated nearly $100,000 to the cause. In addition to soliciting donations the company offered reserved seating at the event, with all proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish. The initiative raised more than $26,000.

“Every day we strive to positively impact our community and give back. Supporting children’s charities is one meaningful way we do so,” Kathy Coover, Isagenix Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, said in a statement. “Our team values serving others and finds real happiness in helping make a difference in the lives of children and their families.”

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.



Who Will Summit Next?: Reaching $1 Billion

by J.M. Emmert

“Life’s a bit like mountaineering,” said Sir Edmund Hillary. “Never look down.”

It’s what direct sellers do, too—never look down. The direct selling industry is an industry comprising people who seek to achieve things never thought possible, scaling new heights, whether reaching inside oneself to achieve personal goals or driving a company toward what is considered the Mount Everest in direct selling, the $1 billion summit.

But like Hillary, only a few direct selling companies have managed to reach that elite status. In the 159-year history of direct selling in the United States, Avon was the first to achieve the feat in 1972. Amway followed in 1980. In 1996, Mary Kay Inc. and Tupperware both reached $1 billion. In 2004, Nu Skin and Herbalife joined the group. But another nine years passed before the next company, Ambit Energy, reached $1 billion in sales. Many companies are turned back in their efforts to reach that summit. But why? What makes it so difficult?

The simple answer is that growing a company to such an extraordinary level brings with it new challenges, and, like experienced climbers, extraordinary companies know to stop when the footing gets treacherous, even if the summit is close. Because it is an industry focused on people, direct selling companies understand that the welfare of the entire team is more important than putting up numbers. One tragic misstep and the whole team could come tumbling down.

Orville Thompson, CEO of Scentsy and a former chairman of the U.S. Direct Selling Association, once analogized direct selling and the quest to reach $1 billion to scaling Borah Peak in Idaho. At 12,668 feet, Borah Peak, or Mount Borah, is the highest mountain in the state and among the 100 highest summits in the Rocky Mountains. The most popular route to the top of Borah Peak follows the southwest ridge, ascending 5,262 vertical feet from the trailhead in a little more than 3.5 miles. Just prior to reaching the top, climbers encounter Chicken Out Ridge, a thin ridge of rock with steep slopes so intimidating that many abort their summit attempt.

For those chasing after the $1 billion summit in direct selling, the biggest challenge, says Thompson, is simply finding the right path to follow, those “smooth areas worn down by countless others who have blazed trails.” When they reach that direct selling version of Chicken Out Ridge, they must “challenge their skills and test their fears” in the face of new obstacles.

Despite the risks, more companies than ever appear to be chasing the summit. Direct Selling News research has identified 13 U.S. companies with net sales at or approaching the $500 million to $1 billion range and experiencing strong growth. Having as many companies on their way to the $1 billion summit as there are currently at the peak is a testament to the strength of the channel. Here is a closer look at the contenders:

On the Summit Push

In 2011 ACN posted $550 million in sales, down from the previous year’s $553 million. However, the company came back strong the past two years, achieving $582 million in 2012—a 5.8 percent increase—and $700 million in 2013—a 20.2 percent increase. This June, the telecommunications and essential services company launched in Mexico, the seventh-largest direct selling country and the company’s 24th market.

Stream Energy/Ignite
Stream Energy/Ignite has been camped near the billion-dollar summit for the past four years, breaking the $900 million ceiling in 2010. After two years of down sales, the company came back strong in 2013 with $27 million over the previous year—a 3.2 percent increase—putting it at $867 million. The company has seen continued growth, particularly in Hispanic markets, and has significant expectations for company growth across the board in 2014 and beyond as it diversifies its service offerings, allowing it to sell nationwide.

Thirty-One Gifts
Of the 13 companies, only Thirty-One Gifts uses the party plan method of selling, joining Mary Kay and Tupperware as the only companies in the Top 17 of the Global 100 ranking that employ this sales approach. What makes that especially interesting is that, according to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, the party plan method of selling has decreased 4 percent in each of the past two years, going from a high of 31 percent in 2011 to just 23 percent in 2013. The person-to-person method, on the other hand, accounted for two-thirds of sales in 2013, according to the DSA.

Thirty-One also has made one of the fastest ascents in recent years. The company posted sales of $100 million in 2010 and then climbed to $482 million in 2011, a 382 percent increase. Sales continued to rise in 2012—a 48.9 percent increase to $718 million. In 2013, Thirty-One achieved a 6.2 percent increase, ending the year at $763 million. Its four-year growth rate: 663 percent.

USANA, which surpassed $100 million in its first six years, has been the steadiest climber in the group over the past few years. It has maintained an average of $67 million in sales growth annually for the past three years—ranging from a 10.6 percent to 12.5 percent increase—to bring it to $718 million. The company reported $182.4 million in sales for the first quarter of 2014, a 7.9 percent increase over the prior year; second quarter results saw a 0.4 percent decrease, with $188.3 million compared to $189.1 million in 2013; and the third quarter saw record sales of $191.9 million, a 10.5 percent increase over the prior-year period of $173.7 million. For the first half of 2014, USANA generated sales and customer growth in nearly every market in which it operates. Strong growth was seen particularly in Mainland China, the Philippines, Singapore and Mexico.

Expectations are that the wellness industry in particular will continue to thrive in the coming years. In a Sept. 29 article on the health and wellness industry’s global performance, Euromonitor International reported that the United States was leading all countries in 2014 with more than $160 billion in sales. The global industry is expected to reach $1 trillion by … Click here to read the rest of the story

Direct Selling Companies Shine in 2014 Stevie Awards

The prestigious Stevie Awards have announced the first round of winners in the 12th Annual American Business Awards. Isagenix, Jeunesse, LIMU, USANA and Vemma all received honors in this year’s competition.

A ceremony held June 16 in Chicago revealed winners in the categories of customer service, human resources, corporate communications, marketing, live events, publications and videos. A second event in San Francisco on September 12 will honor winners in all new product and technology-related categories.

The American Business Awards cover all facets of personnel and organizations, from non-profits to support staff and customer service teams. A panel of 240 executives nationwide selected this year’s winners from more than 3,300 entries.

Gold Stevie Award winners included Brandon Scott, CMO of Jeunesse; Allie Henderson, Public Relations Specialist at USANA; and BK Boreyko, Vemma Founder and CEO. The following is a complete list of Stevie Awards presented to direct selling companies in this year’s competition.

Isagenix International


  • Viral Marketing Campaign of the Year—Share The Shot Viral Marketing Campaign


  • Company of the Year (Health Products & Services and Pharmaceuticals)
  • Communications Department of the Year
  • Executive of the Year (Health Products & Services)—Kathy Coover, Executive Vice President
  • Best Internal Recognition/Motivational Event—Isagenix Celebration Annual Recognition Event
  • Video—Experience Isagenix Video

Jeunesse Global


  • Marketing Executive of the Year—Brandon Scott, CMO


  • Marketing Department of the Year—Creativity Means Doing Things Differently
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year (Up to 2,500 Employees)—Jeunesse Kids


  • Company of the Year (Health Products & Services and Pharmaceuticals)
  • Video—How Do You Spell Success?
  • Video—The Secret of Jeunesse



  • Best Internal Recognition/Motivational Event—2014 LIMU International Convention
  • Branded Entertainment—2014 LIMU International Convention Opener
  • Branded Entertainment—LIMU BMW CLUB
  • Video—#BLU2 Launch Video
  • Video—An Experience Like No Other

USANA Health Sciences


  • Communications Professional of the Year—Allie Henderson, Public Relations Specialist


  • Communications or PR Campaign of the Year (Social Media Focused)—RESET: Destination Transformation 2013
  • Communications Professional of the Year—Angie Larsen, Senior Manager of Corporate Relations
  • Customer Service Department of the Year (100+ employees)
  • New Product or Service Introduction of the Year—USANA Protein Snacks
  • Support Department of the Year—USANA Maintenance
  • Support Staffer of the Year—Susie Derber, USANA True Health Foundation Executive Assistant


  • Management Team of the Year (Consumer Products and Consumer Services Industries)
  • Executive of the Year (Health Products & Services)—Jim Bramble, CLO and General Counsel
  • Communications or PR Campaign of the Year (Events & Observances)—#SOCHI14
  • Communications or PR Campaign of the Year (Social Media Focused)—USANA Social Media
  • Communications, Investor Relations, or PR Executive of the Year—Ashley Collins, Executive Director of PR, Social Media & Communications
  • Communications, Investor Relations, or PR Executive of the Year—Dan Macuga, CCO
  • Communications Professional of the Year—Mallory Moger, Public Relations Specialist
  • Communications Professional of the Year—Misty Dangel, Public Relations Specialist
  • Marketer of the Year—Jessica Reimer, Senior Marketing Manager

Vemma Nutrition Company


  • Executive of the Year (Health Products & Services)—BK Boreyko, Founder and CEO


  • Best Internal Recognition/Motivational Event—Verve Leadership Academy



The BIG HISTORY of Direct Selling

by J.M. Emmert

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


• The BIG HISTORY of Direct Selling • 10 Things to Know • The List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

• Leadership • Growth Based on Percentage • Growth Based on Revenue •Humanitarian

DSN Global 100

This past November the History Channel’s sister station H2 aired Big History, a 17-part narrative on the history of Earth. The program culminated with a look at the critical events that shaped life on this planet, from the Big Bang to the social transformations of the modern era. Like the history of the universe, the story of direct selling reveals paradigm-shifting events and thresholds that have fundamentally changed the industry and helped to shape today’s direct seller.

So we wondered: What were those moments? What would be the “Big History” of direct selling? The following are the five thresholds we identified.

Threshold No. 1—The First Direct Selling Companies

There was no Big Bang moment for direct selling, no moment when out of nothing everything began. The industry, the oldest distribution channel in history, began appearing alongside the development of civilizations. As hunter-gatherers settled down to farm and build towns, the first direct sellers began to sell their wares across Europe, Africa and Asia.

The bartering of commodities evolved into a vast network of trade, and by the 18th century the direct-to-consumer channel of distribution had reached the United States in the form of the Yankee peddler, solitary figures who roamed the countryside bringing goods to isolated areas of the population. But it would be another century before the first direct selling company was established. In 1855, Rev. James Robinson Graves developed a business model that had young men going door to door to sell products, forming the basis of the company known today as Southwestern.

Nearly 160 years later, direct selling engages more than 16 million people in the United States and nearly 100 million people around the world, with 22 billion-dollar global markets. Direct selling companies are committed to not only bringing quality products to the global audience, but also a quality of life that can, and does, change lives.

“More than 3 million Independent Beauty Consultants around the world share Mary Kay’s message of hope—‘If you can believe it, you can achieve it!’ ” says Sheryl Adkins-Green, Chief Marketing Officer of Mary Kay. “Through Pink Changing Lives®, Mary Kay has a commitment to changing the lives of women and children around the world, encouraging them to believe in themselves and pursue their dreams to transform, inspire and empower our future.”

The popularity of direct selling continues to grow. In a recent Harris Poll commissioned by Direct Selling News, nearly one-third of U.S. adults have purchased from a direct seller in the past six months, with 42 percent taking advantage of doing so online. That technology has allowed newer companies to reach more customers far quicker than the old days of walking the countryside.

“It Works! is a customer-generating machine,” says Mark Pentecost, CEO of It Works! Global. “We encourage our distributors to gather customers, and we provide a Loyal Customer Program with perks to retain customers. This opportunity forms the foundation for a business that gives everyday people hope that they can change their lives and leave a legacy for their families.”

Threshold No. 2—Women Are Welcomed

In the history of the universe, stars became the building blocks for life. And in the history of direct selling, the points of light that became the building blocks of the industry were women.

David McConnell’s decision to recruit women as sales representatives for his California Perfume Co. might have been a big, bold statement for the times. Yet it just made sense to McConnell when he saw the natural ability of women to network and market to others. Mrs. Persis Foster Eames Albee became the company’s first representative, and today more than 6 million Avon representatives are following in her footsteps, benefiting from McConnell’s belief that women could be the most important component of the direct selling channel.

“[Our Founder David H. McConnell] understood that women were natural salespeople who could easily relate to other women and passionately market beauty products.”
—Sheri McCoy, CEO, Avon Products Inc.

“In 1886, our Founder David H. McConnell recognized that women were rarely offered the opportunity to earn their own income,” says Avon CEO Sheri McCoy. “He also understood that women were natural salespeople who could easily relate to other women and passionately market beauty products. The notion that women deserve the opportunity to support themselves and their families is a cornerstone on which [Avon is] built.”

The role of women in the industry has greatly evolved from the days when the legendary Mrs. Albee traveled the Northeast by horse and buggy. Mary Kay Ash, Brownie Wise, Mary Crowley and Jan Day were strong role models whose business savvy and sincere desire to see their contemporaries succeed empowered 20th-century women and inspired a legion of today’s female leaders.

That group includes Thirty-One Gifts’ Founder and CEO Cindy Monroe, Scentsy’s Co-Founder and President Heidi Thompson, Rodan + Fields President Lori Bush, Isagenix’s Co-Founder Kathy Coover, and The Pampered Chef’s CEO Doris Christopher, who believe that being a woman is an advantage to running a direct selling company.

In fact, if you look at the Global 100 companies, you will find that nine of the 29 U.S. companies in the Top 50—31 percent—are led by women who were either co-founders or who serve as president or CEO. And it is these women who are bringing their opportunities to other women around the globe, especially in developing countries where women are expressing sentiments similar to what Mrs. Albee wrote to David McConnell 130 years ago: “I know of no line of work so lucrative, pleasant and satisfactory as this,” she said.

DSN Global 100 DSN Global 100

Threshold No. 3—The Formation of Direct Selling Associations

In 1910, McConnell’s California Perfume Co. joined with nine other companies from New York, Massachusetts and Michigan to form the Agents Credit Association, which today is known as the U.S. Direct Selling Association. It was the first such association to focus on the needs of direct sellers.

Back then, the Association was charged with collection and credit matters; today, the DSA represents 200 member companies and works to further promote the impact of direct sellers under the guidance of President Joseph Mariano.

“One of the most important accomplishments for DSA has been the mobilization of many different types of companies by recognizing and supporting their mutual interests,” Mariano says. “DSA can act on behalf of companies and individual sellers to ensure a fair and open marketplace. Because we determine our course of action based on the merits instead of special interests, we have a virtually unblemished record of defeating legislation that would be harmful to direct sellers, and have worked constructively with many states in passing anti-pyramid legislation that helps lawmakers identify and prosecute scams while protecting legitimate companies.”

“We will continue to help policymakers, prospective sellers and others gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of direct selling.”
—Joseph Mariano, President, U.S. DSA

According to Mariano, the DSA will continue to work collaboratively with companies to maintain unity of message and purpose in all its activities. “We will continue to enhance the high standards of marketplace behavior the public should expect from direct sellers, and we will continue to help policymakers, prospective sellers and others gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of direct selling,” he says.

Today more than 60 countries have direct selling associations. Seldia—the European Direct Selling Association—represents 27 DSAs, including those from the U.K., Germany, France, Belgium and Italy, which were the first European countries to establish national associations. Since 1968, Seldia has been an authoritative voice for direct selling in European government affairs.

“New laws and regulations are now made with input from Seldia, and a growing number of policymakers have a favorable and supportive view on direct selling,” says Maurits Bruggink, Executive Director of Seldia. “With the increasing appreciation of entrepreneurship in Europe, Seldia wants to grow the importance of direct selling in the coming years and ensure that our sector is known for the opportunities it creates for individuals of every walk of life, the wealth it generates to society, and the high level of ethics in trading.”

A decade after the formation of Seldia, which at the time was known as the Fédération de la Vente et du Service à Domicile (FEVSD), the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations was established. The WFDSA is a non-governmental entity that represents national direct selling associations around the globe and works to promote the highest global standards for responsible and ethical conduct. Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Brazil-based Natura, is the current Chairman of the WFDSA, and has diligently worked to build the reputation of the industry.

“The WFDSA was born to reinforce ethical standards and to disseminate the positive social impact of the direct selling model,” says Carlucci. “The Federation aims to promote an ethical debate in the sector considering the significant changes happening in an increasingly connected world. In other words, we seek to be every day more in sync with the aspirations of contemporary society—more connected, more active, more social. Since the energy of our people is what moves our business model, we pursue to deeply understand them and to focus on their needs. That is what makes our advocacy efforts relevant to governments and key influencers.”

Threshold No. 4—Compensation Structure

For decades, direct sellers had been compensated on a performance-based model where earnings were tied to personal sales. Then, in the mid-1900s, a revolutionary approach for compensation was developed that would allow representatives to benefit beyond their personal selling efforts. Amway was one of the first companies to adopt the new structure.

According to Amway, many people assume that the Amway business model was introduced in 1959, when Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos founded the company. However, the company’s roots go deeper than that. Nutrilite Founder Carl Rehnborg is often credited as the father of both plant-based food supplements and the sales plan that served as the model for Amway.

This new compensation plan was actually the invention of William Casselberry, whom Rehnborg had met in a Dale Carnegie course, and Casselberry’s friend Lee Mytinger. In 1949, Jay and Rich became two of the top Nutrilite distributors and were introduced to that compensation plan, which allowed them to earn based on their own efforts and those of others they trained as Nutrilite sales reps. Without Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry, Amway might not have been guided by the business plan that has served it well for 55 years.

Today, nearly 90 percent of the 2013 DSN Global 100 companies utilize this compensation structure.

DSN Global 100

Consumer Goods and Services Offered through Direct Selling


  • Arts & Crafts
  • Beauty
  • Fashion & Accessories
  • Cosmetics
  • Educational
  • Food & Beverage
  • Food Storage
  • Home Care
  • Home Décor & Fragrances
  • Jewelry
  • Kitchenware & Cookware
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Personal Care
  • Relationship Enhancements
  • Travel
  • Weight Management
  • Wellness


  • Energy
  • Financial Planning & Investing
  • Health Insurance
  • Home Security
  • Legal Representation
  • Life Insurance
  • Natural Gas
  • Telecommunications


Threshold No. 5—Evolution of the Sales Method

The direct selling model has evolved because the world has evolved. The industry has adapted to changes because it can, as life itself can, store information, reproduce itself, pass information along and multiply.

One of the greatest changes in the industry was the party plan model, believed to have been created by Brownie Wise when she was with Tupperware. But perhaps no event in the history of direct selling has caused more of a paradigm shift than the emergence of technology. And here’s why. As Big History explained, during the era of the steam engine, it took 150 years for man’s collective knowledge to double. Today, it takes two years. By 2020, it will take 72 hours.

“We not only embrace, but innovate with the tools and technology now so abundantly available,” says Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer of USANA. “The world is shifting. Mobility will prove to be the game changer, especially when it comes to prospecting. Everyone has a smartphone, which gives us a much broader reach. Apps will become a preferred means of engagement, and we are actively updating and developing several to stay ahead of the curve. In fact, for over 20 years, our focus has been on personalization. Some may say technology is contradictory to that, but it’s not. Being able to profile yourself and get answers specific to you is not only cool, but is the wave of the future.”

Stambaugh adds that as for transaction technology, the method of spending is rapidly shifting from a storefront platform to a greater web-based structure, as e-commerce becomes widely accepted and trusted. “It has certainly moved the needle on our ROI,” he says. “Then there is social media, which is less than 10 years old, but look what it has done already in the realm of awareness. These days you can’t run a successful business without being social media savvy. Even social commerce is catching on, although still in its infancy. And though the direct sales industry is becoming more high-tech, it’s still important to remain ‘high-touch’ in keeping customers satisfied and the salesforce motivated. You have to stay connected to those you serve and develop an interpersonal presence in a high-tech world.”

“Though the direct sales industry is becoming more high-tech, it’s still important to remain ‘high-touch’ in keeping customers satisfied and the salesforce motivated.”
—Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer, USANA

Avon’s McCoy agrees to a certain degree. “While the biggest game changer is technology and how we use it, the backbone of our business hasn’t changed,” she says. “Our representatives continue to build relationships and have a passion for products, and our business is still high-touch, even though it’s now high-tech too. Customers can connect with their representatives in person, over the phone, via email or through social media. While the world is a different place today than when Avon started, it is the personal touch that connects our customers to our representatives.”

Adds Douglas Franco, General Manager for Belcorp USA, “I believe technology just changes the way our relationships work, but does not change their nature. It’s a trust-based purchase, which only becomes more transparent and democratic with technology.”

“I believe technology just changes the way our relationships work, but does not change their nature. It’s a trust-based purchase, which only becomes more transparent and democratic with technology.”
—Douglas Franco, General Manager, Belcorp USA

The Future

History teaches us that we have the ability to seize our evolution, and that the triumph of our collective learning is the ability to adapt. We learn to survive in the most challenging conditions. We seize the opportunities to continually move forward.

What will be the next threshold for direct selling? That remains to be seen. In the next century this industry may not even be known as “direct selling.” As new technologies and forms of communication are developed, a new term may come to apply to what it is direct sellers do, just as the term “social selling” is gaining traction today.

This year, the DSN Global 100 list revealed that 18 companies increased their 2013 revenue by more than $100 million, clear evidence that the business model can thrive in a time of economic uncertainty.

Additionally, new companies such as Origami Owl, Nerium International, Plexus Worldwide and Solavei, along with a host of others, continue to bring fresh ideas and methodologies to the marketplace. These new ideas, combined with advanced technology, placed alongside a highly successful and long-standing business model, will open up possibilities that we can only guess at today. The future is promising!

Isagenix Helps Wishes Come True as ‘2013 Cause Champion’

Photo above: Isagenix founders Jim and Kathy Coover accept the 2013 Cause Champion Award.

The Isagenix mission of providing “solutions to transform lives” recently earned the company national honors from charitable partner Make-A-Wish. In addition to its Annual Sponsor Award, Isagenix has received Make-A-Wish America’s prestigious 2013 Cause Champion Award.

Make-A-Wish is an international organization working to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The wishes are as unique as the children themselves and include experiences like traveling, learning a new skill or meeting a favorite celebrity. The Cause Champion Award recognizes Isagenix’s support in cash contributions, employee support and outstanding partnership internationally. In less than two years, the health and wellness company raised $1.2 million in support of Make-A-Wish.

“This is a proud moment for Isagenix. We are so grateful for our affiliation with Make-A-Wish and the ability to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Isagenix Co-Founder and President Jim Coover, who accepted the award alongside his co-founder and wife, Kathy. “There is no better cause than being able to bring joy into the life of a child and their family.”

Isagenix Associates have the option of giving a recurring donation from their monthly commissions or autoship orders. During Make-A-Wish Month in May, the company is boosting its fundraising efforts by donating $1 for every person who sets up a recurring donation, up to $10,000. Isagenix has also coordinated with several of its vendor partners, who have joined the effort to support the foundation during Make-A-Wish Month.

The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Order reprints of Kathy Coover’s profile here.

Isagenix Products


Kathy Coover
Co-Founder, Isagenix International

Getting the fluff out of the way and prioritizing things that produce results for the company and the field—that’s the kind of breakthrough Kathy Coover works toward every day. Mapping out the most and eliminating the least productive things keep Coover moving forward, both personally and professionally.

“I learned a lot about time management and balancing priorities from being in the field—balancing huge organizations and a child and a spouse,” she says.

She travels the world as the face of Isagenix and deems herself its “custodian of culture.” When Coover alights in the company’s Chandler, Ariz., headquarters, she tends to play Mom. “I’m always in there, asking questions and making sure that they really understand the things they are doing, because if it’s not right for the field, it’s not right for the company,” Coover says.

Sales and marketing are her innate strengths. “It’s kind of something that was natural to me. I was gifted at that,” she says. “But when we started the company, I did wear a lot of hats. We did everything.” Now with the rapid growth of 2013 and a goal to grow by 40 percent this year, Coover is enthusiastic about the future. “It’s a very exciting time. We are in momentum, so we want to keep building our field and our leadership in the field. I personally am building my infrastructure in the office to take on a lot of responsibility.”

Kathy Coover, Co-Founder, Isagenix InternationalClear communication with the people both inside the corporate offices and outside in the field assures Coover that the Isagenix collaborative culture will remain intact. “Our values are very important, and as we expand and grow internationally it is important that we keep those values as we go into the new countries,” she says. Making that so takes consistent messaging and collaboration. “We need to look at our staff to make sure that message gets to the person answering the phone—the direct contact with the field. The communication we portray to our field is so important as we get larger and larger.”

Virtually anyone in the world within Isagenix’s open international markets can join, learn from home and run a business thanks to what Coover calls the company’s “window to the world.” She says, “We have everything online, even our recruiting system.” Fine-tuning that already successful system is an ongoing priority in 2014. “We have our business development system for our field, and we know if we keep perfecting that and working with our field, they’ll keep growing.”

Isagenix also has an entire department dedicated to developing both the consultant field and the corporate team. “We were really early adopters of personal development with the field and in our office. Mentorship is very important,” she says. Even Coover has an in-house coach that mentors her, sometimes long-distance over the phone. She adds, “Also my husband, Jim, is one of my strongest mentors. We’ve been married 30 years, and if it weren’t for his belief in me, his mentorship, I would not be where I am today.”

Kathy Coover on personal development…

“I read a lot. I take classes. I listen to audios, and I go to other network marketing events to see what other people are doing. It really keeps me in touch, and it also validates what we’re doing.”

Kathy Coover on keys to growth…

“Keeping it really, really simple. That’s been one of the reasons for our growth—simplicity of our messaging, simplicity of training, and simplicity of really understanding what we have.”

Isagenix International

Isagenix offers health and wellness products for weight loss, energy and performance, and healthy aging in 10 markets around the globe. Founded in 2002 by John Anderson and Jim and Kathy Coover, Isagenix sells high-quality, natural, no-compromise products, engineered for safety, purity and potency through more than 250,000 active associates. Associates have experienced weight loss, increased health and improved athletic performance. The company’s products are not only for health, but wealth creation, too.

Located in Chandler, Ariz., Isagenix is a fast-growing direct selling company. Domestic growth was up 30 percent in 2013 and overall worldwide growth was 34 percent. International expansion continued in 2013 with Singapore, Malaysia and Colombia opening, as well as Chinese retail operations. Next in line are Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Company revenues of $334 million for 2012 ranked Isagenix 36th on the Direct Selling News Global 100 list of top direct selling companies in 2013.

Order reprints of Kathy Coover’s profile here.

DSN Global 100 Profiles – 31 Through 40

Click here to order the June 2013 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


• Cover Story • 10 Things to Know • The List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

• Leadership • Growth • Momentum

31. PartyLite (Blyth)

2012 Net Sales: $425 million
Country: USA

Celebrating 23 years as a member of the Blyth family of companies, PartyLite is lighting the way to a bright future by offering a first-class earning opportunity and an array of sub-brands and collections that include candles, candle holders, flameless fragrance and wax warmers as well as holiday and home décor.

2011 Rank: 22
2011 Net Sales: $500 million
Sales Method: Party plan
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Candles, home fragrance, home décor
Markets: 18
Salespeople: 54,500
Employees: 920
Headquarters: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Executive: Robert Goergen, Jr.
Year Founded: 1973
Stock Symbol: BTH—NYSE
Website: www.partylite.com


2012 Net Sales: $378 million
Country: Japan

Selling exclusively in Japan, KK ASSURAN’s products address skin-care issues for the Japanese population. The company relies on traditional person-to-person contact for sales.

2011 Rank: 30
2011 Net Sales: $370 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Skin care
Markets: 1
Salespeople: 500,000
Employees: 410
Headquarters: Fukuoka, Japan
Executive: Not available
Year Founded: 1994
Website: Not available

33. Arbonne International LLC

2012 Net Sales: $377 million
Country: USA

At Arbonne, beauty begins with premium botanical ingredients, an integrative approach to beauty and an unwavering commitment to pure, safe and beneficial products. Arbonne creates personal-care and wellness products that preserve and enhance the skin, body and mind.

2011 Rank: 34
2011 Net Sales: $353 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Cosmetics, personal care, wellness
Markets: 4
Salespeople: 262,500
Employees: 585
Headquarters: Irvine, California
Executive: Kay Napier
Year Founded: 1980
Website: www.arbonne.com

34. Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc.

2012 Net Sales: $368 million
Country: USA

When Nature’s Sunshine began almost 40 years ago, it offered encapsulated herbs to customers. Today, the company’s product line includes a large selection of herbal, vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplements as well as skin-care products.

2011 Rank: 32
2011 Net Sales: $368 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Skin care, personal care, cosmetics, wellness
Markets: 45
Salespeople: 668,000
Employees: 1,003
Headquarters: Provo, Utah
Executive: Michael Dean
Year Founded: 1972
Stock Symbol: NATR—NASDAQ
Website: www.naturessunshine.com

35. LG Household & Health Care

2012 Net Sales: $350 million
Country: South Korea

LG Household & Health Care began in 1947 with domestically manufactured cosmetics and toothpastes. It has expanded to become Korea’s foremost household goods and cosmetics company.

2011 Rank: N/A
2011 Net Sales: N/A
Sales Method: Not available
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Personal care, home care, cosmetics
Markets: 5
Salespeople: Not available
Employees: 2,745
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Executive: Suk Cha
Year Founded: 1947
Stock Symbol: 051900—SEO
Website: www.lgcare.com

36. Isagenix Worldwide LLC

2012 Net Sales: $334 million
Country: USA

Isagenix is a health and wellness company that develops and manufactures nutritional and personal-care products that are distributed through an independent network of associates.

2011 Rank: 44
2011 Net Sales: $262 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Wellness
Markets: 9
Salespeople: 180,000
Employees: 350
Headquarters: Chandler, Arizona
Executive: Jim Coover
Year Founded: 2002
Website: www.isagenix.com

37. Faberlic

2012 Net Sales: $330 million
Country: Russia

Faberlic is Russia’s largest homegrown direct seller, with a wide product range and operations primarily in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The company has more than 350 products and is particularly strong in skin care.

2011 Rank: 52
2011 Net Sales: $200 million
Sales Method: Not available
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Cosmetics
Markets: 20
Salespeople: 1 million
Employees: Not available
Headquarters: Moscow, Russia
Executives: Alexy Nechaev and Alexander Davankov
Year Founded: 1997
Website: www.faberlic.ru

38. Neways Inc.

2012 Net Sales: $326 million
Country: USA

Neways is dedicated to making the world a healthier place, one home at a time. Neways distributors share the products in 30 countries, with nearly half of the company’s annual revenues paid back to distributors as commissions.

2011 Rank: 36
2011 Net Sales: $349 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Single-level
Products: Cosmetics and personal care, home care, wellness
Markets: 39
Salespeople: 170,000
Employees: 550
Headquarters: Springville, Utah
Executive: Robert Conlee
Year Founded: 1987
Website: www.neways.com

38. Noevir Co. Ltd.

2012 Net Sales: $326 million
Country: Japan

Noevir develops, produces and sells a versatile collection of products under well-regarded brand names, including Noevir high-performance functional skin-care products and hypoallergenic cosmetics as well as health food.

2011 Rank: 37
2011 Net Sales: $345 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Single-level
Products: Skin care, body care, nutritional supplements, cosmetics
Markets: 8
Salespeople: 180,000
Employees: 1,017
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Executive: Takashi Okura
Year Founded: 1964
Stock Symbol: 4928–TYO
Website: www.noevirholdings.co.jp

40. Menard Japan Cosmetics

2012 Net Sales: $319 million
Country: Japan

Menard Cosmetics was started after World War II and is one of the biggest cosmetics brands in Japan. The company plays a remarkable role in the market in terms of their prestigious products and high-quality customer services.

2011 Rank: 26
2011 Net Sales: $434 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Cosmetics, skin care, body care, fragrances
Markets: 28
Salespeople: Not available
Employees: Not available
Headquarters: Nagoya, Japan
Executive: Not available
Year Founded: 1959
Website: www.menard-cosmetics.com