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.”

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Elken Gears Up for Opening of Philippines Market

Photo: Manila, Philippines.


Leading Malaysian direct selling company Elken is tapping into growth in the Asia Pacific region with its forthcoming entry into the Philippines.

The company coordinated a soft launch in the Philippines in December 2015, hosting public events to introduce its business model and extensive range of products, which number more than 500 across the categories of cosmetics, personal care, wellness, food and beverage, and home care. An organic spirulina supplement and water purification system are among the company’s top-selling products.

The Philippines is one of the fastest-growing direct selling markets in the world, according to research by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. From 2011 to 2014, constant dollar revenue from direct sales increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6 percent, outpaced only by growth in China and Vietnam.

With the official opening of the Philippines, Elken’s operations will extend to 11 markets, including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan. The company, which has been in business for 20 years, has offices in 30 cities. Elken reported revenue of $233 million in 2013, earning the No. 50 spot on the 2014 DSN Global 100, before declining to participate in the 2015 ranking.

Foundation 4Life Launches Malaysia Relief Efforts amid Severe Flooding

Foundation 4Life is bringing relief to Malaysia amid flooding on the country’s east coast, as well as in parts of neighboring Thailand and the Philippines. An unusually heavy monsoon season inundated the region from mid-December to early January, leaving nearly a quarter of a million people displaced from their homes.

The flooding has caused dozens of deaths and extensive damage throughout the region. Initial estimates from the Malaysian ministry project that clean-up efforts will cost the federal government nearly $60 million. 4Life reports that the disaster has affected more than 100 of its Malaysian distributors. The company has an office in Kota Bharu, a city in the northeastern state of Kelantan, where some of the most severe flooding occurred.

Foundation 4Life focuses on building people, family and communities wherever 4Life conducts business, and the company has repeatedly mobilized its network of distributors around the world to aid in disaster relief. In Malaysia, employees and distributors gathered at 4Life’s Petaling Jaya office outside Kuala Lumpur to prepare aid packages. The foundation delivered an initial shipment totaling nearly 2,000 pounds of food and necessities to Kota Bharu, followed by a second shipment exceeding 2,800 pounds.

4Life’s Vice President of Communications, Calvin Jolley, told DSN the company is also supporting local distributors with monetary donations and supplies. Foundation 4Life plans to hold an event at its Kota Bharu office in the first week of February to meet with leaders, make donations, and assess next steps in the aftermath of the disaster.

90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 88

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Zhulian Marketing

2013 Net Sales: $127 million

Country: Malaysia

Zhulian Marketing has emerged as a direct selling innovator for its progressive, visionary Golden Business Opportunity as well as its reliable and innovative products. The company is presently doing business in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

 

2012 Rank: 74
2012 Net Sales: $145 million
Sales Method: Not available
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Home care, food and beverage, nutritional supplements, personal care, cosmetics, air treatment, water treatment, sleep enhancement, hygiene
Markets: 4
Salespeople: 100,000
Employees: Not available
Headquarters: Penang, Malaysia
Executive: Teoh Beng Seng
Year Founded: 1989
Website: www.zhulian.com.my

 

90 Days Of Direct Selling – Day 21

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ELKEN Sdn. Bhd.

2013 Net Sales: $233 million

Country: Malaysia

Elken is one of Malaysia’s top direct selling companies. Its philosophy of “Builds you to build others” is all about nurturing people and helping them grow in various aspects of their lives. Its best-selling and most well-known products are Elken Spirulina and Bio Pure Water Purification System.

 

2012 Rank: 65
2012 Net Sales: $172 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Cosmetics, personal care, wellness, food and beverage, home care
Markets: 10
Salespeople: 372,528
Employees: 985
Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Executive: AK Tan
Year Founded: 1995
Website: www.elken.com

90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 17

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Cosway Corp Logo

Cosway Corp. Ltd.

2013 Net Sales: $440 million

Country: Malaysia

Cosway is a subsidiary of Berjaya Group, a multinational conglomerate known for diversification. Manufacturers, researchers and suppliers from all over the world work with Cosway to provide an ever-growing range of top-quality products.

 

2012 Rank: N/A
2012 Net Sales: N/A
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Supplements, skin care, personal care, cosmetics, household products, car care, food and beverage, clothing
Markets: 11
Salespeople: Not available
Employees: 1,500
Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Executive: Chuah Choong Heong
Year Founded: 1979
Stock Symbol: 288—HKG
Website: www.cosway.com.my

The Road to $1 Billion

by J.M. Emmert

DSN Cover, April 2014

When Inc. magazine named Ambit Energy America’s fastest-growing private company in 2010, the then 4-year-old company’s annual revenue already had reached $325 million, making it one of the 40 largest direct selling companies in the world.

A year after the Inc. article appeared, the revenue number had doubled to $664 million. And 24 months later, Ambit did what very few direct selling companies have been able to do: break the billion-dollar barrier.

Hitting $1 billion in revenue is a milestone for any business, and to do so in seven years puts Ambit’s growth on a trajectory in line with some of the most recognizable brands of the past few decades: Apple (six years), Facebook (six years), Amazon (four years), eBay (seven years) and Google (five years).

Technology certainly helped. Co-Founders Jere Thompson Jr. and Chris Chambless have pointed to the company’s data processing technology as a key factor in Ambit’s rapid expansion. And Ambit, like all modern direct sales companies, leverages the connectivity afforded by the Internet as well as social media platforms in its sales strategies.

Yet despite the ubiquitous nature of technology, the billion-dollar milestone remains elusive for many direct sellers. In order to better understand what it takes to break through that barrier, we decided to study some of the members of direct selling’s Billion Dollar Club: six from the United States—Ambit, Amway, Avon, Herbalife, Mary Kay and Nu Skin, as well as Germany’s Vorwerk, Brazil’s Natura and Peru’s Belcorp.

What is it that makes them billion-dollar companies? What do they have that other companies are still trying to learn and to possess? In our review, we identified four key drivers behind the members of the Billion Dollar Club.


Growth Comparison ($0-$1 Billion)


1. They were founded by outstanding leaders.

Which one would you invite to dinner: the visionary, the revolutionary, the dream-builder, the groundbreaker, the risk-taker, the mover, the shaker or the history-maker? In the Billion Dollar Club, you’ll find them all sitting at the table.

Take Amway’s Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, for example. Van Andel was a firm believer in and fierce advocate for free enterprise, and DeVos was among the first proponents of teaching distributors to start with believing in themselves.

“We were just two guys from Ada, Michigan, USA, who wanted to have a business of our own,” DeVos says on the company’s website. “We were two kids (it still feels like that sometimes) who were hungry for success and who wanted to give others the chance to be in business for themselves, too.”

The current generation at Amway is building upon that foundation. Co-CEOs Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos have led the company to record sales growth marked by continued global expansion to more than 100 countries and territories.

Avon offers a similar lesson in the power of strong foundational leadership. As a salesman in the 19th century, David McConnell was far ahead of his time in recognizing that women could be successful sales professionals. Beginning in 1886 with Mrs. P.F.E. Albee, he tapped the power of a female salesforce to go door-to-door extolling the virtues of products from the California Perfume Company, the forerunner of Avon. By 1920, he had built a $1 million business, which adjusted for inflation would be nearly $12 million now.

Today, CEO Sheri McCoy, whom Fortune magazine ranks as among the 50 most powerful women in business, exemplifies McConnell’s vision of building the company for women. She joined the Avon team in April 2012, bringing with her 30 years of experience with Johnson & Johnson, and now leads a $10 billion business with more than 6 million independent sales representatives.

2. They offer distinctive, high-quality products or services.

Having bold, visionary leaders is critical to building a billion-dollar company. So, too, is creating products that bring true value to the marketplace. The club members reviewed here have done just that.

The United States has the largest cosmetics industry in the world, with estimated revenue of nearly $55 billion. Amway, Avon, Mary Kay and Nu Skin are all able to thrive because they continue to be at the forefront of scientific research, developing new products designed to enhance the lives of customers.

Nu Skin, for example, spent more than $46 million on research from 2011 to 2013 and has made several key acquisitions that brought new technology into the company. Its Pharmanex health supplements product line comes from the acquisition of Simi Valley, Calif.-based Generation Health Holdings Inc. in 1998. Since then, Nu Skin has gone on to purchase substantially all of the assets of Madison, Wis.-based LifeGen Technologies LLC in 2011 and Malvern, Pa.-based Nox Technologies Inc. in 2012, which added more anti-aging technology to the Nu Skin portfolio.

Avon significantly upped its research and development game in 2002, announcing plans for a state-of-the-art R&D center and a $100 million increase in research spending from 2002 to 2005. The company has continued that commitment, spending $67.2 million on research and development in 2013 and launching more than a dozen new products.

Unlike its personal consumer product peers, Ambit is using direct sales to introduce customers to a relatively new product category: energy. Deregulation in many utility markets is giving consumers a choice when it comes to purchasing their retail electric and gas services.

Since its launch in Texas in 2006, Ambit has used direct selling to spread the word. Co-Founder Jere Thompson Jr.’s mother and father were the company’s first customers, and received the first bill. Today, Ambit has more than 1 million active customers.

3. They target growing markets.

In order to hit the $1 billion mark, choosing where to sell can be just as critical as choosing what to sell. Of the nine companies in our report, six of them have a presence in more than 35 markets around the globe. Only Belcorp (16), Natura (seven) and Ambit (one) have managed to make the Billion Dollar Club with less.

According to a September 2013 DSN report, advanced markets—the United States, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, the U.K., Taiwan, Italy, Canada and Australia—accounted for $89 billion in retail sales in 2012. Emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, Colombia, Thailand, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Indonesia, India and the Philippines accounted for $65 billion. Those markets, however, are home to 85 percent of the world’s population; gaining a foothold there now establishes a foundation for future growth.

Take Brazil, for example. Natura has established itself as the biggest cosmetics company in its home country. The No. 2 cosmetics name in Brazil? That was U.S.-based Avon, which counts Brazil as one of its largest markets and where it keeps some research and development operations.

4. They invest in their people.

In the end, while leadership can create a desired path, quality products can help establish a business, and new markets can help bring a company’s story to a worldwide audience, it all comes down to the people who say yes to the opportunity to represent the brand.

The nine companies in this report have more than 20 million salespeople combined across the globe. Those salespeople are of every age and ethnicity, with diverse educational backgrounds and diverse reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur. In fact, according to the U.S. Direct Selling Association, most people who join direct selling come for one of five things: supplemental income, recognition, rewards, social connections or product discounts.

Six of the nine companies currently have more than 1 million salespeople who, for the most part, are compensated on a multi-level structure. The most-frequently used sales method is person-to-person, which accounted for 80 percent of sales in 2012. Vorwerk, Mary Kay and Belcorp employ the party plan method as well.

The founders and leaders of the Billion Dollar Club companies recognize and value the diversity among their salesforces. Family men like Belcorp’s Eduardo Belmont and the brothers Carl and Adolf Vorwerk have shown that fostering a culture of love and respect brings in the greatest returns on investment. Motivators like Herbalife’s Mark Hughes and Natura’s Luis Seabra set out to help people change themselves so they could, in turn, change more lives for the better. And Nu Skin’s Blake Roney, Sandie Tillotson and Steve Lund are among the many philanthropists in direct selling who have reached out a helping hand to those in need.

A key to becoming a billion-dollar company is to have people talking about it. So whether the talk comes from the standpoint of a 150-year-old legacy or a new, spirited startup that has re-energized the industry, happy salespeople translates to happy customers; and happy customers is always a winning formula.


6.2 Million Liters and Counting: World Water Day at Mary Kay

Today is World Water Day, an opportunity to focus on a critical resource and promote sustainable practices in the realm of water and energy. We are commemorating the day with a look at the impressive conservation efforts going on behind the scenes at Mary Kay.

Mary Kay’s internal focus on environmental initiatives began back in 1989 with a comprehensive corporate recycling program. In 2008, the cosmetics giant launched a global environmental sustainability program under the banner of Pink Doing Green—a nod to Mary Kay’s signature color.

We reached out to Dr. Cristi Gomez, who heads the Pink Doing Green committee, a group of employees that have rallied behind the cause of increased sustainability. According to Gomez, the program has evolved as a sort of grassroots initiative, but one that has always received the support of Mary Kay CEO David Holl.

To move toward greater sustainability, the company first needed to take stock of its current environmental performance. Two years ago Mary Kay corporate began measuring waste production, along with water and energy consumption.

“This year, we really wanted to put a focus on water. It’s something that’s important to us as a cosmetics company,” said Gomez, who serves as Director of Product Safety & Environmental Compliance at Mary Kay. “And being located in Dallas—an area in the midst of severe drought—it hits especially close to home.”

When the company’s U.S. distribution branches realized the volume of water flowing into their operations, they began to implement their own conservation measures. Last year, the branches saved a combined 6.2 million liters of water. In the same period, Mary Kay Canada cut water use by almost 20 percent. “It was not something they were directed to do; it was just the right thing to do,” said Gomez.

While Mary Kay’s water conservation efforts focus on the corporate side, the company has also created programs with the salesforce in mind. For example, consumers can recycle product packaging through Mary Kay’s Caps and Cases program. For every 10 cases returned, the company plants a tree through its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Mary Kay has committed more than 1 million trees to planting and reforestation efforts in China, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia and the United States.

Little Trove Promotes Fair Trade through Direct Sales

When former solicitor Ramona Hirschi founded Little Trove in late 2011, she wanted to launch a business focused on improving the lives of producers as well as consumers. Time spent in her native Malaysia and other parts of the world had shown Hirschi that many goods manufactured around the globe undergo substantial mark-ups, with revenue often distributed disproportionately between the retailer and producer.

UK-based Little Trove actively addresses that disparity in earnings by offering a variety of products—ranging from food and fashion to kitchen and cleaning—certified by the Fairtrade Foundation, from suppliers registered with either the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) or the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS). Little Trove’s ethical policy addresses standards such as fair wages and statutory rights for workers, child labor restrictions, fair pricing, and sourcing from less popular trading countries.

At its inception, Little Trove sold products exclusively online. Six months into the new venture, the company was looking to enhance the customer experience with in-person sales. Hirschi saw direct selling as an opportunity to integrate a personal approach, while maximizing return and minimizing risk to the fledgling company. In the course of its first year, Little Trove has trebled its turnover—with around 75 percent of profits now generated through direct selling.

Read more on Hirschi’s fair trade party plan company.

The Great Potential: Unlocking the Power of Emerging Markets

by Beth Douglass Silcox

 

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

DSN September 2013
Editor’s Note:

Our September cover story is an update on the March 2013 story, “Direct Selling’s Billion Dollar Markets,” with a focus on the great potential of emerging countries. We have elected to move our annual research on billion dollar markets from March to September each year in order to best utilize the extensive research conducted by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations’ (WFDSA) Research Committee. (The most recent statistics, 2012, were just released this summer.) This team works over 5,500 person hours to gather, vet, analyze and report annual data to assess and size the direct selling market in each region of the world, and their data provides us with one of the primary sources for our own research.

Enjoy the update in this issue, and look for the next full coverage of DSN’s Billion Dollar Markets annual research each September going forward.


An industry that generates $166.9 billion annually wields exceptional power, especially when 89.7 million global citizens are the core of its strength. Regardless where in the world they call home—advanced or emerging markets—tenacious entrepreneurs use the direct selling business model to increase their incomes, enhance their own socioeconomic status and collectively improve local, regional and national economies.

Globally, the direct selling industry grew 5.4 percent in 2012 and a cumulative 13.9 percent since 2010. Posting that kind of increase is impressive, especially during a global economic recovery. But dissecting WFDSA’s 2012 global direct selling survey proved equally impressive when statistics showed emerging markets were responsible for 44 percent of global direct sales, a gain of 9 percent in just two years.

Of the 23 countries on Direct Selling News’ Billion Dollar Markets for 2012, only 10 are considered advanced direct selling markets. The remaining 13 are young and emerging. Markets like China, Malaysia, Colombia, Thailand, Russia and India have come on strong despite legislative and importing restrictions, cultural complications and lower GDPs. In these emerging markets—where 85 percent of the world’s population base lies—direct selling’s “Great Potential” is waiting.

Unlocking The Great Potential

Chart1To unlock these emerging markets it is necessary to understand the compelling reasons direct selling is flourishing.

“From an economic perspective, you have people with lower levels of education and little discretionary income or resources to invest in a business, and at the same time you have a rapidly growing middle class that can now afford to buy products like this from friends and family. You have demand and supply growing together, and it’s kind of like the perfect storm,” says Jeffrey Dahl, President of Amway Latin America.

This scenario plays out wherever emerging markets exist, wherever there are entrepreneurial-minded individuals who seek to improve their socioeconomic status.

European economic strife has caused a “classical story” to play out in recent years, according to Maurits Bruggink, Executive Director of SELDIA, the European Direct Selling Association. “When things go bad and people lose their jobs, they start being more interested in direct selling to complement and increase their incomes. It is a phenomenon in Europe right now that is a bit bigger and wider,” he says.


“You have demand and supply growing together, and it’s kind of like the perfect storm.”
—Jeffrey Dahl, President, Amway Latin America


While some emerging market direct sellers are motivated by disappearing job opportunities, for others high-wage jobs never existed in the first place. Dahl says, “In many emerging markets they aren’t used to the corporate orientation. They are entrepreneurs and work with small commercial opportunities. So direct selling is a natural extension for them.” And for many, direct selling is a socioeconomic equalizer and a path to the middle class.

CAPEVEDI, Peru’s direct selling association, surveyed 600 people about the socioeconomic impact of direct selling on families. Of respondents, 90 percent were women, 50 percent were over 40 years old and most were married with an average of five children at home. Also, 62 percent of the respondents indicated they did not have a job, were retired or only worked part time before entering direct sales.

Those families feel the impact of extra income generated by direct selling, and Lourdes Montagne, a staff member at CAPEVEDI, says, “Direct selling fosters a more democratized environment in many Peruvian families, providing the opportunity for equality or balance of economic income for each family member.”

Dr. Dora Hoan, Founder of Best World International, a direct seller based in Singapore, says, “The growth of the middle class means higher purchasing power and greater desire to improve their quality of life. This means more customers with more disposable income for direct sellers.”

Montagne agrees: “The growth of the middle class in Peru is hand-in-hand with the increase in their purchasing power, which automatically generates changes in the consumption habits of this social class.”


“The growth of the middle class means higher purchasing power and greater desire to improve their quality of life.”
—Dr. Dora Hoan, Founder, Best World International


People in emerging European markets like Poland or Slovenia, Bruggink says, want to be involved in direct selling because they don’t have access to Western products and retail distribution systems.

“The retail that you have in a lot of emerging markets is Mom and Pop,” Dahl says. “Buying from a Mom and Pop is a lot like the direct selling dynamic. You are buying from a family in the neighborhood. So it is little wonder that emerging markets are grabbing hold of direct selling as a viable business model.”

Embracing The Great Potential

Click to Enlarge“We believe that emerging markets are ‘The Great Potential,’ ” Hoan says. “After all, there are many enterprising people there who welcome business opportunities from direct selling. That being said, there are risks in these markets. The business regulations may not be conducive to direct selling; the people may not be welcoming or they may have limited purchasing power… but remember, no risk, no gain.”

The decision to expand internationally is certainly not as simple as contemplating mature versus emerging markets, but Dahl asserts, “It is a fair filter.” The regulatory environment, economic indicators and competition must be considered.

“Many companies choose to expand where direct selling associations are located and the industry is established,” says Jose Paez, Director General of Amway Mexico. “It’s easier to get in there and communicate your systems, communicate your mechanics, and get your permits to legally operate.”

But expansion strategies differ, depending upon the company and the target region. Miguel Arismendi, Chairman of ACOVEDI, Colombia’s direct selling association, sees new companies entering small and medium markets to test the Latin American waters before expanding to larger markets.

In Europe, the opposite is true. “When companies enter Europe, they do not enter in emerging markets,” Bruggink says. “They always seek a foothold in Western Europe, and that remains the strength of Western Europe—the economic stability of GDP, income per capita and regulatory assurance.”

Arismendi says, “It is a challenge and can be more difficult in some emerging markets than in others, but in general direct selling companies have adapted their portfolios and operations to the regulatory issues in the markets.”


“Companies are excelling in a very hybrid way and adapting their own operations to what these countries can provide.”
—Jose Paez, Director General, Amway Mexico


Explosive expansion of direct selling in China and India are a case in point. “If you look at what companies have done in those markets, they have adapted themselves. Companies in China can’t do what they have done in the U.S. or Europe,” Paez says.

In the case of most companies operating in China, for instance, they must open stores or nutritional centers in every small city because Chinese law forbids gathering or networking. “Companies have to adapt to these situations,” he says. “They are excelling in a very hybrid way and adapting their own operations to what these countries can provide. It is true that direct sales is having an impact and growing day by day, but again, not with the same mechanisms.”

The Great Bounce-Back Potential

Best World International is a medium-sized direct selling company based in Asia that cautiously and gradually expands into nearby countries. But, Hoan admits, chance and distributor connections have played a role in some expansions into “uncharted” countries. “Our overseas expansions happened this way. Nevertheless, for this type of expansion to happen, the direct sellers have to be very motivated and willing to brave all odds,” she says.

Paez adds, “Social media has helped almost everyone get connected wherever they are. People with friends in the U.S. are opening lines there using social media to do so.”

Dahl confirms, “There’s definitely a bounce-back effect that companies who operate in multiple markets are starting to dig into, focus on and build strategies to develop. Technology makes it much easier. People coming to the U.S., for instance, get exposed to a direct selling opportunity, and then it bounces back to friends and family in their homeland, and vice versa.”


“There’s definitely a bounce-back effect that companies who operate in multiple markets are starting to dig into, focus on and build strategies to develop. Technology makes it much easier.”
—Jeffrey Dahl


Even some advanced market growth, Dahl supposes, is likely the result of immigrants bringing positive cultural attitudes about direct selling to places like the U.S., where Hispanics, Koreans and Asian Indians are doing very, very well. “If I were a struggling company in the U.S. or another mature market, I would vector my resources to some of these segments that are limited in investment opportunity due to lack of resources, and with a cultural attraction to direct selling,” Dahl says.

Flexibility, sustainable systems, cultural awareness, and tenacious, open-minded staff and distributors make growth of any kind easier, whether the target is an emerging market or not.

Success in an emerging market is by no means easy or certain, but that could be said of mature markets as well. There are legislative hurdles to clear and reputations to build. But as more direct selling companies enter emerging markets, greater understanding takes hold and adds legitimacy to the industry in that market.

The acceptance of direct selling as a viable business option within emerging markets can empower individuals, improve the socioeconomic status of families and have far-reaching impact on the local, regional and national economies. As Hoan puts it, “The industry has room for growth, while the countries can benefit from its revenue. Individuals can make use of the business platform to empower themselves. On the whole, expansion into emerging markets is good for all parties involved.”

Billion Dollar Markets

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1. United States—$31.6 Billion

The United States occupies the top spot on the 2012 Billion Dollar Markets list, up 5.9 percent since 2011 and outpacing overall U.S. GDP economic growth of 4 percent for 2012. The U.S. market makes up 19 percent of global direct sales overall. A closer look at U.S. growth by the U.S. Direct Selling Association showed that 60 percent of companies experienced growth in 2012.

The direct selling community includes some 15.9 million independent representatives, of which 77 percent are female and 68 percent participate in person-to-person sales. Wellness and services—including utilities and financial products—continue to grow steadily, thanks to increased consumer awareness and the deregulation of the energy industry. The breakdown by product category: wellness products (27 percent), household goods and durables (19 percent), cosmetics and personal care (17 percent), clothing and accessories (12 percent), financial services (10 percent), and utilities (8 percent).

“The strong performance of direct selling in the United States and around the world continues to underscore the economic and social relevance of this business model,” USDSA President Joseph Mariano says. “Despite progress toward economic recovery, there are still many Americans looking for a source of supplemental income. Coupled with increasing consumer confidence, both sales and interest in the opportunity are at near-record levels.”


“The strong performance of direct selling in the United States and around the world continues to underscore the economic and social relevance of this business model.”
—Joseph Mariano, President, USDSA


2. Japan—$22.7 Billion

The Japanese direct selling market decreased by 4.8 percent in 2012, and if trends continue this year they may slip rank to No. 3. Japan comprises 14 percent of global direct sales, with 3.4 million sellers (78 percent female) participating primarily in person-to-person (95 percent) sales. Cosmetics and personal care (30 percent), wellness (29 percent), and household goods and durables (19 percent) led Japanese product sales.

3. China—$20.0 Billion

China is a rapidly growing market and could eclipse Japan’s No. 2 ranking when 2013 statistics are available next June. WFDSA’s research estimates indicate China’s growth at 13.5 percent in 2012 with a market comprising 12 percent of global direct sales. Statistical reporting of product categories, number of direct sellers or sales by method are not available.

Click to enlarge

4. Brazil—$14.6 Billion

Comprising 9 percent of the global direct selling market, Brazil’s 6.7 million sellers grew this Latin American powerhouse 13.1 percent in 2012 through 100 percent person-to-person sales. While gender breakdowns were not available, Latin American direct selling is predominantly female.

5. Korea—$13.3 Billion

The direct selling community in Korea grew to 5 million sellers (79 percent female), up from 4.2 million in 2011. They expanded this market 4.3 percent and brought the global direct selling share of their country to 8 percent through person-to-person (75 percent) and party plan (25 percent) sales. Wellness (35 percent); cosmetics and personal care (26 percent); household goods and durables (12 percent); and books, toys and stationery (11 percent) led product sales.

6. Mexico—$7.3 Billion

Mexico’s direct selling community is 96 percent female and dominated by cosmetics and personal-care products (42 percent) and clothing and accessories (31 percent), while wellness (21 percent) is gaining traction. All told, Mexico increased revenues 7 percent in 2012; they comprise 4.3 percent of global direct sales.

7. France—$4.9 Billion

France formally recognized direct selling in 2012, which contributed to the country’s 4.1 percent revenue growth. In total, 500,000 sellers (79 percent female) participate in person-to-person (61 percent) and party plan (39 percent) direct selling methods. The home improvement category uniquely leads French direct selling at 37 percent, with household and durable goods second at 15 percent. France comprises 3 percent of global direct sales market share.

8. Malaysia—$4.7 Billion

Rising 7 percent and gaining 250,000 sellers, Malaysia’s direct selling market diversified from a 100 percent person-to-person in 2011 to a 90/10 split with party plan in 2012. Today some 4.8 million sellers (61 percent female) represent wellness (43 percent), household goods and durables (23 percent), as well as cosmetics and personal-care products (16 percent).

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9. Russia—$4.3 Billion

From 2011 to 2012, the Russian direct selling market grew 4.1 percent, from $4.1 billion with 4.3 million sellers (86 percent female). Cosmetics and personal-care products comprised 67 percent of the Russian market, with wellness ranking second at 11 percent. And 86 percent of all sales are person-to-person.

10. Germany—$3.8 Billion

Despite economic turmoil within the European Union countries, Germany’s direct selling industry rose slightly—up 0.8 percent from $3.8 billion—as did their number of direct sellers (300,000 in 2012 versus 285,000 in 2011). Sales methods are split almost evenly, but females continue to dominate the field at 80 percent for the second year. Product category breakdowns are: household goods (34 percent), cosmetics (19 percent), wellness (11 percent) and home improvement (10 percent).

11. United Kingdom—$3.2 Billion

The United Kingdom’s direct selling revenue grew the most of any other European country in 2012, with overall revenues rising 7.2 percent from $2.9 billion. Wellness led the way in product category sales in the UK, comprising 39 percent of direct sales, while a mix of cosmetics and personal care (18 percent) and household goods and durables (16 percent) rounded out the industry. The size of the direct selling community was at 400,000, with 75 percent female. Of that, 70 percent are selling person-to-person, while 30 percent are earning through party plan sales models.

12. Colombia—$3.0 Billion

Rapid growth is seen in the emerging Latin American market of Colombia, where 1.5 million sellers caused that country’s direct selling revenue to rise 7.6 percent from $2.8 billion in 2011. Dominated by females (95 percent) conducting person-to-person sales (86 percent), Colombia’s direct selling customer wants cosmetics and personal-care (59 percent), clothing and accessories (23 percent), and wellness (10 percent) products.

13. Taiwan—$3.0 Billion

Slight growth (0.6 percent) was witnessed in the Taiwanese market in 2012, where 2.7 million sellers (70 percent female) represent wellness (58 percent), cosmetics and personal-care (15 percent), as well as home-care, household goods and durables, and clothing and accessories.

14. Italy—$3.0 Billion

Italy’s direct selling market suffered a loss of 4.9 percent in 2012, while gaining nearly 100,000 new members of its direct selling community (500,000). Females continued to dominate the Italian direct selling community (71 percent), and cosmetics and personal-care products comprised 33 percent of the market. Participation by males grew 5 percent in 2012 (29 percent), which may explain the 6 percent growth of person-to-person sales models and increased market share of wellness (20 percent) and foodstuffs and beverages (15 percent) companies.

15. Thailand—$2.9 Billion

2012 was a year of explosive growth in Thailand’s direct selling community, with some 800,000 new direct sellers signing on with companies, resulting in total revenue growth of 7 percent. Wellness products surged ahead to 39 percent of total category sales, while cosmetics and personal-care products dipped to 27 percent. Person-to-person sales increased 10 percent, totaling 69 percent of all sales methods used by a mostly female (67 percent) representative field; however, 3 percent more Thai males jumped into direct selling (33 percent).

16. Venezuela—$2.3 Billion

Despite appearing lower in the ranking this year, Venezuela’s direct selling industry increased 6.8 percent. Of the country’s 1.2 million sellers, 80 percent were female; however, an 11 percent increase in male participation in 2012 may be due in part to the growing wellness product category. While the traditionally female stronghold of cosmetics and personal-care items still led category sales at 30 percent, statistics show that wellness gained 13 percent in 2012. Person-to-person made up 95 percent of all sales.

17. Canada—$2.2 Billion

Canada’s 1 percent growth may be the result of the expanding category of cosmetics and personal care, which comprised 39 percent of product sales in 2012, as well as utilities, which posted 10 percent this year. All other categories suffered losses. Sales methodologies were almost evenly split within Canada’s salesforce of 700,000 independent representatives, of which 84 percent were female.

18. Argentina—$1.7 Billion

Marked growth in other Billion Dollar Markets caused Argentina to hold its No. 18 rank despite an astounding 12.5 percent growth in the country. Almost exclusively female (96 percent), Argentina’s direct selling community of 700,000 grew by nearly 80,000 in 2012. They were meeting the needs of customers, 67 percent of which sought cosmetics and personal-care items through one-on-one relationships (84 percent) with direct sellers.

19. Australia—$1.5 Billion

Cosmetics/personal-care and wellness products made up more than half of Australia’s direct selling product sales. Some 400,000 direct sellers (85 percent female) were practically split in half between party plan and person-to-person sales models. Australia’s direct selling revenues were up 4 percent from 2011 statistics.

20. Peru—$1.4 Billion

Adding some 50,000 Peruvian direct sellers to the community brought an 11.2 percent increase in revenues to this emerging market. Peru’s salesforce is predominately female at 91 percent, and examination of the most successful direct selling product categories reflects the gender of the selling community. Cosmetics and personal care rank No. 1 at 36 percent, with clothing and accessories (29 percent) a close second. Wellness represents 19 percent of the market.

21. Indonesia—$1.1 Billion

Indonesia advanced one ranking this year, having 11 percent growth due to nearly 1 million more direct sellers in country. Sales methodology and product category statistics were not reported in 2011 or 2012.

22. India—$1.1 Billion

Growth of 22.6 percent from $858 million in revenue in 2011 landed India on the Billion Dollar Markets list for the first time. India’s market is comprised primarily of wellness products (44 percent), but cosmetics and personal-care (33 percent) and home-care products (14 percent) are also integral to their success. With an ever-expanding seller base (4.9 million), nearly 1 million more in 2012 than the previous year, 63 percent are female and 38 percent are male, participating in person-to-person (69 percent) and party plan (23 percent) sales.

23. Philippines—$1.0 Billion

Wellness products are far and away the leading cause of the Philippines’ rise to the Billion Dollar Markets list for the first time this year. Revenues rose 31.3 percent from $770 million in 2011, thanks to 3 million sellers, split 60/40 female, conducting virtually all sales via person-to-person contact.



Regional Profiles

Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific is the largest region for direct selling, making up 44 percent of the industry’s global sales. Retail sales rose 4.4 percent in this region to $73.3 billion. Within this region the direct selling community experienced tremendous growth at 9.9 percent, raising the count of people participating in direct selling to 46.1 million in 2012.

Asia is home to much of the world’s population, so clearly part of these statistics is due to the sheer volume of people in that region; however, direct selling seems to be a great fit for the Asian markets and cultures as well. And because direct selling is profitable, it has become increasingly legitimate to choose it as a potential career—not merely as a fallback position.

There is a very strong work ethic in Asia. With few government security nets, people often want multiple jobs and income streams. Their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to have their own businesses are also strong. While in the Western world one goes to college and then gets a job, the preferred path in Asia is to start a business. Direct selling offers them this entrepreneurial fulfillment at a very low cost.

The Asian cultures are very comfortable with purchasing from friends or on the recommendation of friends or family members. For these reasons and more, the Asia/Pacific region will likely continue to experience significant growth in the foreseeable future.

The Americas

The Americas comprise 40 percent of global industry sales, split evenly between North America’s U.S. and Canadian market and the 11 markets that comprise South and Central America. Overall retail sales in the Americas rose 7.9 percent to $66.4 billion. While North America saw growth of 5.6 percent ($33.9 billion), South and Central America saw a double-digit increase of 10.4 percent, with sales reported at $32.6 billion.

Latin America’s impact on worldwide sales figures is notable. Miguel Arismendi, Chairman of ACOVEDI, the Colombian direct selling association, says the expanding middle class is causing health and wellness product categories to gain traction. “It is effectively, positively the entrance of males into the direct selling industry because it is an attractive category for them.”

Europe

The European market is comprised of Western, Central and Eastern Europe. All are governed by SELDIA, the European Direct Selling Association, and play by the same direct selling code of ethics as a result. Together, Europe makes up 16 percent of global industry sales—11 percent, Western; 5 percent, Central and Eastern.

European growth is holding steady despite a financial crisis still hanging over many European Union countries. While Western Europe, with more established and mature direct selling markets, rose 1.3 percent to sales totaling $17.7 billion, Central and Eastern European markets enjoyed a 4.3 percent increase. That brought their sales to $8.1 billion. In all, Europe rose 2.2 percent, totaling $25.9 billion.

Widely differing GDPs, income per capita, government interaction, familiarity with direct selling and cultural differences all weigh into the direct selling activity measured in Europe. Often, direct selling growth is a tug-of-war between the European Union regulation originating in mature markets and Central and Eastern Europe’s less restrictive governmental policies that give them competitive advantage. Maurits Bruggink, Executive Director of SELDIA, says, “I am hopeful that Central and Eastern European member states will be successful in overhauling pieces of over-regulation by the European Union.”

Africa and Middle East

Africa and the Middle East had an estimated 1 percent of global industry retail sales in 2012.