The September 2016 issue of Direct Selling News is available!

Cover Story

Keys to Success part 1: Customer Acquisition

by Andrea Tortora

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Mary Kay to Unveil Custom Sales App at Annual Seminar

At its annual salesforce meeting, which kicks off Monday in Dallas, Mary Kay Inc. will unveil a new, custom sales app, the result of a multi-year partnership with Dallas-based app development company Bottle Rocket.

The technology went live earlier this month, and company officials told DSN that early adoption of the app has exceeded expectations. On launch day the beauty company sent text notifications to consultants at the National Sales Director and Sales Director levels, alerting them to the availability of the app, Mary Kay my Customers+. Within the first week, Mary Kay was halfway to its Oct. 1 goal for subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month to use the app. The company reports 5,100 subscribers to date.

Though not Mary Kay’s only app, myCustomers+ is the company’s most hardworking. A cross-departmental team set out to design a tool that enables the consultant to run a business from the palm of her hand. “We were looking for a customized solution for our salesforce,” said Jill Wedding, Mary Kay Director, Consultant Marketing. “They do so much every day in the field, and we wanted to make it something that allows them to easily track their inventory in real time and simplify how they run a Mary Kay business.”

One of the app’s primary features is the point of sale, where, rather than filling out a paper sales ticket, the consultant can pull up the customer’s profile and place a new order. Using a scanning tool, she can scan any product to automatically add it to the order. The scanning feature also assists in managing inventory, another focus of the app. When a consultant receives a new shipment, a scan of the Mary Kay shipping label instantly updates her inventory. The consultant is also notified when inventory levels fall below her set minimum.

Additional features support the daily activities of building a business. Consultants who have been with Mary Kay for any amount of time will recognize “My 6 Things,” a task list that appears on the screen in interactive bubbles. The list is based on a practice taught by Mary Kay Ash, the company’s founder, who trained consultants to make a daily “6 Most Important Things to Do” list. A tagging tool in the app allows the consultant to target designated groups of customers. She also receives a notification when a customer makes an order on her personal Mary Kay website or has an anniversary or birthday.

Despite the app’s numerous capabilities, Mary Kay wanted to provide a tool that anyone—tech savvy or not—could navigate with ease. That was the impetus behind what the team calls the “magic button,” a fixed button at the bottom of the screen that, depending upon what page is open, will automatically pull up the functionality most commonly associated with that page. “We wanted an app so easy to use that no matter who you are, when you open it up, it is intuitive and you can figure out where to find things and how to do things,” said Hope Elston, Manager of Digital Tools Consultant Marketing at Mary Kay.

Taking myCustomers+ from ideation to launch was a process of about three and a half years—or many lifetimes in technology years. According to Wedding, the team at Bottle Rocket transitioned fluidly whenever advances in technology added layers of complexity to the project. David Holl, President and CEO of Mary Kay, has called Bottle Rocket one of the best vendors ever to work with the beauty company. The app developer, which counts Coca-Cola, Disney and Vogue among its clients, pulled together a designated team of employees to collaborate with Mary Kay for the duration of the project.

The official launch of myCustomers+ will take place from July 24–Aug. 6, when 30,000 Mary Kay consultants converge upon Dallas for Seminar, the company’s annual salesforce training and recognition event. The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that Seminar 2016, which will take place in four waves, will pump close to $35 million into the local economy and support 2,000 jobs in the area. Mary Kay plans to promote myCustomers+ throughout the event with special expo areas, social media promotions and giveaways, and giant iTab touchscreens featuring the technology.

Mary Kay Awards $1.3M in Grants to Women’s Cancer Research

The Mary Kay Foundation recently announced the recipients of its annual cancer research grants, which the foundation has awarded since its inception 20 years ago.

Research of cancers affecting women is one of two causes championed by The Mary Kay Foundation, the other being prevention and awareness of domestic violence. To improve knowledge of the disease, which is the second leading cause of death in women, Mary Kay awards $100,000 grants to top medical schools and research facilities across the country.

“The Mary Kay Foundation is proud to support these promising researchers who are working on critical discoveries that will impact lives for the better,” said Michael Lunceford, Mary Kay Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Chairman of the Mary Kay Foundation board. Lunceford also noted that, while the program focuses on cancers affecting women, the resulting research helps to fight all types of cancer.

Grant recipients are selected by the foundation’s Scientific Review Committee, a group of medical scientists and doctors chaired by Jerry Shay, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology for The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (UTSW). This year the committee screened 58 applicants and awarded 13 grants totaling $1.3 million. To date, Mary Kay has donated $25.2 million to a wide range of cancer research.

“It’s imperative in science to push the boundaries of cancer research in a pursuit to develop early diagnostic tools and new treatments,” said Shay. “With continued support through grants like these from The Mary Kay Foundation, scientists are afforded the critical opportunity for discovery.”

Mary Kay recently honored Shay’s longtime leadership of its review process with a $250,000 gift to UTSW, establishing a Distinguished Professorship in Women’s Cancer Research. Along with his collaborator, Dr. Woodring Wright, Shay is renowned for his own research on the relationship between aging and cancer. His roles at UTSW also include Distinguished Teaching Professor and Program Director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program.

Mary Kay Foundation Establishes Professorship in Women’s Cancer Research

Photo: The Mary Kay Foundation honors Dr. Jerry Shay (left).


The Mary Kay Foundation is honoring Dr. Jerry Shay, Chair of its Research Review Committee, with a $250,000 gift to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to further women’s cancer research.

The gift will establish a Distinguished Professorship in Women’s Cancer Research at UTSW. Mary Kay focuses its considerable philanthropic efforts on funding research of cancers affecting women and helping prevent domestic violence. Each year, the Mary Kay Foundation awards grants of $100,000—totaling $23.5 million to date—to medical institutions at the forefront of cancer research and practice. Shay, Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at UTSW, has headed up the grant review process for the past two decades.

“The support of grant funding is critical at every stage of research, and it has been very rewarding to partner with The Mary Kay Foundation to help guide their grant portfolio in an effort to fund the most promising ideas in women’s cancer research,” said Shay, who professed himself “deeply moved and humbled” by the endowment in his name.

Shay and his collaborator, Dr. Woodring Wright, are renowned for their own research, particularly on the relationship of telomeres and telomerase to aging and cancer. At UTSW, Shay also holds the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor, and is Program Director of the Cancer Biology Graduate Program. According to Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch, which has named him one of its “Doctors of the Decade,” Shay is one of the most cited authors in the area of General Biomedicine.

“By establishing this distinguished professorship, the Mary Kay Foundation hopes to show our sincere appreciation to Dr. Shay and the UTSW community for his help in shaping the foundation’s research portfolio, which has worked to improve lives around the world,” said Michael Lunceford, Mary Kay Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and President of the Mary Kay Foundation.

Mary Kay Attracts Increasingly Young, Diverse Salesforce in 2015

Mary Kay Inc. reports an increasing number of young women starting their own Mary Kay businesses. Women ages 18-34 accounted for 47 percent of new consultants in 2015, according to statistics released by the cosmetics company.

“These young women are tech-savvy and digitally connected. They’re looking for flexibility and not a 9 to 5, one-size-fits-all position,” Mary Kay’s Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Sara Friedman, said in a statement. “A Mary Kay business can be customized to each person’s individual goals, and our company’s established social media presence and leading-edge digital technology have also proven to be attractive business-building tools.”

Friedman’s sentiments echo the findings of Amway’s 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report, an in-depth look at the state of entrepreneurship around the world. Conducted in 44 countries, the survey found that starting a business is most appealing to those under 35 (65 percent), with independence and self-fulfillment being the top motivators. In the 35-49 demographic, 58 percent expressed the desire to start a business, followed by 44 percent of respondents over 50.

All told, more than 325,000 people signed up last year to sell Mary Kay’s skincare and cosmetics lines. The Addison, Texas-based company reports that new consultant sign-ups have exceeded 300,000 for 15 consecutive years.

As Mary Kay’s salesforce skews younger, it also grows more diverse. In 2015, 51 percent of new consultants identified as Latino, Asian or African American—groups that now make up 33 percent of Mary Kay’s total salesforce. Drilling down, the company found that Latinos accounted for 35 percent of last year’s recruits and 22 percent of the wider salesforce.

Mary Kay Patent Count Exceeds 1,200 after Prolific 2015

Mary Kay is logging a banner year in product innovation, having secured 130 new patents in 2015. The manufacturer of makeup and skincare products now lays claim to more than 1,200 utility and design patents.

A number of anti-aging technologies and product formulations were among this year’s patents, including Mary Kay’s TimeWise Repair Volu-Firm Lifting Serum and Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream, as well as TimeWise Body Targeted-Action Toning Lotion. The beauty brand also was awarded design patents for its Cityscape his and her fragrance bottles and Lash Intensity Mascara, among others.

More than formalities or safeguards, new patents serve as catalysts for further discovery, according to Mary Kay’s John Wiseman, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Innovation. “The patent process spurs innovation. Because we can protect our inventions, we have an incentive to continue inventing great things.”

Mary Kay’s extensive patent library is the result of more than 500,000 research and consumer tests conducted by the company each year. The beauty brand is laying the foundation for future advances with the construction of a new global manufacturing and R&D complex near its corporate headquarters in North Texas. Completion of the facility is projected for the first quarter of 2018.

Direct Selling Companies Donate Millions in Gifts to TODAY Toy Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Kay Settles on Future Site of Global Manufacturing and R&D Facility

Photo: Mary Kay’s global headquarters in Addison, Texas.


After months of research and analysis, Mary Kay has pinpointed the future site of its planned global manufacturing and R&D facility. The beauty brand on Tuesday said it will build the $100 million operation in the city of Lewisville, Texas, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

“As we approach the status of a top five beauty brand globally and following several years of double digit growth, the new facility will support our company’s future needs,” Mary Kay CEO David Holl said in a statement. “Today, approximately 75 percent of our business is overseas, yet more than 50 percent of Mary Kay products produced at our current manufacturing facility are exported to our international markets.”

The company disclosed in June that it had engaged the services of commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE to explore potential sites, though Mary Kay had not ruled out an update to its existing global manufacturing facility in Dallas. Following the internal evaluation, Mary Kay announced last month that it would construct a new facility in North Texas to bring together its global manufacturing and R&D operations. The company settled on a site near its global headquarters in Addison, a distribution center in Carrollton, and a warehouse facility in Dallas.

Mary Kay expects construction on the new facility to commence in July 2016 and run through the first quarter of 2018. Currently, the company’s manufacturing and R&D operation employs 600 and produces up to 1.1 million units of lipstick, moisturizer and other beauty products per day. Mary Kay also conducts more than 500,000 tests each year to ensure product quality, safety and performance.

Mary Kay Initiative Builds Outdoor Spaces for Children Healing from Abuse

Mary Kay recently dedicated its 20th Nature Explore Classroom in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Located at a domestic violence shelter in Florida, the outdoor learning space is designed to help children heal after witnessing abuse.

In the past 15 years, Mary Kay has supported domestic violence prevention and awareness programs to the tune of $50 million. The first-of-its-kind Nature Explore program focuses on children affected by domestic violence, who total some 3 to 4 million in the U.S. each year. Mary Kay partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation in 2009 to install 20 classrooms across the country. The $1.2 million initiative has brought Nature Explore Classrooms to domestic violence shelters in 13 states.

“One in four women in the United States experiences domestic violence in their lifetime, and far too often children are exposed to the abuse,” Crayton Webb, Mary Kay’s Vice President of Corporate Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility, said in a statement. “Through the culmination of the Nature Explore Classroom program, we have been able to provide safe places for children across the country to play and learn while also helping them to heal and overcome a painful experience.”

Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, Nature Explore draws on research showing that nature helps reduce stress and mitigate anti-social behaviors—the sort common in children who have witnessed abuse. The program incorporates outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops and natural products.

Mary Kay Foundation Grants $3M to Domestic Violence Shelters

To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, The Mary Kay Foundation is awarding grants to 150 domestic violence shelters across the country. This year, the annual grant program will award a total of $3 million to address a critical need for services.

In a statement, Mary Kay said approximately 625 shelters applied to its grant program this year. The foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to at least one shelter in each state and distributed the remainder in proportion to state population. The unrestricted funds will enable shelters to cover basic operating expenses, hire personnel, make necessary renovations and create new programs.

The Mary Kay Foundation is dedicated to combatting both domestic violence and women’s cancers. The shelter grant program is one element of the company’s Don’t Look Away anti-domestic violence campaign. Mary Kay also has sponsored text-for-help service loveisrespect to prevent dating abuse and worked with the national headquarters of sorority Alpha Chi Omega to equip its members with healthy relationship tools and education.

The 2015 Mary Kay Truth About Abuse Survey, released this month in partnership with loveisrespect, sheds light on Americans’ evolving understanding of and attitudes toward the issue of domestic violence. Sixty-five percent of respondents nationwide said they have experienced domestic violence, either personally or through someone they know. While abuse is widespread, so too are efforts such as Mary Kay’s to educate and equip the public. Among those surveyed, 53 percent said their understanding of the issue has improved in the past five years.