Swedish Brand Zinzino Expands into Canada

After crossing the pond to enter the U.S. in 2014, Swedish health firm Zinzino AB is opening for business in Canada.

In North America, the company markets omega-3 nutrition products, including a best-selling Balance Test that measures the body’s fatty acid profile. In markets across northern Europe, Zinzino also offers ethically produced coffee, along with coffee makers and accessories. The company has established operations in 13 markets since its founding in 2005.

“We have a high geographical expansion rate, which is in line with our expansion strategy,” Zinzino CEO Dag Bergheim Pettersen said in a statement. “We have developed a model that allows us to quickly get started in the markets that we decide to enter.”

Last year the company streamlined its operations with the acquisition of Zinzino Pharma AS and BioActive Foods AS. The transactions brought the entire chain of production under the Zinzino umbrella. The company then closed out the year with the announcement of its listing on the Nasdaq First North exchange.


Guts Lead to Glory at Usborne Books & More

by Barbara Seale

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

Company Profile

Founded: 1989
Headquarters: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Executives: Founder and CEO Randall White and Vice President Heather Cobb
Products: Educational children’s books

 Randall White and Heather Cobb

Randall White and Heather Cobb

It was a David and Goliath decision—one that would make any direct seller proud. More importantly, it set the stage for growth for Usborne Books & More, one of the direct selling industry’s few book sellers.

Usborne Books & More (UBAM) is the direct selling division of Educational Development Corp. (EDC), which has been in business in the United States since 1978. It sells children’s educational books primarily at parties, and some of the consultants also sell at book fairs, as well as to libraries and schools. UBAM has always been a bit of a rebel-with-a-cause, gaining its first steady market of home schoolers and being led by outspoken EDC CEO and Usborne Books & More Founder Randall White. The thorn in its side: Amazon.com.

Amazon was buying EDC’s books primarily from a wholesaler and slashing the retail price to the bone, including large orders sold to libraries and schools. If you’ve ever thumbed through a book at a retail store but then purchased it online at Amazon to save a couple of bucks, you have done what some Usborne Books & More customers have also done—much to the chagrin of UBAM consultants.

When the Usborne Books & More consultants who sold to schools and libraries—about 20 percent of the company’s business—encountered the practice, it didn’t just frustrate them. It threatened their business. The consultant might have gone through layers and layers of administration, making repeated presentations on book collections, getting enthusiastic, positive feedback, only to have the library make its final purchase through Amazon. It’s not a situation that leads to consultant retention. By 2012 the practice hit the company hard. Consultants started quitting, and sales dropped 20 percent.

By early 2012 White had had enough. He asked the wholesaler, which at the time accounted for 20 percent of EDC’s sales, to stop selling the company’s books through the online retailer. The wholesaler refused, but White was determined. He cancelled its account, all but eliminating the sale of EDC’s books directly from Amazon.com.

Usborne Books & More has now recorded 19 consecutive months of growth, with the past six months each posting monthly gains in excess of 40 percent over the same months in 2013.

Growth Genesis

The action was bold, and it spoke loudly to UBAM’s consultants. They loved it. It told them that White had their backs. Even though slinging a stone at giant Amazon was a risky move, as White told The New York Times in his characteristic style, “You never have the chance to make 7,000 women happy in one day.”

White calls it the most important action he, as the company’s founder, has ever taken. Consultants were energized to hold more parties and approach more schools and libraries, knowing that consumers would purchase from them, rather than online. That confidence led to recruiting, as well. Fueled by additional incentives from Usborne Books & More, selling and recruiting have increased, creating a snowball effect. Growth has hit an all-time high. Since its low point in 2012, the company more than doubled its number of active consultants by the end of 2014 and now has 8,000 active consultants. More importantly, growth has continued.

From February to June 2014 revenue grew more than … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.

LifeVantage: Adding Sizzle to the Steak

by Barbara Seale

Photo above: LifeVantage President and CEO Doug Robinson addresses the crowd at a recent company event.

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

Company Profile

Founded: 2003
Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah
Executives: President and CEO Doug Robinson
Products: Wellness, anti-aging and energy products that use Nrf2 science to reduce oxidative stress at the cellular level

Doug Robinson

Doug Robinson

David Phelps

David Phelps

Shawn Talbott

Shawn Talbott

Many executives have had the experience. They launch or join a young company that is growing quickly, but over time the momentum slows. That was the story at LifeVantage Corp., and its experience has made it a believer in the necessity to embrace change. Its first major change was relaunching as a direct selling company. And within the last year the company has taken numerous steps to re-energize its brand, product line and distributors.

LifeVantage launched in retail stores in 2003 with a single, innovative nutritional supplement, Protandim. The science behind the product is still compelling today. Its natural, indirect antioxidants actually signal the body’s genes to increase production of antioxidant enzymes that work together as the body’s first line of defense against free radicals. In 2005, ABC’s television news magazine Primetime featured an overwhelmingly positive segment on a human clinical study of Protandim. They reported the results of the study, which showed that the product decreases oxidative stress by more than 40 percent.

What happened next was every company’s dream. Sales skyrocketed. So did the price of the company’s OTC stock. But there was a hitch. The young company was still small and wasn’t set up for the surge. They didn’t have the infrastructure to keep up with orders, and quickly its sudden multimillion-dollar monthly sales volume trickled down to about $250,000. Its income statement was never in the black, and the dream quickly became more of a nightmare. But it was also a turning point. Executives who were already sold on the product’s potential for health had seen its massive commercial possibilities. But what could they do about it?

The answer: direct selling. In 2009, its first year as a direct seller—and with a single product—LifeVantage saw revenue almost triple and then continue to grow. In 2011 it hired new President and CEO Doug Robinson, who had joined the LifeVantage board of directors about six months after it became a direct seller, bringing his 25 years of health care business management expertise. He injected the company with the operational discipline he had learned over the years.

“The next year we were at $39 million in topline revenues,” he recalls, “but more important to me, we turned the operations of the company around and were finally $4 million in the black.”

Sustaining Success

A growth chart like that one is hard to sustain, but Robinson was determined to nurture it and ensure that LifeVantage had a vibrant future. He believed that an injection of new ideas, expertise and energy was needed in the management team. Robinson started bringing in solid leadership in key roles and moved the stock to the NASDAQ (symbol LFVN) in 2012.

Two of those new executives, Chief Sales Officer Dave Phelps and Chief Science Officer Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., joined the company within the last year. They have introduced additional products and sales initiatives that are infusing new enthusiasm into distributors and opening new markets that weren’t available in the past.

Talbott’s first step was to crystallize the company’s product strategy. He was familiar—and impressed—with the science behind Protandim even before he joined LifeVantage. He believed that Protandim alone could be the foundation for a billion-dollar company. But he foresaw that the science behind it could do even more. Infused into other products that help people feel, look or perform better—the company’s product strategy—Protandim could drive the creation of other effective products that worked synergistically and also opened new demographic doors.

Talbott explains, “If you want to help people feel better, perhaps by increasing their energy, you could give them caffeine or sugar. But the problem is that if you haven’t gone upstream biochemically and their oxidative stress is out of balance, they’ll always be out of balance.”

So how does that knowledge suggest new products? Talbott notes that there’s no demand in the market for a product that addresses oxidative stress, at least not in those words. But people do want other things: youthful-looking skin, more energy, better mood, a thinner body and improved sports nutrition. Products can deliver those by reducing oxidative stress, using the same Nrf2 science contained in Protandim. Within the last few months LifeVantage introduced products that address some of the conditions that arise from oxidative stress, but which people identify by other names.

LifeVantage has introduced products that address some of the conditions that arise from oxidative stress, but which people identify by other names, such as aging skin, lower energy and depressed mood.

Product Prowess

First, it introduced TrueScience™, a beauty system proven in a clinical study to visibly address the signs of aging by combating oxidative stress in the skin. Then it went a step further with the introduction of AXIO, the company’s brand of two energy drink powders that deliver better mood and improved mental focus. By entering the energy drink market, LifeVantage expanded the marketplace for its products to millennials, but the drink’s promise for improved mood and mental focus as well as quick and sustained energy gave it baby boomer appeal.

Talbott notes that AXIO fits into LifeVantage’s product portfolio strategy by helping users both feel and perform better. He adds that the company’s original focus in developing the product was to attract millennials, but his experience since then has shown him that AXIO’s promise of multidimensional energy resonates with every age.

Recognizing that AXIO would attract a younger demographic than Protandim or even anti-aging skincare line TrueScience, LifeVantage prepared by developing and offering a three-day seminar it calls “Rules of Engagement.” The new seminar is designed to teach, train and mentor young distributors, a group it calls Young Entrepreneurs for Success, or YES. It was offered first in September with presentations done by eight of the company’s top distributors in the millennial age group. Chief Sales Officer Dave Phelps describes it as “monumentally successful. We’re already getting requests to do it every three months.”

The strategic reinvention of LifeVantage includes simplified messaging, a greater emphasis on recruiting distributors, an infusion of leadership development, and finally, a big dose of excitement.

The seminar is just one element of a four-point reinvention strategy designed to reinterpret the company’s solid science by injecting sizzle and energy.

“Any company that isn’t able to reinvent itself doesn’t have as much success as when it is able to adapt and to love change,” Phelps says. His strategic reinvention of LifeVantage includes simplified messaging, a greater emphasis on recruiting distributors, an infusion of leadership development, and finally, a big dose of excitement. In many areas, such as training for millennials, the areas overlap. As young leaders learn, they can also invite prospects, helping them to develop a knowledgeable and excited team.

Phelps describes the company under reconstruction as LifeVantage 2.0. He says that for too long the company’s messaging was too complex, relying on scientific information and results from clinical studies—topics that, unless they are simplified for the average listener, can be hard to understand and then relay to others. Both sales presentations and science education are being simplified and presented in a language anyone can understand.

The Duplication Dynamic

“One of the great hallmarks of achievement of LifeVantage 1.0 was …” Click here to read the full story.




90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 53


Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc.

2013 Net Sales: $378 million

Country: USA

When Nature’s Sunshine began 42 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.


2012 Rank: 34
2012 Net Sales: $368 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Botanicals, dietary supplements, skin care, general wellness
Markets: 45
Salespeople: 724,000
Employees: 1,010
Headquarters: Lehi, Utah
Executive: Gregory L. Probert
Year Founded: 1972
Stock Symbol: NATR—NASDAQ
Website: www.naturessunshine.com

More Public Companies Report Q3 2014 Results

The following is a round-up of the latest publicly held companies to announce third quarter results:

At Nu Skin (NUS—NYSE), third quarter revenue was $638.8 million, down 30 percent over the prior-year period. The revenue dip partially reflects a limited-time introduction of Nu Skin’s ageLOC® TR90® weight management system in Q3 2013. The personal-care company reported earnings of $1.12 per share, ahead of Nu Skin’s 90 cents to 95 cents guidance for the quarter. The company expects fourth quarter revenue of $590 million to $610 million, with earnings per share of 72 cents to 77 cents.

“Our sales results are heavily impacted by our product launch schedule. Last year’s second-half launch, which generated approximately $550 million in sales, provides a difficult year-over-year comparison,” Nu Skin President and CEO Truman Hunt shared in the company’s report. “However, excluding product launch sales, the core business has stabilized and is trending positively sequentially.”

Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) reported third quarter revenue of $339.2 million, up 9 percent year over year. Net income was down 3.7 percent to $41.6 million, or 75 cents per diluted share, impacted by accelerated equity compensation expenses related to retirement plan modifications and higher claims incurred in the quarter. The financial services provider lagged 8.43 percent behind the Zacks Consensus Estimate, but investors reacted positively to Primerica’s results. The company’s stock price gained 0.38 percent on the news to close Wednesday at $52.16.

Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc. (NATR—NASDAQ) reported increased revenue for the third quarter on Wednesday, with $94.9 million, up 2.6 percent from $92.5 million in the third quarter of 2013. Results showed lower earnings though, with 6 cents per diluted common share or net income of $1 million, compared to 29 cents, or $4.9 million in the third quarter of 2013. It was the fifth consecutive quarter of record sales for the health and wellness company’s Synergy WorldWide business, driven by South Korea, Japan and a return to growth in Europe.

“Sales in NSP North America have begun to improve with NSP United States and NSP Canada posting net sales growth for the first time since the second quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2012, respectively,” said Chairman and CEO Gregory L. Probert. “We remain cautiously optimistic about the future of this core market as our new products and sales programs continue to gain traction.”

Medifast Inc. (MED—NYSE) third quarter results came in ahead of expectations on Wednesday with net income of $4.9 million, or 39 cents per share. Excluding non-recurring costs, adjusted earnings came to 47 cents per share, or $5.9 million net income. The weight-loss company posted net revenue of $74 million. This was a decrease of 14 percent from net revenue of $86.5 million in the third quarter of 2013. Revenue in the direct sales channel, Take Shape For Life, decreased 11 percent to $49.9 million in the third quarter of 2014, compared to $56.2 million in the same period last year.

Guidance for Q4 revenue and EPS is below consensus, with net revenue to be in the range of approximately $69 million to $73 million and EPS in the range of 31 cents to 34 cents. For fiscal year 2014, the company now expects revenue to be in the range of $310 million to $314 million and EPS in the range of $1.59 to $1.62. As trading closed on Wednesday, shares hit $30.09, an increase of 23 percent in the last 12 months.