I think we can all agree that 2021 was a challenging year. And now as we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, I wanted to share a brief overview of some of the trends that shaped 2021 and will continue to influence the channel in the months and years to come.
Let’s begin with results from our 2021 growth survey. We sought information from a data set of 100 companies, each with at least $50 Million in domestic revenue. With this version of the survey, we had data points from 80 companies to build our analysis.
We all remember the staggering growth in 2020 and determining how much was a COVID bump and how much was a sustainable change in the growth pattern for many companies. Analyzing the data from 80 companies—the data speaks for itself:
- 36 companies (45%) grew revenue in 2021 over 2020
- 8 companies (10%) were flat
- 36 companies (45%) declined from 2020 to 2021
As we all know, 2020 was a bit of an anomaly with record-shattering growth stemming from the pandemic. And although growth in 2021 did not keep pace with 2020’s record-breaking year, the channel did grow domestically. While we await the final numbers, I can share that DSA is forecasting 4-7 percent growth domestically. That makes 2021 another record year for direct selling in the U.S.
There are some amazing growth stories within the channel that I am excited to share:
- eXp Realty’s revenue DOUBLED to more than $3.7 Billion for 2021
- PM-International grew over $600 Million to $2.35 Billion revenue for 2021
- OPTAVIA also grew over $600 Million in 2021, reaching over $1.5 Billion and becoming a new member of the Billion Dollar Club
- Scentsy joined the Billion Dollar Club, growing more than $100 Million in 2021, after growing $400 Million in 2020
- Betterware de Mexico has grown from $150 Million in 2019 to more than $500 Million in 2021
- Herbalife grew more than $300 Million in 2021
Additionally, younger companies including Red Aspen, Body Shop at Home and QuiAri have enjoyed tremendous growth in 2021 and look to continue their momentum in 2022.
The easiest way to summarize 2021’s growth trend is that it was a tale of two stories. The first half of the year enjoyed growth, fueled in part by the ongoing pandemic environment and stimulus payments. That growth slowed dramatically in the second half of the year, primarily in companies that failed to capitalize on the COVID-related growth and mistook it for foundational growth. It was also affected by people vacationing much more and stimulus payments going away. December was particularly troublesome for some companies due to the holiday season and the unexpected massive surge in Omicron COVID cases.
Overall the expectations for 2022 are mixed. I am optimistic, but that optimism is also tempered with nervousness and uncertainly as the world still grapples with the volatile post-pandemic and probably future endemic climate. There are good signs already in: Omicron case numbers have dropped more than 50 percent in the last few weeks.
Our biggest challenge as a channel remains pivoting from post-pandemic growth due to captive audiences to more sustainable, long-term growth strategies.
Our biggest opportunity is in recognizing the need for low-barrier, part-time income is greater than ever before, and we need to double down on that messaging with selling systems for micro-entrepreneurs.
Digital Momentum Index
On the digital front, overall web traffic for 2021 declined as most direct selling companies saw distributor and recruiting interest stabilize after the impact of 2020’s global shutdown. But on social media, the industry made great gains.
Fan/Follower growth was up 66% on Facebook and an incredible 86% on Instagram.
I’d like to recognize and congratulate the top 10 domestic companies for 2021 from our Digital Momentum Index, which ranks the top direct selling companies by social media and online presence.
This is annual ranking is a compilation of all four quarters. You can review the full list and see both the domestic and international rankings and analysis here.
I hope you and your teams continue to benefit from the research, journalism, advocacy and education Direct Selling News brings to you via our website, podcasts and more. I’ll be sharing additional insights, trends and data in subsequent articles in the weeks to come—stay tuned!
A Complicated but Compelling Future
I have been a part of this channel for 36 years, and I remain optimistic and encouraged about the future. Yes, we are living in turbulent, unpredictable times, but massive opportunity exists—even in chaos. I know that our channel is well positioned to navigate through uncertainty and come out on the other side stronger than ever.
My goal has always been to help the direct selling channel reach its highest potential. I am honored and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to serve each of you.
Stuart Johnson has served the direct selling industry for 36 years and is the sole Founder and CEO of Direct Selling News. His passion for the channel encompasses a broader commitment to build and connect the direct selling community through exclusive industry events such as Direct Selling University and the DSN Global Celebration. Stuart is arguably the most connected person in direct selling, building and growing a network of executives, thought leaders, strategists and innovators. His advice and counsel are sought after by leaders throughout the channel.