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It was Sept. 9, 2009, or 9/9/09 at 9 p.m., an auspicious day and time to start a company, if you follow the tenets of Chinese culture. The number 9 signifies longevity in Chinese. And Asia-Pacific was precisely the region in which Jeunesse, a direct seller of healthy and youthful living through skin care and nutritional products, had opted to get its start, so the timing wasn’t fortuitous; it was deliberate. Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis had left retirement behind to launch what they believed was a means to better health, vitality and, ultimately, financial security for millions of people worldwide. They shared a belief in the power of what they were creating, but couldn’t predict at that time just how strongly their message of empowerment would resonate in the hearts of men and women from vastly different cultures.
Although Jeunesse’s World Headquarters is in Lake Mary, Florida, the company’s initial priority was establishing itself in Asia, specifically in Taiwan, with two flagship products: LuminesceTM, a cellular rejuvenation skin care serum; and Reserve, a gel-based antioxidant supplement, which remains the company’s best-selling product today. Hong Kong, Indonesia and a multitude of other international markets quickly followed. This kind of approach stands in direct contrast to the majority of U.S.-based direct sellers, who typically focus first on establishing themselves stateside before crossing any oceans.
So did this strategy prove to be successful? In a word, yes. Jeunesse is the winner of the 2017 DSN Bravo Growth Award. The company generated $30 million in revenue during its first year, debuted on the DSN Global 100 in 2012 with $65 million in sales and, over the past two years, has increased its annual sales by $1 billion, jumping from approximately $400 million in 2014 to more than $1.4 billion in 2016. Since its formation in 2009, Jeunesse has expanded its presence into more than 140 markets throughout Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Africa. Jeunesse India is slated to open its doors this summer, and Argentina is expected to launch in late 2017.
What was the rationale for turning the traditional method of expansion on its head? The plan for Jeunesse was to create strong markets abroad, then return home ready to build upon that solid foundation of global support. Scott Lewis, Chief Visionary Officer, calls the company’s international-first philosophy “reverse engineering.” He credits that point of difference among the factors largely responsible for the company’s remarkable growth.
His mother, Founder and Chief Operations Officer Wendy Lewis, agrees. Prior to launching Jeunesse with her husband, Founder and CEO Randy Ray, the couple spent years founding and later selling nationally ranked medical software and computer hardware companies and providing back office solutions for startups. They also spent 18 years in the direct selling channel as independent business owners. “We thought [the reverse engineering approach] would provide stability,” Wendy says. “We’d worked with a lot of direct sales companies over the years because we did their back office support, paid their commissions, etc. Our thought was to bring as many countries up as possible, and get as many of those countries to $1 million a month as possible. Then, if one country experienced challenges or had issues that needed to be resolved, all of our other countries could continue to thrive and carry us forward. And we wouldn’t have to be dependent on any one specific market to carry the load.”
“Our long-term focus was to create a top 10 company in the industry, a legacy company that continues generation after generation,” Scott says. “We focused on infrastructure, our global platform, all of the steps we needed to be sustainable in those markets. We nurtured relationships, obtained direct selling licenses, found the right management team, the right manufacturing partners. All of those steps have led to the growth we’ve been fortunate enough to have.”
The company’s global infrastructure includes a seamless compensation plan, which has remained unchanged for more than seven years. Its IT platform and back office software are both managed in house. While such an infrastructure isn’t terribly unusual today, it was back in 2009 when Jeunesse first came on the scene, and it’s enabled the company to remain both nimble and efficient as it processes a myriad of local currencies.
To manage the inherent complexities of the 140-plus markets it serves, Jeunesse retains five regional presidents who routinely meet to discuss additional expansion. The system works well from Scott’s perspective. “I like to empower our market leaders and give them the autonomy to leverage their natural instincts,” he says. “Most of us have worked together quite a while. I don’t even have to follow up on certain initiatives anymore because of the synergy of being aligned.”
The company maintains a universal gating system, which dictates a series of specific criteria any prospective market must meet, including the determination of whether there are committed leaders willing to grow the territory. “The No. 1 thing we look at is the leadership, because if you don’t have the leaders, you’re wasting your time,” Wendy says.
Each market presents its own unique challenges. “We’ve learned if you don’t do it right, you don’t get a second chance,” she adds. “You’ve got to develop a cohesive, clear strategy and scope, then execute it with efficiency.”
A Product Strategy Based on Diversification and Science
An atypical growth strategy is only part of the Jeunesse story, however. The market for anti-aging products is a highly competitive one. But Randy Ray knew he’d discovered something exceptional back in 2009, when he found himself in the Beverly Hills office of cosmetic surgeon Dr. Nathan Newman, who was renowned for his groundbreaking work with stem cells. Ray was suffering from eroded cartilage in both knees. Dr. Newman’s injectable procedure was designed to regrow cartilage and eliminate knee pain using a patient’s own stem cells, which are found within the body’s fatty tissue.
But those stem cells could also do something else: minimize premature aging without invasive surgery. In fact, Dr. Newman had the world’s only stem cell skincare facial serum sitting on his office shelf. Randy was intrigued, and after trying the serum themselves, he and Wendy put their own direct selling experience to work. The result was Jeunesse and the formation of what would be called a Youth Enhancement System, including the company’s two flagship products and a diverse lineup of additional products in the nutritional supplement, weight management and energy categories as well as anti-aging. Collectively, the products in the Youth Enhancement System serve consumers of all market segments, from baby boomers to millennials. That kind of product diversity, Scott says, has connected Jeunesse to a broad audience and maximized opportunities for revenue generation. “That’s what got us over the $1 billion hump.”
‘It’s a Multicultural, Multigenerational Family’
A company with a geographical reach as broad as Jeunesse’s serves an incredibly diverse spectrum of cultures. Clearly, then, there’s an aspect of the company’s message that resonates across cultures. What is it? First and foremost, Scott says, it’s family. His mother, Wendy, and Randy “are the mom and pop of our global family. I look at our distributors as brothers and sisters.” Scott, who with Wendy had just arrived in Dubai at the time of our interview, spends a considerable amount of time on the road working directly with distributors. “The more we travel,” he says, “the more we’re inspired to help them achieve their dreams. We see the level of commitment people have to Jeunesse, and that’s what drives us.”
Wendy estimates that she spends approximately 75 percent of her time on the road. Speaking from a distributor event in Amsterdam before heading to Prague and Budapest for an incentive trip for Asia-Pacific distributors, she says, “When we go home, we’ll be home for a month, and that’s the longest we’ve been home that I can remember.” And then she’s off to Hong Kong, where she heads at least four times a year.
“Our distributors are passionate,” she says. “There’s so much energy. They come to our events from all around the world. They like the feeling of being together, and they keep each other motivated. They know they can talk to me about anything at any time. Randy and I are out there traveling the world, working hand in hand and side by side with them.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life,” she adds. “Randy and I were in this channel many years before Jeunesse, and we got to know it very well, so we were determined to have a close relationship with our distributors because we know what it’s like to be in their shoes.”
A significant component of Jeunesse’s commitment to a multicultural, multigenerational family is its charitable organization, Jeunesse KidsTM. It’s an international nonprofit foundation with a threefold goal to release children from poverty, bring education and healthcare to children, and end childhood exploitation. Among the organization’s objectives is strengthening its infrastructure and resources so that distributors have the opportunity to actively participate in and even spearhead their own Jeunesse Kids projects around the world.
Simple Is Key
As direct sellers, you all know that simplicity is an imperative philosophy if you hope to attract distributors and, ultimately, customers to your products and your business opportunity.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on having very simplified, clear messaging that is duplicable, and developing a culture based on our core values and mission,” Scott says.
With that goal in mind, Jeunesse just rolled out its newest mobile app, available on both iOS and Android platforms, and part of its broader J World marketing system, comprising back office, mobile and social tools. Called “The Prospector,” the app is a comprehensive yet simple-to-use pre-loaded roadmap for converting contacts to customers. It allows distributors to select a Jeunesse product applicable to a prospect, then send her a pre-loaded text message and video in an easy, conversational tone. The prospect can move directly to the distributor’s personal website if she wishes. Distributors receive a notification when the prospect has watched the video and may view metrics, including how many minutes the prospect watched. The app also includes follow-up action items, integrates with distributors’ calendars, and sends them push notification reminders.
This emphasis on streamlined yet powerful technology, along with the company’s unified infrastructure, commitment to science and family-oriented culture, has positioned Jeunesse for lasting success as it continues to strengthen and expand its global presence.
Next Goal: $3 Billion
As she considers her company’s short but incredible history, what surprises Wendy the most? Her answer won’t surprise you. “The growth. Everybody asks ‘What did you do?’ We did the same thing we’ve always done. We put our heads down and went to work.” Having passed the billion-dollar milestone, Jeunesse now has its sights set on $3 billion, which Wendy hopes will land Jeunesse among the world’s top 10 direct sales companies.
Nearly eight years after that opportune start date, Scott says that the company’s markets are nowhere near saturated. “We’ve really just laid a foundation,” he says. “As crazy as it seems, we’re still a sleeping giant with a huge vision to fulfill.”