Avon, Mary Kay, Amway and countless more brands: direct selling is an integral part of the American consciousness. It’s not surprising references to us show up in popular culture all the time.
I’ve seen direct selling featured in movies and TV shows dating back decades. Media often refer to direct selling by focusing on flexibility and possible income opportunities—both those real and promised.
At DSA, I work to ensure that everyone has the full story about our remarkable business, what it does for people, and what we are doing to ensure that our salespeople and customers are getting the most from the channel.
Rarely does one see a or hear a commercial for a direct selling company: direct selling does not advertise. Our reputation is built from word-of-mouth by those who share their personal experiences.
As an industry, we tell our story to the media, with investors, and most significantly, to policymakers who want to understand the positive impact we have in their communities.
We all tell this story. Most recently, the industry has engaged in partnerships with hundreds of academics across the country to ensure that they and over 75,000 college students understand this economic engine.
In an age of misinformation and speculation, people sometimes get the facts wrong. What does surprise me is how so few get an outsized platform on social media or investor websites to misrepresent—or at least misstate—facts.
I often ponder the motives—financial and otherwise—behind these misguided campaigns.
Some benefited from short selling of stocks of companies they attack. Others served as “expert” witnesses in class action nuisance lawsuits designed to push settlements. One particular critic seems to spend more time criticizing direct selling than pursuing his professional duties as a college administrator.
Of course, I’m glad that people are paying attention to direct selling. We are a hidden giant in this new gig economy; we’ve provided modest opportunities to millions for generations.
Increased attention also results in increased scrutiny, and I am happy to entertain legitimate criticisms of our model because fact-based observations allow us to improve.
Direct Selling Association is committed to helping our members ensure the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers. In fact, the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council is a direct result of the industry’s desire to follow regulators’ observations.
I am confident that even in an era of misinformation, direct selling will be understood to be doing the right thing, and that everyone—our sellers, customers, the general public, and our member companies—will benefit.
No doubt we will continue to see direct selling featured in movies, television, and the news. And maybe with a bit of luck and hard work, the portrayals we see will always be accurate, fun, and highlight all the good that direct selling does.