As new companies adopt the direct sales model and existing companies continually evolve, the term direct selling takes on added nuance as well. The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is addressing the need for cohesive, up-to-date language to describe the work of the many, diverse companies within the industry.
At a June 8 meeting held in conjunction with the DSA’s 2013 Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a revised definition of direct selling. The DSA Strategic Planning Committee presented a draft definition to the Board in March and collected feedback and responses regarding the proposal. The definition as adopted is:
Direct selling is a business model that offers entrepreneurial opportunities to individuals as independent contractors to market and/or sell products and services, typically outside of a fixed retail establishment, through one-to-one selling, in-home product demonstrations or online. Compensation is ultimately based on sales and may be earned based on personal sales and/or the sales of others in their sales organizations.
Direct sellers may be called distributors, representatives, consultants or various other titles. They may participate in various ways, including selling the products themselves or through their sales organizations, providing training and leadership to their sales organizations, referring customers to the company and purchasing products and services for personal use.
Although it provides useful criteria, the stated definition is not a legal one. “This will be handed off to the Government Relations Committee as a guideline for evaluating state statutes and the like,” said Committee Chairman Marjorie Fine (Shaklee). “The Strategic Planning Committee will meet later this summer to determine next steps for the definition as we plan for it to be used by the association and its member companies.”
To provide additional information and address myths and misconceptions regarding the industry, the DSA has also launched a new microsite at www.directsellingfacts.com. The site features facts and stats, as well as videos messages from both government officials and academics who share their knowledge and perceptions of the direct sales channel.