AS WE APPROACH the holiday season, I reflect on how we emerged from DSA ENGAGE 2021 in New Orleans on November 2nd. The direct selling community is poised to work together and bring forth a bright future.
DSA’s 2021 Growth and Outlook Report showed a 13.2 percent in 2020, or more than 7.7 million entrepreneurs participating in direct selling on a part- or a full-time basis. This reality, coupled with the DSA Industry Research Committee’s forecast of 4 to 7 percent growth in 2021 for U.S. direct selling, is terrific news.
Yes, we are in demand. Still, scrutiny abounds.
We have heard the myths, misunderstandings and misrepresentations before. And while it’s time for us to yell from the mountain top about our brands and products, we must also look inward to ensure we all do our part to protect the channel. We must ensure that our cultures align with company values in ways that uphold our brands.
I offer five points gleaned through conversations with the DSA Board of Directors and leaders from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations to consider as we embark upon direct selling’s bright new era.
Point One: Focus on product sales.
While we’ve always balanced offering our opportunity with product sales, the key to growth and sustainability is ensuring that our products can compete effectively in the marketplace. Demonstrating a commitment to product excellence will help bring forth an increased understanding of our business model.
Point Two: Focus on the end consumer.
As the retail economy has transformed, it’s become clear that businesses must better understand their ultimate consumer. We must continue navigating the transition of fostering a relationship between our brands and the ultimate consumer without doing any disservice to the core of our model, the relationship with our independent seller.
Point Three: Simplify direct selling’s nomenclature.
Our language, a true by-product of our history, contributes to the myths and misunderstandings surrounding us. Easy to understand language helps every audience—including regulatory audiences, who, by the way, I should tell you are also confused by our terminology—better understand who we are and what we do.
Point Four: Simplify compensation plans complexities.
Compensation plan experts have joined DSA at meetings with Federal Trade Commission officials. Discussions about multilevel compensation plans’ finer points often leave these regulators focused on their complexities. If these officials can’t understand these plans, then a typical consumer can’t understand them. And if a typical consumer can’t understand it, the potential for abuse and deception exists.
Point Five: Scrupulous attention to income and product claims.
Accurate product and income claims lead to business success. Recent government actions and association guidance, as well as social media and press activism, make clear the negative consequences of misleading claims.
I’m looking forward to the wisdom that you all share during upcoming DSA events. As we move forward together to better, I urge the entire channel to use these five points as guideposts for bringing us into the future.
I wish you all and your families a very happy holiday season.
From the December 2021 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.