Those of us who attend the DSA Annual Meeting every year always find something that serves to inspire us about the promise of the future. This is one of the most basic motivations for attending, along with that once-a-year opportunity to interact with those we know have a common interest in entrepreneurship through the direct selling model. We have already posted highlights on our website, and our article in this issue will provide you with a closer and personal overview of the meeting.
Having attended many DSA Annual Banquets over the years, this one will certainly be remembered as historic! The banquet was truly one of the great moments in time, in terms of the growth and evolution of the direct selling industry. To have been there meant witnessing greatness in leadership, which was displayed in person by Rich DeVos, Co-Founder of Amway, who came to the stage to honor the induction of his two sons Dick DeVos and Doug DeVos into the DSA Hall of Fame. Most memorable was the story told by Rich DeVos of the evolution of a company, Amway, but also the growth, challenges and ultimate victories won by both Amway and the industry. Having had the opportunity to listen to Rich DeVos speak about the attributes of the direct selling model over several decades, it was somewhat amazing to listen to this icon reflect again on the basic principles of free enterprise and the importance of direct selling as an opportunity around the world.
An Investor Forum/Press Conference was introduced into this year’s DSA Annual Meeting format and should pave the way for more such events that will serve to provide and explain the statistical performance of the industry, including points of view by those who study the business model. DSA CEO Joe Mariano led the information sharing and facilitated a great panel discussion. The panelists represented both a perspective on publicly held companies and the interest of private equity investment. In my many years of attending DSA meetings, this was a first and much welcomed session. Such information-sharing events are critical to the future success of the direct selling way of doing business, because we are constantly challenged by the opinions—often ridiculous opinions—of those who simply “do not know,” yet are clearly heard.
As we now set the editorial calendar for the balance of the year, one topic has been added that would not have been on our radar two months ago. Since the question and misunderstanding about the role personal consumption plays in the context of the direct selling model has surfaced, we will be addressing this topic in a cover story scheduled for next month. We will approach the story first as a research project. After we collect the input from those interviewed, we will write the story needed to define this issue as it should be defined.
When we think about the huge investment being made in customer loyalty programs by every brand you can think of, direct selling companies have always had a built-in mechanism that encourages enrollment. The benefit of being able to purchase at wholesale prices while contemplating the opportunity to share the product or service with others is a unique competitive advantage. Regardless of whether one builds a business or not, the opportunity to gain access to products/services at discounted prices will always be a draw and one of the key reasons people join a particular company. Direct selling companies offer the most unusual, limited risk, free-enterprise opportunities offered in the marketplace. Some earn and earn well—about 15 percent to 20 percent on average—but all gain access to the products, services and benefits they were attracted to at prices that are less than suggested retail. This sounds like the essence of a good customer loyalty program, and in many ways, it is. More to come next month!
Visitation to our website dsnsite.wpengine.com has increased dramatically over the past two months, and we appreciate the comments received. We welcome those of you who are finding the web format to be an easy way to catch headlines and also access the complete DSN issue. We have received many comments about the ease of finding articles in previous issues, so we encourage you to share the site address with colleagues. It’s an excellent source of positive journalism on the industry and the many companies we write about. When we introduced the new website we did so with a goal of being visited by more than 100,000 industry decision makers and observers each month within the first year. Based on the number of visitors we experienced in April (approx. 67,000) we are on our way toward achieving the first goal and helping you spread the positive message about the impact the business model makes on the lives of people throughout the world.
Until next month …
Publisher and Editor in Chief