It has been an interesting summer. There were record-breaking second quarter results by major publicly held companies, record-breaking attendance at many conventions, and a few new challenges, as always. It was a great announcement by Longaberger that they were bringing their manufacturing back to Ohio after a period of utilizing other sources, and bold new moves by Scentsy and ViSalus/Blyth grabbed our attention as we come to the end of summer.
Though the economic front continues to be challenging, direct sellers can find much to look forward to. The incredible attendance at summer conventions has to be a leading indicator of growing enthusiasm for the opportunities presented by companies utilizing the direct selling channel of distribution. Back in June we got a sense of good things to come when DSA attracted over 1,000 attendees for its annual meeting. This month, the good news continued regarding convention attendance. ViSalus attracted over 15,000 to one event in Florida. Here in Dallas/Fort Worth, AdvoCare had record attendance, BeautiControl drew over 3,000 sales leaders, and downtown Dallas turned pink again for a few weeks as 30,000+ Mary Kay consultants convened.
The introduction of yet another new business—Grace Adele by Scentsy—has come only a few months after they introduced their second new business, Velata, based on chocolate fondue. The Scentsy strategy of starting new businesses versus expanding product categories or introducing brand extensions is actually paradigm-breaking. Already considered one of the most successful new direct selling companies of the past few years, Scentsy has a leadership team that appears to be embarking upon a very new path. Not content with just being successful and having positive momentum, they are looking to gain more market share by attracting new and different types of consultants. We were delighted to get an exclusive personal interview with Scentsy founders Heidi and Orville Thompson.
ViSalus became headline news recently when Blyth announced that ViSalus was being spun off as a separate publicly held company. Blyth was due to buy out the ViSalus founders completely in April 2013. In the new move, Blyth retains an estimated 50+ percent of the new ViSalus publicly held company. The founders of ViSalus have initiated some very excellent communication as to what this move really means. No more questions about whether the founders are in for the long term—they obviously are. They have done an excellent job in leading the company to its present status (DSN Growth Award honoree), and Blyth has done an excellent job in providing a seasoned infrastructure that allowed ViSalus to manage an extraordinary growth curve.
Several events, including an article in the August issue of a major magazine, reminded us of the importance of communication, education and understanding of the direct selling channel. Many simply do not do the research and easily gravitate to an exploitation or even a creation of the negative. Talk-show hosts and writers who get published in major magazines get paid, often for discussing or writing about what they do not know.
As a result of our observations over the past few months, we will take steps to further optimize the information we publish now and in the future. We represent a positive source of information that focuses on the attributes of a business model and the companies that utilize that model, and counters misinformation. In early September, DSN will launch Direct Selling News… The Blog. We are not approaching the launch of a blog with the intent to provide personalized editorial each day. We will post from what we currently publish and what has been most popular from previous publications, but delivered in a format that will make the information easily accessible. When a satellite radio talk-show host takes the time to incorporate a statement in his dialogue that the direct selling model is one designed to “make money off of people,” ignoring the need and value of the many products and services being sold, the many successful companies that have been built, the 16 million salespeople who are engaged in the United States alone, and the billions in revenue and the jobs being generated, we realize the need to communicate and educate is never-ending.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed to each of us and remains one of the treasures of being American and living in the country we live. Yet with this freedom also comes the responsibility of making sure positive voices are heard. Joe Mariano, DSA President, was a very positive voice for the industry on that recent interview with satellite station KEUR News. He served the industry well!
We are delighted that Douglas Lane, former analyst at Jeffries & Co. Inc., contributed a very insightful article regarding short sellers. Also, for the first time in the history of this publication, I have taken the Top Desk spot.
This month, our Cover Story focuses on those companies that are providing services. It is a growing sector, and we expect to see more entrants in the coming months and years. Service companies are filling needs, and the statistics say we are moving more and more toward a service economy. There is much more inside.
Until next month… enjoy the issue!
Publisher and Editor in Chief