Founded | 1992
Headquarters | Greensboro, NC
JR Ridinger, Founder, Chairman & CEO
Loren Ridinger, Co-Founder and Senior Executive Vice President
Thirty years ago, the founders of Market America had a crystal ball moment—a vision for referral tracking that could propel entrepreneurs farther than any traditional network marketing company had promised before. Today, JR and Loren Ridinger and the Market America team are once again looking to the future, eager to evolve the online marketplace they’ve been shaping for the last three decades.
The Power of People
This familiar adage continues to be true—people don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. And more accurately, people love to buy based on details they feel they can trust. One fateful date night over three decades ago, JR and Loren Ridinger decided to put this saying to the test. They’d been out to the movies in their hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina and absolutely loved the film they’d just seen.
“To say that I loved the movie would be an understatement,” recounted JR. “In the theater that night, we were swept away; we found ourselves fully lost in the moment. I was so impressed with it that I ended up telling nearly everyone I knew about it. In fact, Loren and I came out of the movie impressed enough to devise an experiment based on the theory of referral tracking.
“We told our friends about the movie and asked them to call us as soon as they had seen it. As a result, we got plenty of calls from not only our friends but even from people we didn’t know. As it turned out, they all liked the movie, too. After some consistent manual tracking, I discovered who the sources of the referrals were. I started thinking about the potential to automate referral tracking. Then—in 1992—we founded Market America.”
Fast forward thirty years to Market America I SHOP.COM today: a leader in e-commerce, equipping entrepreneurs to capitalize on digital marketing and online shopping to harness that same referral power JR and Loren tested all those years ago. Market America and SHOP.COM, the company’s innovative online shopping platform, offers the best of e-commerce and a family of proprietary product lines for sellers to share as well as a convenient way to share them. Market America I SHOP.COM sellers are known as UnFranchise® Owners; these entrepreneurs operate globally through the company’s operations in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and the United Kingdom. The company’s global website—SHOPGlobal.com—ships to pretty much every country and territory on the planet.
“Before online shopping even existed, JR created a unique business model that would allow the average person to own their own business but without the need for a physical store and all of the costs associated with maintaining a brick-and-mortar business,” explained Loren. “It was like a franchise business in some ways, but in other ways, it was completely different. So, we called it the UnFranchise Business and individuals who joined the company became UnFranchise Owners. The fundamentals have stayed the same, yet with new technologies, systems, products and tools, UnFranchise Owners can now build their businesses more efficiently and effectively. We’re entering a brand-new phase of growth for our business as we continue to grow, adapt, evolve and lead the way in retail and one-to-one marketing.”
In August, the company will gather at the Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM 2022 International Convention. UnFranchise Owners from around the world will gather in Greensboro, North Carolina to connect, learn and celebrate.
“We’re celebrating 30 years of entrepreneurial success,” JR shared. “We’re developing some exciting new initiatives, products, programs and resources to help empower our UnFranchise Owners around the world. Timing is everything for entrepreneurs and we have a strategic plan to build upon our first 30 years of success. We’ve experienced 30 years of magic moments; 30 years of changing people’s lives; and 30 years of building legacies. We are enthusiastic and committed to succeeding for the next 30 plus years.”
The Power of Technology
UnFranchise Owners, or UFOs for short, have an arsenal of tools, resources and support available to them, along with multiple ways to build businesses that serve their unique interests and goals. Market America I SHOP.COM is home to over 40 exclusive brands that the company has built and curated, ranging from health and nutrition, beauty, skincare, cosmetics and jewelry to home, auto and electronics. UFOs can share all these brands with their customers on personalized SHOP.COM sites; additionally, they can also create brand-specific sites.
For example, a UFO who is passionate about health and nutrition may offer a customer shopping experience focused solely on Isotonix, Market America’s line of nutraceutical solutions. That same UFO can also maintain additional Market America brand sites, as well as a SHOP.COM site. Multiple methods to reach customers power multiple revenue streams and business building opportunities.
The same referral power that JR and Loren tested in the early 1990s runs through everything Market America I SHOP.COM does—but today, much of that power lies in social media. SHOP.COM President and COO Steve Ashley explained.
“When your company’s slogan includes ‘Powered by People,’ you want to use your strength in numbers throughout all of your marketing efforts—especially when you do not have a traditional advertising strategy for mass media,” he shared. “Social media has become Market America I SHOP.COM’s most effective method of marketing. By utilizing our internal Social Media Team, our Executives and our UnFranchise Owners, we have built a social media culture that helps us drive product sales, brand awareness and brand/product visibility as well as communications for the company.”
The Power of Family
JR and Loren Ridinger were a young couple when they dreamed up Market America, inviting Loren’s brothers Marc and Steve Ashley and her sister Brandi Quinn to dream with them. They rounded out their executive team with a talented group of leaders that are still together today (except those who have passed away). Family and community continue to be foundational and driving forces within the company, woven into the fabric of the Market America culture.
“We’ve always put people before profit, and that’s reflected in our successful 30-year history and the sense of family and community we’ve built,” explained Marc Ashley, President and COO of Market America Worldwide. “Our business has always been about spreading economic opportunity and prosperity. And over the years, we’ve cultivated a company culture more similar to a family than a business. We support one another and genuinely care for each other, and I think that speaks volumes about our company culture and the people we’re blessed to work with.”
As the Market America I SHOP.COM family continues to expand, the company celebrates the impact it has had around the world and the tremendous possibilities that lie ahead.
“Our 30th Anniversary celebration is a testament to the belief and shoppirit of thousands of UnFranchise Owners across the globe,” JR shared. “We’ve been fortunate enough to help people from around the world achieve success, so really, it’s their success stories we’re celebrating. It’s also about celebrating the relationships we’ve built over the years—it’s these friendships and families that make this so much more than a business. We’ve experienced 30 years of consistent growth because of UnFranchise Owners’ success. The first 30 years was just the beginning. Through revolutionary technology and the power of people, we are creating the economy of the future.”
From the August 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.