To gain perspective and understanding about what’s around the corner for 2021, it seemed prudent to profile some 2020 direct selling outliers. Here, eight executives reflect on a year that sometimes delivered unexpected and rapid increases in sales and growth for their companies, despite less-than-optimal pandemic conditions that caused pain and recession-like contractions for so many other businesses.
Beyond having in common the ability to adapt and be nimble, these companies are all driven by products in demand by consumers and readily accessible via robust e-commerce platforms. And these companies, much like direct selling legacy company Tupperware Brands—who experienced a resurgence thanks to more people needing to store leftovers during the pandemic, marked quadrupled profits of $34.4 million in the most recent quarter and saw stock prices soar from $1 in March to $28.80 per share in late October—want to ride this wave of sales through 2021.
Here, they lay out how they intend to do that using the insight of hindsight. They detail what worked this year, what challenged them, and how they coped with the unpredictability 2020 consistently threw. They share what sustained them in strife and offer up advice to those feeling the strain today. And lastly, they look forward through a pragmatic and transformative lens on a 2021 that will ultimately be what direct selling companies make it.
FOUNDED / 2014
HEADQUARTERS / Doral, Florida
TOP EXECUTIVES / Rayner Urdaneta, CEO and Co-Founder;
Stuart MacMillan, President
PRODUCTS / Anti-aging Hair Care, Personal Care and Wellness
In 2019, MONAT Global transcended haircare and added an eight-piece, clinically proven luxury collection of healthy-aging skincare products to its global brand. Additionally, their sales territories expanded beyond the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to include Ireland and Poland.
Consistent sales performance and rapid growth since its 2014 launch landed MONAT in DSN’s Global 100 in 2018. Since then, the Miami-based company has advanced with rocket-speed and now ranks #24 with $388 million in sales.
According to President Stuart MacMillan, 2020—Pandemic and all—is no exception. Sales increased substantially in 2020, and the company is currently trending at two and one-half times their monthly run rates from the beginning of the year.
What worked for your company? Were you somehow better prepared? Were there standout successes? Were you more adaptive and flexible?
Stuart MacMillan: We certainly had to be flexible in the midst of the global pandemic. We believe our success was tied to our ability to pivot to virtual and online activities beginning in March of this year. We believe, in our case, having a young demographic that was used to doing business and life online certainly helped us.
The key to success had to be to maintain activity levels of our field and, in fact, we saw these activity levels trend substantially higher than they had been prior to the pandemic. One of our standout successes was the pivot of our annual event to a virtual event, complete with experiential items that were sent to all of the 50,000 registrants. This allowed us to reach more than 3x the number of people we might have had in an in-person event.
What obstacles did you face in 2020?
Stuart MacMillan: The biggest obstacle was we had established a Method of Operation intrinsically tied to in-person face-to-face events. How would a company that was so high on events operate in a lock-down?
We became incredibly reliant and proficient at ZOOM meetings and webinars. As a matter of fact, I would say that CEO Ray Urdaneta and I have done more Zoom meetings in the past seven months than we have done since our opening. The further challenge was to ensure that these meetings were engaging, collaborative and participative.
How did your company cope with the unpredictable nature of doing business in 2020?
Stuart MacMillan: As stated above…the best means of coping was tied to moving to virtual and online meetings and activities. We have learned that there is a limit to what you can do online and that the long-term sustainability of doing everything online may run into a life-cycle.
What is your plan to sustain the new business in 2021?
Stuart MacMillan: We are excited about having established a new baseline for our business. 2021 is still uncertain, but what we do know we need to do is to maintain the momentum and excitement. We need to keep the activity levels at where they have been this year. Furthermore, we need to leverage a hybrid of in-person and online activity to reach the maximum number of people while maintaining the stickiness that one gets through face-to-face contact and social events.
Sustainability of the new business will be reliant on an even greater focus on our Customer Base. Enhancing the shopping experience, enhancing and developing our product lines and increasing our customer to distributor ratios will all be keys to our success in 2021.
What sustains you and your company during times of strife? What advice would you offer to others?
Stuart MacMillan: What sustains us is the loyalty we have built with our customers and distributors. In times of strife, we rarely—if ever—lose field leadership. We believe this is due to our transparency with our field, the efficacy of our products, and the strength of our relationships. We have built an emotional business. We want to have an impact on our communities, whether through naturally-based efficacious products, an awesome earning opportunity, or the gratitude initiatives we engage in. When people feel that they are truly having an impact, they are more inclined to stick through harder times.
Any insights for 2021?
Stuart MacMillan: We have no idea what 2021 holds, but we do know there will be a storm. In business, you are either coming out of a storm or in the middle of one. What we can do is continue to develop relationships with our distributors and customers, conduct our business with integrity and consistency, and be ever-ready for whatever 2021 has in store!