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 / 2015
HEADQUARTERS / Melissa, Texas
TOP EXECUTIVE / Brian Underwood, Founder and CEO
PRODUCTS / Health and Wellness
As 2020 got progressively further and further from the norm, Prüvit, the Louisville-based wellness direct selling company known for evidence-based products that optimize human potential, decided to see this year through a different lens.
Prüvit’s products have been biohacking a person’s individual biochemistry to help it become more efficient since its launch in 2015. It’s that kind of innovation that grew the company into a DSN Global 100 direct selling business, ranked #41 in 2018, and reporting $325 million in revenue. And it’s also what makes their 2020 sales performance stand out mid pandemic.
“We doubled down on our existing value, and because of the environment and situation, it brought our community closer together. We used it as an opportunity to create certainty in the midst of the uncertainty we all faced, showing our community what they could do to progress their financial year by taking the value of our product to the market,” Founder and CEO Brian Underwood says.
Founder and CEO Brian Underwood on 2020
What worked for your company? Were you somehow better prepared? Were there standout successes?
Brian Underwood: One of the mantras we go by culturally is ‘always be adaptable.’ You never truly have to pivot if you’re focused on innovating. Our definition of innovation is focusing on managing the business that you’re in and the present state, but always be looking and anticipating for the business you’re becoming. If you do that, you don’t have to pivot. We engaged virtually and always have, as a cloud-based company.
What obstacles or concerns did you face in 2020?
Brian Underwood: We made a very quick decision early on to see 2020 differently. We are a super event-driven company, and that’s been a core piece of our culture. We decided early on to cancel all of the in-person events for the year and refocused our energy and effort on creating new experiences, including online experiences, which is what we will be doing in 2021 as well.
What is your plan to sustain the new business in 2021?
Brian Underwood: If you’re planning to sustain, you’re going to fail. Meaning you’re going to decrease. Our plan is to grow. The way we are going to attack 2021 will be different than in 2020. Why? Because it’s a new year and things will find a new norm. They won’t go back to ‘normal.’ Our plan is to double down on our core competency, which is to create a better experience, increase the level of engagement in our community and continue to make it about more than just sales.
Brian Underwood: Our culture, which is to inspire people to become the best version of themselves, has really helped us elevate through any circumstance. We focus on situational leadership, which is recognizing different environments that you can’t control.
So my advice to people today is to go into the blue ocean and focus on WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. I see so many people still dealing in the red ocean and what I call the old-school mentality of ‘Make money! We have the best deal and the best comp plan,’ which doesn’t drive anything long term.
What creates longevity is focusing on value, focusing on people and focusing genuinely on why you’re doing what you’re doing while taking the approach of thinking different and being different and creating a transcending brand that creates new experiences for people.
Any insights for 2021?
Brian Underwood: It is going to be as unpredictable as 2020, and there will be a lot of great opportunities out in the marketplace for those who seize them—if they stay on their toes. 2021 for us will be a growth year. We did a lot of foundational work in 2020 with international expansion, and because of the environment, it became both a challenge and an opportunity to get our legs underneath us and we’ve continued to grow through that. In 2021, we plan to pour gas on the fire and maintain a level of excitement through the journey and process of the unknown to continue to create in this new economy and environment.