What’s in a Name?

Direct Selling Association

…That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet…
—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


Names are essential: They carry meaning derived from the legacy of past actions and an ability to reliably deliver. While names conjure an image that may be easily recognizable, looks alone can deceive. Even Shakespeare notes that the importance of remembering the rose’s smell is what will determine if it is indeed a rose. After all, it is the sweetness of fragrance together with the name that reveals the object to be what it claims to be.

In our world of direct selling, it is the Direct Selling Association (DSA) Code of Ethics that helps ensure that those who call themselves “direct sellers” are worthy of the title and that they genuinely “pass the sniff test” laid out by our industry. As any member of the DSA knows, embedded within the moniker is a commitment to the most ethically rigorous business practices and vigilance for protecting the consumers who participate in the opportunities we create, as well as those consumers who buy our products.

The DSA Code of Ethics is the industry’s way to set bad actors apart from the visionaries whose ideas have empowered millions to start their own direct selling businesses and build better lives for themselves and their families. The Code allows the name “direct seller” to carry the same credibility as other entrepreneurial opportunities. It is what assures our nation’s budding entrepreneurs that direct selling is the flexible, profitable and modern opportunity they seek.

There is so much in the name “direct selling.” Some of the brightest brands in our industry are envisioning new ways of describing themselves and what they do.

Direct selling’s micro-entrepreneurial opportunities, combined with its high-touch, relationship-driven model, is what enables direct selling to compete in a marketplace where impersonal e-commerce, on-demand delivery and the gig economy predominate. We are up to the challenge.

During this moment of change, together with our shared commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and salespeople, we can work together to propel direct selling to new heights and prominence in the market. It is this opportunity that brings all direct sellers together through DSA.

Today the Association is actively working at the state and national levels to:

  • Ensure the independent contractor status of direct sellers;
  • Improve the reputation and understanding of the direct selling model among policymakers and other critical audiences;
  • Reduce unnecessary regulatory scrutiny and bureaucratic requirements that might be imposed on direct selling;
  • Provide the highest level of confidence to individual consumers and salespeople of direct selling companies;
  • Ensure that the tax treatment of direct sellers and companies is fair and equitable;
  • Protect the opportunity for individuals to start their own direct selling enterprises;
  • Enact a stronger and credible self-regulatory program to cure perceived and real problems in the marketplace; and,
  • Guide new proposals regarding the gig economy, job sharing and similar models to guarantee that direct selling is not inhibited, but encouraged.

All social sellers, network marketing distributors, party plan consultants, door-to-door, person-to-person and big-ticket companies who share our commitment to the highest ethical practices within our great business model are welcome to join us in this vital cause.


Joseph N. Mariano is President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation.

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