Think back about 30 years. It was 1980. Unemployment was high, interest rates were higher, and we escaped to the movies to see E.T., Star Wars and Batman. It was also the last time direct selling experienced a decline in sales.
But the ’80s were also a time when some of today’s most-respected direct selling companies—such as Herbalife, Nu Skin and Primerica—were born. Direct Selling Association President and CEO Neil Offen notes that history may be repeating itself.
Luckily for some companies, their consumers continue to consider their products essential.
“It appears that direct selling may be a leading indicator of economic recovery, supported by the fact that in 2008 we saw a slight increase in the number of direct sellers,” he says. “Reports from some companies and our recently released third-quarter DataTracker indicate this trend is continuing.”
|Orville Thompson, Scentsy: “This year’s theme was expansion, and we’ll continue that as appropriate. Next year we’ll focus on excellence. We’re looking forward to polishing off some of the rough edges. We’re in that difficult situation of having to scale, and we’ve invested a ton of money in it and in human resources. Sales are continuing to grow, but change management is difficult. We want to nail that down so that we can provide world-class consultant training, support, technology and delivery.”|
|Darrin Johnson, Tastefully Simple: “Additional strategies, including expanding awareness of our unique product offerings and recognition of the Tastefully Simple brand, are in development and are expected to drive substantial growth in the future.”|
|Des Walsh, Herbalife: “Next year we’re celebrating our 30th anniversary. For us, it’s a wonderful time to be able to look back on the accomplishments of the last 30 years. We couldn’t have asked for a better test of what Herbalife represents than to have our distributors come through this 29th year. It’s not an economy we would have wished for, but it proved beneficial for that message and the resulting strong confidence we’ve seen.”|
|Doug Witt, Ignite: “We are expecting an amazing year in 2010. It’s important to put in perspective that we are only a 5-year-old company doing business in only two states. For 2010, we plan to take our game to the next level, not only by building on our existing marketing and training programs, but we also intend to expand our recognition program, as well as expand into new markets.”|
|Dan Chard, Nu Skin: “We feel like we’re on a run. There’s nothing to knock us off of some really great things that are happening. We have incredible leaders in our field. They have high energy. We have a good, solid product platform, and we plan for continued innovation. A lot of things are happening for us. We have an amazing group of people out there sharing our story.”|
|Michael McDevitt, Take Shape for Life: “It’s going to be another great year for the business. We have a product and a program that provide the consumer with clinically proven weight loss. You have only to turn on the TV or look at the newspaper to see that health care is on the minds of the consumer while obesity is continuing to rise. We have a tremendous solution to the problem.”|
|Bill Shaw, Entertaining at Home and Southern Living At Home: “I’m looking forward to a decrease in the resistance to host parties by customers who feel that they are somehow burdening their friends when they invite them to attend a home party. As this resistance goes away, we also expect to see more and more people look at direct selling as a legitimate business opportunity. For people who would have sought traditional part-time jobs in the past, those jobs simply aren’t going to be available during a protracted recovery. I’m looking forward to a renaissance in our industry.”|
|Heather Chastain, Celebrating Home: “I can’t wait to see how we can harness all this passion and energy and see how much we can accomplish when we have the freedom to focus just on the business. The Celebrating Home name is on its way to becoming better known than it is now, and we’re getting more involved in ways to do that. We recently participated in Extreme Home Makeover in North Carolina, and we will get more involved in those kinds of things.”|
|Chris Chambless, Ambit Energy: “I’m eager to see how big we can get next year. I’m not sure I have a handle on it yet, but I’m expecting double-digit growth again. We’re preparing ourselves to focus on fundamentals again in 2010, reevaluating all our tools and existing support systems to try to improve them where we can.”|
|Angela Loehr Chrysler, Team National: “You get what you expect, therefore, I’m expecting terrific things, of course! I believe consumer confidence is beginning to rise and therefore people will start spending money again. The direct selling opportunity is needed today, tomorrow and next year, regardless of the state of the U.S. economy. We need to continue to encourage our sales field to stay focused on their dreams and to never give up.”|
|BK Boreyko, Vemma: “I’m the eternal optimist, and I’m gearing upfor growth. Vemma’s focus will not be on launching a bunch of new products. In fact, we just have one scheduled for all of 2010. Our focus will be squarely on growing people and developing leaders. If we can double the leadership in our company, we can effectively double sales.”|