Exactly two years ago, the top stories were the election and the economy. As we now reflect on the close of another year, the stories that are still at the forefront in our minds are whether the leadership of this country is moving us toward recovery from the recession or whether we are still very deep into a recessionary economy.
With less than two months left in another year, many are already offering their assessments as to which companies were truly able to adapt to and benefit from recession in the United States. We know the direct selling business model is well suited—if not an ideal solution—to challenging times, when job eliminations have become the norm along with a high anxiety index… if there is such a thing. We also know the direct selling business model cannot sell itself; therefore, the messaging companies use to gain the attention of their sales organizations will always be critical to the performance of those companies. It is always what a company does with the model that makes the difference between survival and the ability to maintain or grow during the challenging period.
This past month, our industry lost a passionate advocate. Harry Hersey Jr., DSA Hall of Famer and former company owner, leader and longtime consultant for many, left us in an unfortunate accident. Those of us who knew Harry will always remember him, not just for his sincere friendship but for what he believed direct selling means to the people who choose it as a way to build a business on their terms. Harry will be missed!
The big news within the industry over the past 30 days has been the Avon acquisition of Silpada! When we saw the first release come through we could only think: “WOW! What a story!” Having been around the direct selling industry for many years it was not difficult for me to remember the beginnings of Silpada, for it was only about 13 years ago that they started. If you don’t know the story, it is definitely worth a trip to their website to browse this company and review its beginnings and its mission. Talk about dreams coming true, this is quite a story, but there are many stories within this story.
This month our cover story returns to one of the hottest topics to emerge in the past few years: how best to use social media functionality and how to measure its effectiveness if you are using it. We all agree that Facebook and Twitter are changing the way many of us communicate. While Facebook started out as a tool for individuals to use in forming communication networks, today you can find a Facebook page for practically every major company, including each branch of the U.S. armed forces.
One half of another year means so many different things, depending on one’s perspective. The discussion about the economy continues and is often one of much debate. While some success stories have emerged in the first six months of the new year, challenges remain, and celebrating the economic recovery appears to still be on hold in most mature markets. These times call for careful analysis of the editorial calendar for publications like ours, as “content relevance” becomes even more important with so much uncertainty.
Each of us, during the course of our lives, celebrates many accomplishments and achievements that affect our own lives as well as the lives of others. This month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Founded in 1910 as the Agents Credit Association, the DSA has protected the rights of direct sellers, fought for our way of doing business, and done more to preserve the freedoms that allow a direct selling business model to exist than any other single entity. Of the 10 founding member companies, only one remains in the active ranks of membership today: Avon Products Inc.
Our cover story this month probes how important it is to understand the changing demographics of America, with a focus on the Hispanic segment. As we assigned and reviewed the story, including thoughts from the executives we interviewed, it became apparent that we would also share information smaller companies may appreciate. Larger companies always have internal market-research departments that make significant investments to stay abreast of changes in the marketplace. However, smaller and newer companies that are not yet ready to invest extensively might be well-served by what we share.
A time to reflect, a time to evaluate and a time to celebrate! This month will be a very special one for us as we announce the results of our research—identifying the top 100 direct selling companies in the world—at our inaugural DSN Global 100 Celebration on April 7. We contracted experienced researchers for this project, and their findings will provide us with, to the best of our knowledge, the first such recognition ever published. We embraced this project to respond to questions that often arise from within the academic and private investment communities who watch our industry and our companies for potential involvement. Every other recognized industry ranks its companies, so we felt it was our responsibility to do the same for direct selling.
As we worked on the cover story for this month’s issue, Top-Performing Global Markets, I found myself taking a mental tour of the various countries that have become billion-dollar markets for direct selling. I was most interested in the stats and facts to see what countries, if any, were experiencing growth. I soon realized that the stats and facts were what we wanted to bring you, but behind those were the stories of people. A billion dollars in sales is a very significant number, and it is the result people saying “yes” to the opportunities provided.