October 27, 2016

World News

Natura Taps Company VP to Succeed Roberto Lima as CEO

Photo: Inside Natura’s São Paulo, Brazil, retail store.

A new CEO is taking the reins at Brazil’s Natura Cosmeticos as the company battles the effects of an ongoing recession in its domestic market.

The beauty company announced that its board has promoted João Paulo Brotto Gonçalves Ferreira to CEO, following the resignation of Roberto Oliveira de Lima, who joined Natura’s board in 2012 and was named chief executive at the end of 2014.

“During his tenure as CEO of the company, Roberto formed a solid Executive Committee and delivered important projects that included the digitalization of the business, the entrance into new channels and the repositioning of the Natura brand,” Jose Roberto Lettiere, Chief Financial and Investor Relations Officer, said in the company’s announcement.

Incoming CEO Gonçalves Ferreira has been with Natura for seven years, most recently in the role of Commercial Vice President, overseeing the functions of supply chain, manufacturing, international operations and sustainability. As CEO, he is tasked with accelerating implementation of the company’s growth strategy, which includes revitalizing Natura’s direct sales business, streamlining the portfolio, and maintaining the pace of international growth.

The cosmetics maker continued to face economic headwinds in the most recent quarter, amid Brazil’s lengthiest recession in eight decades. Net income fell to 73.1 million reais (US$23.1 million*), down 44.6 percent from a year earlier.

Management said consolidated net revenues dipped 4.7 percent to 1.9 billion reais (US$600.3 million), as Brazilian consumers seek out cheaper alternatives to the brand’s toiletry products—a category that accounts for more than half of sales. Outside Brazil, revenue from operations in France, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia remained relatively flat year over year at 637.1 million reais (US$201.3 million).

*US$1 = 3.16 reais


October 26, 2016

U.S. News

ACN’s Flash Wireless Website Earns Best in Class Awards

An ongoing digital transformation is garnering recognition for ACN Inc., which took home top honors in the 2016 Interactive Media Awards.

Over the course of this year and next, the essential services provider is making digital enhancements across the business. The first wave included the website of ACN’s wireless division, Flash Wireless, which operates on the SAP Hybris Commerce platform. The site earned Best in Class—the program’s top award—in both the Telecommunications and eCommerce categories, with an overall score of 484 out of 500.

“We’ve continued to talk about our commitment to improving our IBO and customer experiences through a digital transformation,” said ACN’s Dan Polk, Executive Vice President of eCommerce. “Several new programs have already been launched and even more are on the horizon, and this third-party recognition further validates that we are committed to building best-in-class solutions.”

The Interactive Media Awards were created by the nonprofit Interactive Media Council to honor excellence in website design and development. The annual program has run since 2006.

October 26, 2016

U.S. News

USANA Health Sciences Posts Strong Earnings Beat, Softens Outlook

USANA Health Sciences Inc. (NYSE—USNA) is trimming its full-year sales guidance after a softer-than-expected third quarter.

The maker of health and wellness products sees 2016 revenue of $1.0 billion to $1.1 billion, versus July guidance of $1.02 billion and $1.05 billion. Management also narrowed its earnings outlook to $7.90 to $8.10 per share, from the previously stated $7.90 to $8.20 per share.

In the third quarter, overall sales rose 9 percent to $254.2 million, compared with $233.3 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted sales of $263.4 million.

Earnings were $2.40 per share, up 25 percent from a year ago, largely due to the company’s adoption of a new accounting standard, which resulted in a significantly lower effective tax rate. By comparison, analysts had expected to see earnings of $2.13 a share.

Management said results were impacted by a modest quarter in Greater China, where sales came in below expectations despite an 11 percent increase over the prior year. In the wider Asia-Pacific region—the company’s largest in terms of revenue—sales were up 13 percent to $190.4 million.

USANA is in the midst of upgrading its global IT infrastructure and building a new state-of-the-art production facility in Beijing, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

“With this facility coming online, we are making preparations to begin offering growth initiatives in China in early 2017, but continue to believe that we will be in a better position to fully drive growth in China and our other markets when the improvements to our IT infrastructure are complete,” said Dave Wentz, Co-CEO of USANA.

The company also announced that its board has approved a two-for-one split of USANA common stock.


October 25, 2016

U.S. News

Stream Names Former CEO Bouncer Schiro as Chairman

Photo: Stream’s incoming Chairman, Mark “Bouncer” Schiro.

Stream board member and former CEO Mark “Bouncer” Schiro is transitioning to the role of chairman, the services provider said Tuesday.

Schiro succeeds Rob Snyder, who co-founded Stream with Pierre Koshakji in 2004. “After 13 years in this role, now is a good time for others to take the lead in respect of Stream’s future direction and growth,” Snyder said in the company’s announcement. The outgoing chairman remains a non-executive board member and Stream’s largest equity holder.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Rob for his many contributions to Stream over his distinguished career, including his time as chairman,” said independent board member Donald Kendall.

Based on his background with the company, Schiro is “uniquely suited” to chair the board, said Kendall. “His prior experience with Stream, including as its chief executive officer, is a testament to his ability to partner with management and be a key architect for growth.”

During his tenure as CEO, which began in 2011, Schiro helped to position Stream for expansion and diversification, building upon its core energy offerings with categories like Mobile Services and Protective Services. When he stepped down earlier this year, Stream appointed former CompUSA executive Larry Mondry as chief executive.

“I am fortunate to transition into the chairman role following Rob’s strong oversight for many years,” said Schiro. “Stream has many opportunities to continue to profitably grow, and I am committed to supporting CEO Larry Mondry and his management team to drive long-term value for Stream employees, Associates, customers, and stakeholders.”

October 25, 2016

U.S. News

KEEP Collective Offers Design-It-Yourself Jewelry in New Digital Studio

Personalized jewelry brand KEEP Collective does about 75 percent of its business online, but expect that number to grow thanks to the company’s new digital Design Studio.

The California-based startup is part of the Stella & Dot Family of Brands, which also includes accessories brand Stella & Dot and EVER Skincare. Unlike the more fashion-forward Stella & Dot, KEEP is all about helping customers create meaningful keepsakes with its collection of charms and “keepers”—leather wrap bracelets, necklaces or other bangles that serve as the foundation of each piece.

“One of the things I love about KEEP is that it’s not selling in the traditional sense,” said Dana Bloom, KEEP General Manager. “When you sell something like a fashion item or clothing item, you’re just talking about that item. When you share KEEP, it’s about connecting with someone’s story and what’s important to them.”

The company’s newly launched Design Studio is an interactive tool that allows users to build their own custom jewelry, with additional features like integrated favorites and one-click sharing. The mobile-optimized platform also includes an Inspiration Gallery, where users can upload their own creations or shop other looks.

Of course, customers are not the only ones who benefit from the streamlined design experience. According to Bloom, the Design Studio is intended to boost the productivity of Designers, or independent sellers, by reducing the time that goes into mocking up samples. The tool appears on each Designer’s personal KEEP Collective website.

“Building on our experience with Stella & Dot, everything is created by us on our platform, and so we have the benefit of being able to design it for her business,” Bloom told DSN. “We measure our success on the number of lives impacted and the Designer’s dollars per hour.”

In 2015, the company’s first year of business, those dollars per hour amounted to $50 million in sales. Management expects to see that figure double in 2016, as a growing salesforce leverages the brand’s increasingly sophisticated tools. Currently, KEEP has more than 12,000 Designers across the U.S. and Canada.


October 24, 2016

U.S. News

Jewelry Brand Silpada Acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Entity

Recently shuttered jewelry company Silpada is getting a new lease on life as part of the Berkshire Hathaway family.

Just months after Silpada closed its doors, the brand and its designs and inventory have been acquired by Richline Group Inc., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Richline is a top manufacturer and marketer of fine jewelry, with a portfolio that includes LeachGarner, Inverness, Rio Grande and Richline Brands.

Long known for its sterling silver designs, Silpada had expanded its portfolio in recent years to include additional jewelry, handbags and accessories. Richline’s strategy is to focus on the sterling silver offerings that drove Silpada’s early success.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to bring Silpada back to its creative roots,” said Dennis Ulrich, Richline Group CEO. “We plan to focus exclusively on these unique and accessible sterling silver designs that have clearly resonated with so many women across the world. We look forward to honoring the Silpada legacy while finding new ways to invigorate this unique and nationally-recognized brand.”

In a statement, Richline officials said they will market Silpada through new sales channels, but did not specify whether the brand will continue to pursue direct sales. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Silpada was founded nearly 20 years ago by the Walsh and Kelly families of Lenexa, Kansas, whose daughters, Ryane Delka and Kelsey Perry, most recently led the company, in the shared role of CEO. For a time, Silpada was owned by Avon Products Inc., which bought the jewelry brand in 2010 for $650 million, and three years later, amid heavy cost cuts, sold it back to the founders for $85 million.

The former owners will not be involved in the new incarnation of Silpada, but said in a statement they are “extremely pleased that the Silpada brand will live on as a member of the Richline family of brands.”


October 21, 2016

World News

The Roundup: Tyra Beauty, LulaRoe, Young Living and More

Catch up on this week’s industry chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • “Tyra’s Big Fierce Outrageous Goals” Two years into the direct sales experiment that is Tyra Beauty, Racked went behind the scenes at Fierce Up, the company’s annual salesforce convention, to learn more about Banks’ vision for the beauty line and its independent sellers.
  • “Young Living Louisiana Flood Relief Recap” The essential oils seller provides an update on its relief efforts in Louisiana, where many residents, some of them Young Living members, are working to rebuild their lives after historic flooding caused billions in damages across the southern part of the state.

October 21, 2016

U.S. News

Mary Kay Interviewed Hundreds of Consultants for Latest Ad Campaign

To create its latest advertising campaign, Mary Kay looked to the experts on the business: its Independent Beauty Consultants.

Women who actually sell Mary Kay products are the stars of “I CAN,” a new multi-platform campaign from the cosmetics maker. I CAN has been in the works since 2015, when the company introduced the #MyMKLife hashtag across social channels, as a way for consultants to share how Mary Kay—recently named a Top 5 Global Skin Care Brand—has impacted their lives.

“These inspirational women from all walks of life chose the Mary kay business for many different reasons,” said Sara Friedman, Vice President of U.S. Marketing for Mary Kay. “However, through the campaign, it is evident that they are united by their love for the diverse opportunities their Mary Kay business allows them on a daily basis.”

To produce the content, Mary Kay photographed and interviewed more than 500 consultants during Seminar 2016, its annual salesforce convention. Their faces and stories appear in the campaign’s digital, broadcast, print and outdoor ads. Some appear at length in videos posted to the Mary Kay website.

According to Friedman, “The ‘I CAN’ campaign gave us the chance to showcase, on a national stage, the heart of Mary Kay—our independent salesforce.”

Company officials report that, since launching in September, the campaign has garnered 43.8 million impressions and 1.2 million engagements across social channels, and more than 40,000 uses of a custom photo filter. The first I CAN television commercial aired Thursday during Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” the hit reality show that regularly features Mary Kay as Official Beauty Sponsor.


October 20, 2016

U.S. News

Plexus Promotes Breast Cancer Awareness with #ChekItAmerica

Plexus Worldwide has launched a Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign inspired by the company’s very first product.

Throughout October, Plexus and the American Cancer Society are promoting awareness and prevention of the disease with Chek It America, a campaign spearheaded by the wellness company’s Ambassadors, who number more than 400,000.

ACS reports that one in eight women in the U.S. will receive a breast cancer diagnosis during her lifetime. To support early detection and treatment, Chek It America includes three calls to action, the first being a monthly self-exam. Plexus has long encouraged these at-home checkups with its Breast Chek Kit, the product that launched the company back in 2008.

This month, Plexus is donating 25 percent of profits from all kit sales to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer initiative. The company also plans to host its own Making Strides 5K on Oct. 29, when top Ambassadors convene in Dallas for a Leadership Retreat.

“The ‘Breast Chek Kit’ is Plexus Worldwide’s original product, and from the beginning our company’s purpose has always been to spread health awareness and wellness,” said Alec Clark, President of Plexus Worldwide. “Whether someone uses our kit or not, we just want to make sure we’re encouraging others to be proactive and fighting this terrible disease any way we can.”

The Chek It America campaign also encourages sharing on social media and participating in local walks or donating to the cause. Plexus has even created an interactive map that tracks participation across the U.S., with states turning a deeper shade of pink as residents report their Chek It America efforts.

October 19, 2016

U.S. News

Stream Funds Matthew Relief Efforts through American Red Cross

Photo: Tropical Storm Matthew approaches Dania Beach, South Florida.

After Hurricane Matthew caused Stream to relocate its annual training event, the services provider funneled aid to those hit by the storm.

The company’s Connect 2016 event was set to take place in Orlando earlier this month but was moved to Dallas, where Stream is based, as Matthew approached the southeastern United States. The storm system caused wind damage and flooding along the coastline from Florida to North Carolina before moving back out to sea. Thus far, the death toll has surpassed 1,300, including nearly 1,000 in Haiti, where Matthew touched down before hitting the U.S.

Following its two-day event, Stream announced a $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross in support of relief efforts. “After moving our Connect event due to Hurricane Matthew, we at Stream wanted to do our part to help those hit the hardest by the natural disaster,” said Larry Mondry, Stream President and CEO. “We knew the American Red Cross, the premier disaster relief organization, was the best recipient of our donation.”

The funds donated by Stream and its Independent Associates will provide essentials such as blankets, food, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies to families impacted by the storm, according to Keith Rhodes, CEO of American Red Cross North Texas Region. “Donations like this truly help to pave the road to recovery for disaster victims.”

The donation was made through Stream’s newly formalized charitable program, Stream Cares. The provider of energy and connected life services also temporarily waived international calling fees for its wireless customers across the U.S., allowing them to make calls to select countries affected by the storm.

October 19, 2016

U.S. News

Tupperware Posts Double-Digit Percentage Gain in Q3 EPS

Photo: Flickr/PeacockModern

Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) posted higher-than-expected earnings in the third quarter, while sales came in at the low end of management’s guidance.

In the quarter ended Sept. 24, the kitchenware company cleared a profit of $48.8 million, or 96 cents a share—a 35 percent jump from $36.2 million, or 72 cents a share, in the prior year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 80 cents. The bottom line was boosted by $24.2 million in pre-tax gains from real estate development adjacent to Tupperware’s Orlando headquarters.

Quarterly revenue was $521.8 million, edging above the prior year’s $521.0 million but missing the $528.1 million predicted by analysts. Emerging markets accounted for 71 percent of overall sales.

According to Chairman and CEO Rick Goings, “Despite this modest top line result, we once again delivered adjusted earnings above the high end of our range, demonstrating the dynamic flexibility of our business model, our strong leadership team and how we can navigate through challenging environments with our 3.1 million global salesforce and produce consistent results.”

On a regional basis, sales were up 30 percent in South America, driven by a 52 percent year-over-year increase—36 percent in local currency—in Brazil. Total active sellers in the segment rose 16 percent. Sales were flat in Asia Pacific and slightly higher in North America, while Europe sales fell 13 percent, or 7 percent in local currency.

Management expects fourth-quarter sales growth between 5 percent and 7 percent and earnings per share between $1.34 and $1.39.

October 18, 2016

U.S. News

doTERRA Donates $1 Million during Record-Breaking Convention

Photo: dōTERRA headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Essential oils seller doTERRA donated $1 million to charity during its recent convention—the largest ever held in Utah.

The Utah company has selected three organizations that align with the mission of the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation: to help impoverished communities move toward self-reliance. A $500,000 donation will support O.U.R. Rescue, which works with local law enforcement to rescue children from sex trafficking. The foundation is also donating $250,000 to Days for Girls, a nonprofit delivering hygiene supplies and health education to women and girls. Another $250,000 will provide microloans and mentoring to impoverished entrepreneurs through Mentors International.

The announcement was made from the stage at the doTERRA One Global Convention in Salt Lake City, where the company hosted 30,000 attendees, making it the largest corporate convention in Utah’s history, according to doTERRA. “This convention is a celebration that sums up a year of progress and success for doTERRA, our partners, and the countless lives that are positively impacted by essential oils, and our unique approach to sourcing and philanthropy,” said David Stirling, doTERRA Founding Executive, President and CEO.

The company’s Co-Impact Sourcing initiative is an extension of its humanitarian efforts, designed to bring jobs, fair trade and timely payments to small-scale growers—with the end result of greater economic stability. During the convention, management said Co-Impact Sourcing has created more than 18,000 jobs to date. The company also is adding two new oils, Spikenard from Nepal and Petitgrain from Paraguay, to the program.

October 18, 2016

U.S. News

USANA Pledges $80,000 to Aid Hurricane Victims

As Hurricane Matthew tore through the Caribbean in early October, the island of Haiti bore the brunt of the storm’s force, which claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people.

In the aftermath, 350,000 Haitians now face another threat: cholera, caused by contaminated food and water.

Through its USANA True Health Foundation, USANA Health Sciences Corp. will spend $80,000 to help combat the deadly intestinal disease. Half of the money will pay for food and emergency items, while the other $40,000 will provide oral rehydration packs and medicines to boost the immunity of those affected by the bacteria. The foundation will work with International Relief Teams and Children’s Hunger Fund to provide the supplies.

“Due to the generous donations we continue to receive, the foundation has been able to respond in a timely fashion to this disaster in Haiti,” said Jim Bramble, President of the USANA True Health Foundation board. “There are severe immediate needs, and we are committed to further help with both short- and long-term relief.”

October 17, 2016

U.S. News

Amway Nutrition Program to Reach Half a Million Children

A small packet of powder is making a huge difference on behalf of the world’s largest direct seller.

Amway, which has worked with the World Health Organization to develop its Nutrilite Little Bits supplement, to fortify a child’s food with 15 essential nutrients, made a special announcement Oct. 16, World Food Day. The company has declared that over the next 1,000 days, through its Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign, it is committed to feeding 500,000 children around the world by the end of 2019. Already Amway has distributed Little Bits to more than 30,000 malnourished children since 2014.

Accomplishing this goal in 1,000 days has significant meaning, because children who get proper nutrition in their first three years have a better chance of making it past their fifth year, according to a statement by Amway. “The first 1,000 days of life are critical for survival.”

“From a global perspective, almost every country in the world, regardless of income, faces some form of malnutrition, including undernutrition. … Research shows that [Nutrilite] helps improve the physical and cognitive health of children.”

October 14, 2016

U.S. News

Herbalife Launches New Product in Skincare Line

Herbalife would like to clear up something: faces.

The global nutrition company has announced a new line of skincare products, called Herbalife SKIN Clearify, to treat acne, blemishes, and other dermatological conditions that affect consumers ages 14 to 35 years old. “In addition to helping people live healthier, happier lives through better nutrition, Herbalife Nutrition is working to enhance the skin care and self-esteem of millions of people,” said Ibi Fleming, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Herbalife North American Region.

According to the company, the active ingredient in the new products is salicylic acid, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines. SKIN Clearify—which can be purchased individually or in a kit for about $70—isn’t Herbalife’s first foray into this channel. The company has 16 products in its skincare line, including moisturizer, eye cream, cleansers, toner, scrub, and sunscreen.

Herbalife reported second quarter net sales of $1.2 billion, compared with $1.1 billion for the same period last year. Net sales for 2015 were $4.5 billion.

October 13, 2016

U.S. News

New Avon Taps Industry Veteran to Lead Health and Wellness

Photo: Anjana Srivastava, New Avon’s President of Health and Wellness

New Avon keeps getting newer.

The company has named Anjana Srivastava President of Health and Wellness, a product line scheduled to roll out in 2017. Until then, Srivastava will be busy preparing the company to step into one of direct selling’s biggest categories. “Over the coming months,” she says, “I look forward to building my team, securing best-in-class partners and ultimately laying out a smart, strategic path for providing Representatives and consumers a portfolio of new products that live up to Avon’s industry-leading standards, and access to health related information they can trust.”

Srivastava spent two decades in executive positions within the direct selling channel, having served as Chief Product Officer, Head of the Scientific Advisory Board and Executive Vice President for North America among others. New Avon CEO Scott White says he believes Srivastava’s background makes her ideal for this new role.

“Anjana’s broad expertise across direct selling, science and the health and wellness industry uniquely qualifies her to lead New Avon’s entrance into this market,” he says. “For 130 years, Avon has proudly championed the well-being of women. Our Health and Wellness business will build upon that legacy—delivering products that help women look and feel beautiful, fit and healthy.”

The new division is part of an overall turnaround strategy for the company, which saw sales drop from $2.6 billion in 2007 to $1 billion in 2015. At the end of 2015, New Avon sold a majority interest in its North American business unit to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management, taking New Avon off the stock exchange, bringing in much-needed capital and helping the company reframe its operations.

October 13, 2016

U.S. News

SeneGence Breaks Ground on Planned Corporate Campus in Oklahoma

Construction is underway on a project that eventually will relocate SeneGence International headquarters from California to Oklahoma.

The skincare and cosmetics firm recently broke ground on a roughly 150,000-square-foot distribution center and 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Upon completion of this initial phase, slated for mid-2018, the company plans to develop corporate offices, manufacturing and research and development, and convention facilities on site.

Buildout over the entire 225-acre campus is estimated to take five to seven years to complete.

Back in California, growing pains have prompted the company’s third headquarters expansion to date. SeneGence is in the process of moving its corporate offices and warehouse to a larger 50,000-square-foot space in Foothills Ranch, California, following three consecutive years of more than 100 percent sales growth year over year.

The company has ties to Oklahoma through its founder, Joni Rogers-Kante, who grew up in Sapulpa. Rogers-Kante started SeneGence in 1999 with LipSense Liquid Lip Color as its leading product. It now sells more than 300 products and accessory items in 15 countries.

October 12, 2016

U.S. News

Viridian Introduces Pay-As-You-Go Electric Offering in Texas

Just days after launching services in Australia, Viridian is introducing a new pay-as-you-go offering to Texas consumers.

The Connecticut company has teamed with Texas-based Payless Power to offer a co-branded Eco PrePaid plan. This partner model enables Viridian International Management—as the company is known following its spinoff from Crius Energy—to provide what it calls “responsible energy” at competitive rates.

Payless Power offerings, including the new Eco PrePaid plan available through Viridian consultants, are designed to provide cash flow flexibility through discounted rates and real-time monitoring. According to CEO Brandon Young, “Payless Power’s goal is to help consumers obtain prepaid electricity service at rates competitive to traditional billed services, but without the hassle, using flexible payment options in order to keep the lights on.”

In keeping with the Payless Power model, no deposit or credit score is required to sign up for Eco PrePaid. Once the power is turned on, customers receive a daily usage notification that alerts them when their account is running low on funds. The plan also helps customers reduce their carbon emissions by 50 percent, through the built-in purchase of Responsible Energy Certifications (RECs).

“Energy customers in Texas are smart and are looking for dynamic options,” Paul Booth, CEO of Viridian, said in the company’s announcement. “Eco PrePaid products give these customers daily value and the ease of simple reporting.”

The news comes on the heels of Viridian’s official launch in Australia, its first international market. There the company has formed a similar partnership with Click Energy, an online retailer with more than 130,000 customers across the country. Management reports that roughly 3,600 consultants have joined Viridian Australia since the company announced its expansion plans in June.

October 11, 2016

U.S. News

Mannatech to Collect Healthcare Award from Latin Business Association

Health and wellness firm Mannatech Inc. has been named the recipient of this year’s Chairman’s Healthcare Award from the Latin Business Association.

The Latin trade association is the largest in the U.S., representing the interests of more than 800,000 Latino-owned businesses in California. This week, the LBA is holding its Global Business Summit in Commerce, California. Capping the event is the 40th Annual Sol Business Awards Gala on Friday, Oct. 14, where Mannatech will be recognized alongside other businesses providing opportunity for Latinos.

The Chairman’s Healthcare Award is awarded annually to a company that is progressively making a difference in the healthcare industry. “Mannatech is truly grateful to accept this celebrated award, and we look forward to furthering our devotion to supporting the health and wellness needs of the members of the Latino community,” Al Bala, Mannatech CEO and President, said in a statement.

In the past year, Mannatech has updated its overall look and feel, as well as its approach to wellness. The brand’s new offerings include a targeted fat-loss system, TruHealth, which combines dietary recommendations, nutrition supplements and exercise in a 30-day program. In addition to refreshing its product portfolio, Mannatech has introduced a new back office and other tools to support its independent sales Associates.

October 11, 2016

U.S. News

Modere Introduces Scientific Advisory Board

Modere, a maker of nontoxic personal-care products, has assembled a Scientific Advisory Board to support product development and innovation.

Initially, the Utah-based company has named five board members, whose combined professional experience amounts to more than 150 years. Together they hold more than 50 medical patents. These third-party advisors will help to guide Modere’s research and development efforts, in keeping with the company’s “live clean” promise, a commitment to avoid about 3,000 potentially harmful ingredients in its product formulations.

Modere’s newly appointed Scientific Advisory Board includes Robert A. Harper, Ph.D., a biochemist with expertise in toxicology of the skin and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology; Wallace Hayes, Ph.D., a professor of toxicology at Michigan State University and Harvard University who has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers; Edison Miyawaki, M.D., a specialist in psychiatry and neurology who has taught on the subjects for more than 30 years; and Tracy Cornuelle, Ph.D., who has 20-plus years of product development experience and currently works in R&D at Modere.

A final advisor, Greg Horn, also is the formulator of Modere’s M3 weight-loss system, which was developed around the Mediterranean lifestyle. Horn is known for his track record on the commercial side of health and nutrition, having formerly served as CEO of Garden of Life, a top natural supplement brand, and of GNC, the world’s largest specialty retailer of nutrition products, which added revenue of $100 million per year—for 11 consecutive years—during his tenure in management. He is now CEO of Specialty Nutrition Group, a nutrition consultancy focused on commercializing IP-protected nutritional and health-promoting technologies.

October 10, 2016

U.S. News

Mary Kay Foundation Grants $3M to Domestic Violence Shelters

Photo: The Mary Kay Foundation awards a grant to The Spring of Tampa Bay women’s shelter.

The Mary Kay Foundation is supplying critical funds to 150 domestic violence shelters across the U.S. through its annual grant program.

The charitable arm of Mary Kay Inc. is awarding $3 million in grants, each in the amount of $20,000, throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Since its inception 20 years ago, the foundation has invested $38.6 million in its annual shelter grant program. The funds are provided on an unrestricted basis, meaning organizations can apply them where they are needed most.

For example, Mary Kay reports that one recipient, the Family Crisis Center in LaFayette, Georgia, will use its grant to hire a part-time counselor to run domestic violence groups for women and teens in the shelter. Another, Carteret County Domestic Violence Program of Morehead City, North Carolina, will be able to replace the failing roof on its facility.

“The fact that shelters across the country can use these unrestricted funds to best fit their immediate needs has often made the difference between keeping the doors open or closed, helped maintain a critical service or provided a life-saving safe place for a family in need,” said Anne Crews, Mary Kay Foundation board member and Mary Kay Inc. Vice President of Public Affairs.

This year’s grant recipients were selected from a pool of nearly 600 applicants. The funds are raised in part through Mary Kay’s Beauty That Counts initiative, which donates a portion of proceeds from the sale of limited-edition beauty products.

Officials said the foundation will begin accepting applications for its 2017 shelter grant program on Jan. 15.

October 10, 2016

U.S. News

Avon Appeals to Modern Woman to Be a ‘Boss’

Photo: “This is Boss Life” print advertising featuring Avon Representative Georgiana.

What’s new about New Avon? Consumers are getting a taste of what’s to come in a just-launched ad campaign from the beauty company.

“This Is Boss Life” is a national broadcast, digital, print and radio campaign that showcases the Avon business—or, as the ads put it, the opportunity to be a Beauty Boss. Appealing to a younger demographic than Avon has attracted in recent years, the campaign highlights three categories of Avon representative and their stories: millennials, working moms and couples managing a business together.

“Every Avon Representative has a unique story of how they are finding success as their own boss,” said Scott White, CEO of New Avon. “We have the right tools and support to help them build a successful social selling beauty business. The ‘This Is Boss Life’ campaign spotlights that there is nothing more beautiful than succeeding on your own terms.”

White and his team are on a mission to revitalize Avon’s business in North America, where sales have fallen from about $2.6 billion in 2007 to $1 billion last year. In December 2015, Avon Products Inc. sold a majority interest in its North American business unit to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management, resulting in the privately held New Avon LLC. Driving representative recruitment is, of course, a top priority of New Avon management, and ‘This Is Boss Life’ is one part of that strategy.

To create its inaugural campaign, New Avon partnered with female-owned advertising agency TERRI & SANDY. New York-based Horizon Media led the media planning and buying.

“Avon has been enabling women to gain financial security since 1886, 34 years before women had won the right to vote,” said Terri Meyer, Co-Founder of TERRI & SANDY. “We wanted to leverage what’s already in the brand’s DNA—strong, confident, and successful female entrepreneurs, and showcase the flexible earnings opportunity that Avon makes possible.”

The brand’s new print ads feature real-life Avon Representatives who share how Avon has enriched their lives, financially and otherwise. A television spot—set to the tune of “I Will Survive”—is a variation on the same theme, encouraging women to trade in lackluster 9-to-5 jobs for the chance to be their own boss as an Avon Representative.

October 07, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Helps Shoppers Save with Cart Ripple App

Youngevity International Inc. is blurring the line between direct sales and e-commerce with Cart Ripple, its new online and mobile shopping app.

The seller of nutrition and lifestyle products debuted Cart Ripple during its recent See the Change Convention in Salt Lake City. The platform enables users to receive special sales promotions, discounts and cash back from more than 2,000 participating retailers, which include names like Walmart, Target, Starbucks and Sephora.

Chief executive Steve Wallach calls the app a “natural fit” for Youngevity distributors, particularly since many of them are already shopping at participating stores. In addition to finding their own deals, distributors can refer others to Cart Ripple and get cash back on the purchases of those they refer.

“We feel the marriage of direct selling with thousands of established retailers is such an exciting opportunity for all involved,” Youngevity’s President and CFO, Dave Briskie, said in a statement. “Cart Ripple gives our distributors, their customers, and their customers’ friends a robust shopping experience, along with financial incentives and benefits that fit Youngevity’s model so well.”

An additional feature helps consumers compare prices across the platform’s e-commerce stores. Cart Ripple users can simply scan or enter a particular item to find the best value.

October 07, 2016

U.S. News

New Jamberry CEO Brings Marketing, Direct Sales Know-How

Nail products maker Jamberry has named Elizabeth Thibaudeau as its new CEO, the family-owned enterprise announced Thursday.

Thibaudeau has considerable experience in direct sales, having spent the past 20 years with one of the channel’s leading skincare and nutrition companies. Most recently, she held the position of Vice President, Global Marketing, overseeing all brand and marketing functions. There she also helped to develop a strategic product platform and umbrella category brand that has generated billions in revenue over the last decade.

At Jamberry, Thibaudeau succeeds Adam Hepworth, who has led the company from its inception and will remain a board member and major shareholder. Hepworth’s wife, Christy, co-founded Jamberry in 2010 with her two sisters, Lyndsey Ekstrom and Keri Evans. Over the past six years, the company’s sales network has grown to more than 100,000 Independent Consultants.

“Elizabeth’s expertise, leadership, and experience building direct sales strategies will be an incredible asset to Jamberry as we continue executing on our long-term consultant-focused strategy,” Hepworth said in the company’s announcement. “We feel incredibly lucky to have found someone with this type of experience who naturally personifies our brand values.”

Jamberry is known for its do-it-yourself nail wraps, which are applied using a heat and pressure technique. In addition to offering a wide range of original designs, the company has worked with the likes of Disney and the NFL to introduce special themed collections. This summer Utah-based Jamberry expanded into Mexico, adding to operations in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

“I am passionate about the direct selling channel and believe in the power of social selling,” said Thibaudeau. “I am convinced Jamberry is perfectly poised to build on its historical success with its innovative decorative nail wrap products promoted by our brilliant personal style experts.”

October 07, 2016

U.S. News

Arbonne Upgrades Skincare Regimen with First Beauty Tool

Photo: Arbonne Intelligence Genius Ultra.

Arbonne International LLC has introduced its first-ever beauty device, intended to maximize the effects of the brand’s anti-aging skincare products.

The market for at-home beauty devices grew by nearly 14 percent in 2014, says Kline & Company in its Beauty Devices: Global Market Analysis and Opportunities report. That upward trend is expected to continue at a rate of 11 percent each year through 2017.

Arbonne’s new Genius Ultra beauty tool was three years in the making, said Michael D’Arminio, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer. “I’m confident we have created the smartest beauty tool out there, and the clinical results really highlight the amazing results you can achieve with our new Arbonne Intelligence Genius Ultra.”

The patent-pending technology behind Genius Ultra emits low-level ultrasound waves for better application of Arbonne serums, eye creams and lip treatment. The device gives off varying levels of heat, which allow the user to safely apply products to different areas of the face. It also features timed settings for precise application.

In a clinical study, using Genius Ultra with Arbonne’s RE9 Advanced Lifting and Contouring Eye Cream—for 1 minute, twice a day for 30 days—minimized signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothed and brightened the skin around the eye. Another study paired the Genius Ultra with RE9 Advanced® Intensive Renewal Serum for the face, with similar results.

October 05, 2016

U.S. News

Herbalife Launches Initiatives to Get out the Vote

Herbalife Ltd. is partnering with two voter engagement organizations to provide resources to Americans ahead of the 2016 general election.

The nutrition company has launched initiatives with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters and Voto Latino, in an effort to help citizens find the information they need to cast their ballot.

Eric Rosen, Herbalife Senior Vice President, Global Government Affairs, said, “Voting is a crucial right that gives each and every one of us the power to determine what happens in our communities and our nation, and Herbalife Nutrition is proud to promote civic engagement with the League of Women Voters and Voto Latino—two organizations that have shown the ability to provide Americans with the information they need to play a role in our democracy.”

On its Herbalife Nutrition website, the company is hosting the first-ever presidential election widget from the League of Women Voters, a grassroots organization that has been engaging voters across the U.S. for nearly a century. Using the VOTE411 widget, individuals can select their state and receive information on registration deadlines, voting options, ballot measures and more. An online voters’ guide also provides a side-by-side comparison of candidates’ positions.

“Millions of Americans miss the opportunity to vote in major election years because they lack basic information about the voting process,” said Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters. “We are grateful to have help from Herbalife Nutrition in breaking down this barrier and getting needed information directly into the hands of voters.”

In a separate initiative, Voto Latino is heading up voter registration drives at 20 Herbalife Nutrition Clubs across California, Florida and Colorado. The media organization, co-founded by actress Rosario Dawson, creates innovative digital campaigns to encourage Latino involvement in civic activities. Voto Latino is supplying educational materials and training on voter enrollment to the Nutrition Club owners, who are Independent Herbalife Members.

October 04, 2016

Software/Technology Solutions

Krato, Inc.

October 04, 2016

U.S. News

Medifast Names Direct Sales Veteran Daniel Chard as CEO

Photo: Dan Chard, CEO and Board Director of Medifast Inc.

Take Shape For Life parent Medifast Inc. is bringing in a new CEO with expertise in the direct sales channel.

The wellness firm on Monday announced that Daniel Chard will succeed outgoing chief executive Michael MacDonald, who has led Medifast since 2012. MacDonald has served on the company’s board since 1998, and will continue in his role as Executive Chairman of the Board.

Chard, who is also joining the Medifast board, has spent the bulk of his nearly two-decade direct sales career with one of the channel’s top companies, in roles that included Executive Vice President of Distributor Success, President of Global Sales & Operations, and Europe President. He most recently served as President and CEO of a direct selling company in the home fragrance category. Early in his career, Chard held marketing roles with PUR Recovery Engineering and The Pillsbury Co.

“Dan’s unique combination of leadership skills across operational, international, and marketing roles will be a tremendous asset to our team as we build upon the success of Take Shape For Life and further optimize our unique multi-channel distribution model,” MacDonald said in the company’s announcement.

Chard’s appointment underscores the importance of Medifast’s direct selling division, Take Shape For Life, which accounted for 74 percent, or $273 million, of revenue in 2015. The company also sells products online, at Medifast Weight Control Centers, and through a national network of physicians.

“I am honored to succeed Mike as Medifast’s CEO and pleased to have his continued support and guidance,” said Chard. “With an experienced leadership team and dedicated Health Coaches, franchisees, business partners, customers, and employees, Medifast is well positioned to capitalize on numerous growth opportunities across its distribution channels both domestically and internationally.”

As Chard takes on the role of CEO, the company’s direct sales division is in the midst of a year-long transition from the Take Shape For Life brand to Optavia, a new name and lifestyle brand that was introduced at the Take Shape For Life National Convention in July. Initally, the company has introduced a new line of Optavia products available exclusively through its independent Health Coaches.

October 03, 2016

U.S. News

Origami Owl Brings Willa Skincare Company under Its Wing

Photo: Origami Owl’s co-founder, Bella Weems, welcomes Willa Doss and her eponymous skincare company, Willa, to the fold.

Two companies that began before their founders could drive are about to become an even stronger direct selling player.

Arizona-based custom jewelry seller Origami Owl has purchased Willa, a New York company that creates natural skincare products for teens and tweens. Bella Weems was 14 when she and her mother, Chrissy, founded Origami Owl. Willa Doss was nine when she and her mom launched their business. Both companies have focused on creating opportunities for mother-daughter teams to share beauty-related products through social selling.

“We’ve been so impressed by Willa’s team, mission and quality of products,” Chrissy Weems said. “Nothing gives us more pleasure than to share our momentum with a like-minded company like Willa.”

Willa CEO Annette McEvoy, a long-time beauty industry executive who will continue to serve as Willa CEO, said the companies are a great match. “All of us at Willa are thrilled to be joining the Origami Owl family of brands,” she said. “We both believe in high-performing better-for-you beauty for women of all ages. …This partnership will enable Willa to reach a larger social selling audience and share Willa’s inherent goodness with even more people.”

Now in its sixth year, Origami Owl saw meteoric growth in 2013. Sales increased 870 percent to $233 million, earning the startup a spot at No. 60 on the DSN Global 100. Willa, which does not disclose revenue, began six years ago, as well—initially selling its products on retail shelves but shifting to direct sales in early 2014.

The acquisition comes on the heels of Origami Owl’s announcement in August that it has been licensed to sell charms, lockets and other products featuring characters from Dreamworks films such as Trolls.


October 03, 2016

U.S. News

Two More Young Living Executives Rise to New Positions

Once again, Young Living has found its next top talent within its own ranks.

The Utah-based essential oils company has promoted Ben Riley to Vice President of North America and Lee Bowen to Vice President of Finance. Riley joined Young Living in June as Senior Director of Global Sales, and Bowen came on board in 2014 as Director of Finance and then Senior Director of Finance.

These internal promotions come on the heels of the September promotions of Janay Standifird and Michael Buch, Ph.D. Standifird was appointed Chief Financial Officer after serving as Senior Vice President, Global Controller and Finance, and Buch moved up to Senior Vice President, Research & Development and Product Management.

“We embrace every opportunity to promote from within,” said Jared Turner, Young Living Chief Operating Officer. “Ben and Lee have both demonstrated their invaluable skillsets within their departments, as well as their passion to continue to expand and grow the Young Living business globally.”

Riley came to Young Living with more than 15 years of experience in network marketing. In his new role, he will develop and integrates sales strategies and oversee field leadership support. With more than 18 years of financial experience, Bowen will oversee financial planning and analysis, fraud management, as well as treasury, banking and risk management.

Young Living ranks at No. 20 on the Direct Selling News Global 100, with $1 billion in net sales and 1.5 million salespeople sales in 2015.

October 01, 2016

Exclusive Interviews

Commitment to Culture

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Nerium Celebrates 5 Years of Making People Better with Big Plans for the Next 5

In late August 2011, Jeff Olson and a corporate staff of 13 brought a new skincare company to market, Nerium International. Since then, Founder and CEO Olson and his Texas-based executive team have grown the company into one of the largest direct selling companies in the world. Its first full year in business was enough to propel it onto the DSN Global 100 list at No. 86 with $100 million in net sales for 2012, rising to No. 38 on the list this year with net sales of $516 million in 2015. Nerium’s growth story is one focused heavily on customer acquisition, with more than 70 percent of its sales to people not attached to the compensation plan. The company also maintains strong support for the personal development of its independent salesforce, known as Brand Partners, and continues to innovate in the fast-growing market for anti-aging products. Just a few days before the company’s official five-year anniversary, Olson spoke with DSN about the journey so far and how he sees the company evolving over the next five years.

DSN: When you look at Nerium today, how does the company line up with the vision that you had when you launched the business five years ago?

Olson: We’ve really lived up to everything we said. From day one, we said the company was about making people better—not just the financial, not just the skin, but as a whole. The other thing we very consciously said was we were going to be real. We have real science, real results, and we’ve lived up to that. It’s really interesting that the words we picked and the themes we picked, we executed on and five years later, looking back, we did them 100 percent.

DSN: The vast majority of the Nerium salesforce did not have network marketing experience before coming into the company. Does that change the way you approach training?

Olson: I ask the field to do two things. The first is to become a great messenger, which means work on who you are. Like Abraham Lincoln said, “If I have six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll spend the first four hours sharpening my axe.” I was fanatical about personal development, and we made it a big part of our core principles. The second thing is to plug into the third-party system we provide. We created very duplicable training modules that anybody could do and anybody could point someone else to do. We created great third-party tools where we could teach people how to share the product so they didn’t have to be the message, they just had to be the messenger. And we had third-party communication, a really intense communication platform to keep people up to speed on everything we’re doing every week.

Jeff OlsonJeff Olson

For a new person who has never been in network marketing and has other endeavors—a job, family and other things going on in their life—they could just share third-party tools to provide more information about the product and opportunity. By plugging into third-party training they can not only learn but they can teach their team, and they can keep up with what’s going on. We just made it a very simple, duplicable third-party model.

DSN: How has that shaped the Nerium culture?

Olson: We don’t have any tribes. If the company doesn’t lead and give direction and give the system and tools you need, the field will always fill the void. Once the field starts to fill the void, then you have multiple ways to do the business, multiple ways to do training, multiple ways of communication. It makes it very, very difficult.

DSN: Was that consistency more difficult to achieve as the company became larger, or did it become simpler?

Olson: As it grew, it got easier. With so many people, to go against the established culture and system would have been like a minnow trying to go up against a shark. Now, we have had to adjust as we’ve gone international because there is more of a hierarchical team orientation in Asia as part of the culture. But they are still using the same tools, the same communication; we’ve just allowed the people to be a little more branded as part of their teams. We haven’t lost our Nerium rhythm.

NeriumNerium corporate staff celebrate the company’s five-year anniversary with Brand Ambassadors at its recent Get Real conference in Dallas, Texas.

DSN: How did you know it was time to go international?

Olson: We went slower than anybody. We were in the Direct Selling News Global 100 with just one country. We’re in four countries and just opened our fifth in five years. You’ve got to decide how you’re going to open a country; we made the decision to do the whole system. When we open a country, we have a country manager who has been with us for nine months to a year, full time. That person has a marketing staff, a compliance staff, a legal staff, and they’ve all been over to Dallas multiple times learning how we do things. We have an office there; we have the infrastructure. We have a call center with people who have been training for six weeks and can speak dual languages.

When we opened Japan, we had 85 call center people fully trained the day we opened. We opened up a full infrastructure in Canada, a full replicated system in Mexico, the exact same thing in Korea and the exact same thing in Japan. We spent $12 million in infrastructure in Japan before we opened the door, not counting product. Word is out that there is a company that’s really trying to do it right.

DSN: Do you plan to speed up the pace of your international expansion?

Olson: Yes. We’ve been moving at about a rate of one country every seven or eight months since we started, but starting next year we’ll be going much faster. We feel like we have our model down, our corporate management team and our software systems. We slammed on the brakes when we were a year old and decided we wouldn’t go anywhere else until we had built one global operating system. We spent probably $30 million to build it, then migrated the United States, Mexico and Canada onto the new system before launching Korea and then Japan. We took our time to do that, but now we can go fast.

DSN: What are some of the other key investments you have made in the company to set the foundation for future growth?

Olson: We kept everything in-house. We have a very robust marketing department, digital marketing department, social media marketing department. The call center is all in-house, not outsourced. Our management team is the best of the best that I could find. We did everything world-class, first-class and took our time—in every single thing we invested. We’ve tried to do it the way you’re supposed to do it. I think our whole company is living up to the design. 

DSN: When you think about the next five years for Nerium, where do you hope to be at the 10-year mark?

Olson: We’ll be a $2 billion company in five years, easily, and we’ll be in somewhere between 15 and 20 countries. I don’t want to have a lot of products; I want to keep it tight and simple and execute. Our product line will expand, but we won’t be a jack-of-all-trades. We had our five-year party and gave out certificates to all of the people who had been with us for five years, and it wasn’t 10 people, it was eight. Yet standing there were over 500 more people. You can only imagine where we’re going to go in the next five years with this group of 500 who are plugged into the system and driving a model that’s very duplicable and replicable.

October 01, 2016

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, October 2016

October 01, 2016

Company Spotlight

New Avon Team Takes the Stage

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Photo: New Avon CEO Scott White and President, Social Selling Betty Palm join Representatives to celebrate the finale of RepFest16, the first national conference since the North American business was bought and taken private by Cerberus Capital Management.

Company Profile

Founded: 1886 (New Avon 2016)
Headquarters: New York
Executives: Scott White, CEO
2015 Revenue $1.01 billion
Products: Cosmetics, personal careIn the heart of New York City, a team of executives is working on a unique project: a $1 billion startup.

nameScott White

The project began in December 2015, when Avon Products Inc. sold a majority interest in its North American business unit to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management. Avon had been attempting to turn around sales in North America, which had fallen from roughly $2.6 billion in 2007 to $1 billion in 2015, while simultaneously transforming its global operations. The Cerberus transaction represented a critical turning point, immediately achieving three key things for what is now known as New Avon LLC. First, it gave the business a tight focus: achieve growth in an established, and relatively compact, geographic market. Second, it took the company private, eliminating the pressure that comes with making public financial reports every three months. And third, it brought an infusion of capital and capabilities from Cerberus aimed at rethinking the business.

The New Avon Board of Managers quickly introduced new leadership to the organization, naming former Abbott Laboratories and Procter & Gamble executive Scott White the company’s new CEO in April. In September, White and several key members of his executive team sat down with Direct Selling News for their first in-depth interviews at the helm of the company. The team has an enormous challenge ahead; if successful, they will have achieved one of the most complex turnarounds in direct selling history. The goal, White says, is simple: “It’s not about getting better. It’s about getting back to being the best.”

“It’s not about getting better. It’s about getting back to being the best.”
— Scott White, CEO

White became CEO April 25 but began his career with New Avon in January as a Representative, signing up while still in the interview process with Cerberus. He has been working closely with the field ever since. In his first four months on the job, White met with more than 1,000 Representatives, spending time working with them in the business. He made his formal introduction to the field in August at New Avon’s first RepFest, which drew an estimated 5,000 people to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. White also is an active participant in Avon 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer, completing his first two-day, 39-mile walk earlier this year and signing up to complete his second in New York City in October. His entire leadership team are also Avon Representatives, as were 22 summer interns, who made presentations to the executive team about their experiences at the end of their internships. It is a continuation of a practice that dates back to the days when tight connection between the corporate leadership and the field were generating strong sales throughout North America. “That’s the way I operate,” White says of the hands-on approach. “I love the granularity of what a business is. It helps me to understand where we are winning and where we need to do better. I’m hearing directly from our Representatives that they are motivated and excited—and that they need more and want more help growing their businesses.”

Avon RepresentativesAvon Representatives having fun at RepFest.

Unity in Spirit

As White and his team spend time with Representatives and analyzing the New Avon business, they are mapping out a path designed to bring the company to the forefront of social selling. “It all really starts with dramatically improving our new Representative experience,” White says. “People say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a consumer products guy, what’s he doing in direct selling?’ What is fundamental is understanding who sells your products, who markets your products, who positions your products. That’s who I am. I’ve always been a really hands-on business owner in understanding how purchase decisions are made and what drives the business.”

One of Whit’es first hires was Betty Palm, who now serves as New Avon’s President, Social Selling. Palm began her career in direct selling as an intern at Avon and worked with a number of top direct selling companies in roles such as vice president of sales and marketing, executive vice president, and president of North America. She led the formation of direct selling divisions at Mars Inc. and Jones Apparel Group. She had served as a consultant to Cerberus prior to their purchase of the business and through the transition.

Among Palm’s first initiatives was to unveil a new onboarding experience for Representatives as they join the business. Previously, Avon’s basic starter kit cost $15 and was comprised of a basic bag and a small batch of product brochures, samples, an order book and a few other pieces of literature. There are now three kit options, ranging in price from $25 to $100, each with newly designed materials for onboarding new Representatives to the business. The two biggest changes to the kits, Palm says, are the inclusion of recruiting brochures and the addition of more product samples. “The more that you can have a customer try something and get a reaction, the more likely you are to sell,” she says. “The products that get sampled, get sold.”

Palm says the new kits dovetail with a crisper online experience for product training, more support on how to mentor a newcomer to the business and a kick-start program designed to guide new Representatives through their first 90 days. The new onboarding experience has been in development for months, with lots of feedback from the sales field during the process. It debuted at RepFest and launched officially Sept. 15, in time for the busy fourth quarter sales period.

New Avon’s starter kit received a makeover of its own—starting with the addition of recruiting brochures and more product samples, as tangible pieces of the company and business opportunity.

Commitment to Empowerment

The new onboarding experience is one sign of New Avon’s commitment to improving the business opportunity for Representatives. White says he and the executive team recognize that Avon had become a complicated business and now are focused on increasing the opportunities for Representatives to earn money through their Avon businesses while reducing the amount of time it takes to do so. Some of the key initiatives here include simplifying the portfolio of products, introducing better electronic tools for managing the sales process and, coming soon, refining the earnings program.

Two Companies, One Goal: Empower Women

Avon 39 participants, including Avon employees, Representatives and other supporters, have collectively raised nearly $590 million, along with the awareness that comes from such a walk.

While Avon Products Inc. and New Avon LLC operate as two distinct companies, both continue to support the Avon Foundation for Women.

When the Foundation was created in 1955, it operated on a modest scale; its first grant was a single $400 scholarship. Today, the foundation is a global player in two areas: the eradication of breast cancer and bringing an end to domestic violence and violence against women. In 2016, Avon and the Avon Foundation surpassed the $1 billion milestone of cumulative donations to causes for women.

“The Avon brand has always been for beauty and innovation and optimism, but also the empowerment of women,” says Jill Surdyka, Director, Community Engagement, for the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. “Through the efforts of the foundation, we’re really able to bring those two issues to light and out into the public dialogue.”

The foundation and the charitable work it represents has become a part of the culture at Avon’s corporate offices as well as in the salesforce. For example, more than 220,000 people have participated in Avon 39, the Walk to End Breast Cancer since that project began in 2003. Participants, which include Avon employees as well as Representatives and other supporters, have collectively raised nearly $590 million, along with the awareness that comes from a two-day, 39-mile walk. The companies and the foundation also work together on cause marketing products and other corporate social responsibility initiatives to bring the purpose-driven company message home.

“It’s something that everyone’s really proud of from the corporate side, with our Associates, but also our Representatives around the world,” Surdyka says. “We have breast cancer walks happening around the world, domestic violence initiatives happening around the world, and our Representatives know that and see that and it’s a big source of pride for them.”

“We certainly want to invest more in training,” Palm says. “Training up and down all levels of the sales organization, not only the new Representatives from product knowledge and basic selling skills and how to acquire customers, but also for new leadership and then even the higher ranks of leadership.”

While Avon had experienced several years of declining sales and a declining salesforce in North America, Palm says the company was able to retain a lot of leaders at the top of the sales organization. She’s currently focused on the opportunity to improve retention rates at the lower levels by promoting a simpler message about how to advance along a New Avon career path. “I think you can imagine when you are a 130-year-old company, there were a lot of legacy systems and processes built into the business,” Palm says. “We are taking a startup mentality and challenging a lot of old processes and ways of doing business.” This includes experimenting with new ideas and piloting initiatives to test them, learning from those tests and then making the best decisions for the wider business.

There also is a strengthened commitment to building a sense of community with Avon Representatives, including hosting sales meetings and developing training for Representatives that, though long a part of the Avon culture, had been reduced or eliminated in recent years. Sales meetings provide Representatives with an opportunity to get together with their teams every two weeks for recognition, business plan development, peer-to-peer learning and inspiration, as well as new product introductions.

The company also is building the Avon Representatives’ ability to be successful social sellers by providing digital tools to run their Avon business and transact with customers. Each Representative receives an eStore to use to sell to customers online, and New Avon provides a daily stream of ready-made content through a Social Media Center that Representatives can share. The content includes advice and tips on how to use product, as well as behind-the-scenes content with Avon ambassadors such as Lucy Hale and Sofia Vergara. The Social Media Center, led by Director of Social Media Jess Goon, has helped propel the brand to among the most talked about in direct selling on social media. The focus, Goon says, is always on expanding business opportunities for Representatives. “I find that there’s no other job where you can have an idea and then immediately you are helping 300,000 women earn an income,” she says.

New Avon also has made a big investment in overhauling the company’s call center in Springdale, Ohio. The call center, now known as the Customer Insights Center, plans to hire 70 additional workers this fall, including those with the skills to provide customer service via social media and other digital channels.

Innovation at the Heart

The changes at New Avon also will extend to the customer base, which will be introduced to the new brand image with the launch of the company’s first advertising campaign in years on Oct. 7. The company will license many of its products from the global Avon Products Inc. and will build a portfolio that is designed to be highly relevant to its customers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The company is looking to expand its offering, including a move into the health and wellness category.

In addition, New Avon is working with outside vendors to develop products exclusive to its portfolio. The company invited several skincare and color companies to present ideas for new products during a series of Innovation Days, with a group of New Avon Representatives and Associates on hand to provide immediate feedback Shark Tank style. The company created a short list of potential new products from the event and four are currently under development. It is part of Chief Innovation Officer Helene Rutledge’s philosophy of open innovation, in which a company can expand the walls of its research and development practice to encompass the entire world. This network of scouts can even extend to the salesforce. “It’s really knowing that when people have an idea we can give them the tools and training to bring that to us. Then we can understand an unmet need or give somebody the opportunity to take their entrepreneurial spirit that they are using in their business as a Representative—and they are experts in their products and what their consumers want—and cultivate that,” Rutledge says. “It’s a beautiful potential source of innovation, in addition to the external partners that we are looking to work with.”

The company will license many of its products from the global Avon Products Inc. In addition, New Avon is working with outside vendors to develop products exclusive to its portfolio.

She says she looks for external vendor partners that fit well with the Avon culture, are absolutely honest about development timelines and are open to innovation. Her goal is to create a collaborative ecosystem of product development in which all participants benefit—and ultimately consumers and Representatives as well. She also plans to more strongly promote the science behind many of the company’s products, including its sun care, skincare and color products, as well as expand the size of its scientific advisory board.

The product brochure has been a staple of the Avon sales process for generations, and White says that will continue, though with adjustments. Digital will play a bigger role moving forward, as will the way in which products are featured. The company already has introduced some brochures under the Avon Living banner that read more like a lifestyle magazine than a catalog. “We’re evolving more into storytelling and seeing products in context,” White says. “It’s important that we share a compelling product proposition and a benefit, at a fair price point.”

Legacy First

There’s a lot that’s new at New Avon, but White and his team say they are mindful that they are building on a 130-year-old legacy. Avon Founder David McConnell was one of the founders of the direct selling channel in the United States, but he also was one of the first American business leaders to promote opportunities for women to build businesses with no glass ceilings.

“I think you can imagine when you are a 130-year-old company, there were a lot of legacy systems and processes built into the business. We are taking a startup mentality and challenging a lot of old processes and ways of doing business.”
—Betty Palm, President, Social Selling

“As much as we are changing as a company, our commitment to our Representatives remains the same. Our Representatives are at the center of every business decision made at New Avon,” he says. “What’s new is that we are combining our brand power and our decades-long purpose-driven mission with a renewed commitment to investing in growth and building long-term brand value.”

October 01, 2016

Company Focus

WellnessPro: Improving Health and Wellness Around the Globe

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2005
Headquarters: Woodland Hills, California
Executives: Co-Founders Michael Kolpakov and Dr. Tatiana Kolpakov
Products: Wellness, weight loss, skin care

nameCo-Founders of WellnessPro, Michael Kolpakov and Dr. Tatiana Kolpakov.

Dr. Tatiana Kolpakov and her husband, Michael, immigrated to the United States from Russia in 2000. Today they’re at the helm of an international company with an emphasis on wellness and weight loss, and recently extended their product line to include skincare products, which will be introduced in the United States before the 2016 holiday season. Based in Southern California, the firm has expanded internationally and is now in 11 countries—their largest market is Russia.

The Kolpakovs brought significant direct sales experience to WellnessPro—Michael had served as the president of a logistics and third-party distribution company. Tatiana, then a practicing anesthesiologist, was a successful distributor for a direct selling company. She was, she says, “a person who had never, ever sold anything in her life.” But she became a top distributor for the firm and an international speaker. Most important, she became a passionate advocate for the role that direct sales could play in helping to improve lives, something near and dear to her heart. “We created WellnessPro in 2005 because we believed we would be able to make a difference,” she says. Two things drove and motivated her. First, as a doctor, she says, “I strongly believed in preventative medicine.” And, she adds, “I loved the direct sales industry and was fascinated with the idea that by helping others a business could grow.”

Initially, WellnessPro offered wellness shakes, formulated specifically for men or women, and to help people lose, maintain or gain weight. Dr. William Wheeler, a nutritionist, was engaged to produce the shakes, which are, according to the website, “packed with HeptaCal™ (helps absorb calcium) and 21 other exclusive and patented ingredients.” The site also shows a series of before-and-after photos of WellnessPro customers who have lost weight using the products.

In addition to the meal replacement shakes, WellnessPro also offers a series of supplements:

  • Dfense—to flush toxins and remove impurities from the body
  • Block n Burn—to inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates
  • Omega—to protect and strengthen the cardiovascular system
  • Mpower—to boost libido, improve sexual performance and support prostate health

In 2012, the company added skincare products to its offerings through its NuWelle™ line; skincare products are not currently carried in the U.S., but there are plans to add this line in the future.

What makes the products different, says Kolpakov, is that “we very carefully select the supplements for general health and wellness, incorporating the latest discoveries and ingredients.” The benefits of the products have been substantiated, she says, through several clinical trials conducted in Russia and Israel; all of the products are endorsed by physicians.

“We very carefully select the supplements for general health and wellness, incorporating the latest discoveries and ingredients.”
—Dr. Tatiana Kolpakov, Co-Founder and Head of Scientific Advisory Board

In addition to the health benefits of the products, says Kolpakov, taste was critically important to ensure customers would return again and again to purchase the product and continue its use. “We spent more than six months creating the flavor system,” she says. “Over the years we’ve accumulated thousands and thousands of testimonials around the world to prove sustainable, life-changing results,” she says. The results are long-term. With 10 years behind them, not only have customers lost weight, but they’ve kept it off successfully, she says: “70 percent of customers stay on the program month after month.”

Building a Foundation of Strong Direct Sales Leadership

A strong background in both medicine and direct sales has supported the company’s growth, says Kolpakov. “As a medical doctor I strive to bring the best nutritional product to the market—science-based and always high quality. And as a former distributor I also know, firsthand, distributor needs.” Consequently, she says, WellnessPro has a strong commitment to both superior product offerings and a foundation for distributors to be supported, recognized and rewarded.

Recently, WellnessPro added additional expertise in the direct sales industry with the appointment of John Purdy as the company’s new President and COO. Purdy brings a wealth of direct selling experience, having served in executive roles with titles such as president and chief operating officer and senior vice president with global direct selling brands. He has, he says, retired three times. Something, though, keeps luring him back. In this case it was WellnessPro. He’s only been in his new role for a few months—he joined the firm in August—but he already has a clear picture of the path forward.

“It’s about doing the right thing, taking it one step at a time and building a foundation. Then you take that foundation and put the building blocks on top of it to build a company that will sustain itself for many, many years.”
—John Purdy, President and COO

When Purdy first met the Kolpakovs they hit it off immediately, he says. He was intrigued and excited about the company and its products and began having phone calls with the Kolpakovs about various elements of their business. It wasn’t long, he says, before his wife said, “I can see the snowball rolling down the hill.”

The contacts and connections he’s made over his career represent a distinct advantage in his new role, says Purdy. He’s already brought on board a couple of well-known distributors. That contact list and the ability to prospect through distributors, he says, along with a focus on using social media to raise awareness of the company, are all opportunities he plans to leverage.

Purdy is excited about his new role and the potential to grow the company. “I’ve been pretty successful before, and I plan on playing to win,” he says. “I don’t play for second place. I truly believe that we can take this company to Tatiana’s five-year goal.” It’s not something that will happen overnight, he says. “It’s about doing the right thing, taking it one step at a time and building a foundation. Then you take that foundation and put the building blocks on top of it to build a company that will sustain itself for many, many years.”

WellnessProPotential customers and distributors receive a sample of WellnessPro’s signature weight-loss shake.

WellnessPro is in its 11th year as a company, says Kolpakov. “For most of these years we have been operating in Russia and Europe and have been quite successful. We’ve been focusing on the development of the North American market for the last year only—we’re still relatively small here.” So far, she says, that growth has been primarily organic. But, she adds, “Our plan is to more than double next near and the year afterward.”

Purdy adds, “We currently have six direct staff who work at home offices most often. We also utilize the services of third parties for manufacturing, marketing production, graphic design, event planning and logistics/warehousing.”

A Natural for the Direct Sales Model

WellnessPro’s products are a natural fit for direct sales, says Purdy. It’s social selling, he says. “If somebody tells you the restaurant down the street is the best thing in Italian food and you’re looking for a restaurant, you’re going to try that restaurant. The same thing with nutritional products, especially weight loss.” The impact is simply not the same as, for instance, walking into a GNC store and evaluating all of the products on the shelf. Even if the lone clerk in the store is knowledgeable about the products, you’re not likely to get a very detailed or thorough explanation of what the product does. And, Purdy, adds: “Nobody likes to read a label.”

In addition, adds Kolpakov, WellnessPro distributors offer consultation and support during their customers’ weight-loss journeys. “About 85 percent of our customers are here to lose some weight, and distributors go with them all the way. It’s a great additional benefit we provide.”

“If somebody tells you the restaurant down the street is the best thing in Italian food and you’re looking for a restaurant, you’re going to try that restaurant. The same thing with nutritional products, especially weight loss.”
—John Purdy

The culture is one of integrity and open communication, says Kolpakov. “Open communication with the field is very important to us. We encourage distributors to speak up, and we listen to them very carefully. We understand that the company does not exist without distributors, and that is why it’s really, really important to us.” WellnessPro is a family-run company 100 percent owned by the Kolpakovs. “We would like our distributors to feel they are part of the big family,” Kolpakov says.

Decisions are made, she adds, based on a three-part test: “Is it good for our customers? Is it good for our company? Is it good for our distributors?” If it doesn’t pass the test, it’s not done. Communication is frequent and ongoing with weekly webinars, weekly and monthly calls, and two main corporate events each year. “Distributors do their own meetings as well,” says Purdy. “The leadership kit has enough product to last 30 days and includes some training materials and promotional items.”

Despite the success the company has seen in its Russian and European markets and despite the excitement about the potential for additional growth in North American markets, there are some fairly significant challenges that lay ahead—those that affect others in the direct selling space as well.

Facing, and Overcoming, Challenges

There are two, seemingly contradictory, challenges that WellnessPro faces, Purdy notes. One, the sometimes tarnished image of direct sales companies and, another, the growing popularity of the model.

“There are a lot of people around who think any direct sales company is a scam and a pyramid. It has always been, and will probably always be this way.” That, Purdy says, can be a challenge, primarily in terms of distributor acquisition. At the same time, he says, “Every week somebody decides to start a direct sales company,” creating more competition for WellnessPro and others in the market.

Tatiana Kolpakov says decisions at WellnessPro are made based on a three-part test: Is it good for our customers? Is it good for our company? Is it good for our distributors?

WellnessPro works hard to overcome the negativity and misconceptions about direct selling. “The old joke is ‘I’m not going to buy anything because the next thing you know they’re going to be calling me every day to be a distributor.’ ” That’s not the culture at WellnessPro, Purdy says. Customers are very important—and they’re very important as customers. “We love customers; not everybody has to try to become a million-dollar earner,” he says.

As WellnessPro expands into the U.S. market, one of the things the company hopes to do is build relationships with doctors and estheticians as it has in other markets. “Because of the clinical trials that we’ve done in Russia and Israel, we have very trusting relationships with physicians, doctors, clinics and spas,” says Kolpakov. In fact, she adds, “Many of our customers came from that channel and some of them became our distributors.” She says she hopes to establish these same types of relationships in the U.S.

In terms of other expansion, Kolpakov says, there are both opportunities and challenges. International expansion, in particular, can be challenging, she notes. “You’ve got to watch the regulatory situation.” Each country is different and regulations change continually. “You need to make sure you have the proper resources and regulatory experience to go into some of those marketplaces.”

“I strongly believed in preventative medicine. I loved the direct sales industry and was fascinated with the idea that by helping others a business could grow.”
—Dr. Tatiana Kolpakov

Still, WellnessPro has some distinct advantages. One advantage is its relatively small size, says Purdy. “We’re small so we can maneuver quickly,” he says. Larger organizations, he adds, are like battleships—it can take them a while to turn. “So, actually, sometimes our size is an advantage to us.”

October 01, 2016

Company Focus

pawTree: Paw Passion A Holistic Approach to Pet Nutrition

by Heather Martin

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2012
Headquarters: Southlake, Texas
Top Executive: Founder and CEO Roger Morgan
Number of Salespeople: 1,000
Products: Holistic pet food and supplements

Roger Morgan believes he is pioneering uncharted territory with his pet products startup pawTree. In fact, he thinks this combination of direct sales and custom pet nutrition is “turning the pet products market on its head.”

A long time in the making, Morgan’s idea for starting his own company was a seed planted while he worked in the pet products industry selling to massive retailers such as Wal-Mart and PetSmart. 

But when he founded pawTree in Southlake, Texas, he moved far outside those big boxes and has never looked back. And he says he’s exactly where he planned to be.

“Most of the steps I’ve made in my career have been with this end goal of starting my own business in mind,” says Morgan, who started pawTree in 2012 after serving as CEO of multinational pet products company Retail Product Group, a division of NCH Corporation, and as past chairman of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). He says he recently read a journal entry he wrote as the company was getting off the ground and in it he says to himself: “Roger, this is it. This is what all of these decades have been preparing you for.”

According to APPA, U.S. pet owners will spend nearly $63 billion on pet products in 2016—nearly half of that will be spent on pet food and another $15 billion will go toward supplies and over-the-counter medicine.

The only gap in that preparation was experience in direct sales. But Morgan says he found mentors in, and became a student of, the channel—a channel he believes is ideal for reaching people who are passionate about the health and well-being of their pets. He also recruited an executive team with more than 35 years of combined experience in social selling to help him build his direct selling chops.

He says pawTree is doubling its sales every year and that it has enrolled the majority of its 1,000 direct sales associates—called petPros—since January 2016. He also confirmed that after raising two rounds of seed capital in the company’s first two years, he has not sought more funding and says the company is on track to take increasingly larger bites out of this market—one that seems to offer plenty to chew on. According to APPA, U.S. pet owners will spend nearly $63 billion on pet products in 2016—nearly half of that will be spent on pet food and another $15 billion will go toward supplies and over-the-counter medicine.

Scratching a Niche

There are other companies that sell custom pet food—including big retail sales dogs such as Purina and smaller web-based players such as Paul’s Custom Pet Food, The Farmer’s Dog, and Tails.com, according to an online search. In the direct selling space, a few companies exclusively sell private-label pet food, treats and supplements, and a few human wellness companies sell pet supplement products. Morgan says pawTree aims to differentiate itself with its designs of a holistic diet of food and supplements based on a pet’s specific nutritional needs and challenges. “There are multiple reasons why a food-only concept is not going to be successful long term. We offer a whole nutrition plan. We really can do amazing things for pets and create a more sustainable business model.”

nameFounder and CEO Roger Morgan with his own dogs, an Australian Shepard/Labrador rescue named JoJo and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bella.

The direct sales model is perfect for pet owners, Morgan continues, because “people generally want to do the right thing for their pets. They just don’t know what the right thing is.” So this approach provides a level of knowledge and customization they can’t get shopping among dozens of brands at a retail store. pawTree products are formulated by veterinarians and animal nutrition experts and endorsed by other pet lovers. “I chose direct selling because vets and people you know and trust are the reasons people will change their pet food.” And it creates an environment for repeat business, too, he says.

This business is about more than selling “a few bags of pet food,” though, Morgan continues. Of course, it’s also about offering flexibility and financial freedom to the sales associates, as most direct selling opportunities are. But Morgan can’t get enough of seeing how improving a pet’s health can have a profound effect on the relationship between that pet and its owner. Just read between the lines in a customer testimonial, he says. When an owner whose dog was having digestive trouble writes, “My dog couldn’t roll over before, but after three months on your products, my dog rolled over for a belly rub!” or “My dog had terrible breath, and now we can snuggle!” Morgan says it’s hard not to conclude that pawTree strengthens the bond between animals and their pet parents.

He says he has been blown away by the emotional impact his products have had on people. “You can’t predict what’s happening in people’s hearts,” he says. “I hoped it would happen; but to see it happen, it’s just been heartwarming and really surprising.”

Angela Doheny, who handles public relations for pawTree, says she had no doubt that Morgan would make a difference in the pet industry with this company. She was drawn to his energy when she worked with him for eight years at Retail Products Group, and was highly motivated to be a part of pawTree when she learned of his vision for the company.

“Roger is just one of those leaders that you want to get behind,” Doheny says. “I had a passion for joining him at his new company.”

Doheny says pawTree continues to attract people who fully support each other—from the 12-person team at the corporate headquarters to the hundreds of outside contractors who provide manufacturing, branding and IT services to the growing number of petPros, who cover every state except South Dakota and Alaska. Case in point: At the recent pawFest conference outside of Dallas, Morgan presented an award to a petPro who happens to be deaf. Not only did pawTree provide a sign language interpreter for the associate, when he received the award every hand in the room went up and waved, a universal sign of applause for the hearing impaired. “That speaks to the culture of petPros, clapping for him in his language,” Doheny says.

Special Order

Morgan says pawTree products have even strengthened his connection with his own dogs, a 7-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bella and a 2-year-old Australian Shepherd/Labrador rescue named JoJo.

“Dinner time at our house looks like this,” he explains. “I open up a bottle of joint support, a little chew, and that’s their appetizer—from my hand. And then they each get a different dog food. Then I put a couple of squirts of salmon oil on top of the dry kibble, then pawPairings Superfood.” Bella and JoJo seem to understand the whole process, he says. “At the beginning, they know I’m preparing the meal for them, and they sit there and look at me. As soon as I sprinkle the Superfood, they know it’s time. And they dive in.”

They’re diving in to meat-based food that’s been formulated to meet their specific nutritional needs. pawTree recommends a recipe based on a pet’s breed, age, weight, allergies and other details the owner provides in an online pet profile. The personalized nutrition plan includes food—manufactured domestically by Nebraska-based CJ Foods, with no corn, wheat, soy or poultry byproducts—as well as supplements and sometimes skincare products. Pet owners also can give the food a custom name, like Molly’s Yappatizers or Dino’s Din Din, and pawTree will print the name and the pet’s picture on the food bag label. Once a pet’s plan is in place, the owner can sign up for automatic shipments with customizable shipping intervals and amounts.

Now that it has established itself with the canine contingent, pawTree is opening the club to its feline friends, having unveiled its line of customized cat nutrition products at the July pawFest. Dog products were a natural starting point, Morgan explains, because dog owners spend two or three times as much on their pets as cat owners do; plus, dogs are bigger, so they eat more. But cat owners are passionate about their fur kids, and pawTree wants to serve them, too, Morgan says.

pawTreepawTree consultants, or petPros, are recognized for their achievements.

He says pawTree’s five-year product roadmap will take the company deeper into the dog and cat product categories. “I don’t see going into reptiles or fish or hamsters,” he says. Given that the customer base of dog and cat owners is three times the size of the base of other pet owners, according to APPA, pawTree seems to be barking up the most popular tree.

Going petPro

Pet lovers usually find out about and start purchasing pawTree products because of a relationship with an individual petPro. But the company does provide the opportunity for petPros to host events called Pawloozas, which are similar to home parties, except that there are often multiple petPros on hand to introduce the products and the idea of creating pet nutrition plans.

In the early days of the company, Morgan and one of his executives would regularly attend Pawloozas to help recruit petPros. That’s who hooked petPro Elka B., then an emergency veterinary technician, who attended a Pawlooza in Salt Lake City and met Morgan and pawTree National Sales Director Melissa Davis. “My passion has always been with animals—I loved working with them and helping them to survive,” Elka says. “We went through the nuts and bolts for two hours. They really made me comfortable taking on this new venture wholeheartedly.”

“A key criterion we’ll always use to filter will be which products make a difference in the lives of pets and people. If it’s a solution to a pet’s problem, if it makes a pet parent’s life more comfortable, you can be sure that’s on our product roadmap.”
—Roger Morgan

If a pet lover decides to take the plunge with pawTree, the initial investment is relatively small. For between $25 and $300, new associates can purchase a starter kit and pawTree will waive the website fee for six months. petPros then earn 10 percent to 20 percent on their own retail sales and a percent of the sales of any petPros they recruit.

pawTree also organizes sales coaching and leadership development events for petPros and provides virtual sales training through the petPro app, a game-based mobile app created by Rallyware, a direct sales-focused provider. Sales associates work through modules at their convenience—earning points and rewards along the way—to increase their understanding of pawTree products and develop their direct selling skills, Morgan says.

Love Rules

Recruiting and developing strong petPros is important, according to Morgan, but not for the sake of having more petPros. “We’re definitely a product-centric company and a customer-centric company,” he says. “We have far more customers than we do petPros—that’s important to us.” Morgan emphasizes that pawTree’s mission always has been and always will be about animals and their owners.

“A key criterion we’ll always use to filter will be which products make a difference in the lives of pets and people,” Morgan says. “There’s a bunch of pet products that you could argue don’t make a difference. If it’s a solution to a pet’s problem, if it makes a pet parent’s life more comfortable, you can be sure that’s on our product roadmap.”

pawTree products include meat-based food that’s been formulated to meet a pet’s specific nutritional needs. The company recommends a recipe based on a pet’s breed, age, weight, allergies and other details the owner provides in an online pet profile.

At the moment, pawTree products are sold just in the United States and will be for the near future. “Right now, geographic expansion is penetrating deeper in the United States; before we get to saturation, we’ll start looking to other markets,” Morgan says. “We fully intend to expand internationally. The vision is absolutely global.” Morgan says his vision for the company in general comes from a solid product plan and measured growth strategy. “It takes five to seven years to run up the growth ramp to build a sustainable company. Most companies that are successful don’t have $100 million in their first year.”

But the deeper element driving pawTree’s success, Morgan says, isn’t about strategy or numbers. It’s love. “We love pets and people. All people,” he says. “This whole business is a story of unconditional love, and the love our pets provide to us, and the opportunity we have to give back to our pets in ways they can’t provide for themselves.”

October 01, 2016

Manufacturing/Product Development

Wasatch Contract Manufacturing

October 01, 2016

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, October 2016

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

USANA Names New Chief Scientific Officer

Rob Sinnott Rob Sinnott

Nutrition and personal-care products maker USANA Health Sciences has appointed Rob Sinnott, Ph.D., a veteran of the nutritional supplement industry, as its new Chief Scientific Officer.

Ongoing research efforts were front and center during USANA’s recent International Convention, as the Utah company shared its latest scientific breakthrough—MySmart Foods—with independent Associates. The protein shakes and bars are the brand’s first-ever food product line.

Sinnott is coming on board to grow the research and development team and drive product innovation to the next level, said USANA Co-CEO Dave Wentz. “Rob gained our attention because of his exceptional leadership and experience in our industry.”

The company’s new Chief Scientific Officer brings 25 years of scientific experience, including more than 18 years in the nutritional supplement space. In undergraduate and post-graduate studies at Arizona State University, Sinnott’s focus was on applied sciences, including biotechnology and plant medicinal chemistry. He holds five patents issued in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore.

“USANA has a long-standing reputation in the industry for producing premium quality health products that improve lives,” Sinnott said in the company’s release. “I look forward to building on that legacy and leading this world-class R&D team into the future.”

Former Head of PartyLite Europe Becomes Company President

Martin Köhler Martin Köhler

Candle company PartyLite, now under the Luminex umbrella, is promoting its Europe President, Martin Köhler, to President of global operations.

Last year, PartyLite parent Blyth Inc. was acquired by The Carlyle Group, a New York-based private-equity firm. Carlyle announced in May that it was teaming with another asset manager, Centre Lane Partners, to create Luminex Home Décor & Fragrance, which now owns PartyLite and the Centre Lane-backed Candle-lite Company.

The arrangement is intended to leverage product development efforts and broaden consumer reach for both companies, which have different target groups and markets. As President, Köhler will help to build PartyLite’s business from this new platform. “I am certain that Martin will lead PartyLite to continued global success and open new avenues for the company,” Calvin Johnston, CEO of Luminex, said in the company’s announcement.

Köhler began his career at PartyLite on the communications side of the business, as head of marketing for PartyLite Germany. He also served as General Manager in Switzerland, and later in Germany, before becoming President of European operations in 2010. Under his leadership, Europe has become the top sales region for the company, which has 45,000 active consultants in 23 countries.

Avon Products Appoints Former McDonald’s Exec to Board of Directors

Jose Armario Jose Armario

Amid continued turnaround efforts, Avon Products Inc. has elected Jose Armario, a former senior executive with McDonald’s Corp., to its board of directors.

Armario is one of two independent directors jointly appointed by Avon and Cerberus Capital Management LP, the private-equity firm that purchased Avon’s North America business as well as a stake in Avon Products Inc. nine months ago.

The changes extend to Avon’s board, which now consists of six Avon directors, three from Cerberus and two independent directors.

Before retiring from McDonald’s in 2015, Armario served as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Supply Chain, Development and Franchising. In that capacity he oversaw annual supply chain purchases of $25 billion, as well as $1 billion in new store capital. Armario spent nearly two decades with McDonald’s, in roles that included leading the company’s turnaround in Latin America.

“I am pleased to join the board of this global, iconic brand, and look forward to working with my fellow board members as well as the executive team during such a dynamic time,” said Armario. “Avon’s rich history is particularly important to me personally, as my own mother spent several years as an Avon Representative upon immigrating to the United States from Cuba.”

Armario began his career at Burger King Corp., followed by a stint at LensCrafters Inc. As a member of the Avon board, Armario will serve on the Compensation and Management Development Committee.

Mari Jo Serdoner Promoted to TLC’s Chief Brand Officer

Mari Jo Serdoner Mari Jo Serdoner

Health, wellness and beauty brand Total Life Changes has chosen Mari Jo Serdoner as its new Chief Brand Officer. Announced during a regional conference in Atlanta, Georgia, Serdoner’s role will include analyzing, modifying and creating the brand image while ensuring its consistency across all platforms and departments.

Serdoner, who currently operates out of Dallas, Texas, will oversee brand and consumer marketing, brand platforms, and compliance, and personally monitor new products and marketing programs as they evolve.

She joined the TLC family in 2013 with an extensive background in marketing, graphic design and web development. Serdoner previously served as TLC’s Director of Marketing for more than two years before adding merchandising and compliance as well as policies and procedures to her role.

“I’m extremely excited for Mari Jo,” said Chief Operating Officer John Licari. “She has demonstrated a strong commitment to TLC and has immersed herself in our company’s vision. After considering several qualified candidates for this new position, Jack Fallon (Founder, CEO and President) and I felt very strongly that Mari Jo was the clear choice; she has a very diversified work history and her business initiatives have always been reflected in our brand.”

Zija’s Product Advisory Council Adds Two New Specialists

William Setzer William Setzer
Scott A. Johnson Scott A. Johnson

William Setzer, Ph.D., and Scott A. Johnson, Ph.D., have joined the Zija Product Advisory Council.

Setzer’s research interests are in natural products drug discovery, essential oils, chemical ecology, and molecular modeling. With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in organic chemistry, he is currently a professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Setzer started his academic career at the Alabama campus as Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry in 1985.

He has received over a dozen honors and awards for his work and has professional affiliations with over 15 notable organizations, including American Association for the Advancement of Science and Phytochemical Society of North America. He has collaborated, created, and presented over 375 specialized lectures and demonstrations.

A best-selling author of eight books and more than 250 articles published internationally, Johnson brings a research focus on the safety of essential oils, with a doctorate in naturopathy and a board certification as an alternative medical practitioner. He also is a Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist and Certified Professional Coach.

Johnson’s evidence-based approach to natural healing and experience conducting medical research gives him a unique expertise in the therapeutic application of essential oils. He pioneered evidence-based essential oil therapy, which combines the art of ancient healing with modern science to maximize the benefits of essential oils. He is an international speaker and has delivered keynote presentations across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Laguna Blends Appoints New CFO, Corporate Secretary and Director

Laguna Blends Inc., a direct seller focused on the nutritional health benefits derived from hemp, announce it has appointed Bryan Loree as Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Secretary and member of the board of directors.

“It’s a pleasure to have Mr. Bryan Loree join our management team,” said Stuart Gray, CEO and Founder of the British Columbia, Canada-based company. “His financial and accounting experience is impressive and will strengthen Laguna’s ability to seek quality business opportunities and financings and increase sales to profitability.”

Loree has approximately 10 years of experience providing accounting, financing, and management services to numerous issuers on the TSX Venture Exchange, Canadian Securities Exchange, and private companies, including serving as Chief Financial Officer. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to join the team at Laguna during this rapid growth phase of the company,” said Bryan Loree. “Laguna is operating in an exciting sector and I look forward to being involved in the future milestones of the company.”

Henry Marsh Joins HopRocket as Vice Chairman

Henry Marsh Henry Marsh

HopRocket, an exclusive online travel membership club, has appointed Henry Marsh as Vice Chairman.

The founder of a global health and wellness direct seller, Marsh was new to the distribution channel but amassed a greater understanding of direct selling and experience that he brings to HopRocket.

Still known as the most prolific distance runner in U.S. history, Marsh, in 1988, became only the second male runner to make four U.S. Olympic Teams. He finished his career with 13 straight years as one of the top 10 3,000-meter steeplechase runners in the world, including three years as No. 1.

Henry went on to earn his law degree from the University of Oregon and become a motivational speaker on the dynamics of behavioral change, leadership, team building, and breakthrough personal productivity, having worked with companies such as IBM, AT&T and the U.S. Air Force.

HopRocket is an exclusive online travel membership club offering unpublished discounted rates for travel, including hotels, condos, cruises and more.

October 01, 2016

New Perspectives

Leadership Is Not a Slogan

by John Addison

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

A leader’s most important job is to create an environment and landscape where the company can grow. Don’t kid yourself; this is a big job. Creating and maintaining a corporate culture doesn’t mean simply adding the company mission statement to the bottom of your email signature. It isn’t tacking up a slogan in the break room. Instead, it involves creating a system of consistent—and constant—communication that starts at the very top of the organization and flows throughout.

The basic principles here are not unique to direct selling companies, but they are no less important. People need to know that you’re the rudder in the water that’s guiding the ship. When you’re the leader, people need to know that the company is not going to run based on what mood you’re in that day. Don’t be a mystery to your people. If you’re communicating honestly and frequently enough, your team will know how you’re going to react before they sit down with you to discuss an issue.

It’s not enough to be personally consistent with your message. As a leader, you also have to make sure that message is being passed down throughout the organization. I’ve found that the best way to achieve that is to surround yourself with team players who buy into the vision of the organization. You don’t want a bunch of free agents who are out willy-nilly, going in their own direction on things. Having experienced people in key positions is also important. One of the death knells of an organization is having constant turnover of key people. Some turnover is good to get fresh ideas, but I’d rather err on the side of experience because it creates an incredibly strong culture.

Setting the right tone and building an effective culture in a direct selling company brings with it some unique communication challenges for corporate leaders. To start, you’ve got to create a simple message about a great product without overhyping either the product or the opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with making something fun and exciting; this is sales, after all. But you’ve got to be honest. Don’t run from the failures of the people involved in your business, but don’t run from the successes, either. You know you’re getting it right when you have a product that can sell at the price you’ve set, even without the opportunity attached. You should be legitimately developing way more customers than recruits, and you should feel proud of what you do.

Once you have the product and opportunity in place, the next step for leaders is bringing new people into your business. The key to successful communication is having a simple, easy-to-share message and a replicable system of training and tools to bring people on board. This business is about helping people make incremental commitments to the organization, so outline a series of simple activities that you want your newest recruits to do early on in their business venture. Setting realistic expectations with doable activities can help someone new to direct selling get started and enjoy some early success.

You’ll know you’re doing this well when you observe two things happening over and over again. First, the message you hear out in the field is incredibly consistent. This means a meeting in Portland, Oregon, is going to be the same as one in Mobile, Alabama. No one is perfect, but this should be your goal. And second, you are effectively managing expectations so that when people inevitably leave the business they don’t leave on a sour note. Survey people as they depart, and really study the data. If you’re seeing too many responses you don’t like, you know you have a problem that must be addressed.

What can you do as a leader of a direct selling company to increase the length of time people spend working the business? Once again, you have to have a system that allows for consistent, clear messaging. People who join direct selling opportunities are, by nature, frustrated with some part of their lives and looking to make a change. By listening to their frustration and plugging them into a personal development system, you can help people make progress in their life even before they begin earning an income. Effective leadership and consistent communication in this area involves positive reinforcement, positive education and a culture of excitement about personal growth. Your field will report feeling better tomorrow than they did today, whether that’s mentally, spiritually or economically.

The world of direct selling is evolving. New technologies and social media provide more avenues for corporate leaders to communicate with their own teams and with their independent salesforces. But these same factors also can be a distraction or, worse, a dividing force within a company. There are a lot of good companies and a lot of good people in direct selling today. The companies that stand out are those whose corporate leaders are creating an environment of excellence by communicating clearly and consistently.

John AddisonJohn Addison, author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose, Leadership Editor for SUCCESS magazine, and President and CEO of Addison Leadership Group, engages and inspires audiences with his relatable messages. Most recently, he served as Co-CEO of Primerica Inc., a company he joined more than 35 years ago.

October 01, 2016

Working Smart

How to Bring Versatility into the Workplace to Benefit Your Customer Base

by Bill Hunter

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

A company thrives because of its customer base, those who repeatedly purchase the goods or services of a business. While a well-established customer base is important, adding new customers into the mix is equally so. Together, old and new customers will help your business grow and flourish.

Of the many ways a company can endeavor to retain customers and add to its customer base, one approach that seems to be talked about less often is versatility—multifaceted competence along with adaptability to many different situations.

There are a number of ways a business in the direct selling channel can show versatility to benefit its existing and potential customer base.

1) Be a Versatile Solutions Provider

No matter which aspect of the direct selling channel you are involved in, you know it’s a channel that is growing in popularity. The Direct Selling Association reported that, in 2015, more than 20 million people were involved in direct selling in the United States, with estimated retail sales reaching $36.12 billion.

This may seem like a pretty simple solution, given the topic at hand. But in the business world, especially when dealing with a channel that continues to experience steady growth, it is important not only to know how to perform multiple tasks in different ways, but also ably provide those tasks and services. Customers are often looking for a “one-stop shop” to meet their needs in a world driven by instant gratification—they want your product or service, and they want it now. Are you able to meet their needs on a multidimensional level? If not, another company out there likely can and will deliver the many different aspects of what a customer is seeking. Lack of versatility brings risk of losing potential sales.

2) Build an Experienced Salesforce

In any business that utilizes direct selling techniques, much of its success can be determined by, well, sales. Sales are the ultimate goal of most businesses and organizations, but those involved in the direct selling channel know this to be true even more so. Each member of your salesforce is an individual representation of your company. And since there is no store to back them up while they are out promoting various goods or services, salespeople rely very much on themselves. Having a team of passionate, loyal and experienced individuals is vital. There is a certain degree of uncertainty in what a sales representative may encounter in work-related travels—the situations faced or questions asked—a key reason why the salesforce must be versatile.

3) Teamwork

“There is no ‘I’ in team.” “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Clichés, yes, but they hold truth. While it may seem like a bit of a stretch when it comes to versatility, members of your company’s sales team are not the sole members of a direct selling business. In fact, they cannot expect to succeed without fully utilizing all team members. While it may be hard to remember that you’re all in this together, while oftentimes functioning as individuals in your working roles, hard work and a cohesive nature as a company will shine through in your company’s finished product or service, which the customer is sure to notice. Promoting a team atmosphere within your company will help increase the efficiency and overall well-being of employees as well.

In the business world, especially when dealing with a channel that continues to experience steady growth, it is important not only to know how to perform multiple tasks in different ways, but also ably provide those tasks and services.

4) Keep Your Website Current

Perhaps you’re selling the latest and greatest new product, a product that just hit the market and isn’t even available in stores yet. But you’ve either failed to make it available online or your website is so outdated that your company doesn’t appear reputable. As a customer, would you rather purchase from a company that actively keeps its website current, or a company that lets its website fall by the wayside? I know which one I would pick.

Both old and new customers will be frequent visitors to your website if they are interested in the products or services offered by your company. This is especially important for those involved in the direct selling channel, because quite often your business relies on a website to help sell your products much more than a traditional store does.

If your website remains the same with each visit, the likelihood of customers coming back for more will decrease. Adapting and changing your website will show customers how invested you are in your business.

5) Add Channels

If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, now is the time to create social platforms for your direct selling company. Something less formal and a bit more personal is a good way to engage pre-existing and potential customers, and they won’t have to put forth substantial effort to read a long-winded report or research document.

Similar to a website, blog and social media posts will help convey information in a quick and effective manner that the reader is more apt to pay attention to, as well as read all the way through. These platforms are perfect for incorporating eye-catching graphics or photos that will grab a reader’s attention much faster than a plain body of text. Sharing information about your company in a fun and creative way will draw readers in. Do you have some exciting company-related news that you’d like to share? What about a sale or promotion? Blog and social media posts are an ideal way to alert your customers to information they’ll want to know immediately.


Is your company practicing versatility to ensure success in the direct selling industry? If not, now is a great time to start. In an ever-changing world, it is critical for your company to evolve, adapt and be more versatile. Your customers will appreciate your “can-do” attitude when meeting their needs, and it will keep them coming back for more. Their positive word-of-mouth can refer new customers to see what your versatile business has to offer.

Author NameBill Hunter is President and CEO of Valerian Technologies, a company that provides retailers and marketers with innovative customer loyalty data card solutions.

October 01, 2016

Working Smart

Mapping Uncharted Markets: Simple Strategies You Can Use Today to Start Expanding Internationally

by David Isserman

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

If you are an executive at an early or growth stage direct selling company and you have not yet begun selling internationally, your trepidation is understood. However, expanding internationally offers significant growth opportunity. With an already established product portfolio in the United States, international expansion can be one of your greatest resources for building your customer base, growing your top-line sales and increasing your income.

At first glance, the thought of international expansion can seem daunting. From pricing and currency strategies to international inventory management, regulatory hurdles, logistics and financial reporting, international expansion can be overwhelming.

The good news is that when executed correctly, building your business outside of the United States doesn’t need to be considered an Olympic feat. In fact, many options exist that will allow you to test the waters of international markets before diving in head first. Below are simple strategies to help jumpstart your international expansion.

Start with Low Hanging Fruit

The best way to get started with international growth is to find the lowest hanging fruit. Start simply at first and take the most direct route to profitability.

Let’s begin by asking ourselves in which countries do the business conditions most closely mirror those that we are already familiar with in the United States. In which countries is the primary language English? Where are industry regulations similar to those in the United States? For those of us in the consumables industry, what countries provide free ports or free economic zones where we can sell and ship our products without duties, taxes and other government imposed tariffs? All of these questions will allow us to target the international locations that we can consider low hanging fruit.

For example, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe, Hong Kong was ranked as one of the best countries to consider when going global. With a simplified regulatory environment, ease of doing business and a port free of tariffs, Hong Kong can be great place to start laying the groundwork for your international expansion into Asia.

By allowing your team to focus on what they do best—growing sales—instead of battling regulatory hurdles, foreign languages or tariff headaches, you can find yourself quickly building a foundation for international success now with your current marketing initiatives and product portfolio.

Fulfill Internationally from the United States

When we begin the process of global expansion, we must ask ourselves how we intend to transport our products to the doorstep of our customers. Do we contract with an international warehouse or do we ship from our current fulfillment centers in the United States?

When getting started with international growth, the answer is easy. Keep it simple at first and ship from the United States. Fortunately, there are a number of cost effective parcel delivery services that can help companies with low or high volume cross border shipments.

As an example, Landmark Global, a division of bpost, Belgium’s national postal service, operates international shipping lanes to simply and cost effectively move packages cross border throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Companies like Landmark Global allow us to bulk load individual customer shipments onto pallets that are then transported across the border and dropped into domestic mail routes once inside the country of destination.

The best way to get started with international growth is to find the lowest hanging fruit. Start simply at first and take the most direct route to profitability.

Let’s say that you just launched into Canada and that you have 50 orders going to your Canadian Customers every day. For small parcel shipments, DHL may charge you $35 to deliver each parcel from your warehouse in Salt Lake City to Toronto. Instead, using a consolidated shipping provider like Landmark Global to deliver these parcels into Canada can potentially decrease your cost to as low as $12 per shipment. Additionally, as an added bonus for companies just beginning to ship globally, oftentimes these companies will allow you to share pallets with other companies shipping from your same 3PL warehouse.

Creating a Seamless International Customer Experience

Who doesn’t love Amazon Prime? You log on, do a quick search for a product, click “Buy Now” and then two days later, voila, you receive your item free of shipping expenses and any hassles. Unfortunately for us, Amazon’s extraordinary international growth has created a set of consumer expectations across the globe that shipping will be fast and free (not just discounted).

As you grow globally, it is important to consider a savvy shipping strategy. How will you offer fast and free shipping for your international customers while still maintaining profitability?

To start, make your international shipping free. As painful as this sounds, free shipping is the new normal. According to a survey conducted by the global business advisory firm, AlixPartners, 36 percent of customers who decide not to order a product online do so because the cost of delivery is too high. Is it worth losing a $100 sale over a nominal international shipping charge?

If you cannot afford to offer free shipping on every order, consider rewarding consumer behaviors. As direct selling industry executives, what do we value the most? Is it new enrollments? Customers on autoship programs? Both? If your answer was “yes” to any of those options, then the easiest solution is to set a minimum subtotal for either enrollment orders or autoship orders or both where shipping will be subsidized by your company and offered free to the consumers.

Offering this “free shipping” carrot for international customers to continue to repurchase will not only provide top and bottom line growth, but it will also create greater customer lifetime values and seamless international customer experience in line with current e-commerce expectations.

Consolidated shipping providers operate international shipping lanes to simply and cost effectively move packages cross border throughout the world, allowing us to bulk load individual customer shipments.

Pricing for the Win with Local Currencies

When entering an international market, it is important to make the selling process as easy as possible for your international customers. You will need to determine how you can minimize sales costs and improve conversions. The very first step in this process is to price for the win using local currencies.

If you’re scratching your head trying to determine the best way to handle local currency pricing, then you’re in luck. I’m going to share with you a secret. This secret is used by many of the world’s largest corporations and can generate immediate revenue growth for your firm.

If you are expanding into countries where the dollar is weaker than the foreign currency, the popular strategy is to charge the same value for the item, but switch to the foreign currency. 

For example, let’s consider the United Kingdom. Without looking at a calculator, can you figure out the conversion of $18 into pound sterling (£)? Alternatively, can you determine the conversion of £18 into dollars ($)? If you can’t do this within a few seconds, imagine how your customers must feel when they are presented with an e-commerce store full of foreign prices and asked to make this calculation. It is too complicated.

As painful as this sounds, free shipping is the new normal. If you cannot afford to offer free shipping on every order, consider rewarding consumer behaviors.

A common misconception by international shoppers viewing products priced in dollars is to imagine the price being more expensive in their own local currency plus a fear of being charged foreign transaction fees. It is important that we remove these obstacles. By charging in the local currency, it removes these barriers, simplifies the purchasing decision and improves foreign conversion rates.

Charging in a foreign currency can come with benefits. If you sell a product in the United States for $18, you could increase your prices overseas by charging £18 for the same product in the United Kingdom. At £18, you will remove customer pricing fears and also increase your sales price by almost 30 percent since £18 is approximately $23. This is truly a win-win situation.

International expansion can be critical to the success of your direct selling company. With the ever advancing competitive landscape in the United States and the potential to reach a larger consumer base, now is the time to start reaching beyond borders into new and uncharted international markets. When the strategies outlined above are correctly implemented, global expansion does not need to be an impossible or discouraging task. Instead, it can offer a tremendous growth opportunity for your direct selling business with limited risks.

Additional Resources for International Growth

  • Ex-Im Bank: Financing the Export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. www.exim.gov
  • USDA Market Access Program (MAP): Offers subsidies for overseas marketing and promotional activities to help build commercial exports of U.S. agricultural products, including food, beverages and qualified nutritional supplements. www.fas.usda.gov/programs/market-access-program-map
  • U.S. Commercial Service: Provides free and at-cost market research, advisory and counseling services to U.S. companies expanding internationally. http://www.trade.gov/cs/
  • Export.gov: An online export resource managed by the United States. https://www.export.gov
  • Economic Development Agencies: State managed agencies offering to helping new and established companies grow and succeed domestically and internationally.  https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/learn-about-business-laws/contact-government-agency/economic-development-agencies

David Isserman currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Touchstone Essentials, a direct selling organization specializing in premium, organic whole food supplements.

October 01, 2016

Publisher's Note

Direct Selling, a Channel That Remains ‘Impactful’

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Lauren Lawley Head

For this month’s edition, I had the privilege of traveling to New York City to interview the executive leadership team at New Avon. Everyone in direct selling today owes a debt of gratitude to David McConnell, who not only founded Avon 130 years ago but was one of the pioneers of the idea that companies can effectively bring great products to market in a way that also offers a flexible path to entrepreneurship to people from all walks of life. As Avon’s North American business has struggled to adapt to marketplace changes in recent years, we’ve occasionally heard the suggestion that perhaps these struggles are an indication that Avon would shift away from the channel or even that direct selling itself is outdated.

I’m pleased to report that Scott White, CEO of New Avon LLC, and his team are all in when it comes to direct selling. From his background in consumer packaged goods, White says he was drawn to the potential that direct selling offers to bypass some of the complexity that exists in traditional retail when getting product in front of consumers: “The more I dug into it, it was such a marketer’s dream to be able to have this direct conduit to consumers. You have 350,000-plus women out there selling this, and they have five or six friends. Every two weeks I have access to 1.5, 2 million people.” But while that was an initial attractor, White also shared that he’s found even deeper rewards in direct selling in just his first few months on the job.  “I love this business,” White says. “The personal connectivity, the community of it. It’s fun to go to work. …I think when we center a lot of our thinking around not just Avon as a company or a business but making a change in a lot of women and people’s lives, it’s impactful.”

The Company Spotlight begins on page 34, and we hope you enjoy learning about the new strategy for this iconic direct selling brand. We’re also excited to present part two of our three-part cover story series based on some exciting research into three of the driving forces at work in successful companies today: customer acquisition, recruiting and onboarding new distributors, and distributor retention. You’ll also find profiles on two companies with which you may not be as familiar: California-based WellnessPro, a wellness, weight-loss and skincare company doing business in 11 markets and working to expand its U.S. presence, and Texas-based pawTree, a young company that chose the direct selling channel as the distribution path for its pet food startup. Wherever you are on your direct selling journey, we hope you’ll find value in the stories these executives have shared.

All the best,
Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

P.S. Don’t forget: Nominations for the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling program are due by Oct. 28. Complete a simple registration form by that date at www.directsellingnews.com/bestplacestowork and our research partner, Quantum Workplace, will be in touch to coordinate the employee engagement survey process between Oct. 31 and Dec. 9. All active direct selling companies with at least 50 corporate employees in North America are eligible to participate, and we look forward to recognizing the honorees in April.

October 01, 2016

DSA News

In Tune with Today’s Entrepreneurs

by Joseph N. Mariano

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

As Americans seek ever greater autonomy over their working lives, the direct selling business model is perfectly structured to oblige. But how best to appeal to and recruit into our world those seeking independent work? If salespeople are the “lifeblood” of a direct selling company, recruitment of people who actually use and sell the product is the infusion of new blood that enables the company to survive and thrive. Direct selling companies expend considerable time and effort on recruitment, but a culture that places recruitment for recruitment’s sake above the needs of prospective distributors is not the most effective way to draw newcomers into direct selling. To truly capitalize on the increasing desire for independent work, we need to develop a far greater understanding of the motivations and expectations of would-be entrepreneurs.

Millennials, particularly, are drawn to an independent-work lifestyle for multiple reasons in addition to the purely financial. These include flexibility in terms of time and place of work; ability to define success on their own terms; no restraints based on gender, race or background; an ethically sound corporate culture to which they can subscribe; and opportunity for social interaction. These motivators have “direct selling business” written all over them; on top of which, consider the additional draw of access to our company’s products. DSA’s 2014 National Salesforce Study (NSFS), in fact, shows that flexibility to balance work and home life and the opportunity to obtain products at a discount are the top two motivators for becoming an independent representative. Is this what you present to prospective sellers?

The question I often pose is: “Are we selling products or a business opportunity?” While my answer remains “both,” we should lead with the product, even when recruiting. After all, who better to be an ambassador for our brands than somebody who faithfully uses the products? According to the NSFS, two-thirds of representatives used the company’s products before becoming reps themselves, and three-quarters of representatives recruit from among their current customers. Most reps spend less than 20 hours per week on direct selling, considering the venture to be a good source of supplemental income. If this is the intention, why not unashamedly pitch the opportunity accordingly, and not as a route to a lavish, full-time income. After all, you can be your own boss of even a modest business.

Entrepreneurs are enthusiastic, but they also are cautious. The media is not short of “advice” to fully vet a company before committing to it. Play devil’s advocate for a moment. When a potential distributor visits your company website, what perceptions will they form? Do you ensure frank information about the business opportunity is freely and directly available, including inventory purchasing, buy-back policies and other protections? Recruitment language doesn’t come just from the approved wording on your website, of course. Do your salespeople use only sanctioned materials that convey a proposition a person can see themselves really achieving, or do they employ their own language and tactics that could be at odds with your corporate culture? DSA’s Code of Ethics expressly prohibits members from making statements or promises that mislead prospective distributors.

While independent in nature, young entrepreneurs nevertheless value a company that has their personal and professional best interests at heart. Guidance and training are crucial—especially for those with no previous sales experience. It teaches entrepreneurs how to harness the latest technologies, develop time- and business-management skills, and nurture social and professional relationships to grow a customer base and potential downline. Recognizing the appeal of supplemental benefits for attracting, retaining and motivating distributors, DSA has made available a number of resources for member companies to offer their salesforces.

I am immensely proud of how willing DSA member companies are to extend a welcome to those looking to give direct selling a try. But let’s commit to attracting young entrepreneurs to direct selling by understanding more how our opportunity aligns with their culture and expectations. The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) is working with a team of renowned academics on a study that examines why direct sellers join, stay and leave our companies. The insights gleaned from this groundbreaking study—expected to be completed this fall—can further help us more effectively attract and retain direct selling entrepreneurs. Watch this space!

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

October 01, 2016

Cover Story

Keys to Success part 2: Recruiting and Onboarding

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Direct selling companies that excel at customer acquisition know how to fully execute on best practices that focus on creating quality products, communicating value, developing brand loyalty and tracking metrics. Product-first firms that make customers a priority set themselves up for success when it comes to another driver for the channel: recruiting and onboarding new salespeople.

When customers are treated well and see value in the products they buy through the direct selling channel, the transition to pursuing a business opportunity becomes a natural progression for those who are so inclined. Think of it not as a pipeline of independent distributors but as a funnel. Within a large group of satisfied customers is a subset of people who may make excellent candidates to join the salesforce. These individuals are open to entrepreneurial endeavors, particularly flexible, part-time opportunities that can supplement their income and other business activities.

The market is ripe for the direct selling channel as part-time work becomes more of the norm. As people look to maximize their work-life balance they are leveraging current assets by earning income in new ways, such as driving for Uber or Lyft and renting out residences and vacation homes through Airbnb. Direct selling opportunities dovetail nicely into this YouEconomy.

Gone is the hard sell on recruitment. Instead, people with a desire to sell a product they love are primed and ready to do so after positive experiences with a company and its representatives. Once a new recruit signs up, companies that excel at onboarding can maximize the success of new independent business owners and help them surpass their goals.

Research conducted by the DSN team reveals specific techniques used by leading companies in the space that make direct selling effective when compared to other channels of distribution. We reviewed the websites and key marketing materials for the direct selling companies experiencing the fastest growth in the U.S. market. We conducted in-depth interviews with company executives, researchers and other thought leaders to learn how they execute on the main drivers of the direct selling channel: customer acquisition, recruiting and onboarding new distributors, and retaining those individuals as active members of an independent salesforce. The strategies common to these top firms can promote sustainable growth and a broader understanding of the unique value proposition direct selling offers in the marketplace.

The key to conversion is recognizing when a customer is ready to make the leap to become a distributor. When customers say yes to the opportunity, companies with extensive and powerful onboarding strategies see these new independent business owners achieve success more quickly and retain them as salespeople well into the future. The top direct selling firms shower new recruits with support, training and digital materials designed to walk them step by step through the first hours, days and weeks of owning their own business—all while encouraging person-to-person mentoring between the new recruit and his or her sponsor. The goal is to help each new independent business owner achieve the success of reaching new milestones in their journey, such as establishing his or her online presence, sharing the product for the first time and recording that first sale. As a new person walks through these early wins, he or she will gain confidence and, in turn, robust product education, social media and call center assistance provided by the company will serve to bolster customer acquisition and continue the conversion cycle.

RECRUITING & ONBOARDING STRATEGY No. 1: Converting Fans into Ambassadors

While research shows there is no one best stage at which to recruit, what is clear is that raving fans of a company’s products tend to be the people most likely to take the next step into selling. Guidance provided by many of the channel’s top-growing companies is that the best time to recruit depends on the customer. Distributors who listen and pay attention to their customers and their buying habits will uncover the best candidates for conversion. By noting how clients use the product, how they talk about their general life goals and the questions they ask, direct sellers can uncover their next recruit. “We encourage people to meet people where they are,” says Travis Ogden, President and Chief Operations Officer at Isagenix. “Our approach is about finding out what people’s needs are and then finding out if we have a solution that can help them meet that need.”

Knowing that happy customers often turn into strong salespeople, recruiting is intertwined with product experiences. Direct sellers use a myriad of ways to let customers touch and experience the goods or services for sale. Nerium International, for example, teaches its Brand Ambassadors to continue to add product exposures to potential candidates, such as giving them magazines or videos. “We want to continue to drip on them with different tools,” says Chief Marketing Officer Amber Olson Rourke. “Everyone says yes at a different time.”

The key to conversion is recognizing when a customer is ready to make the leap to become a distributor.

When the conversion happens, it’s often because customers reach a point where they intimately know the products, believe in them and truly want to share their experience with others. A just-launched Preferred Customer Program at AdvoCare is a simple way for an Independent Distributor to confidently start a conversation with a customer about AdvoCare and its products.

The new approach for the maker of health and wellness products better distinguishes Independent Distributors and loyal customers who solely want to buy products at a discount.

An AdvoCare Preferred Customer pays $19.95, signs an agreement and receives a promotional product kit, an online account and a 20 percent product discount. Over time, Preferred Customers can increase their discount to 30 percent. By contrast, an Independent Distributor pays $59.95, signs an agreement and receives a larger promotional product kit, a product catalog, IMPACT magazine and online support. Distributors can earn up to a 40 percent discount.

Better identification of those interacting with AdvoCare allows the company to target its messaging to the appropriate audience and better understand the wants and goals of customers and distributors. “This gives Distributors a clear opportunity to talk to people about what they are interested in,” says Allison Levy, Executive Vice President and Chief Learning Officer. “It’s about what is the right way to join for the person you are speaking to.”

The Plano, Texas, company saw net sales jump 45.5 percent from $494 million in 2014 to $719 million in 2015, ranking No. 31 on the DSN Global 100 list.

“We encourage people to meet people where they are. Our approach is about finding out what people’s needs are and then finding out if we have a solution that can help them meet that need.”
—Travis Ogden, President and Chief Operations Officer, Isagenix

At Take Shape For Life, sponsorship doesn’t begin until a Health Coach candidate has experienced the Take Shape For Life health journey, says President Mona Ameli. “Once they go through that and see that it is real and proven and we are reliable and credible, then we approach them with the opportunity,” Ameli says. The company, which during the second quarter of 2016 marked its highest level of year-over-year revenue growth in three years, is in the process of evolving into a new brand identity, Optavia. The rebranding speaks to a trilogy of health: healthy body, healthy mind and healthy finances. Health Coaches and clients will continue to pay the same for products; there are no discounts.

Companies that continue to grow in the direct selling space are those like Rodan + Fields, which do a good job of educating distributors about their product lines, says Michael Solomon, a marketing professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a consumer behavior consultant who also serves on the board of the Direct Selling Education Foundation. Oran Arazi-Gamliel, Chief Global Officer at Rodan + Fields, says the company trains its consultants “to focus on the value proposition of what our products offer. That makes sponsoring easy.”


When loyal customers take that first step to become independent business owners they need to immediately feel that there is an entire company ready to support them. Most leading direct selling companies send welcome emails that include access to an online portal. The new distributors will be taken through an online process of setting up their own online store, learning about product specifics and understanding the key initial steps they should take to achieve early sales success.

The top direct selling companies still believe in sending out hard copy materials, too. At Isagenix, a welcome kit sent through the mail includes different resources about the products, what’s available and literature on the steps to begin sharing the products, Ogden says. The Arizona-based company saw its net sales increase 23 percent from $725 million in 2014 to $890 million in 2015, ranking it No. 22 on the 2016 Global 100. “We think that is a better customer experience than sending something out digitally, and I don’t see us moving away from that,” Ogden says.

“We still have more physical material than most companies. We want to marry high touch with high tech and we walk the new Brand Partners through what success looks like.”
—Amber Olson Rourke, Chief Marketing Officer, Nerium

AdvoCare also sends an email from corporate, followed by starter kits that come in the mail within a week. New members get immediate access to online tools and trainings and their own microsite.

There’s something more personal about having materials one can hold, says Nerium’s Rourke. “We still have more physical material than most companies,” Rourke says. “We want to marry high touch with high tech and we walk the new Brand Partners through what success looks like.” The strategy works for the Texas-based company, which saw net sales increase 28 percent from $403 million in 2014 to $516 million in 2015, ranking it No. 38 on the 2016 Global 100.

New Nerium Brand Partners receive a copy of The Slight Edge, a personal development book written by founder Jeff Olson, by mail in the company’s starter kit within three to five days after signing up. They get close support from the Brand Partner who sponsors them, and those first 48 hours are spent “talking about their why, their goals and their first initial steps.”

New Take Shape For Life Health Coaches receive a personal phone call, followed by an email that’s loaded with links to the back office setup and online trainings and videos. New coaches are invited to the weekly Monday night conference call and can sign up for Boot Camp trainings. “We want to guide them through their first few days,” Ameli says. “They can do it with their sponsor or on their own with support from us. We want them to have access to everything they need to be successful right away.” A starter kit follows in the mail a few days later.

“We want to guide them through their first few days. They can do it with their sponsor or on their own with support from us. We want them to have access to everything they need to be successful right away.”
—Mona Ameli, President, Take Shape For Life

Team National also mails out a kit, but “we tell them not to wait for the kit. They get access to everything electronically right away,” says Andres Forero, Vice President of Membership Services. “We use technology to our greatest advantage here.”

New Team National members receive a welcome email within the first 24 hours that includes links to videos and online trainings to help get their business started. New recruits also can join training leadership conference calls and access the company Game Plan Training Book in an e-book version. The hard copy welcome kit arrives within seven to 10 days and can be used as marketing materials as the new distributor begins to sign up others as Team National members. This approach is working for the Florida firm, which saw its net sales increase 38 percent from $399 million in 2014 to $549 million in 2015, ranking No. 36 on the 2016 Global 100 list.

“We want our people to be a product of our product and to use their membership right away,” Forero says. “We encourage them to go through the savings guide because the sooner they have their own savings story, the greater their chance of success.”

RECRUITING & ONBOARDING STRATEGY No. 3: Physical & Digital Tools

Companies leverage a variety of tools to support recruiting and to support new direct sellers. Rodan + Fields employs a technology-based business model that provides a platform for customers and consultants to share results and the business opportunity through social media, says Arazi-Gamliel. “We provide a robust e-commerce platform. All business, from the selling to the purchasing of products, is conducted online,” he says. The San Francisco firm saw net sales jump 89 percent from $330 million in 2014 to $624 million in 2015, ranking No. 33 on the Global 100 list.

Consultants have personalized “storefronts” through replicated web portals, which let them work from smartphones or computers wherever and whenever they choose. Rodan + Fields customers receive guidance and information about the best products from their consultant and from the company website. The company even offers sales and customer service support through its on-site Rodan + Fields team of trained employees, product specialists and nurses. It also drop-ships orders to the consultant’s customers. “This obviates the burden many companies place on their distributors to buy and store inventory,” Arazi-Gamliel says.

Isagenix offers an app that helps customers and distributors find the information they need. The app links to videos, PDFs and podcasts about different products and wellness challenges. It also allows customers and distributors to share results and get immediate feedback from others. “Tools that highlight our solutions through videos and other mediums is how we are successful,” Ogden says.

Top companies still use the more traditional tools such as business opportunity meetings and conference calls, but in different ways.

“We don’t think the opportunity meeting is dead, we think it has evolved,” Ogden says. “It’s more about experiencing the company and what we are about.” The Experience Isagenix meeting is a presentation about Isagenix products and product solutions. The company uses Facebook to pique the interest of potential customers by posting before-and-after photos. Blasting the results stories can lead someone to make an inquiry. Then a distributor will follow up with direct messages and in-person meetings.

AdvoCare sees opportunity meetings as a way to introduce the company and its products to people in a fun, on-time, transparent way that emphasizes face-to-face engagement.

Take Shape For Life utilizes Happy Healthy Hours to share the opportunity through testimonials. Gatherings take place in a sponsor’s home or other location, and prospects get a chance to learn about others’ health transformations, sample nutritious snacks and see some of the Take Shape For Life recipes. “We don’t do hard-core stuff,” Ameli says. “It is more a conversation and exposure to the community. People share stories about how they’ve regained their health through lifestyle changes.”

This story sharing bleeds over into social media, too. Take Shape For Life doesn’t use Facebook for recruiting, but as a tool to share success stories. Some leaders use Facebook to create private groups where clients can find support, share experiences and seek ideas. Leaders might also use Facebook’s three-way messaging for training and other contact with their field instead of traditional conference calls. Most Take Shape For Life field leaders and corporate staff use Zoom calls, which allow for video calls. The tool also is helpful when a sponsor wants to introduce a prospective Health Coach to his or her leader.

Nerium uses a mix of physical and digital tools when it comes to recruiting. The company produces two magazines as well as product brochures. It supplements those tangible assets with lots of digital tools, including social sharing of videos and graphics, plus email messaging and a smartphone app.

Like Isagenix, Nerium and AdvoCare use social media as a lead generator.

“We’re not going to have someone who knows nothing about Nerium see it and sign up, but it does get their interest and gets them to reach out to people and ask about the product and the results,” Rourke says. “Social media is hugely successful in starting the conversation.”

Levy sees social media as a communication tool that fits with the way people interact today. Facebook enables AdvoCare teams to share “the normal life of a distributor” with others.

While Rourke sees a place for the opportunity meeting, she believes that exposure options have expanded. Brand Ambassadors can lead in-home parties that allow potential customers to feel the product, online digital real results parties that highlight before-and-after photos, and market parties, where team members from an entire city can come together to do recruiting.

Today’s conference calls are more about education and training than recruiting. Many Isagenix teams now use Google Hangouts and Facebook Live to share ideas and product information. Nerium uses calls and webinars to share product overviews and business tips, while AdvoCare employs regular conference calls as a way to share essential information with the field.


Product-forward companies know that direct sellers need clear product messaging and continuous training to keep that message fresh and alive.

Most leading firms provide online universities where distributors can access classes and move forward at their own pace. These digital modules are supported by weekly webinars and monthly in-person trainings. Companywide meetings that usually occur twice a year envelop distributors with the company message and additional trainings and support.

AdvoCare’s new suite of training provides Independent Distributors with a wealth of online information in the “Getting Started” module, designed to support them in their first 90 days. That’s followed by additional digital and in-person trainings geared toward helping people sustain early successes and continue to build their business. AdvoCare also will launch customer trainings to more fully educate customers about AdvoCare products.

Another new AdvoCare tool called Product Navigator will support these trainings and give customers and Distributors a new online way to discover, learn about and recommend products for specific customer needs. After answering a few questions about personal goals and what one is looking for from a product standpoint, the Product Navigator recommends different product solution starting points.

“As Distributors begin to share AdvoCare with friends and family, Product Navigator can help them help others find the right products for them,” Levy says.

What works well is an approach that is duplicable, says Nerium’s Rourke. “Many people don’t see themselves as salespeople. Relationship marketing is about mass duplication.”

Isagenix follows a similar approach. Odgen says that once people are long-term customers and decide they want to sell the products, sponsors and the company help them develop their own story. The key is to equip people who already are fans of a product with the confidence to share their experiences with others. “Once they have a story, then it is easier to share with others later. We teach people how to connect with others and then share their Isagenix story,” Ogden says. “Then we plug them into company events.”

Take Shape For Life just retooled its training with a big assist from field leaders. Prior to 2015 the company did not have a unified training approach. A new model, built with collaboration between the field and corporate, delivers a unified and consistent training module to every Health Coach, at a variety of levels.

Ameli says the company is focused on “just in time” training that provides education coaches need at different stages in their development.

“We’ve made it as inviting as possible,” Ameli says. “After that first 48 to 72 hours is a new coach’s first three months, and if they don’t get what we promised, then they leave us or are inactive, so we need to have all the tools and programs and training so they can get what they need to be successful.”

As new distributors learn the ropes and achieve early successes, the opportunities to retain them and train them into sales leaders are plentiful. The November issue of Direct Selling News will take a closer look at the ways in which the channel’s top companies achieve their success, the training tools they use and the ways in which they collaborate with their field to continuously educate, support and develop their sales teams.

Read Keys To Success Part 1

Read Keys To Success Part 3 in November

October 01, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, October 2016

Click here to order the October 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Oriflame Partners with IBM to Take IT and Finance Services Digital

Beauty company Oriflame Holding AG recently inked a seven-year deal outsourcing its IT and finance operational services to IBM.

The partnership will enable Switzerland-based Oriflame to reduce costs and advance the digital transformation of its business, drawing upon IBM’s expertise in analytics, cognitive systems and cloud-based services. The resulting services and tools will help to drive customer focus, productivity and automation at the $1.3 billion company, which sells a wide portfolio of Swedish, nature-inspired beauty products.

“For Oriflame, being already advanced in the online area, this partnership will be another leap forward in our digital business transformation,” said Gabriel Bennet, Oriflame Chief Financial Officer. “IBM’s innovation in cognitive analysis for IT and financial transactional services will provide us with valuable business insights.”

For its part, IBM will roll out custom tools based on its proprietary technology platform, Watson, to provide spend analytics, payment terms optimization and cash forecasting. The technology firm also will introduce cloud-based enabling tools to boost accuracy and efficiency, while Oriflame continues to manage the IT portfolio and develop its core systems.

“We have implemented IBM Design Thinking techniques to help build solutions which deliver a better user experience,” said Anita Karlsson-Dion, Vice President of Client Services for IBM Global Business Process Services. “We’re very confident that this will bring a customer-oriented focus to the delivery of IT and financial services for Oriflame.”

Gold Canyon Moves beyond Home Fragrance with GC Lifestyle

Candle maker Gold Canyon is diversifying its offerings with the launch of GC Lifestyle, a new imprint introduced in September.

The Arizona company is known for its candles and other home fragrance offerings, although it also sells a limited range of home décor and cleaning products. As Gold Canyon moved into 2016 with a new CEO, Thomas Kelly, “he empowered us to look at the business differently,” said Elissa Shuck, Director of Product & Merchandising. One area the team began to reimagine was its strategic approach to product development. “We really hadn’t created a cohesive brand mantra, if you will, that helps people understand why we introduced various products or why we would introduce additional ones in the future,” Shuck told DSN.

The company aims to change that with its new lifestyle brand, which initially will feature scented jewelry and home décor collections that take their cue from Gold Canyon’s existing designs. Management describes GC Lifestyle as a “more contemporized brand” that opens new avenues for Consultants to build their businesses. The scented jewelry line features trendy necklaces and bracelets, with pendants and charms that double as fragrance diffusers. Customers initially have the choice of three fragrances exclusive to the line. The expanded home décor collection includes vases, trays and throw pillows that reflect Gold Canyon’s fresh, playful feel.

USANA’s New InCelligence Technology Speaks Language of the Cells

During its recent 2016 International Convention, USANA Health Sciences unveiled InCelligence technology, a scientific advance that harnesses the body’s natural ability to renew and protect itself.

Scientists at USANA have been developing the cell-signaling technology for about four years, according to Dr. Kevin Spelman, Executive Vice President of Research and Development. InCelligence is based upon the natural responses of human cells, as they carry out processes essential to health. The company’s U.S. patent-pending technology directly triggers these processes, rather than simply supporting them, as traditional multivitamin supplements do.

A handful of companies have brought cell-signaling technology to market, said Spelman, but existing products generally focus on activating cellular processes, without supplying micronutrients necessary for proper and healthy cell signaling. With InCelligence, USANA aims to do both: trigger cell processes and provide nourishment that allows the cell to function at optimal capacity.

“InCelligence nudges the natural processes of the cell to generate endogenous antioxidants and new mitochondria, which are more efficient. This reduces the free radical look of the cell, since as cells get older mitochondria tend to leak free radicals into the cell, which can do damage,” Spelman told DSN. “This technology protects and renews cells while stimulating more efficient energy production.”

The foundation of USANA’s new line is CellSentials, a baseline nutrition supplement that replaces the company’s Essentials product. Additional supplements, known as Optimizers, can be taken with CellSentials to target specific health needs. One of those is Proglucamune, an immune support product introduced during the company’s convention. Two existing Optimizers—Hepasil DTX to support natural liver detoxification processes and Procosa for joint support—also incorporate InCelligence technology.

Le-Vel Donates $240k in Support of Hoyt Foundation

Le-Vel Jason Camper (left), Dick Hoyt and Paul Gravette at Le-Vel’s annual convention.

Health and wellness company Le-Vel Brands LLC recently announced a $240,000 donation to the Hoyt Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life for those living with disabilities.

The funds came from sales of Le-Vel’s limited-edition Hoyt Derma Fusion Technology (DFT), a patch worn on the skin to support the body’s metabolism process. In June, Le-Vel allocated $5 from every purchase to the Hoyt Foundation, which aims to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life.

The foundation was formed in 1989 by Dick Hoyt, a retired lieutenant colonel, and his son, Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy and is unable to speak or use his hands and legs. Despite these challenges, the father-son team has gained recognition for competing in more than 1,100 athletic events in the last 37 years, including 32 Boston Marathons and six Ironman competitions, with Dick pushing his son in a custom-made wheelchair as they run.

The contribution is part of an ongoing partnership between Le-Vel and Team Hoyt. The virtual company, which uses cloud-based technology for its day-to-day operations, previously donated $50,000 to the Hoyt Foundation, and the senior Hoyt was a surprise headline speaker at Le-Vel’s annual salesforce convention in April.

Direct Sellers Help to Fuel Olympic Achievements

Monica Puig Puerto Rico’s first-ever Olympic Gold medalist, Monica Puig, is a USANA Brand Ambassador.

Many direct selling companies in the nutrition space have developed extensive sports marketing strategies, and no sporting event offers a bigger platform than the Olympics. A number of companies sponsored individual athletes, teams, and even entire delegations during this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, a 17-day contest that reached an audience of billions around the world.

One of the channel’s biggest sports marketers, Herbalife, was the official nutrition sponsor of four national delegations to Brazil. Athletes representing Costa Rica, Israel, Italy and Vietnam had access to Herbalife’s full suite of nutrition products, as well as its team of sports nutrition scientists. 

Promoting sports and an active lifestyle is a natural extension of the Herbalife mission, company Chairman and CEO Michael Johnson said in a statement. “The spirit behind the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games is all about hard-working athletes pursuing their dreams of competitive excellence, and we are proud to help these athletes optimize their nutrition and post-performance recovery.”

Between them, Shaklee and USANA sponsored more than 100 Olympic athletes. The Shaklee Pure Performance Team was represented by 37 competitors, who took home 16 medals, including Gold for the U.S. Women’s Water Polo and U.S. Rowing, Women’s Eight teams. USANA backed more than 70 athletes, one of them being Monica Puig, a singles tennis player who won the first-ever Gold medal for U.S. territory Puerto Rico.

Team Nutrilite, the group of athletes sponsored by Amway, also made a strong—and international—showing in Rio. The company sponsored both individual athletes and teams from around the world, including the Silver-medaling Italian men’s soccer team and the Bronze-medaling Canadian women’s soccer team.

AdvoCare and 4Life also sponsored individual competitors, while AdvoCare and Mannatech each backed one athlete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in September. At the time of this publication, Mannatech-sponsored Paralympian Stephen Miller had won Bronze in the F32 Club Throw.

Nu Skin Supplies 500 Million Meals to Malnourished Children

Nu Skin Enterprises recently reached a milestone of 500 million meals donated through its Nourish the Children initiative.

The beauty and wellness company launched Nourish the Children in 2002 to combat poor nutrition, which causes nearly half the deaths of children under five, or about 3.1 million, each year, according to the World Food Programme. The cornerstone of the initiative is VitaMeal, a nutrient-dense rice and lentil meal formulated by Nu Skin nutrition scientists.

“I’ve seen firsthand the difference that VitaMeal has made in my country,” Malawi’s former first lady, Madam Callista Mutharika, said in the company’s announcement. “Its impact has been life-changing for thousands of kids. Children who were once hungry are now healthy, strong and able to go to school. Mothers who had no food can now provide their loved ones with a warm and nutritious meal.”

Nu Skin distributors, customers and employees support the cause by purchasing VitaMeal, and then opting to donate the product to Nourish the Children. In partnership with third-party, nonprofit distribution partners, Nourish the Children has helped to feed children in 50 countries.

Annual Rankings Recognize Fast-Growing Direct Sellers

A number of direct selling companies made Inc. magazine’s newly released Inc. 5000, an annual list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

To compile its ranking of U.S.-based, privately held companies, Inc. measures percentage revenue growth over the past three years, in this case 2012–2015. Florida-based Jeunesse Global is the sole direct selling company on this year’s Inc. 500, a special ranking of companies in the top 10 percent. The maker of cosmetics and personal-care products recorded a 791 percent revenue increase in the period, which was capped by 2015 sales of $1.09 billion.

In all, the 2016 Inc. 5000 features eight direct selling companies, whose offerings span the categories of consumer products and services, travel and hospitality, health, and retail. With the exception of Jeunesse, three-year growth ranged from 48 percent at Pure Romance to 581 percent at WorldVentures. Arizona-based Isagenix has spent 10 consecutive years on the list, and is one of just 74 companies to make the list 10 times.

Honing in on Utah companies, four direct sellers made this year’s Fast 50, an annual ranking from Utah Business magazine based on five-year compound growth, with a revenue component. The list featured health firms LifeVantage (No. 6), USANA (No. 38) and Xyngular (No. 49), as well as beauty and wellness firm Nu Skin (No. 42).

Ambit Energy Named a Leader in Customer Satisfaction

Ambit Energy once again has been named a leading retail electric provider, based on an annual customer satisfaction study by J.D. Power.

The 2016 Retail Electric Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study evaluates the 91 providers in nine competitive markets across the U.S. In all, 20,000 customers were queried to determine satisfaction in five key areas: price, communications, corporate citizenship, enrollment/renewal and customer service.

Overall, the study found that switching and renewal rates are falling as customers find fewer incentives to shop around. “Historically, the key differentiator between retail electric providers and regulated providers has been price, but that price gap has shrunk,” said Andrew Heath, Senior Director of J.D. Power’s utility and infrastructure practice.

Breaking down the responses by state, J.D. Power reports that Ambit ranked highest among retail electric providers in Connecticut for the second consecutive year. The Dallas-based company scored 735 on a 1,000-point scale, with particularly high marks for communications and enrollment/renewal. In New Jersey, Ambit ranked second with a score of 687, and in Illinois the company was third with 644.

Total Life Changes Announces First Acquisition

Total Life Changes (TLC) recently announced the acquisition of Ryte Inc., a Utah-based benefit corporation with a portfolio of wellness products. The acquisition, a first for Total Life Changes, signals a new approach for the Michigan company, as it actively seeks to acquire “smaller companies in need who share our ideals,” in the words of Founder and CEO Jack Fallon. In the case of Ryte, Fallon and his team saw an opportunity to expand TLC’s customer and distributor base—Ryte has just under 1,000 sellers—and introduce them to a wider portfolio of health, wellness and beauty products. In conjunction with the announcement, TLC has opened a new corporate division in Salt Lake City that will support its merger and acquisition strategy.

Direct Selling Expansions in the Third Quarter

New Markets

  • ACN, Japan
  • Buyezee, Vietnam
  • Cabi, UK
  • Modere, Italy
  • Nerium, Japan
  • WOR(l)D Global Network, Vietnam
  • Youlab, South Korea
  • Younique, Hong Kong
  • Zinzino, European Union

New facilities

  • Mannatech, Hong Kong Office
  • Natural Health Trends, China Offices, Suzhou and Hangzhou
  • Rodan + Fields, Additional Offices, California
  • Stella & Dot, Headquarters Expansion, California
  • Total Life Changes, Merger and Acquisition Division, Utah
  • WOR(l)D Global Network, Thailand Office
  • Young Living, Northern Lights Farm, British Columbia

September 30, 2016

U.S. News

Mannatech Offers Retail Shopping Experience at Texas Headquarters

Photo: Mannatech headquarters in Coppell, Texas.

Mannatech Inc. is offering customers a different kind of brand experience with a newly updated retail storefront, located at the health firm’s North Texas headquarters.

The renovation comes on the heels of Mannatech’s brand refresh earlier this year, and was done with the company’s expanded product range in mind. Associates and Members, as well as the general public, can now sample the brand’s TruHealth meal replacement shakes and smoothies, try out Uth skin care and essential oils in the spa area, or browse a variety of Mannatech branded apparel.

“When we revealed our new brand in April, we felt it was time to update the storefront to reflect our new branding and add new features to make it even more Associate-friendly,” Mannatech’s Director of Communications, Mike Crouch, told DSN. “We want our Associates and guests to feel welcome, and the updates we have made provide for an outstanding customer experience.”

Area Associates can visit the Coppell, Texas, storefront to pick up orders or manage their accounts. It also serves as a place for Associates to conduct business, whether by taking prospects on a tour of the headquarters, demonstrating products on display or consulting with the full-time staff on hand.

September 30, 2016

U.S. News

USANA Founder Receives Lifetime Achievement Honor from Children’s Hunger Fund

Photo: USANA Founder Dr. Myron Wentz (left) with CHF Founder David Phillips.

The man who founded USANA Health Sciences nearly 25 years ago, Dr. Myron Wentz, recently became the first ever to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children’s Hunger Fund.

Wentz is a longtime friend and supporter of the charity, which distributes food to children and families in need. At distribution centers in Dallas, Chicago, San Antonio, and Los Angeles, CHF volunteers pack bulk food into 20-pound boxes known as Food Paks, which are then distributed around the world.

Over the years CHF also has branched into disaster relief, orphan care, farming and other areas of need. USANA’s Wentz has funded a number of such projects, including Cargo of Hope, a feeding program that has supplied 11.7 million meals; Beds for Ukraine Orphans, which built and outfitted 2,400 beds; and Wentz Medical Centers in Uganda, Cambodia and Malawi. Two more centers are in development.

In addition to personal contributions made by Wentz, the USANA True Health Foundation has donated more than $21.3 million in cash and nutritional supplements to CHF.

“Honoring Dr. Wentz with this award is just a small reflection of our gratitude for the unwavering support he has provided to us over the past 15 years,” said Dave Phillips, Founder and President of CHF. “The work he has helped us accomplish, and the lives we’ve been able to improve around the world, is unmeasurable and we couldn’t be more grateful for his generosity.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Wentz during CHF’s 25th anniversary celebration, held Sept. 24 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

September 29, 2016

U.S. News

Do This, Not That: Amway Social Selling Research Provides Consumer Insights

Photo: Ricardo and Claudia Zermeno, Amway Independent Business Owners.

The in-person, social media hybrid known as “social selling” is now commonplace across the direct sales channel, but hard data on the model remains scarce.

New research commissioned by Amway Corp. sheds light on consumer preferences when it comes to making the social sale. According to the State of Social Selling Survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, 60 percent of Americans have been contacted by a social seller. Of those, one third have made a purchase, and a staggering 85 percent are repeat customers.

What drives that repeat business? A few factors, according to consumers, who emphasized the importance of building trust, particularly by exhibiting knowledge of the product and the customer’s needs. Of respondents, 87 percent said it is important for a seller to use the product themselves. Three-fifths indicated they would not trust a seller who does not know the product well.

“Amway Independent Business Owners are often frequent users and walking testimonials of the products they sell,” said Jim Ayres, Managing Director for Amway North America. “When a seller can effectively communicate the premium quality of the products, particularly through using the products themselves, they will always be seen as more trustworthy.”

Of course, persistence is also key—in moderation. The survey found that, on average, those who have made a purchase did so after the seller reached out at least three times. Equally important is knowing when to desist. About half of consumers felt that social sellers are more aggressive than face-to-face salespeople, while 64 percent said they have made a purchase as a result of peer pressure.

Another finding—the importance of cultivating relationships with customers—speaks to a strength of both the channel and the up-and-coming Millennial generation. “…Young people in particular are proving to be a huge driver of the social selling industry,” noted Jackie Nickel, Amway’s Chief Marketing Officer for North America. “The relationship-driven industry appeals to their generation, particularly when they are contacted on social media by a friend.”

Having a trusting and friendly relationship with the customer helps to seal the deal, according to 83 percent of those who have purchased from a social seller. This will come as no surprise to veterans of the direct sales channel, who, with or without the aid of technology, are in the business of building social networks.

September 28, 2016

World News

Herbalife Fitness Experts to Support Special Olympics Community

Photo by © Adam Nurkiewicz / Mediasport

Herbalife is renewing its partnership with the Special Olympics through a multi-faceted, $1 million sponsorship of the global movement.

The collaboration centers on fitness programming available to the Special Olympics community, including more than 4.5 million athletes in about 170 countries. Though it uses sport to empower people with intellectual disabilities, the organization is about more than athletic competition, said Kyle Washburn, Director of Fitness for Special Olympics. “We surround our athletes with a community that supports them through sport, health and the expansion of fitness.”

Through the new sponsorship, Herbalife’s team of staff scientists will supply nutrition expertise and educational content to Special Olympics athletes, coaches and caregivers. Additionally, the company’s Senior Manager of Sports Performance and Education, Dana Ryan, Ph.D., is joining the Special Olympics Global Fitness Task Force, whose subject-matter experts and athletes advise the organization on its ongoing fitness programming.

The nutrition firm also said it will add the Special Olympics logo to select protein products to help raise awareness of the movement.

“Our mission is to bring nutrition to people around the world and to provide support for those seeking to embrace a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Michael Johnson, Herbalife Chairman and CEO. “Our global Herbalife community is inspired by Special Olympics and its amazing athletes, and we are proud to provide them with nutrition and fitness resources.”

The California company was heavily involved with Special Olympics during the 2015 Summer World Games in Los Angeles. Herbalife members and employees sponsored approximately 10 percent of the World Games athletes, and company facilities served as a registration hub for thousands of athletes, coaches and volunteers. The company also made a donation of more than 280,000 nutrition bars.

September 28, 2016

U.S. News

Beautycounter Advocates Safe Beauty as Senate Weighs Cosmetics Reform

Photo: Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO of Beautycounter.

Beautycounter took its campaign for safer beauty products to Washington, D.C. for a recent congressional hearing on cosmetic development and safety.

The brand’s founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, attended a Sept. 22 oversight hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and penned a letter to members outlining the need for greater oversight of the beauty industry. Renfrew launched Beautycounter in 2013 with the express mission to create safe and innovative beauty and skincare products.

“The average American woman’s life expectancy is roughly 80 years,” Renfrew wrote in a Tuesday op-ed for Washington political journal The Hill. “That is approximately how long it has been since the United States has passed a major law ensuring the safety of the cosmetic and personal care products we use every single day.”

In the U.S., beauty products are regulated largely by legislation passed in 1938, and in 2016 the contrast to other countries is stark. European Union officials have banned nearly 1,400 ingredients from personal-care products, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partially restricted just 11.

Beautycounter has addressed this disparity by compiling its own list of known or suspected toxins banned from its formulas. This Never List includes about 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients prohibited or restricted by the E.U. and Health Canada, as well as additional chemicals screened by the company itself. However, enforcing rigorous standards across an entire supply chain is no small task, particularly without regulations in place to ensure transparency.

“While businesses can sometimes move faster than government action, there is still a need for a new regulatory structure,” states Renfrew’s letter to committee members. “Without key improvements to our government’s existing regulatory system, many companies will not have the tools necessary to make the safest products possible.”

According to recommendations put forth by Beautycounter, those improvements include empowering the FDA to review and restrict ingredients, with a set standard in place. Renfrew also calls for increasing supply chain transparency and authorizing states to take action on harmful ingredients, as well as introducing a mandatory recall authority and adverse event reporting.

September 27, 2016

U.S. News

Tupperware Announces Leadership Changes, New Position

Tupperware Brands Corp. is promoting its longtime President and Chief Operating Officer, Simon Hemus, to Vice Chairman and naming Patricia Stitzel as his successor.

Stitzel is a Tupperware veteran whose promotion is in line with the company’s management succession process. Since 2014, she has served as Group President, Americas, for the kitchen, home and beauty products maker.

The incoming President and COO began her Tupperware career nearly 20 years ago as part of the human resources department. Before transitioning to the Americas, she held a series of senior executive positions with Tupperware Europe.

“Tricia has done an exemplary job in every position she has held within the company,” said Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO. “Most recently, she has led the Americas region to tremendous growth, leveraging the Vision 20/20 strategic initiatives she has helped design and execute.”

Stitzel’s promotion will go into effect Oct. 1, as Hemus takes on the newly created role of Vice Chairman. In this new capacity, Hemus will lead the company’s Horizons project, a strategic plan for geographic expansion and market penetration.

“Simon has done a terrific job of improving our strategic focus at Tupperware,” said Goings. “As he works on the execution of the Horizons project, Simon will continue to position the company for future growth and leave a strong legacy.”

Hemus joined the company in 2005, when it acquired the direct sales divisions of Sara Lee Corp., his former employer. He was named President and COO in 2007.

September 27, 2016

U.S. News

U.S. Direct Selling Association Joins West Coast Small Business Summit

The U.S. Direct Selling Association will address the current regulatory environment during this week’s 2016 West Coast Small Business Summit.

The DSA is a sponsor of Thursday’s summit, hosted by The Latino Coalition and the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce. The day’s agenda will focus on “The Rising Latino American Electorate and the 2016 Elections,” with speakers including Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and the Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, Carlos Eugenio Garcia de Alba Zepeda.

According to the DSA’s 2016 Growth & Outlook Survey, Latinos make up a sizable segment—about 20 percent—of direct selling entrepreneurs in the U.S.  Targeted initiatives such as the West Coast Small Business Summit provide an opportunity to advance the conversation about policy issues that impact Latinos and their fellow direct selling entrepreneurs.

“These partnerships give us credible platforms to talk more deliberately about the issues we want to discuss, and that ultimately helps us when we need to present our case to policymakers and others about the value of direct selling, and why we continue to support this business—and the millions of people involved in it,” said Paul Skowronek, DSA Senior Vice President, Public Affairs.

In addition to sponsoring the event, the DSA will be represented by Adolfo Franco, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, who will take part in a panel on the current regulatory climate at the federal level. The panel also will explore how new and proposed regulations could impact small business owners, like the independent contractors who participate in direct selling. Skowronek notes that, particularly in California, the “gig economy” and similar opportunities are causing regulators to take a closer look at the independent contractor model.

“Direct selling is a piece of that puzzle,” said Skowronek. “It’s only one piece of a much bigger puzzle, and our goal in participating in the summit is to help people understand some of the issues inherent in a discussion about the independent contractor—not only in California, but nationally as well.”

On the legislative front, priority number one for the DSA is H.R. 5230, an anti-pyramid bill introduced in the House earlier this year by Rep. Marsh Blackburn (R-TN). If passed into law, the bill would clearly define a pyramid scheme in federal statute for the first time. The measure has garnered bipartisan support from 30 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Energy & Commerce Committee and Direct Selling Caucus.

September 26, 2016

U.S. News

Pure Haven Essentials Secures USDA Organic Certification

Pure Haven Essentials recently announced that its Rhode Island manufacturing facility has been certified through the USDA National Organic Program.

The enterprise known as Pure Haven Essentials was launched earlier this year by the management team behind Ava Anderson Non Toxic, which closed its doors in February. Pure Haven Essentials is carrying on the Ava Anderson mission to educate consumers about harmful ingredients and provide safe beauty and home products.

A group of investors with long experience in the direct sales channel—namely Rudy Revak, Mary Julich, Steve Kole and Bruce Jensen—have taken on ownership of Pure Haven Essentials through their company, Global Ventures Partners. The Andersons and their daughter, Ava, whose vision led to the founding of Ava Anderson in 2009, are not involved in the new venture. In a statement announcing the sale, the Andersons describe the new owners as “a team of experienced and caring direct sales veterans.”

Setbacks with third-party suppliers were among the factors that hurt the Ava Anderson business, according to management’s January closing announcement. In recent months a handful of suppliers had violated their agreements, adding ingredients banned by the company into several of its 80-plus products. Thus one of management’s goals in the transition to Pure Haven Essentials is to bring all production in house, under an internal Quality Control Department. The company’s new organic certification is key to that effort, according to Chief Product Officer Krupa Koestline, who oversees the department.

“To achieve this certification, we passed a stringent audit by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic,” said Koestline. “We had to qualify in all areas, including sourcing, formulation, production procedures, sanitizing and cleaning processes, quality control, and tracking of all incoming and outgoing products.”

The Rhode Island company is committed to providing products free from harmful chemicals, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Current offerings include a wide range of personal-care products, cosmetics and a home cleaning line. The USDA organic certification brings an additional layer of oversight and accountability to the company’s manufacturing process, said CEO Joe Ochoa. “We know that this is important to both our consultants and our customers who depend on us to provide the very best for them and their families.”

September 23, 2016

World News

USANA-Sponsored Paralympians Log Four Podium Finishes in Rio

Photo: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, site of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Following a strong showing at the 2016 Olympics, USANA-sponsored athletes again took the podium during this month’s Paralympic Games.

In all, the nutrition company sponsors more than 1,000 elite athletes, collectively known as Team USANA. The group includes five para-athletes who made their Paralympic debut at the Summer Games, held Sept. 7–18. The event brought more than 4,300 athletes to Brazil.

“It has been an honor to team up with these exceptional athletes and watch them compete for their countries on the world’s largest athletic stage,” said Dan Macuga, USANA’s Chief Communications Officer.

The Utah company has partnered with athletes around the world, including Australian para-runner Deon Kenzie, who won Silver in the T38 1500m event. “USANA has been an essential part of my routine leading up to and during the Paralympic Games,” said Kenzie. “USANA products give me peace of mind that I can maintain good nutrition whilst traveling and competing.”

Team USANA’s Charles Moreau, a Canadian para-cyclist, won Bronze in both the men’s road race H3 and time trial H3 events. Para-canoeist Ian Marsden of Great Britain also made a podium appearance, taking Bronze in the inaugural kayak single KL1 200m contest. Two other Team USANA athletes, para-sailor Richard Dodson and para-cyclist Byron Raubenheimer of New Zealand, finished fourth and 11th in their respective events.

September 22, 2016

World News

DreamTrips by WorldVentures Named North America’s Top Travel Club

DreamTrips by WorldVentures once again has captured the title of North America’s Leading Travel Club.

The vacation club was recognized in the 23rd annual World Travel Awards, which showcases travel and tourism industry leaders.

Texas-based WorldVentures describes its DreamTrips offering as a “travel club community.” After signing up, members have access to customized travel experiences, as well as discounts at select restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.

“Our DreamTrips team works hard every day to create amazing experiences for our travelers and to deliver exceptional customer service,” said Wayne Nugent, WorldVentures Founder and Chief Visionary Officer. “We appreciate everyone who recognized us by voting.”

The World Travel Awards have named DreamTrips the top travel club in North America for three years running. Winners are determined both by members and by industry professionals. WorldVentures collected its award during a regional gala on Sept. 17 in Jamaica.

At a gala held earlier this month in Italy, DreamTrips also earned the designation of Europe’s Leading Travel Club.

September 22, 2016

U.S. News

Nerium COO Deborah K. Heisz Adds President to Title

Photo: Deborah K. Heisz, President and COO of Nerium.

Nerium International’s Deborah K. Heisz has been named company President, in addition to her current role as Chief Operating Officer.

For the past several months, Heisz also has chaired Nerium’s global steering committee, helping to position the skincare company for new growth. “Having more than 20 years of leadership experience in a variety of roles within the direct selling industry, Deborah is uniquely qualified to direct the company as it enters its next phase,” Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO, said in the company’s announcement.

In past leadership roles, Heisz has overseen new business development, product development, IT, creative services and publishing within the direct sales channel. She also remains CEO of Live Happy LLC, the positive lifestyle brand and movement behind Live Happy magazine. Next month, Heisz will be inducted into the Happiness Hall of Fame, which includes names such as Muhammad Ali and Deepak Chopra.
“It is my goal to lead our U.S. and international teams to move our global company forward and maintain our position as a unique model of positivity, diversity, innovation and integrity in the direct selling industry,” said Heisz.

As it marks five years in business, Texas-based Nerium is preparing to expand its international operations with the launch of Nerium Australia. Company officials said the anticipated fourth-quarter opening has been scheduled for next month.

September 21, 2016

U.S. News

Jamberry’s New Collection to Support American Cancer Society

Jamberry is using its signature nail wraps to raise awareness and support for those battling cancer.

The Utah company has launched a limited-edition collection through its Commitment to Charity initiative, meaning a portion of the proceeds are allocated to charity. The new #TellYourStory collection features pink designs for breast cancer awareness, and with each purchase Jamberry will donate $2.00 to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Jamberry’s charitable efforts are focused on causes and organizations that align with its mission to empower women. For example, a #GoForGold campaign earlier this year supported women athletes headed to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. These athletes, who tend to get fewer sponsorships than their male counterparts, are responsible for covering traveling and other expenses associated with the games.

With its new campaign, Jamberry will help provide resources to women facing breast cancer. This year, about 246,660 women will be diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer, according to ACS data. The nonprofit is dedicated to cancer research, patient services, early detection, treatment and education.

“When someone is affected by cancer they are not alone,” said Padma Rao, Chief Marketing Officer at Jamberry. “As a family and as a community we support those who are facing cancer currently, who have faced cancer, and who will someday face it.”

The #TellYourStory collection also is available in select international markets. Alongside ACS, the company has pledged donations to the Cancer Council Australia and the Canadian Cancer Society.

September 20, 2016

World News

Natura Retains Spot on Dow Jones Sustainability Index

For the third consecutive year, Natura Cosmeticos SA has been recognized as a leading sustainability-driven company with a spot on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.

The DJSI are published by S&P Dow Jones Indices and RobecoSAM, an investment firm focused exclusively on sustainability investing. According to David Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices, “The DJSI are comprehensive benchmarks of companies that meet RobecoSAM’s sustainability standards and give investors tools to develop global allocations that reflect sustainability factors.”

Brazil’s Natura once again appears on the Emerging Markets Index of the DJSI. From a pool of the 800 largest emerging market companies, listed on the S&P Global Broad Market Index, 10 percent are named to the Sustainability Emerging Market Index, based on RobecoSAM’s annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA).

“This not only is an important recognition, but also reaffirms our positioning among investors who seek to support the development of more sustainable businesses and comes to serve as a relevant source of information for improving our practices,” said Jose Roberto Lettiere, Natura’s Chief Financial and Investor Relations Officer.

According to RobecoSAM, the CSA explores economic, environmental and social factors that make for a sustainable business, but are not emphasized in conventional financial analysis. Natura’s ongoing sustainability initiatives are detailed in an extensive Annual Report. The $2.4 billion enterprise is the only Household & Personal Products company to appear on the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index.

September 20, 2016

U.S. News

Thirty-One Gifts Scholarship Pays Tribute to Company Roots

Thirty-One Gifts and its founder and CEO, Cindy Monroe, have not forgotten where they came from.

Now a $516 million business headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Thirty-One got its start in the basement of Monroe’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, home. Through its philanthropic fund, Thirty-One Gives, the company gives back to Chattanooga and the wider community of Hamilton County with an annual academic scholarship for girls.

Thirty-One Gives is now accepting applications for the 2016 Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Scholarship, a $12,400 award distributed in $3,100 increments over four years. The scholarship goes to one local high school junior or senior who embodies Monroe’s core values of building relationships, leadership and community involvement.

“We offer the scholarship in Hamilton County because that’s the community where we got our start and spent our first five years, which for me was a critical time to test the survival of the new business,” Monroe told DSN. “We’re a company with a heart for giving back and sharing the many blessings we’ve received, and we have great gratitude for our hometown community.”

A Chattanooga native, Monroe graduated from the local Hixson High School and was inducted into its Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014. Thirty-One Gifts, known for its fashionable and functional accessories and home products, was based in the area from its inception in 2003 to 2008. The company established the Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Scholarship in 2013, to celebrate 10 years in business.

September 19, 2016

World News

Wellness Firm Immunotec Reports Record Sales in Q3

Canada-based Immunotec logged revenue of $28.4 million—a company record—in its most recent fiscal quarter.

Overall revenue was up 29 percent, management reported, largely driven by growth in Mexico, where sales rose 55 percent from a year ago. Despite higher sales in the market, the recent devaluation of the Mexican peso hurt profitability. The company’s bottom line decreased 46 percent to $0.6 million in the quarter ended July 31.

“We maintain our guidance to exceed $100M in revenues for the full fiscal year, but are concerned that profitability will remain impacted during the fourth quarter from further deterioration in the Mexican peso,” Patrick Montpetit, CFO, said in the company’s release.

Montpetit further noted that management has initiated a review of the company’s currency risk exposure and is working to mitigate economic uncertainties in its Mexico operations.

Immunotec sells its nutrition, skincare and wellness products in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Dominican Republic. In the most recent quarter, sponsoring of new customers and consultants across all markets was up 48 percent from a year earlier.

September 16, 2016

World News

Vorwerk’s New Exchange Program Caters to Children of Employees

Germany-based Vorwerk is looking to foster relationships across its global employee base with the “One Family” cultural exchange program.

Since its beginnings in 1883—as a carpet factory—Vorwerk has grown into a diversified corporate group, deriving the bulk of its revenue from direct sales of household appliances, cosmetics and other products. Despite having a presence in more than 70 countries, Vorwerk remains a family-owned business, and that heritage is reflected in its new exchange program.

One Family opened in 2013 to the children of Vorwerk employees, who number more than 12,000 worldwide. Through the program, children aged 15–20 can sign up to spend a portion of their school holiday with the family of an employee in another country. In exchange, a child from the host family returns the visit at a later date.

“Because we regard ourselves as one big family at Vorwerk, the family is a defining element in our corporate culture,” said Sandra Krieger, PR-Manager Corporate Communications at Vorwerk. “We decided to set up the exchange program to let our children benefit from the international character and open approach of the company.”

Vorwerk not only coordinates the exchange, but also pays for each child’s travel expenses. The host family is responsible for planning the day-to-day activities of the visit, which lasts anywhere from two to four weeks. Krieger reports that early feedback from One Family participants has been overwhelmingly positive.

September 15, 2016

U.S. News

Beautycounter Announces Senior Leadership Appointments

A number of executive leadership changes are taking place at Beautycounter as the non-toxic beauty company enters its sixth year of business.

This summer has been a busy one for Beautycounter. In June, the California company acquired natural skincare line NUDE. The global brand was founded by social activist Ali Hewson, wife of U2 frontman Bono, who is now investing in Beautycounter’s parent company. Then, earlier this month, a selection of Beautycounter products hit Target stores through a limited-edition partnership with the retail giant. Beautycounter also operated a summer pop-up shop on Nantucket Island.

Now the safety-conscious company is bringing in additional talent to help lead its next phase of growth. “We are no longer a startup company,” said Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO. “As a fast-growth company, our past year has been focused on careful executive recruiting, and we are thrilled with the proven senior executives joining our team, and the addition of strategic business leaders supporting them.”

One new hire, Anthony Prudhomme, is taking on the role of Chief Financial Officer. Following an early stint with professional services firm Deloitte, Prudhomme has held executive roles with Dole Foods and Beyond Meat, as well as another beauty company in the direct sales channel. “Tony’s vision for enterprise value creation, technology transformation and customer-centric programs at Beautycounter has us very optimistic about the future,” said Renfrew.

Robert Steere has been named Head of Operations, a title he previously held at Red Bull. Most recently, Steere served as Vice President of Operations for skincare brand Dermalogica. A newly appointed Head of Product Development, Xavier Ormancey, hails from Paris, where he worked with L’Oréal Paris, Chanel Parfums & Beauté, and Yves Rocher Group. Ormancey is known as an innovator in the field of environmentally friendly personal-care products. Finally, Beautycounter has appointed Raj Chand as Sourcing Manager. Chand has worked with multiple direct selling companies in the areas of botanical and non-GMO sourcing.

September 15, 2016

U.S. News

Mary Kay Breaks Ground on $125M Manufacturing and R&D Facility

Photo: Mary Kay executives lead a groundbreaking ceremony at the company’s new manufacturing and R&D site in Lewisville, Texas.

Construction officially is underway on Mary Kay Inc.’s new global manufacturing and research and development facility.

Company executives, along with local government officials, broke ground at the Lewisville, Texas, location on Sept. 13, the very date Mary Kay Ash founded the beauty company 53 years ago. The $125 million project is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2018.

“We are committed to the latest in technological innovation, and Mary Kay’s new manufacturing and R&D operations will be on the leading edge of design and production,” David Holl, President and CEO of Mary Kay, said in the company’s announcement.

Mary Kay’s existing manufacturing and R&D facility opened in Dallas in 1969. The 420,000-square-foot plant pumps out up to 1.1 million beauty products per day. Currently, 57 percent of those products are exported to international markets. The brand’s skin care, cosmetics and fragrances are sold through more than 3.5 million Independent Beauty Consultants worldwide.

Like its predecessor, the new manufacturing site is in close proximity to Mary Kay’s other North Texas facilities, including its global headquarters in Addison, a distribution center in Carrollton and a warehouse in Dallas. The building will comprise 480,000 square feet.

September 14, 2016

U.S. News

AdvoCare Launches Preferred Customer Plan

AdvoCare on Wednesday launched a new Preferred Customer Program to better distinguish between their Distributors and loyal customers who want to buy products at a discount.

With more than 620,000 Distributorships, the Texas-based health and wellness company sees the Preferred Customer offering as a way to more easily interact with customers and as a tool that Independent Distributors can use to engage those solely interested in products.

From the corporate perspective, the program allows AdvoCare to “better serve those who are engaged with us,” says Allison Levy, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. “This will let us tailor our messaging for customers as well as for business-building Distributors and those who are intentional about wanting to share the products.”

Here’s how AdvoCare’s Preferred Customer plan works:

A Preferred Customer pays $19.95, signs an agreement and receives a promotional product kit, an online account and a 20 percent product discount. Over time, Preferred Customers can increase their discount to 30 percent. When Preferred Customers place orders, AdvoCare’s online systems will automatically populate a Distributor’s sales compliance forms.

An Independent Distributor pays $59.95, signs an agreement and receives a larger promotional product kit, a product catalogue, IMPACT magazine and online support. Distributors can earn up to a 40 percent discount.

Distributors also gain access to a wealth of online training in the Getting Started module, followed by additional digital and in-person trainings designed to help build their business.

AdvoCare also soon will launch new customer trainings (for those who want it) to more fully educate people about AdvoCare products.

A new Product Navigator application will support these trainings and give customers and Distributors a new online tool with which to discover, learn about and recommend products for specific customer needs.

Product Navigator aggregates many of AdvoCare’s best-selling products into a database that matches product bundles with customer needs and goals.

“This opens up AdvoCare to a whole new group of people who may not want to be Distributors but who enjoy the products, and want to buy them at a discount,” Levy says.

AdvoCare, which saw net sales of $719 million in 2015, shared news of the new program with its sales leaders yesterday and will conduct a conference call for interested Distributors today. A page on the AdvoCare website also explains the Preferred Customer program.

In two weeks, AdvoCare will roll out the conversion piece of Preferred Customer, to allow people already engaged with AdvoCare to choose a path that aligns with their individual needs. Levy expects the process to take a few months, but says she looks forward to seeing how people who join AdvoCare every day choose to sign up.

“This first year will be very educational and enlightening for us,” Levy says.

September 14, 2016

U.S. News

Icahn Seeks Approval to Up Herbalife Stake to 50%

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is seeking authorization to up his stake in Herbalife Ltd. (HLF—NYSE) to 50 percent.

Shares in the nutrition company are trading slightly higher following Icahn’s comments, which were made late Tuesday at the Delivering Alpha conference hosted by CNBC and Institutional Investor. Icahn is a longtime supporter of Herbalife in its battle against short-seller Bill Ackman, an outspoken critic of the company whose claims prompted a Federal Trade Commission probe into Herbalife’s business practices.

In July, on the day a settlement was announced in the FTC case, Icahn said regulators had granted him permission to increase his Herbalife stake to as much as 35 percent, well below the 50 percent he is now contemplating. Onstage at Delivering Alpha, Icahn said he currently owns about 20 percent of Herbalife’s shares. The Icahn Enterprises investor also said he has not ruled out launching a tender offer to take the company private, stating that as a shareholder he thinks Herbalife would be “better off that way.”

September 14, 2016

World News

Nerium Taps Rick Arnold to Lead Expansion into Australia

Photo: Rick Arnold, General Manager of Nerium Australia

Nerium International has appointed Rick Arnold to General Manager of Nerium Australia, as the skincare company prepares to launch operations in the market.

Arnold was introduced to Nerium Independent Brand Partners during Get Real Dallas, an annual conference that took place over the weekend. The four-day event featured salesforce training and recognition, as well as a look at what the future holds for the Texas company, which recorded sales of $516 million in 2015.

“One of our most exciting plans for the future is our expansion to Australia, a thriving market for both the global anti-aging skincare segment and the direct sales industry,” said Jeff Olson, Nerium Founder and CEO. “I know we will reach new heights as we welcome Rick Arnold, an accomplished professional who shares Nerium’s values and culture, as General Manager of Australia.”

In a direct sales career that has spanned more than two decades, Arnold has spent 13 years in corporate management, and another 10 years building his own direct selling business with one of the channel’s leading companies. Nerium Australia is slated to open in the fourth quarter, along with a new regional office in Adelaide, South Australia.

September 13, 2016

U.S. News

Organo Expands Portfolio with OGX Nutrition Line

Ganoderma products maker Organo is branching into weight management with its new OGX nutrition line.

Wellness is the largest direct sales category in the U.S., accounting for a third of all retail sales in the channel, according to research from the U.S. Direct Selling Association. In 2015, the category grew 16 percent year-over-year to $12.1 billion.

Thus far, Organo’s wellness portfolio has focused on coffees and teas, along with a handful of supplements—all featuring Ganoderma powder, which is sourced from a mushroom used in traditional Asian medicines. With the launch of OGX, the Canadian company is looking to build a community of health-conscious customers who incorporate its nutrition products into their daily routine.

“Meeting one’s nutritional needs in a convenient and economical manner, given today’s fast-paced lifestyle, is the goal of OGX and a natural evolution for Organo,” Bernardo Chua, Organo Founder and CEO, said in the company’s announcement.

The first product in the new line is OGX FENIX, a whey protein shake formulated with Ganoderma, electrolytes and a prebiotic fiber. Each OGX FENIX order comes with the OGX Nutritional Weight Management Guide, which includes meal plans, exercise options and other health tips to help users maximize the effects of the product.

September 12, 2016

U.S. News

Avon Foundation Releases New Data on Breast Cancer among Hispanics

A new study funded by the Avon Foundation for Women lays the groundwork for a better understanding of breast cancer diagnoses among Hispanics in the U.S.

The first-of-its-kind study, Breast Cancer among Hispanic Subgroups in the U.S., was conducted by the Sinai Urban Health Institute and released during the foundation’s biennial Breast Cancer Forum, held Sept. 7–9 in Miami. Furthering breast cancer research and access to quality care is one focus of the Avon Foundation for Women, alongside its efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence.

Drawing from multiple national data sources across multiple years, the new study explores breast cancer prevalence and mortality rates among Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Central and South American women in the U.S. As a whole, Hispanics represent the largest racial/ethnic minority in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the leading cause of cancer deaths, in Hispanic women.

“As the company for women, Avon is committed to taking actions that matter most to women, and that is why the Avon Foundation is passionate about funding studies like this,” said Cheryl Heinonen, President of the Avon Foundation for Women. “We want to identify where the disparities lie so we can effectively shape and support programs that will have the greatest impact.”

The data shows that breast cancer mortality rates differ widely among the various groups that make up the Hispanic population. At the high end of the spectrum were Puerto Rican women (19.04 per 100,000 women) and Mexican women (18.78), while Central and South American women (10.15 per 100,000 women) were significantly less likely to die from breast cancer than other subgroups observed. According to Bijou Hunt of the Sinai Urban Health Institute, who authored the study, the findings have the potential to greatly improve individualization of care for Hispanic women diagnosed with the disease.

September 12, 2016

U.S. News

Federal Staffers Take On Herbalife Congressional Challenge, Nation’s Triathlon

Nutrition company Herbalife was a sponsor of this weekend’s Events DC Nation’s Triathlon, the only triathlon held in the nation’s capital.

This marks the third consecutive year Herbalife has sponsored the event, which took place Sunday, Sept. 11. The 11th annual Nation’s Triathlon benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, one of the largest voluntary health organizations dedicated to fighting blood cancer.

After completing the race, athletes received Herbalife recovery drinks and protein bars in the Official Herbalife24 Recovery Zone.

“We want to provide the best nutrition and hydration products for our athletes, both on the course and after the race,” Nick Lynch, The Nation’s Triathlon Event Director, said in the company’s announcement. “Herbalife will be there to support our participants throughout the competition. We are thrilled to have them as a partner again for 2016.”

Government employees taking part in the race also could compete against one another in the Herbalife Congressional Challenge. In the past two years, the Congressional Challenge has included senior staffers from Congress and the Departments of Education, Justice, Homeland Security and others. Awards were presented to the three top finishers in the race-within-a-race.

Nation’s Triathlon participants completed a 40-kilometer bike ride through the Downtown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where the White House is located, and a 10-kilometer run past historical landmarks. The event also includes a 1,500-meter swim in the Potomac River; however, the swim portion of this year’s event was cancelled when water conditions fell short of the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment’s EPA-based safety standards.

September 09, 2016

U.S. News

Chloe + Isabel Launches ‘Modern Muses’ with Fashion Photographer Mark Seliger

Photo: Chantel Waterbury (center), Chloe + Isabel Founder and CEO, and brand Merchandisers are photographed by Mark Seliger.

To celebrate five years in business, jewelry company Chloe + Isabel is unveiling a new “Modern Muses” campaign with celebrity photographer Mark Seliger.

Seliger is well-known for his portraits and fashion work, which have graced the pages of Vanity Fair, Elle and Rolling Stone. His new collaboration with Chloe + Isabel features seven of the brand’s real-life independent sellers, known as Merchandisers, modeling its new fall collection.

“In a world where everyone is so focused on celebrity, I felt it was important to highlight these real, extraordinary and passionate women who represent our incredible Merchandisers,” said Chantel Waterbury, Founder and CEO of Chloe + Isabel. “These ladies have made a positive impact on their families and communities, and in my eyes, that is the true definition of what it means to be a modern muse in today’s society.”

The company’s fall jewelry collection was inspired by four women in history and the traits that set them apart. Photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller represents The Hero; author Anais Nin is The Rebel; painter Tamara de Lempicka is The Maven; and artist and author Leonor Fini is The Artisan. Seliger took a similar approach to styling the brand’s “Modern Muses,” highlighting a distinctive quality in each woman.

“It was such an honor working with Chantel and this inspiring group of women,” said Seliger. “From the very beginning, the process was unique and creatively a delight.”

One Merchandiser who posed for Seliger is Mitra, who represents The Philanthropist. Mitra signed on with Chloe + Isabel to hone her business skills while pursuing a career in the male-dominated field of software engineering. Along the way, she has opted to donate 100 percent of her Chloe + Isabel earnings. Mitra is one of nearly 10,000 Chloe + Isabel Merchandisers nationwide.

September 09, 2016

World News

Avon Products Names Former McDonald’s Exec to Board of Directors

Photo: Jose Armario, new member of Avon’s board of directors

Amid continued turnaround efforts, Avon Products Inc. has elected Jose Armario, a former senior executive with McDonald’s Corp., to its board of directors.

Armario is one of two independent directors jointly appointed by Avon and Cerberus Capital Management LP, the private-equity firm that purchased Avon’s North America business nine months ago. For an investment of $605 million, Cerberus acquired an 80.1 percent stake in Avon North America, which it subsequently took private, as well as a 16.6 percent stake in Avon Products Inc.

The changes extend to Avon’s board, which now consists of six Avon directors, three from Cerberus and two independent directors. An activist investor, Barington Capital Group LP, also had a say in Armario’s appointment, after agreeing to withdraw its opposing board bids in a March deal with Avon.

“I’m delighted that Jose is joining the Avon Board,” Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products, said in the company’s announcement. “He has firsthand consumer experience in many of Avon’s most important markets, and his insights will be valuable as we continue to execute our transformation plan.”

Before retiring from McDonald’s in 2015, Armario served as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Supply Chain, Development and Franchising. In that capacity he oversaw annual supply chain purchases of $25 billion, as well as $1 billion in new store capital. Armario spent nearly two decades with McDonald’s, in roles that included Group President of Latin America and Canada as well as President and International Relationship Partner of Latin America, where he is credited with leading the company’s turnaround in the region.

“I am pleased to join the board of this global, iconic brand, and look forward to working with my fellow board members as well as the executive team during such a dynamic time,” said Armario. “Avon’s rich history is particularly important to me personally, as my own mother spent several years as an Avon Representative upon immigrating to the United States from Cuba.”

Armario began his career at Burger King Corp., followed by a stint at LensCrafters Inc. Currently, he serves on the President’s Council of the University of Miami and the board of building materials manufacturer USG Corp., where he sits on the Audit Committee and the Compensation and Organization Committee. As a member of the Avon board, Armario will serve on the Compensation and Management Development Committee.

September 09, 2016

U.S. News

SimplyFun to Release New Games in Popular STEM Category

SimplyFun, a maker of educational board games, believes in the power of play—especially when shared.

That is why the Washington company teaches skills through board games, which bring players face to face across the table. The concept of shared play is at the heart of each SimplyFun game, including two forthcoming releases, Watch My Wings and Don’t Mix It! “Shared play connects you socially and emotionally with the learning, and adding those aspects enhances the longevity of the memory and what is learned while playing,” said Patty Pearcy, President and CEO.

SimplyFun’s new releases, available Oct. 1, fall under the Math & STEM category, which is the company’s most popular, followed by Reading & Language Arts. Other games focus on Life & Thinking Skills or Social Sciences & Studies. The company’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) games explore how things work, said Pearcy, or how they can be put together or modified to serve a different purpose.

For example, Watch My Wings uses butterfly wings to teach sorting and comparing skills to young learners, ages 4 and up. The setting of Don’t Mix It!, for ages 7 and up, is a recycling center where players learn planning and spatial reasoning skills as they sort materials. As Pearcy told DSN, “These games help to bring academics to life. They take the dryness out of it and add some fun and playfulness, to engage kids and interest them in learning more.”

With busy families in mind, SimplyFun ensures that each of its games can be played in 30 minutes or less. The company works with well-regarded international designers such as Reiner Knizia and Martin Nedergaard Andersen to identify new concepts, which are then brought in house for development. SimplyFun games are sold through Playologists, or independent consultants, across the U.S.

September 08, 2016

World News

Jeunesse Helps Transform Kenyan Community through We Village Program

Photo: Jeunesse founders, executives and top distributors visit the village they have adopted in Irkaat, Kenya. (Business Wire)

Distributors with Jeunesse Global witnessed the company’s charitable impact firsthand during a recent service trip to Kenya.

About 100 of the company’s top sellers traveled to Irkaat, Kenya, for Bringing Hope 2016, a cultural immersion experience focused on serving the local community. Through its Jeunesse Kids nonprofit arm, the skincare and nutrition company has partnered with We Charity, formerly Free The Children, to support Irkaat through the We Village program.

Craig Kielburger, Co-Founder of We Charity, took part in the trip, along with Jeunesse Founders Randy Ray, CEO, and Wendy Lewis, COO, and Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis.

“It is a tremendous honor to be aligned with Craig Kielburger and We Charity, and we are deeply grateful for the entire Jeunesse family around the world who have contributed to this important, life-changing cause,” said Scott Lewis. “We were humbled and honored by the incredibly warm welcome and time we were able to spend with the beautiful people of Irkaat.”

The We Village program is designed to address the primary causes of poverty—education, water, health, food and opportunity—with holistic, sustainable solutions.

Since Jeunesse began supporting the villagers in 2015, the company has funded the construction of a new school building and a clean water source. Previously, school rooms were temporary structures made from wood or clay, which would crumble with each rainfall, and water was carried from a silt-filled river about 12 miles from the village.

In addition to Irkaat, Jeunesse employees and Distributors support a village in Dao Lazui, China, where the company traveled for last year’s Bringing Hope trip.

September 07, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Holds Company-Wide Service Project on ‘Be The Change Day’

Everyone has a story, and Youngevity International is helping children tell theirs during the company’s Be The Change Day on Wednesday.

The day-long affair is taking place ahead of Youngevity’s 2016 Convention this week in Salt Lake City. Distributors and employees in town for the event have the opportunity to participate in a company-wide service project through the Youngevity Be The Change Foundation.

To reach the local community, the foundation is teaming up with one of its charitable partners, My Story Matters, an organization that helps families facing difficult circumstances by creating customized storybooks for children. On Sept. 7, Youngevity volunteers visited two locations in Salt Lake City to interview children about their lives and hopes for the future, which will be recorded in a personalized book for each child.

“I don’t think there is a better legacy to give a child than hope for their future and strength for their life’s journey, and I’m so proud that so many of our distributors have volunteered for a 12-hour experience with My Story Matters that will certainly remain in the memory of their hearts for years to come,” said Lisa “Sunshine” Briskie, Director of Youngevity Be The Change Foundation.

In the first half of the day, volunteers visited a local high school, where refugees from more than 70 countries were among the children interviewed. The afternoon session was held at a local homeless shelter that, on any given day, houses about 200 children.

September 07, 2016

World News

Mary Kay Canada Donation Helps Cancer Patients ‘Look Good, Feel Better’

A $100,000 donation from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation in Canada will help to lift the spirits of women undergoing cancer treatments.

Like its counterparts in other countries, the charitable arm of Mary Kay Canada is dedicated to ending domestic violence and supporting women living with cancer. It accomplishes the latter through a partnership with Look Good Feel Better, a program that teaches beauty techniques—think skin care, wigs, accessories and styling—to people with cancer, helping them manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

For the fourth consecutive year, the foundation is contributing $100,000 to the program. Jane Wilson, Development Officer of Look Good Feel Better, accepted the donation during the foundation’s recent MK5K—Diane Tsialtas Memorial Run. “No woman should ever have to face cancer alone,” said Wilson, herself a breast cancer survivor. “Thanks to our longstanding relationship with Mary Kay and the support of their foundation, it’s in part because of generous donations like these that they don’t have to.”

In addition to providing financial backing, Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants put in volunteer hours with Look Good Feel Better, conducting cosmetic workshops in hospitals and cancer treatment centers across Canada. Currently, more than 65 percent of the program’s volunteer beauty professionals are Mary Kay Consultants. Look Good Feel Better is a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association.

September 06, 2016

U.S. News

Former Head of PartyLite Europe Named Company President

Photo: Martin Köhler

Candle company PartyLite, now under the Luminex umbrella, is promoting its Europe President, Martin Köhler, to President of its worldwide operations.

Last year, PartyLite parent Blyth Inc. was acquired by The Carlyle Group, a New York-based private-equity firm. Carlyle announced in May that it was teaming with another asset manager, Centre Lane Partners, to create Luminex Home Décor & Fragrance, which now owns PartyLite and the Centre Lane-backed Candle-lite Company.

The arrangement is intended to leverage product development efforts and broaden consumer reach for both companies, which have different target groups and markets. As President, Köhler will help to build PartyLite’s business from this new platform. “I am certain that Martin will lead PartyLite to continued global success and open new avenues for the company,” Calvin Johnston, CEO of Luminex, said in the company’s announcement.

Köhler began his career at PartyLite on the communications side of the business, as head of marketing for PartyLite Germany. He also served as General Manager in Switzerland, and later in Germany, before becoming President of European operations in 2010. Under his leadership, Europe has become the top sales region for the company, which has 45,000 active consultants in 23 countries.

September 02, 2016

U.S. News

WorldVentures, Nancy Lieberman Bring Dream Court to South Carolina

Photo: Nancy Lieberman leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The latest Dream Court provided by the WorldVentures Foundation and Nancy Lieberman Charities is part of a larger vision for one South Carolina community.

The charitable arm of group travel club WorldVentures has teamed with Lieberman to build 29 of the multipurpose play spaces, known as Dream Courts, in underprivileged communities across the country. This week, the first indoor Dream Court was dedicated in Camden, South Carolina, at the local Jackson Teen Center, where the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands runs an extended-care youth development program.

Lieberman is a WNBA legend who joined the Sacramento Kings last summer as the second-ever female assistant coach in the NBA. She created Nancy Lieberman Charities to provide healthy physical, emotional and mental environments where children can build their self-esteem and confidence. “You must love you. You must believe in you,” Lieberman told local youth on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And as you move forward in life, you must lift as you rise.”

An existing gym in the Jackson Teen Center, located at the former Jackson High School, was renovated for the first time in 30 years to construct the new Dream Court. The update is the first step toward converting the center into a world-class facility for young people, a project advocated by the leadership of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands.

September 02, 2016

U.S. News

Scentsy Launches Cause Product with Shriners Hospitals for Children

Photo: The Love Heals Warmer from Scentsy.

Home fragrance brand Scentsy Inc. on Thursday unveiled its new Charitable Cause Warmer, a product supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Between now and the end of February, Scentsy has pledged to donate $8 from the sale of every “Love Heals” warmer to Shriners Hospitals, a nonprofit that provides expert pediatric specialty care for children, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. At its 22 locations across North America and Mexico, Shriners Hospitals will serve more than 120,000 children this year.
“We are touched that Scentsy has partnered with us to help continue our mission of providing life-changing care to children,” said Chris Smith, Chairman of the Board for Shriners Hospitals. “It’s partnerships like these that help us send ‘love to the rescue’ to our patients every day.”

Charitable Cause Warmers, which have supported causes such as autism awareness and breast cancer research, are one way Scentsy gives back through the Scentsy Family Foundation. The charity also provides academic scholarships and direct donations to organizations that support families.

“Scentsy was founded on the core values of simplicity, authenticity and generosity,” Orville Thompson, Scentsy Co-Owner and CEO, said in the company’s announcement. “We believe that love can heal, and we are excited about this opportunity to support Shriners Hospitals for Children.”

The Love Heals warmer is now available through consultants in the U.S. and Canada. Scentsy has set a goal to raise $500,000 for the cause.

September 01, 2016

World News

Direct Sellers Collect Top Honors in International Business Awards

Direct selling companies earned numerous accolades in this year’s International Business Awards, including seven Gold Awards for best in class.

The International Business Awards (IBAs) is one of seven competitions that fall under the Stevie Awards umbrella. Unlike the others, which are limited by region, category, or gender, IBAs are open to all organizations worldwide, and are billed as the only all-encompassing, international business awards.

Each year, the panel of judges—made up of executives, entrepreneurs and business educators—evaluates more than 3,300 entries from organizations in 60-plus countries.

At the IBAs gala event in Rome next month, Stevie Awards will be presented to five direct selling companies, among them Jeunesse Global, which collected five Gold, four Silver and three Bronze Stevies in this year’s International Business Awards.

To win Gold, the skincare and nutrition company outscored all other entrants in the categories of Company of the Year—Consumer Products; Fastest-Growing Company of the Year in the U.S. and Canada; Marketing Department of the Year; and Marketing Executive of the Year, awarded to CMO Mark Patterson. Randy Ray, CEO, also earned Gold for Executive of the Year.

“We are honored to receive widespread recognition in the international business community and are grateful to the worldwide Jeunesse family of Distributors, executives and corporate employees who have made our growth and achievements over the past year possible,” Jeunesse Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis said in the company’s announcement.

Brand-new Canadian company Nutracelle came away a big winner this year, collecting several Stevie awards, starting with Gold for Best New Product of the Year and Gold for Startup of the Year, both in the Consumer Products category. The health and wellness company’s founder and CEO, Melanie Wildman, also brought home two awards of her own, Gold for Woman of the Year and Silver for Innovator of the Year.

Another Gold Stevie went to wellness firm Isagenix International, which led the Best Tradeshow or Convention category with its annual salesforce meeting, Celebration 2015. The three-day Celebration also garnered a Silver for Best Brand Experience Event and a Bronze for Best Internal Recognition/Motivational Event.

In the same Internal Recognition Event category, Nu Skin Greater China took the Gold for one of its Success Trips, offered as rewards for qualifying independent sellers. The winning entry was a cruise to the ports of Busan and Incheon, popular destinations on the coast of South Korea. Nu Skin’s Greater China subsidiary also earned Silver for Human Resources Department of the Year.

The final direct selling honoree is USANA Health Sciences, which collected two Silver Stevies: one for Company of the Year—Health Products & Services and Pharmaceuticals and the second for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year in the Americas region.

September 01, 2016

Company Spotlight

Mary Kay: Legacy Brand Wins Over Millennials

by Emily Reagan

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 1963
Headquarters: Addison, Texas
Top Executive: President and CEO David Holl
2015 Revenue: $3.70 billion
Products: Cosmetics, personal care

Like the pink Cadillacs it awards to top sellers, today’s Mary Kay retains a classic feel while embracing innovative thinking and design. The 53-year-old beauty company has built a widely recognized and respected brand by staying in tune with the evolving needs of its customers and consultants. On the product side, Mary Kay has expanded its portfolio to serve women at all stages of life. The company’s marketing strategies introduce clients to the cosmetics and the business opportunity in fresh ways, such as sponsorships of the reality television show Project Runway and the Academy of Country Music Awards. And of course, no entity can remain cutting edge without engaging the ever-changing world of technology.

The latest phase in the beauty company’s technology evolution is the myCustomers+ app, described as a “virtual assistant” for the Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. With such capabilities as creating sales tickets and managing inventory, myCustomers+ helps consultants streamline their businesses in an increasingly mobile and connected world. Recent research by digital advertising firm Criteo found that in the fourth quarter of 2015, mobile devices accounted for 30 percent of all e-commerce transactions, edging up from 27 percent a year earlier. The trend toward mobile is not surprising considering that, back in 2013, United Nations research found that more people on Earth had access to cellphones than to toilets.

Direct selling is by nature a mobile business, and uniquely positioned to leverage mobile technology, because the channel itself is made up of people rather than a brick-and-mortar store or a web page. Nevertheless, the oldest and largest companies find themselves facing the greatest barriers to entry when it comes to rolling out new technologies. Take an established company like Mary Kay, which has operated since 1963, the year the cassette tape and the push-button telephone were making their debut. At this institution, paper is integrated into nearly every aspect of operations, including the paper sales tickets consultants fill out with each order. It’s “the way it’s always been,” and when a new way is introduced, it disrupts not a sales team of 35 or even 350, but 3.5 million consultants worldwide.

“We’re looking at everything with a mobile-first mentality, because that’s where our salesforce is today.”
—Jill Wedding, Director of U.S. Consultant Marketing, Mary Kay

A Mobile-First Mentality

Timing, then, is key to launching any new tool or process, and in the case of myCustomers+ the stage has been set for Mary Kay. Widespread use of mobile tools means the company is not pushing its sellers to a new platform but meeting them where they already are, as high early adoption rates of the app confirm. “We’re looking at everything with a mobile-first mentality, because that’s where our salesforce is today. Our consultants are very adaptable, and I think anyone in today’s world knows digital is where it’s happening in the future,” says Jill Wedding, Director of U.S. Consultant Marketing, Mary Kay.

While mobile technology is increasingly appealing to today’s consumer, it is virtually nonnegotiable for Gen Y—the largest segment of the American workforce, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and the fastest-growing segment of Mary Kay’s salesforce. Women ages 18-34 accounted for 47 percent of new U.S. Mary Kay consultants in 2015. “These young women are tech-savvy and digitally connected. They’re looking for flexibility and not a 9-to-5, one-size-fits-all position,” says Mary Kay’s Vice President of U.S. Marketing, Sara Friedman. “A Mary Kay business can be customized to each person’s individual goals, and our company’s established social media presence and leading-edge digital technology have also proven to be attractive business-building tools.”

Mary Kay has actively courted Gen Y, sponsoring programs with a younger-skewing audience and even opening a skincare class to late night TV host Conan O’Brien. The company also has partnered with young faces to advance its philanthropic initiatives. Disney star Debby Ryan lent her voice to Mary Kay’s dating abuse prevention campaign, and Kelsea Ballerini, a rising country music artist, joined the company’s 2016 Global Day of Beauty initiative. The brand’s digital tools and targeted outreach have built a growing base of Gen Y consultants, and they are not a group to keep their enthusiasm to themselves. According to a 2015 Brand Passion Report by social analytics firm NetBase, Mary Kay was one of the top 30 brands talked about in beauty and skincare conversations on social media.

Expanding its digital toolbox to include a range of apps also has been part of Mary Kay’s Gen Y approach. Prior to launching myCustomers+, the company already offered a handful of apps to help consultants share the products and business opportunity. Mary Kay’s Virtual Makeover allows users to upload a photo and try out any combination of Mary Kay eye makeup and lip color, along with a variety of hairstyles and accessories. Through the eCatalog, users can browse all Mary Kay products and stay abreast of beauty trends and special offers. Another app, Mary Kay’s Digital Showcase, is tailored to consultants and features a library of mobile presentation tools.

Faster than Paper

With its newest digital offering, the company wanted to create a custom sales tool that would enable the consultant to run a business from the palm of her hand. A cross-departmental team of six was tasked with driving the project, which spanned three and a half years from ideation to launch. The team understood, says Wedding, that the Mary Kay business will always center on personal relationships, but efficiencies in other areas could free up the consultant to focus on those relationships. That meant identifying specific functions the app could carry out “faster than paper”—that mainstay of traditional direct selling businesses. According to Hope Elston, Manager of U.S. Consultant Marketing at Mary Kay, “When we started working with that motto and going out to our salesforce and talking to them, we narrowed down some key areas we felt could affect their business.”

To bring the concept to life, Mary Kay turned to another company based in the Dallas area, app development firm Bottle Rocket, whose clientele list includes such brands as Coca-Cola, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and NBCUniversal. Bottle Rocket’s approach to development is a blend of collaboration and rapid iteration, using the Lean user experience development cycle: think, make, check. Each project begins with a discovery session, consisting of one to two days face to face with the client, getting to know the company, the customer and the competition. Coming out of this session, the team crafts a mission statement and roadmap, and then dives into the development process, rapidly experimenting with design ideas, validating them with real users, and continually making adjustments based on the results.

One of the most significant challenges the team faced was the sheer scope of myCustomers+. The app was in development for three years, in comparison to Bottle Rocket’s average timeline of four to six months. Nearly 400 feature requests were floated; 187 were incorporated into the design. “There are a lot of tools, utility and great stuff packed into this app, and it takes a lot of effort to find that simplicity on the other side of complexity,” says Renee McKeon, Bottle Rocket’s Senior Director of Strategy and Creative Director.

One of the app’s primary features is the point of sale, where the consultant can pull up the customer’s profile, place a new order and email a receipt. Using a scanning tool, the consultant can scan any product to automatically add it to the order. The scanning feature also assists in managing inventory, another focus of the app. Historically, as a consultant’s business grew, inventory management became an increasingly time-consuming process. She might enlist the help of an assistant or spouse, or purchase software to expedite the process. Now, when the consultant receives a new shipment, she can scan the Mary Kay shipping label to instantly update her inventory. The app also notifies her when product levels fall below set minimums.

Additional features support the daily activities of building a business. Consultants who have been with Mary Kay for any amount of time will recognize “My 6 Things,” a task list appearing on the screen in interactive bubbles, which pop when the task is marked complete. The list is based on a practice taught by Mary Kay Ash, the company’s founder, who trained consultants to start each day with a “6 Most Important Things to Do” list. Another feature allows the consultant to tag specific groups of customers for targeted messages or promotions. She also receives a notification when a customer places an order on her personal Mary Kay website or has an anniversary or birthday.

“We wanted an app so easy to use that no matter who you are, when you open it up, it is intuitive and you can figure out where to find things and how to do things.”
—Hope Elston, Manager of U.S. Consultant Marketing, Mary Kay

Despite the app’s numerous capabilities, the goal was to provide a tool that anyone—tech savvy or not—could navigate with ease. One example of usability is what the team calls the “magic button,” a fixed button at the bottom of the screen. On any page of the app, a press of the button pulls up the functionality most commonly associated with that page. “We wanted an app so easy to use that no matter who you are, when you open it up, it is intuitive and you can figure out where to find things and how to do things,” says Elston.

Since the technology went live in July, the response from consultants has exceeded expectations. On launch day, the beauty company sent text notifications to consultants at the National Sales Director and Sales Director levels, alerting them to the availability of the app. Within the first week, Mary Kay was halfway to its Oct. 1 goal for subscribers, who pay $4.99 a month to use myCustomers+. The official launch took place between July 24 and Aug. 6, when 30,000 Mary Kay consultants traveled to Dallas for Seminar, the company’s annual salesforce training and recognition event. Mary Kay promoted myCustomers+ throughout the event with special expo areas, social media promotions and giveaways, and giant iTab touchscreens featuring the technology. When the final wave of Seminar came to a close, subscriptions had surpassed 8,600.

At Bottle Rocket, the desks are on wheels, and each client is assigned a cross-disciplinary team that literally comes together by relocating workspaces and carrying the project to completion.

The Age of the Customer

All those subscribers represent an unprecedented opportunity for Mary Kay to glean insights into its business. According to Brian Hopkins, a Vice President and Principal Analyst covering data management for Forrester Research, the goal of such technology is not simply to collect sales and inventory data, but to deliver it in a way that helps consultants develop and maintain the personal relationships that ultimately drive sales. “What Mary Kay and every direct selling business has to do is adapt the uniqueness of the way they do business to that idea of humans and algorithms working together to support and drive those loyal customer relationships,” Hopkins says.

The ability to collect data and extract insights, which are then used to personalize the customer experience, has given rise to what Forrester calls “The Age of the Customer.” In this new paradigm, customers—and in Mary Kay’s case, consultants—are looking not just to one platform or another, but how they work together to provide a seamless experience. As a result, the companies successfully leveraging customer data are those that have shifted their focus from cold hard sales to digital relationships software. “The result of that software-enhanced relationship is the fact that you’re moving product,” says Hopkins.

As in any good relationship, Mary Kay is paying close attention to the needs of the consultant, who inspired the creation of myCustomers+ and will determine its next phase. “We were looking for a customized solution for our salesforce,” says Wedding. “They do so much every day in the field, and we wanted to make it something that allowed them to easily track their inventory in real time and simplify how they run a Mary Kay business.” In September, the company will introduce a suggested wholesale order based on recent business activity; however, the next big feature will be based on feedback from built-in surveys. Whatever may appear in future iterations, myCustomers+ is already mobilizing the Mary Kay salesforce, and to quote one top consultant who tested the app, “This is a game changer.”

That focus on the consultant will drive not just new iterations of myCustomers+ but Mary Kay’s overall business strategy. In this way, the company can continue to reinvent itself to appeal to new generations through innovative technology and fresh marketing and sales strategies. As Forrester’s Hopkins says: “The best analytics and insight engine that we have is what’s in between the sales consultant’s ears.”

September 01, 2016

Company Focus

Zurvita: A Business on the Rise

by J.M. Emmert

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2008
Headquarters: Houston, Texas
Top Executives: Founders Mark and Tracy Jarvis
2015 Revenue: $81 million
Products: Health and wellness

NameMark and Tracy Jarvis

When husband and wife team Mark and Tracy Jarvis set out to launch their own company, they had listened to numerous suggestions for the name until “zurvita” was proposed and immediately touched and won them over.

Its Latin roots mean “the risen life,” and this meaning behind the name embodied hope, the promise of a new life, and what they desired to bring to others. With their extensive experience in direct selling as field leaders, the Jarvises understood how the business model afforded financial opportunities to people from all walks of life.

The company name also embraced their faith. They had been involved in ministry for years, and as they considered their business venture, they realized they also could bring hope to those in need.   

The Jarvises founded Houston-based Zurvita in 2008, fully committed to ministering hope to others and guided by three founding principles that they knew would serve them, and others, well.

Serving Others

Life is not without its trials and tribulations, and the Jarvises experienced both during the first few years of Zurvita. Starting a direct selling business is a daunting enough challenge even for those with network marketing backgrounds. But that did not deter the founders from their faith-based approach and first founding principle to build a company that honors and glorifies God, even if it could invite skepticism.

“Real leadership happens one person at a time.”
—Mark Jarvis, Founder, Co-CEO and President

“We started the company because we felt it was a calling for us,” says Tracy Jarvis. “And to honor God in that comes natural to us.”

To the Jarvises, this means the act of serving others, of giving people hope no matter where they are in their lives. The Jarvises work to embody that principle in everything they do at Zurvita, whether it is making business decisions or interacting with employees, Independent Consultants and customers. “It starts at the top,” says Tracy. “It’s just who we are. The true spirit of the principle is about loving people where they are and not judging people. We have a lot of people who are not the same faith as us—or not believers at all—who feel very comfortable here. They feel loved and love the spirit and the culture we have created here.”

Humbly Leading

Part of that culture, notes Mark, is one of service and is firmly rooted in the second founding principle of developing a company with humble leadership. “Real leadership,” he says, “happens one person at a time.”

Hence, the principle has been fully embraced by leaders throughout the company who are devoted to spending countless hours with Independent Consultants, especially those new to the business, in order to better serve them. “Our Ambassadors support all ranks in the field and each other while setting amazing examples of a positive difference we can make in each other’s lives,” he says. 

That support for each other was critical during the early stages of Zurvita when the company was trying to establish its identity. As the Jarvises’ earlier experience in direct selling had mostly been with service offerings, they naturally gravitated toward the same for Zurvita. Electricity, gas, and tech support were among the company’s first offerings, but consistent losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars a month forced them to reconsider their plans.

What saved the company and helped it to rise from the proverbial ashes was honesty, authenticity and, not surprisingly, faith.

“From a leadership standpoint, we have always been authentic,” says Mark. “Early in the business we let people know that we had never run a company. As we made mistakes, we were very quick to not try to justify them. We were honest and said, ‘We made a mistake. You know our hearts. It was never intentional. We are going to try to make it right.’ We were always truthful with our leaders about where we were at, even when it was uncomfortable.”

When the Jarvises made the decision to discontinue the staple product offerings in 2011 and turn their attention to nutritional products in the functional foods category, there was understandably some concern. However, many people in the company had been with the couple since their earlier days as field leaders for other direct sellers, and they knew that the decision to radically change gears had been carefully considered and thought through.

“They stayed with us even though they were skeptical,” says Mark. “I think people just knew our hearts. ... Because our core people had a long relationship with us, they knew that, no matter what, they were not going to get blindsided. I think that was the biggest difference.”

Tracy admits that those dark days were a scary time for all. “When you radically change, it can be quite scary,” she says. “You don’t know how your field is going to react. When we first rolled it out, we lost a few people. But our main people, those who had been with us for 15 years, now love it and can’t imagine representing anything else but a nutritional product that gives such great results.”

“The principle is about loving people where they are and not judging people. We have a lot of people who are not the same faith as us—or not believers at all—who feel very comfortable here.”
—Tracy Jarvis, Founder

Creating a Winning Culture

The love for the new product, Zeal Wellness Blend, soon revitalized excitement among the company. Independent Consultants were quick to see the nutritional benefits associated with the blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and customer interest in the product grew substantially.

With the new focus on nutrition and improving health, company leaders worked on creating an environment where people could win at every level. Previous experience left a strong impression on Mark and Tracy about the vital importance that recognition plays in direct selling and building a company culture that is second to none.

“What we learned was how to celebrate the small successes,” Mark says. “I believe that was the reason we were so successful in the field. We never got away from the small successes. We have built a culture of customer support inside the company today that gets excited about the small successes, which is aligned with our third principle—create an environment where people can win at every level. We vowed to never get away from what is really important, and that is very important to us.”

Zurvita CorpZurvita headquarters in Houston, Texas.

It is that concept, that every person matters, that also sets Zurvita apart today and shines bright in the thousands of people who make up its culture. “It boiled down to this,” says Co-CEO Jay Shafer, who has been with the company since its inception. “When it was all said and done, we concluded that Zurvita and the people within Zurvita are in business because we feel that every single person needs to believe that they matter. It wasn’t a tagline; it wasn’t some marketing ploy we came up with. It was simply that each person needs to believe that they matter. And it resonated so well with all of us. That’s exactly who we are. Everybody is important to us.”

And this is expressed in its branding, too. Two conventions ago, the company rolled out a new brand campaign to further enhance the personality of Zurvita and its products. “From a marketing standpoint, we did a total rebrand on the company,” says Mark. “We introduced a whole new look, a whole new feel, that reflected more of who we are as a company and culture.”

The Zurvita logo now consists of brighter colors representing the different Zeal flavors. Where a Z once stood solitary in the logo, now there is the Z image that represents moving forward. “It just seems to be working better,” Mark says. “Simplicity and excitement is what really works. So we repackaged the bottles to tell you exactly what to expect: focus, energy and health. Now, when somebody is presenting it, it is more of a confirmation that the bottle says what the product does.”

In addition to the rebranding initiatives, the company also recently presented the results of a clinical trial from independent third-party research firm KGK Synergize, which confirmed the positive benefits of Zeal, including improved mood, stronger vigor and vitality, and less anxiety and fatigue.

“That is big news, because our marketing campaign going forward will include the clinical trial results of this product affecting somebody’s mood,” says Mark. “We’ve produced some amazing-tasting drinks, and our marketing message says that getting valuable nutrition and vitality in your life is as simple as reaching for your favorite beverage.”

“When it was all said and done, we concluded that Zurvita and the people within Zurvita are in business because we feel that every single person needs to believe that they matter.”
—Jay Shafer, Co-CEO

Connecting with New Markets

The Zurvita brand is currently in 16 markets, including Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the U.K. While there are no plans for further expansion, perhaps the next success will be in Mexico.

The phenomenal growth of the Hispanic market has often led other direct selling executives to ask the secret to the company’s success. The answer is surprising to many. “I get this question asked a lot,” says Mark. “ ‘How are you attracting leaders in the Hispanic market?’ The truth is, we’re not in the way you might imagine. What has made that market thrive is that we share family and culture values that transcend business strategies. The family aspect is what has contributed to that success.”

Shafer agrees. “And our way of business and founding principles translate to this growing audience in many of the areas that remain the most important in their hearts and minds.”

“I think on the Hispanic side we had some people, some families, that grabbed hold of the product, loved it, and then it was another situation where it was word-of-mouth,” says Shafer. “And, because we treat each person like they are the most important thing on Earth, I think they felt at home, where they could build a business. Some people on the Hispanic side do have some network marketing experience, but one of the things I heard from them in the beginning was, ‘Wow, you guys pay attention to us.’ I think the reason we have done so well is that we have carried over our culture in the Hispanic market.”

Seeing New Patterns of Life

Paying attention to people and staying focused on who they are as a company has helped Zurvita experience tremendous revenue growth over the past few years. In 2011, the company reported just $3 million in sales. In 2015, that number had jumped to $81 million, landing Zurvita on the DSN Global 100 list of top direct selling companies in the world. 

Mark Jarvis attributes the success to staying true to the principles that he and Tracy first discussed six months before the company was actually incorporated along with the culture it fosters today. “We really committed to staying true to who we are, staying true to our principles and building from a grassroots standpoint,” he says. “Most of our Independent Consultants have never been in other network marketing companies, so the steady growth is people come in here and they become part of a family. Our retention of consultants is very good.”

NicaraguaZurvita has been sending teams to build water wells in Nicaragua since 2014, an effort now at the core of the company’s social responsibility program.

The company also has been able to build a strong customer base. “That is an important thing in our industry today,” Mark adds. “About 57 percent of our business is to customers who just love the product. And because it is customer-driven, it has been successful for our leaders—their income has been pretty solid because customers stay.”

Mark projects that in 2016 the company will reach another milestone: the $100 million mark. And while that may not seem like much in these days of billion-dollar direct selling companies, it is a milestone that makes him smile when thinking of how the company struggled in its early years. “We’re growing at a rate that, we believe, gives our leaders the opportunity to grow with us. A comfortable pace.”

And as Zurvita continues to grow, both Mark and Tracy look to expand their corporate responsibility initiatives here in the States and abroad. Since 2014, the company has sent teams to build water wells in Nicaragua. “2017 will be our fourth year in a row to go back to Nicaragua,” says Tracy.

Back home, the Jarvises will launch Z-TV, a live broadcast that will allow them to expand both the business and their ministry. “Among the field, we do a lot of counseling for marriage, based on what we’ve been through,” says Mark. “We minister the pattern of marriage a lot, and we relate the pattern of marriage to the pattern of leadership. I think that goes back to the culture of who we are as a company. We are not just building a business to make money, we are truly here because we care about the people and we want them to live fulfilled lives.”

Yet, even as he seeks to inspire others to live more meaningful and purpose-filled lives, Mark Jarvis is quick to remind that the first founding principle is ever-present in his life. “I always tell people, don’t ever follow me,” he says. “If you’re going to follow us, follow who we’re following.”

September 01, 2016

Company Focus

Steeped Tea: Organic Focus and Innovative Product Ideas Spur Growth

by Lin Grensing-Pophal

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

Founded: 2006
Headquarters: Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
Top Executives: Founders Tonia and Hatem Jahshan
Products: Loose-leaf tea, food items and accessories
2015 Revenue: CAN$20 million

Take an online stroll through Steeped Tea’s vibrant website and it soon becomes readily apparent that the company is about more than tea—a lot more. The “Recipes” tab is particularly revealing. There visitors will find a wide array of recipes including salad dressing, protein balls, shakes, sodas, pancakes, quinoa and much, much more. What do all of these food items have to do with tea? Plenty. Each recipe incorporates Steeped Tea’s signature loose leaf tea offerings.

The seemingly never-ending stream of recipes is reflective of the creativity and marketing wizardry of Tonia Jahshan who, along with her husband, Hatem, founded the company in 2006 after discovering the delight of loose leaf tea during a vacation getaway. With a background in direct selling that funded her college education, Tonia immediately recognized the potential and possibility in sharing her discovery with others.

Based in Canada, Steeped Tea recently expanded into the United States. The company has been widely recognized both for its rapid growth and for Tonia’s stewardship. Also serving as President of Steeped Tea, she has been recognized as one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs by Chatelaine since 2013, achieving the No. 1 spot in 2016. The company has been listed on Canada’s Profit 500 (akin to the Fortune 500) since 2013 as well, reaching the No. 20 spot in 2015. In 2015, North American revenue was CAN$20 million. U.S. growth, says Hatem, has been much faster than they experienced in Canada. “The growth we achieved in the U.S. in the past three years took us over six years to accomplish in Canada,” he says.

Jahshan Family Founders Tonia and Hatem Jahshan and their children.

A great contributor to the company’s success was its partnership in 2012 with David Chilton and Jim Treliving, investors from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show Dragon’s Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank). They Jahshans auditioned, were selected to appear on and ultimately gained funding from their appearance.

Hatem admits that he was initially against the idea. While there was obviously a potential upside in terms of infusing additional capital into the company, allowing it to expand into the United States, there was a downside as well. Generally, outside investors don’t have a strong understanding of the direct selling channel. These investors were different, though, he recalls.

“We were fortunate when we did the pitch that both Jim Treliving and David Chilton were very familiar with direct sales. They actually started a bidding war on that show and we accepted them as the investors.”

A great contributor to the company’s success was its partnership in 2012 with David Chilton and Jim Treliving, investors from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show Dragon’s Den (the Canadian version of Shark Tank).

Tonia had a different perspective about the experience. “I had a really good gut feeling that we could do very well on the show,” she says. She also had another motive. “I knew that that exposure to 2 million people would be great for our consultants,” she says. And it was.

“Dave Chilton brings a wealth of knowledge from his finance background,” says Hatem. “He understands the direct selling world and has learned from other ventures in the industry. He is a trusted name in Canada as the author of The Wealthy Barber, one of the top best sellers in the country.” Having Chilton as an investor, says Hatem, “gives us tremendous credibility.”

Jim Treliving also brings some big benefits to the relationship. Treliving is a business mogul and the owner of the Boston Pizza franchise restaurant chain in North America and Mr. Lube chain in Canada. “His experience and reputation paved the way for us to navigate our way into the U.S. and continue our stellar growth,” says Hatem. “He too understands the direct sales model.”

Chilton and Treliving each own 10 percent of the company. “They continue to support Steeped Tea with their official stamp of legitimacy as stellar investments in their portfolios. They both sit on the Steeped Tea board of directors and help mentor and support Tonia and me,” Hatem says.

From Personal Tragedy

But, as much as it all sounds like a dream come true, the impetus behind the Jahshans’ loose leaf tea discovery was personal tragedy. As a young married couple, both Hatem and Tonia were extremely busy—she running a sales agency that required a great deal of travel and he as a restaurant franchisee with three locations. Despite their busy lives, they wanted to start a family. “We thought we were successful, but my wife miscarried and it was traumatic,” recalls Hatem.

It was while on a little getaway to Nova Scotia, where they were hoping to wind down from the demands and stress they had been facing, that they were served loose leaf tea at a bed and breakfast. It was Cream of Earl Grey tea, and it was heavenly. “It just touched every sense,” says Hatem. “It looked beautiful, it smelled amazing, it tasted incredible and, once you drank it, it inspired chattiness. We fell in love with it.”

According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A.: “Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in 80 percent of all U.S. households.”

Like many people, having only experienced the tea bag variety of tea in the past, the Jahshans didn’t realize how delightful the tea drinking experience could be. They went on a hunt to visit all of the tea houses on the island to figure out where the loose leaf tea came from. “My wife has always enjoyed sales and likes that aspect of work,” he says. “She said, ‘you know what, I’m going to start selling this stuff!’ ”

To Par-Tea!

Enjoying a cup of tea lends itself to socialization. It’s a fact that Tonia immediately recognized and that drove her to start sharing her discovery with friends and family. Initially, says Hatem, Tonia sold her tea through baskets at open houses, fairs and shows. “It wasn’t very successful at first and then, all of a sudden, about a year and a half in she did a tea party—and almost everyone at the tea party wanted to have a tea party.” Soon she was hosting 15 parties a month, recognizing the fact that tea parties still held appeal, even in a fast-paced world where coffee often seems to be the go-to hot beverage.

When you think about it, what could be a better match for the direct selling channel than a product whose tradition is steeped (pun intended) in the concept of holding a party—in this case, a tea party—or Par-tea as Steeped Tea’s events are known?

There was another natural connection as well. Tonia’s background in direct sales as a young person helped her understand very well how the system works. She had put herself through college by selling candles and was very familiar with direct sales and its power. And, she adds: “Even before I sold candles, I was always going to parties.” She was drawn to the model from an early age. “I loved it. I was the friend who always had the [direct sales] parties. Every party I was asked to have, I would have. I was so attracted to that.”

‘The popularity of the tea party concept was immediate. But they came to a turning point, says Hatem. Some tough decisions needed to be made about whether to ramp up, or shut down, their burgeoning operations. “It just evolved into something that was literally keeping her out all night,” says Hatem. “We had to make a decision about what path to take—whether to hire people, or whether to add a salesforce that was on commission or payroll.”

“I had a really good gut feeling that we could do very well on the show (Dragon’s Den). I knew that that exposure to 2 million people would be great for our consultants.”
—Tonia Jahshan, Founder and President

An Ultimatum—and a Steep Trajectory

So, says Hatem, he issued an ultimatum and they made a deal. If Tonia could grow the company to about $500,000 in sales by the end of the year, he would sell his franchises and join her in the business. If not, they were going to “have to shut the company down and get back to our normal lives.”

She met the goal. So, in 2010 Hatem joined her in the business as CEO and began selling off his restaurants. Tonia’s strength was sales, not the financial or administrative elements of the business—that became Hatem’s focus.

In 2011 the couple decided to make an appearance on Dragon’s Den. The episode aired in 2012 and they struck a deal. They walked into the audition, he says, with about 300 percent growth for the year. “The day after it aired we were on a trajectory of about 600 percent growth,” he says. “Our growth has been so dramatic.” Steeped Tea entered the United States market in 2014, and the company has been seeing dramatic growth there as well, he says.

Company founder Tonia Jahshan has been recognized as one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs by Chatelaine since 2013, achieving the No. 1 spot in 2016.

But, while the Dragon’s Den experience certainly can be pointed to as a significant impact on the company’s success, Hatem says that there’s more to it than that. Most notably, he says, is Tonia’s ability to connect with the field. “She’s literally one of them,” he says. “She started as a consultant. She did all of the trade shows in Canada. She’s the face of the company. We have an ear to the ground with Tonia so that’s a huge success factor for us.” Steeped Tea has a consultant base of 9,000 and is rapidly approaching the 10,000 mark, he says.

In addition, he says, “we do everything in-house; the complete business is under one room,” and “our supply chain pretty much goes down to the growers.” More specifically, Hatem says, “We source our own tea, blend and flavor in-house and store and distribute to all of North America from our single head office location. Our head office team does everything from blending, packaging and shipping products, to photography, marketing and customer support.” Maintaining this level of control, he adds, means they are “able to quickly respond to any new trends.” Most recently, that response was to the increased interest in matcha, a ground powder of green tea from Japan that is said to have the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of traditional brewed green tea. “We can quickly change our production cycles and our marketing and just about anything about the company to hone in on a product line like matcha,” says Hatem. And, the company is also debt-free, he says. They want to keep it that way.

Tonia Jahshan

“We’ve been very careful with how we borrow and build; we’re very much against building it big in the hope that they will come. We prefer to grow with the sales.” That’s why, he says, they have no immediate plans to expand beyond their presence in Canada and the United States. “Right now the U.S. market is massive and we’ve just scratched the surface,” he says.

In a few years, though, he predicts, “we’ll start looking at Europe and Australia.”

A Product in Demand

Statistics back up Hatem’s sense of the high volume of unfulfilled demand for tea. According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., “tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in 80 percent of all U.S. households.” On any given day, the association’s fact sheet says “over 158 million Americans are drinking tea.”

Perhaps most interesting, and clearly in line with the opportunities that Steeped Tea has seen, only 1 percent of the tea consumed is loose leaf tea, but “loose leaf tea continues to grow in both dollars and units.” In Canada, the situation is much the same. There, though, the loose tea market represents 61 percent of tea consumed, according to the Tea Association of Canada. There would appear to be ample opportunity to educate the American public and introduce them to Steeped Tea products.

“We source our own tea, blend and flavor in-house and store and distribute to all of North America from our single head office location.”
—Hatem Jahshan, Founder and CEO

In addition to being loose leaf and unconfined by a bag that may alter the flavor of the tea, Steeped Tea’s products are all natural, says Hatem. “We don’t believe in putting any kind of artificial flavor or color in the tea.” They also sell organic, herbal teas. “We’re trying to grow the organic line; that’s becoming more popular, especially in North America.”

They also believe in taking an approach, driven through Tonia’s marketing creativity, that is far flung from what you may recall of your grandmother’s tea-time experience. “She hates those doilies,” he says. “Tonia is very modern, very personable and upbeat. She always wanted to stay away from her grandmother’s tea sets—the prim and proper party.” Par-teas, he says, are “more modern, more hip and more cool.”

That has led to the introduction of products like sangria teas, and concepts like “virtual” Par-teas held through Facebook. “The home tea party isn’t the only kind of party,” says Hatem. “We’re always looking at tools to help consultants sell the product, to help them build their teams, and to help them reach whatever audiences they feel most comfortable with whether it’s online, or their neighbors, or friends and family.”

“Tonia is very modern, very personable and upbeat. She always wanted to stay away from her grandmother’s tea sets—the prim and proper party. [Our] Par-teas are more modern, more hip and more cool.”
—Hatem Jahshan

Steeped Tea does offer an autoship option, says Hatem, “however, we only autoship to customers.” The “Tea-Zer” subscription program sends two surprise teas from Tonia’s favorites each month.

A lot has changed for the Jahshans since their memorable trip to the bed and breakfast in Nova Scotia, and not just from a business standpoint. Since that time, the Jahshans have grown from a family of two to a family of five. The couple’s experience building a family, as well as Tonia’s own experience in direct sales, has driven a consultant-focused philosophy that puts family first.

“Our business really revolves around the way we like being in touch with our family,” says Hatem. It’s an approach that appears to be working well.

September 01, 2016

DSA News

Learning and Building on Collective Experience

by Joseph N. Mariano

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The role of the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) has never been more clear: to serve as a “listening post,” a place to collect, analyze and address the aspirations and concerns of the direct selling channel. As we march into direct selling’s future, my role as President of the DSA is to ensure that there is a future, that our business model is promoted and protected—for direct selling companies, for the millions of independent representatives who are the lifeblood of our businesses, and for the millions more consumers who turn to our products and services every day.

I have no doubt that every leader of every DSA member company aspires to conduct business with the utmost integrity, with steadfast commitment to rigorous standards as set forth in the DSA Code of Ethics. But no matter how diligently we apply ourselves to our salesforce and customers, there will occasionally come—as within any industry—pitfalls and minefields we must traverse. On July 15 of this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded its two-year-long inquiry into Herbalife International, a prominent and longtime DSA member company. Although the settlement is only applicable to Herbalife and does not establish industry standards, it nevertheless provides insights into the FTC’s perspective and views of the direct selling model.

The strength of our Association lies in collaborative relationships—when we get out of our own bubble to support and learn from each other. In facing and surmounting obstacles together, we have the opportunity to analyze our business practices so that we might collectively emerge as more ethical, more transparent and more in tune with the expectations of those who rely on us. Aspects of the FTC settlement speak to these principles, and to how we operate as an industry. It behooves us all to take away what we can from this experience; to apply lessons to ensure our continued success in the future.

Earnings Claims. The perennial direct selling question: Are we selling products, or selling a business opportunity? The answer, of course, is both. However, we need to start focusing more on the consumer and on the marketplace value we create, not on the earnings opportunity we offer. There is no doubt that direct selling is a legitimate avenue for entrepreneurs to grow their own business. But we must increase our efforts to ensure prospective distributors are fully aware—clearly and unashamedly—that for most, direct selling can provide supplemental income. Most distributors will not realize a replacement income, let alone a lavish lifestyle. The DSA Code of Ethics, indeed, prohibits statements or promises that mislead prospective distributors and sets stringent guidelines for earnings representations.

Segmentation of Consumers. Retail customer? Preferred customer? Distributor? Does someone join your program to sell products, obtain products at a discount or a blend of the two? Are they switching from one to the other? Who, precisely, is buying your product, and why—and to what degree are they incentivized to do so? In a meeting I once had with the FTC, I asked what we could do to create better general understanding of direct selling companies. “Tell them to figure out who their customers are,” they said. Our programs and compensation plans can be confusing to the public and to those who have the power to affect our businesses. We need to do a better job of defining “consumer” and “consumption” if we want to further demonstrate the legitimacy of our sales.

The FTC and Herbalife settlement reinforces the importance of the principles and requirements of DSA’s Code of Ethics for all DSA members—to strengthen business practices and standards that protect entrepreneurs and consumers. Your collective commitment in the past to these principles has been awe inspiring, and I am confident that the next steps we take together will be even more impressive and allow our businesses to prosper long into the future. Stand by what we do—the right thing—and continue to wear our direct selling identity as a badge of honor. Consumers, entrepreneurs, policymakers and the public demand nothing less.

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

September 01, 2016

Working Smart

Event Branding 101: Why It Matters and How to Do It

by Afton Holfinger

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

It’s another year and you’re gearing up for your convention. You’ve established the nitty-gritties—who, what, when and where—and you’re ready to put your request for proposal (RFP) together and wait for the great ideas to come rolling in. But before that RFP gets the stamp of approval, make sure you ask your potential production partners this tough question: How will you incorporate the theme of our event?

The same way you or your marketing department has painstakingly branded your company, a great production partner can take your theme and create an event brand that can be used in multiple ways throughout your convention or incentive trip. 

Three Reasons Why It’s Important

Branding Is the Backbone

The way your company brand distinguishes you from competitors and makes you recognizable, an event brand can do the same. Your event logo—the star of your brand—can incorporate your current company branding, including colors, taglines, shapes and imagery, and make the event special for attendees. When they see it on your company website and social media, they’ll instantly recognize the event and get excited about attending, and they’ll be more interested in sharing it and getting others excited too.

Attendees expect big takeaways from events—they are giving up their time and they want to be inspired. Your event brand will create the anticipation of attending, drive engagement during the convention and encourage the lasting excitement needed to carry your message through the next year.

Using It in Social Media Can Drive Engagement

Branding your event also gives you the opportunity to promote your event across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and your company’s website to get attendees excited and engaged. Your event brand unites your message and your theme into one powerful tool. Think of it as the flowing thread that connects all of the parts of your event into one cohesive, recognizable convention. Once you have that, it can be incorporated into all sorts of event materials, including social media posts.

You can use it pre-convention in online invites and event cover pages. Don’t underestimate how impactful short sneak peeks on social media can be. Use it onsite during your convention to create fun things like step-and-repeats, way-finding signage, entrance signage and event décor. Take advantage of those onsite photo-ops and encourage attendees to post with your event hashtag. Those who couldn’t be there will get a taste of what they’re missing, and for incentive events, it gets the excitement going to earn that trip the next time around.

It’s an Opportunity to Carry Your Message Forward

Missing the opportunity to brand your event can make it hard to communicate your theme, make your messaging less impactful and make the event seem thrown together. A logo and brand translated creatively into presentation themes, set design, way-finding signage, animations, video production and swag make the event memorable and leave attendees with a coherent message they can take back with them, keeping them energized and inspired.

Additionally, the more meaningful you make your theme and the more consistent your message and brand, the more you can trust that what makes your company and people special will be shared accurately and often throughout the next year.

You might be thinking, “Great! I can just download a branding checklist and do this myself!” Well, that’s true, but branding is complex and it’s a service worthy of investment. Working with a professional will give you access to someone with training in design and brand identity. Someone who understands the intricacies of picking the right colors and patterns and how to include your current branding and logo into your event branding. And working with an event partner that can offer production support as well as design support will make integrating that brand throughout your event a seamless—and less stressful—affair.

Partnering with your production company on the creation of this brand will also make your event more impactful. Relying on your production partner will bring planning and execution into one full-service partnership, giving you professional staging and professional design from one trusted source. As design elements are created, they can be immediately integrated into your production, including unique ways of taking elements of your theme and brand and incorporating them into the design of your set.

Once you decide to seek full-service production services, don’t forget to start early so that you have time to utilize your logo and event materials to their fullest potential in invitations, social media posts, posters and event swag bags.

How to Make It Happen

So how does this process work? Just like for your company, your event brand will start with your theme and messaging and evolve from there. Usually the first step is to take your theme and turn it into a logo. Here’s the step-by-step process for how your production partner will make your logo a reality.

Step 1: Client Meeting

The process should always start with an initial meeting to discuss your theme, how you want to use your logo and to get information on must-have details. You could include this information in your RFP, provide a contact for answering questions, or allow meetings with potential partners to discuss the theme in further detail.

If you have a certain color-scheme or an image that you need included, your production company should be able to incorporate those elements into the logo.

Step 2: Research & Brainstorm

After you meet, your production partner should learn everything they can about your business and your theme—anything that might help that lightbulb moment. Then they should meet internally to share their ideas as a production team.

You’ll know when this process has been overlooked because the design or concept that’s delivered later won’t fit with your company’s current branding and it won’t resonate with the messaging of your event. A great production partner will put time and effort into this step.

Step 3: Concept, Sketch & Design

After your production company understands your business and your theme, they’ll take their ideas and create sketches of how they would look as a logo. The strongest sketches will get turned into your first round of logo designs.

Those designs will be scaled for use later and available to you in multiple formats so that the logo will look great on your website or in print.

Step 4: Present to Client

This is the most exciting step. Once the designs are finalized, you’ll meet again and see your first round of logo designs. At this stage, you’ll share feedback and either stop here or move back to Step 3 and start again. A great production partner will revise to your heart’s content and create a final logo that you love.

Things to consider when picking your final logo:

  • How would it look in different formats? If there are intricate pieces that will only look good onstage versus printed on swag, it might not be right for the setting. You’ll want to apply this throughout your event, so make sure you understand the ways you’ll want to use it before you settle on the perfect one.
  • Does it match or complement current branding colors? Most likely, there will be a scenario where your company logo and event logo are next to each other. If they aren’t complimentary or the event logo doesn’t adhere to brand standards—such as font size or that perfect shade of your company color—it will be distracting and less impactful.
  • Does it accurately communicate the theme? While the translation into a brand doesn’t need to be literal, think about the feeling or implication of the logo you pick and whether it communicates the right message about the event, the theme and the purpose of your event.

Step 5: Integrate

The last thing to do is to integrate your new logo throughout your event and start using it to promote or announce your sure-to-wow convention or incentive trip.

Get Branding

So as you begin to compile that next RFP, don’t forget to ask your potential event partner to show you how they’d turn your theme into a brand for your event. Your event brand is the backbone holding your event up—as a must-attend event for your consultants and as a standout in your industry. Branding will also drive your engagement and carry the excitement into the year ahead. 

A great event partner will research your current brand and what you stand for, help you incorporate that into a brand for your event and give you options so that it’s just right. Trusting this service to the professionals will free up your time to plan other things—like the tablescapes, menus, agendas, recognition presentations and all the other important touches that go into planning a flawless event.

Afton HolfingerAfton Holfinger is Assistant Controller at Bartha. Bartha is a leading provider of high-quality events, production and staging for the direct selling industry.

September 01, 2016

New Perspectives

Herbalife & the FTC: 4 Points to Review

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The speculation started immediately. As soon as the news—Herbalife Settles with FTC—began popping up on mobile alerts and news outlets early Friday morning, July 15, observers inside and outside the direct selling channel began scrambling to understand the bigger picture. The settlement was clearly good news for Herbalife. It put a huge cloud of uncertainty behind the company; investors responded positively, and billionaire investor and longtime supporter Carl Icahn signaled his plans to substantially increase his ownership stake. But what does it mean for the rest of the direct selling community?

What it doesn’t mean is that there is suddenly a specific set of new rules by which direct selling companies must operate. It also doesn’t mean that all direct selling companies should feel comfortable adopting a “business as usual” strategy. As a settlement, the Herbalife/FTC agreement doesn’t create a new body of case law along the lines of the seminal 1979 Amway ruling. But the more than 70 pages filed with the court and the corresponding public comments by the Federal Trade Commission do provide at least a modicum of transparency into the relatively opaque view federal law enforcement has on direct selling and, specifically, companies that promote a multi-level compensation plan.

In the days following the settlement announcement, the team at Direct Selling News carefully reviewed all of the public documents and solicited input from across the direct selling community. That outreach underscored our belief that this is a unique moment in the history of direct selling, a moment of reflection and evolution that is likely to continue for some time. And, while the full implications of the settlement may not be known for months or even years, our research also revealed four areas every direct selling company should examine if they haven’t done so already.

As a settlement, the Herbalife/FTC agreement doesn’t create a new body of case law along the lines of the seminal 1979 Amway ruling.

1. Focus on Retail Sales to Customers

All direct selling companies should have a strong focus on retail sales of their products and services to customers outside the compensation plan. While some level of personal consumption by independent contractors makes sense in a direct selling model, a business built primarily on self-consumption is not sustainable. It also does not appear to be acceptable to regulators. One of the positive details in the Herbalife settlement is that it does allow the company to pay some compensation to independent business owners (IBOs) on personal consumption, a key concept the direct selling community has been advocating for years. But the settlement stipulates strict limits to this commissionable personal consumption and also prohibits IBOs from enrolling in automatic shipment programs—two indications that the FTC recognizes the concept of valid personal consumption by consultants but doesn’t consider it a blanket explanation for all purchases made by the salesforce.

Tracking those retail sales and ensuring that they include large enough profit margins to support the independent business owners also is key. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Herbalife had a business practice that purports to offer a viable business-building opportunity but in reality incentivizes recruiting. Retail sales of product, the complaint says, are “insufficiently profitable” and instead IBOs are incentivized to recruit a downline of people who make large, wholesale product purchases.

Many direct selling companies, including most of the newer entrants to the market, largely avoid the issue of tracking retail sales by having customers place the bulk of their orders and make payments through consultants’ websites, and then they ship the product directly from the company to the buyer. In this way, consultants carry minimal or no inventory, and there is a clear record of the price paid for the product and the profit that goes to the consultant. In Herbalife’s case, the company now is required to include specific thresholds for sales to customers as part of its compensation plan. If those thresholds aren’t met, commissions are reduced.

One of the positive details in the Herbalife settlement is that it does allow the company to pay some compensation to distributors on personal consumption, a key concept the direct selling community has been advocating for years.

2. Segment Independent Contractors from Preferred Customers

As was the case in other recent FTC actions, the Herbalife settlement places a great deal of emphasis on customers being distinct from those individuals looking to build a business. In the past, Herbalife recognized that a large percentage of its salesforce were actually people who simply wanted to buy the products at a discount and had no intention of selling or reselling product. The FTC, as it has in other cases, viewed this concept with suspicion, arguing that such buyers are not preferred customers but rather failed consultants. Herbalife now must keep clear delineations between the two groups. There is a category for preferred customers who can buy at wholesale or discounted pricing, but those folks are not eligible to recruit or sell product. Individuals also cannot move from one classification to the other without making a written request; there is no allowance for someone to sign up as a business builder and if, say, he or she fails to recruit anyone or earn commission in a year be automatically reclassified as a preferred customer.

“It is clear, from this and the Vemma case, that companies are going to have to come up with a new build strategy, where you sign up people as customers and then go back and later on sign them up as distributors,” says Mark Rawlins, CEO of InfoTrax Systems, a Utah-based software supplier to direct selling companies that focuses on backend operations and commissions.

3. Beware of Income Claims

As it did in other recent enforcement actions, the FTC’s complaint against Herbalife included a number of allegations of misleading representations of how much money a participant was likely to earn with an Herbalife business. The complaint specifically calls out the company’s Statement of Average Gross Compensation as having been unclear, references video testimonials that included images of expensive houses and cars, and cites examples of things top leaders have said onstage at events.

This certainly is not the first time the FTC has gone after a direct selling company for its income claims, and the complaint should serve as a reminder to all companies to be especially wary of lifestyle claims, including lifestyle representations in the form of photography or video footage, that depict results only achieved by a few top-level earners. In an interview with Direct Selling News following the settlement announcement, U.S. Direct Selling Association President Joseph N. Mariano emphasized that the DSA’s Code of Ethics also places strict limits on income and earnings claims associated with direct selling business opportunities.

Staying on the right side of law enforcement and in compliance with the DSA Code is relatively straightforward on these points, Mariano says. “You don’t have somebody standing up and saying, ‘I make a million dollars a year,’ and you don’t create the impression that that is standard, easily done or commonly done. And you say… that we are very proud of the opportunity that we have as individual companies, that people can earn money, that they can make a career out of this, and it is going to take hard work,” he says. “We can sell what we do. We can sell our opportunity. We can sell the dream, but we also have to recognize that the dream isn’t standing in your mansion in the Bahamas. The dream is acquiring skills, of helping your family, of being able to sell product, of helping your community and having the potential to build this into a business that will help your family.” (For more on Mariano’s perspective on the Herbalife settlement, see this month’s Back Page.)

“We can sell what we do. We can sell our opportunity. We can sell the dream, but we also have to recognize that the dream isn’t standing in your mansion in the Bahamas.”
—Joseph N. Mariano, President, U.S. Direct Selling Association

4. Be a Forceful Advocate

There is no doubt that this is a time of introspection for the direct selling channel. Companies are, and should be, carefully evaluating their business practices to ensure that they embody the best practices around customer service, marketing, product innovation and business ethics today.

This also should be a time for strong advocacy. The direct selling community—active companies as well as suppliers—must come together to share the positive stories about the channel. Direct selling is an effective go-to-market strategy for consumer goods and services companies, particularly those that benefit from a high level of personalized customer service. It also offers an effective path to entrepreneurship, one that is open to anyone regardless of background or circumstance, comes with low startup costs, offers a high degree of flexibility and provides meaningful support to those getting started in business for the first time. Yet neither of these foundational elements of the business model are widely understood, which leaves the very concept of direct selling vulnerable to misinterpretation and unfounded accusations. By supporting efforts such as the academic initiatives of the Direct Selling Education Foundation and by being vocal about the broad benefits of direct selling, active and supplier companies can work to shift public perception over time.

Strong advocacy also means pressing for more clarity and consistency from the regulatory community. Supporting a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year, H.R. 5230, is one way members of the direct selling community can press for such change. The bill provides a clear definition of what constitutes a pyramid scheme and would go a long way toward minimizing confusion in the marketplace. It is this very lack of a clear federal definition of a pyramid scheme that leaves the direct selling community to attempt to decipher the intent of law enforcement by reading between the lines of an ever-changing body of case law, court settlements and statements by regulators. Which of the terms of the Herbalife settlement, for example, are prescriptive guidelines for all direct selling companies and which are intended as mitigation solely for Herbalife? No one outside the FTC really knows for sure.

“I think the protections that we have in place here are aimed to ensure that going forward Herbalife operates legitimately, but I do think they provide important guidance to the rest of the MLM industry about what they need to focus on in order to ensure they are not engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.”
—Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman, FTC

Yet it is important that the direct selling community not wait for the regulatory community to take the lead. During her press conference the morning the settlement with Herbalife was announced, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said the FTC will be providing additional guidance to what she described as the multi-level marketing industry. “I think the protections that we have in place here are aimed to ensure that going forward Herbalife operates legitimately,” she said, “but I do think they provide important guidance to the rest of the MLM industry about what they need to focus on in order to ensure they are not engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.”

Several weeks later, as this edition of DSN went to press, there was still no word from the FTC on what this guidance might involve. A representative from the commission’s public affairs office told DSN that they have no information about the guidance that was mentioned or on when it might be. DSA staff report that they reached out to the FTC immediately following the settlement announcement and extended invitations to the FTC to meet with the DSA board and to address member companies.

Instead of waiting for additional guidance from the FTC, this is the time for even more direct selling company executives to join those within the channel who already are serving as forceful advocates for self-regulation. If as a channel we create an environment in which all companies exceed the expectations of consumers and of our independent salesforce, and we do this consistently and for the long haul, direct selling will continue to grow and prosper. LifeVantage CEO Darren Jensen put it this way: “The future of the industry is rooted in having a vibrant customer base coupled with effective and powerfully branded products.”

If as a channel we create an environment in which all companies exceed the expectations of consumers and of our independent salesforce, and we do this consistently and for the long haul, direct selling will continue to grow and prosper.

The Possibilities Ahead

The quote is more than 100 years old, but Avon Founder and direct selling pioneer David McConnell’s sentiment still rings true today: “If we stop and look over the past and then into the future, we can see that the possibilities are growing greater and greater every day; that we have scarcely begun to reach the proper results from the field we have before us.”

The principles underlying the FTC’s settlement with Herbalife are, by and large, concepts that can make the direct selling channel a stronger, more appealing way to sell high-quality products and services and to provide people an opportunity to earn financial rewards or even build their own business. Yet taking action today—to embrace those principles as well as to advocate for the long-term health of the channel—is critically important. There are four pillars that support direct selling: our customers, our distributors, our companies and our community. To set the firmest foundation, we must be equally strong advocates for all four.

September 01, 2016

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, September 2016

September 01, 2016

Publisher's Note

Recognizing Great Work in Direct Selling

by Lauren Lawley Head

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Lauren Lawely Head

Celebrating success is a hallmark of direct selling, and we have two opportunities for you to recognize the great work being done by your corporate teams.

First up, nominations remain open for our inaugural Direct Selling News 40 Under 40 class. This special report will feature 40 of the up-and-coming direct selling company executives under the age of 40 and is designed to honor young professionals making an impact across all areas of the business, including information technology, marketing, finance, field engagement, operations, customer service and more. Nominations are open to all full-time professionals working in active direct selling companies who will turn 40 years old on or after Jan. 1, 2017. Nomination forms are available at 40under40.directsellingnews.com and must be completed by Sept. 15.

Our second award program is the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. As its name suggests, the Best Places to Work program recognizes direct selling companies that have cultivated a corporate work environment that boasts high employee engagement. Research shows that companies with engaged team members enjoy higher retention rates, productivity and business performance, so this is definitely a key performance indicator your company should measure. Your participation in the program is confidential—unless you are among the winning companies—and all participating companies receive a free overview report indicating how their organization scored.

After last year’s successful launch, we are pleased to once again be working with human resources technology company Quantum Workplace as our research partner. Quantum Workplace has been conducting employee engagement surveys for Best Places to Work programs across the United States for more than a decade and currently has 47 contests underway. To participate, simply nominate your company on or before Oct. 28 by visiting www.directsellingnews.com/bestplacestowork and completing a simple form. Quantum Workplace will work with you to survey your employees between Oct. 31 and Dec. 9, and winners will be selected early in 2017 and featured in a special publication in April. The program is open to all direct selling companies with at least 50 corporate employees in North America.

As we wrap up the high season for salesforce conventions and head into fall, it’s also time to dig deep into business operations, close out the year strong and set the foundation for a successful 2017. In this edition of Direct Selling News, we’re launching a three-part series focusing on research into three of the driving forces behind successful direct selling companies: customer acquisition, recruiting and onboarding new distributors, and distributor retention. You’ll also find profiles on three companies experiencing success: the iconic Mary Kay, still going strong after more than 50 years, the 2008 upstart Zurvita, which reached $81 million in net sales last year, and the Canadian party plan Steeped Tea, which is making its foray into the U.S. We hope you’ll find new ideas and insights into best practices that will benefit your team and provide some additional fuel for a bountiful fall.

All the best,
Lauren Lawley Head
Publisher and Editor in Chief

September 01, 2016

Exclusive Interviews

The Pursuit of Sustainability: Viridian Goes Private in Split from Parent Company

by Emily Reagan

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Photo: Viridian Associates install streetlights in Tufine, Albania, as part of the company’s ongoing sustainability initiative.

In July, the newly formed Viridian International Management acquired assets of the Viridian Energy business from parent Crius Energy for payments that will total $10 million over five years. The deal includes a mutually exclusive relationship with Crius, which will continue to serve Viridian’s U.S. energy customers. Michael Fallquist, who founded Viridian and has led it since 2009, will serve on the board of Viridian International Management. The move is intended to position the socially responsible energy company for accelerated growth and international expansion. To lead the company into the future, Viridian has tapped Paul Booth, a veteran of the direct selling channel and the founder of software firm Data Paradigm Inc. Cami Boehme, formerly Chief Strategy Officer for Crius, also is joining the new entity as Partner and Chief Operations Officer. DSN recently sat down with Booth and Boehme to talk about Viridian’s new structure and the future of the company, which ranked No. 53 on the 2016 DSN Global 100 list with $324 million.

DSN: When did leadership begin discussing a possible spinoff, and why is now the time for Viridian?

Cami Boehme Cami Boehme

Boehme: Viridian was the first company started within what became the Crius umbrella. We had three years as our own company, and we saw some tremendous growth. We were focused on radically changing the direct selling energy market, offering something innovative: affordable green energy. Up to that point, people only had all-brown or all-green. We came in in the middle, and it created a fantastic option for consumers and sellers, and what we know of today as the Viridian brand.

With the growth of our parent company, through the launch of additional brands, mergers and acquisitions, and eventually going public, on one hand it was exciting to have the additional scale and support. On the other hand, it created for Viridian almost an identity crisis. ... If you think of what makes a network marketing company thrive, it’s the Associate-first employee culture, tools and releases. That created for several years the question: How much better could Viridian be if we were back to who we are at our core and always have been? That is, a company that changes lives by helping people make simple and affordable choices—and not within the umbrella of a publicly held energy company.

Booth: My roots are in network marketing, having built up a successful distributorship. I’ve always had an affinity for network marketing and being able to offer that excitement and enthusiasm from an IT perspective to the industry. At Data Paradigm, we’ve helped launch several billion-dollar clients that started with three guys sitting in a room around a whiteboard. I’ve been able to soak in wisdom, be a sponge, and offer up insight in some cases. Being a vendor to Viridian over the past several years gives me a unique perspective, as Data Paradigm has with all its clients. Those conversations started organically.

Being present at the events, Michael and I began talking about what we could do to maintain all the good—the fantastic climate, culture, message, history and field leadership unity—and then take that out from under a publicly traded umbrella where, as Cami and Michael have said, we can spread our wings. Suddenly, additional offerings and market potential came into play, and it was unique in the sense that they couldn’t offer it up to a group of investors on Wall Street. What were investors going to do? They’d spin it, flip it, or whatever. It had to be a group that knew and understood network marketing, who could embrace it, not just treat it as an asset or acquisition, but carry it for years to come.

DSN: As you said, you’ve worked with numerous direct selling clients. What was it about Viridian that attracted you to this particular company?

Paul Booth Paul Booth

Booth: This was the first company where the message went beyond the dollars. Of course, it’s all about creating something that survives us, but there is something about the culture and climate I’d never experienced before. There was a camaraderie in the leadership, the culture and climate. For example, the typical successful company will take its leaders on excursions and trips where it’s all about celebrating their success—which is well deserved. In Viridian’s case, they’d take them and put them to work in the jungles of Africa, and that was very unique to me. I had the privilege of catching the tail end of [a 7 Continents in 7 Years incentive trip] in Italy a few weeks ago, on the heels of their Albania trip, where they installed solar panels and made differences in lives well beyond any kind of success in a network marketing venture.

I was able to witness personally what I’ve been calling the cathartic debrief dinner Viridian held, where emotions and stories of that week were shared. At that point Michael and I had already been in several months of discussion, going back and forth about how we might make this work. As issues had arisen I’d realized each was solvable. What this company had—and it’s difficult to have—is a culture of unity, solidarity and single-mindedness of purpose, not just in front of the cameras but through the tears in that room especially. ... I texted Michael from across the room and said, “I’m all in. This is a done deal.” And I’ve never looked back. It was the correct move and timing from a number of perspectives, but that sealed the deal.

DSN: What has been the initial response from Associates?

Boehme: Fantastic. I don’t know that it could have been received any better…. I think it goes back to the fact we very quickly reassured people that everything they love about the company and that brought them here, is remaining unchanged. We are still a mission-based company. It’s changed in the sense that we’re now committed to rapid expansion, that we’re not OK with resting on our laurels and being a single-product company, that we’re going to add on the policies and practices that will drive a successful network marketing business.

DSN: What other product categories might be a good fit for Viridian?

Boehme: Energy was a great foray into sustainability, because it’s a huge part of how we impact the environment, but it’s really only 15 percent of our carbon footprint. When you think about the clothes we wear, the places we drive, the things we purchase, there are so many choices we make daily where we might not have the option to make sustainable choices. Viridian looks at how we can innovate and find product partners that help people make everyday choices in more sustainable ways. That framework will help define our product categories.

DSN: Viridian recently expanded into Australia, its first international market, through a partnership with Click Energy. Will you follow a similar model in other markets?

Boehme: I think a partner model will define much of what we launch. Our goal is to remain nimble, flexible and open to opportunities. We’re looking for what’s great and innovative in the market, what’s helping people lead more sustainable lives, and then we find the easiest way to bring that to our Associates and customers.

DSN: Cami, having observed Viridian for years, where do you see room for improvement?

Boehme: Ultimately it comes down to one thing: focus. Focus drives a company’s brand strategy, roadmap, what employees do on a day-to-day basis, and the understanding and consistency of vision among the field. When you’re one of a portfolio of companies, so many of the services that affect an Associate’s daily business are shared among multiple companies. That is a stark contrast to the world we have today, where everyone in the company has one goal: to build a world-class network marketing company that helps people make sustainable choices.

DSN: Where do you see Viridian in five years?

Booth: Viridian has so much potential, but it’s so small compared to what it could be, and what it’s going to be. I’ve been privileged to help companies achieve a scale that is magnitudes beyond where Viridian is today. The message is huge. The culture is huge. The future looks like the hockey stick on the chart, and I don’t see five years being the limit
of that.

Boehme: The beauty of this industry is that it changes lives. With Viridian, we’ve had the dual nature of that, where we’re helping our Associates change their lives and, through our philanthropic initiatives, making a genuine impact on the lives of entire communities who now have access to electrification. I think, as we grow, both our goals and measures of success will focus on the impact we’re making in terms of sustainability.

September 01, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, September 2016

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Amway’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Presents at UN Ideagen Summit on Gender Equality

NutriliteNutrilite Little Bits, a micronutrient supplement

Amway collaborated with other private and public sector organizations at the recent Ideagen UN Empowering Women & Girls 2030 Summit, an annual event focused on advancing gender equality.

Ideagen was launched to drive collective societal impact through strategic partnerships. Those gathered at the United Nations in New York heard from Amway’s head of corporate social responsibility, Jeff Terry, who led a session highlighting the company’s work to improve the lives of women and girls. Other presenters included representatives from the European Union, USAID, the White House, Red Cross and Microsoft, among others.

“A summit like this is always an opportunity for us to see who is doing what, whether through the private sector, NGOs or other segments of civil society, because it’s about working together,” Terry told DSN. “The days of working by yourself to solve problems are over. It is critical to identify cross-sector and even in-sector partnership opportunities to help solve these problems.”

Jeff TerryAmway’s Jeff Terry presents at Ideagen.

Achieving gender equality is one of the current U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, as is ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030. Amway, the largest direct selling company in the world, addresses both challenges through ongoing CSR initiatives, including the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign, which supports funding and distribution of Nutrilite Little Bits, a micronutrient supplement developed by Amway scientists. Little Bits supply 15 vitamins and nutrients critical to a child’s development in the first five years of life. During last year’s U.N. General Assembly, Amway committed to nearly doubling the reach of the program by the end of 2019.

In addition to nutrition science, Amway is leveraging another of its core competencies, entrepreneurship, to promote the welfare of women and girls. In this vein, the company is kicking off a pilot program in India that will train women to start their own businesses. The program is a partnership with Healing Fields Foundation, a nonprofit that educates women living in poverty to become community health facilitators. Amway is developing new elements of the program that will help these women apply their knowledge as entrepreneurs, selling locally sourced health goods.

Isagenix Introduces ‘Prime Time’ Community Focused on Healthy Aging


Health and wellness company Isagenix is taking a strategic approach to building relationships with Prime Time, a new online community focused on healthy aging.

By signing up at NowIsPrimeTime.com, members receive access to a Facebook group where they can communicate with other members and get health tips, as well as the chance to participate in healthy living contests. They also can opt to receive regular Prime Time newsletters.

The project was initiated by Patty Raphael, a Gen Xer and the company’s Vice President of Opportunity Solutions. “I spoke to a lot of Associates who felt Isagenix wasn’t quite hitting the mark when it came to the needs of my age group, and so we wanted to better support this community by building connections, having fun and providing tips on living life to the fullest,” Raphael said in the company’s announcement.

In many ways Prime Time is a counterpart to Isagenix’s START Your Life community, which aims to equip and inspire millennials—now the fastest-growing demographic among Isagenix Associates.

Youngevity Adds to Growing Direct Sales Platform

California-based Youngevity International has recently acquired two new companies under its growing umbrella of direct sales brands. The company’s first move was a deal with Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands.

The Austin, Texas-based SOZO sells a range of wellness and personal-care products, while Integris is a maker of health supplements.

“I believe SOZO’s emphasis on the coffee berry as an ingredient will have particular appeal to our growing customer base,” said Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity.

The acquisition of Nature’s Pearl Corp., a grower, manufacturer and seller of Muscadine grape products for personal care and nutritional use, soon followed.

In a statement, Jerry Smith, Founder and CEO of Nature’s Pearl, called Youngevity “the clear choice” to help introduce Nature’s Pearl products to a wider customer base.

The additions of Renew Interests and Nature’s Pearl are part of an ongoing acquisition strategy that will expand both Youngevity’s salesforce and its product offerings across the nutrition, coffee, weight-loss, energy and skincare categories.

Next-Generation Skincare System Garners Design Award for Nu Skin

Helen KnaggsHelen Knaggs

Wellness and personal-care company Nu Skin Enterprises has been awarded a 2016 Platinum A’ Design Award for ageLOC Me, a new beauty device that brings customization to the world of skin care.

The Utah company first introduced ageLOC, its flagship anti-aging brand, in 2008. According to Vice President of Opportunity Innovation and Team Lead for Global Research & Development Helen Knaggs, Nu Skin sought to fill a void in the marketplace with products that combat aging at its source, gene expression. “We saw that marketplace products were aimed at signs and symptoms of aging,” said Knaggs. “We felt there was really an opportunity to go behind the scenes of aging and understand it at its source.” By the time Nu Skin launched ageLOC Me in October 2015, the anti-aging line had generated more than $5 billion in global sales.


The ageLOC Me skincare system was built around some of the most significant trends in the personal-care market, including growing demand for anti-aging formulas, customization and at-home beauty devices, as well as the technology to make such devices effective. What truly sets it apart from the competition, though, is the ability to provide a custom formulation based on the user’s specific skin concerns and preferences. “That’s where the skincare industry hasn’t been able to deliver a product up till now,” Knaggs explained. “This is the first of its kind in a personal-care marketplace that has lots of choice, but not choice based on meeting individualized needs.”

The core of ageLOC Me is divided into five cartridges, with two containing moisturizers and three containing serums. Separating the ingredients in this way allowed Nu Skin’s product development team to maximize the number of possible formulations and their effects. The customer experience begins with the ageLOC Me Skin Assessment app, which gathers information about the individual and his or her preferences to determine which products are the best fit. The app then generates a personal skincare code that can be used to purchase an ageLOC Me Custom Set. In the A’ (pronounced A-Prime) International Design Awards, the device’s next-generation design put Nu Skin in the top 1 percentile, recipients of the Platinum Award, based on anonymous judging by a panel of academics, press members and industry professionals.

Newly Established AdvoCare Foundation Awards $150,000 in Grants

AdvoCareAdvoCare and the Ragus family launch the AdvoCare Foundation.

The AdvoCare Foundation recently announced that its first round of grant funding, totaling $150,000, will benefit eight organizations focused on child health and safety.

While AdvoCare has a long history of giving back, the newly established charity brings a formal framework and focus to its philanthropic efforts. The AdvoCare Foundation was initially funded by a $1.5 million gift from the company and the family of AdvoCare’s late founder, Charlie Ragus.

“We started the foundation to strengthen our 23-year legacy of giving back and focus our efforts on the next generation of champions,” said Alison Levy, AdvoCare Executive Vice President and AdvoCare Foundation President.

With the mission of investing in long-term solutions to child welfare, the foundation selected grant recipients across four major cities—Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In Dallas, home to AdvoCare headquarters, grants of $20,000 were awarded to both YMCA Metropolitan Dallas and the local America SCORES, which runs an after-school program centered on soccer, poetry and community service.

Dreamworks Inspires Origami Owl Collection

origami owlProducts on display at an Origami Owl Jewelry Bar event.

Though the designs are still under wraps, this fall customizable jewelry company Origami Owl will introduce character-inspired collections through a new licensing deal with Dreamworks Animation.

The collaboration is Origami Owl’s largest to date, and the first foray into social selling for Dreamworks, creators of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and other popular film franchises. Origami Owl will launch its first character-inspired offerings Oct. 1, in connection with the release of Trolls, a new animated comedy from Dreamworks. The Arizona-based company said the collection will include its signature Living Lockets, Charms, Dangles and even new product categories.

“It’s been wonderful to collaborate on the pieces,” said Chrissy Weems, Origami Owl President, who co-founded the company in 2010 with her then 14-year-old daughter, Bella. “The film’s themes parallel Origami Owl’s core values and mission ‘to love, inspire and motivate others.’ The feature’s vibrant colors and upbeat, happy music also reflect the sense of joy and energy evoked by the Origami Owl brand.”

Following the launch of the Trolls Collection, Origami Owl customers can expect to see additional collections inspired by favorite franchises and characters.

Thirty-One Gifts, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Launch ‘Girls Take Flight’

Bags, accessories and home décor company Thirty-One Gifts is partnering with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to launch Girls Take Flight, an initiative to support girls facing mental and behavioral health illnesses.

Through its charitable arm, Thirty-One Gives, the company will help to fund behavioral health research conducted by Nationwide Children’s, the nation’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare system. Thirty-One said it already has collected $37,000 in personal contributions from its independent sales leaders. The company also pledged to donate all proceeds from its September “Gives Round Up!” program and make a contribution during its “Standing Strong for Her” initiative in October.

“Mental illness is a crisis for girls, and the statistics are staggering,” said Cindy Monroe, Founder, President and CEO of Thirty-One. “This initiative marks the first time Thirty-One Gifts will be supporting ground-breaking medical research, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.”

Thirty-One said it will equip its 70,000 consultants with resources to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental and behavioral health illnesses. The company also released a new thermal tote product printed with butterflies, which symbolizes the Girls Take Flight campaign and the hospital’s logo.

September 01, 2016

Financial News

Second Quarter Results a Mixed Bag for Public Companies

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

The midyear economic outlook for 2016 is mixed for the largest publicly traded direct selling companies in the U.S., with some posting better-than-expected second quarter results while others saw decline. Second quarter and midyear financial data reported in July and August reveals continued pressures from the impact of foreign exchange rates. Yet despite the strong U.S. dollar, businesses are seeing sales growth in Asia, particularly in China.

Among the more interesting stories is that of Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE), which saw sales decline in all markets but posted a profit of $33 million or 6 cents a share, compared to $28.8 million in the same period a year ago. The results beat analyst estimates, which predicted earnings of 2 cents a share.

The solid performance is a sign that the company’s cost-cutting plan is beginning to have an impact. Avon shed its North American business in March and is moving its headquarters to the United Kingdom. The plan is expected to save Avon $350 million a year before taxes after three years, including $70 million in savings in 2016.

Total revenue was $1.43 billion, down from $1.56 billion, but CEO Sheri McCoy says there is top-line growth in nine of the company’s top 10 markets.

“While we recognize that it’s still early in our transformation and much effort and work lay ahead, I remain confident. Avon is on a path to sustainable, profitable growth,” McCoy says.

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF—NYSE), which settled an investigation of its business practices in July, reported a loss in the second quarter of $22.9 million or 28 cents a share. That’s down from earnings of 97 cents a share for the prior-year quarter. The second quarter loss includes a $203 million regulatory fine that Herbalife agreed to pay in its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Excluding these items, adjusted earnings were $1.29 a share, up 4 percent from $1.24 a share a year ago.

Sales rose 3 percent to $1.2 billion, with midyear sales totaling $2.3 billion.

“This is a fantastic and historic quarter for Herbalife,” says Michael Johnson, CEO of the Los Angeles-based company. “Our momentum and performance reflects the strength of our distributors’ businesses. And with the regulatory settlement behind us, we’ve never ever been more focused.”

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NUS—NYSE) is making a positive turnaround with $600 million in second quarter sales, up 7 percent from $560.2 million in the same period a year ago.

The Utah skincare and nutritional products business reported earnings of 79 cents a share, up slightly from 75 cents a share a year ago.

Nu Skin saw growth in three markets: South Asia-Pacific, 36 percent; Greater China, 18 percent; and EMEA, 6 percent. It posted declines in two markets: North Asia, -4 percent, and Americas, -19 percent.

China is the company’s largest area, with 37 percent of Nu Skin’s sales. To better compete, Nu Skin will launch products specific to China, such as an air filter for home use.

“We remain optimistic about the future as we continue to introduce our latest ageLOC products,” says Truman Hunt, President and CEO.

USANA Health Sciences Inc. (USNA—NYSE) beat analyst estimates for the second quarter with record net sales of $258.5 million, up 10.8 percent from $233.2 million a year ago. (Analyst estimates predicted an EPS of $1.93 on $252 million in revenue.)

Earnings per share increased by 7.8 percent to $2.07 a share, up from $1.92 a year ago. The increase in EPS is mostly due to USANA’s stock buyback program during the past 12 months.

“USANA generated solid results during the second quarter, which were in line with our expectations,” says Dave Wentz, USANA’s Co-CEO.

The Salt Lake City company saw strong growth in Asia, despite a negative impact from a stronger U.S. dollar. Net sales in the Asia-Pacific region increased 15.1 percent to $194.2 million. Currency fluctuations delivered a negative $9.5 million impact.

Primerica Inc. (PRI—NYSE) beat analyst estimates with second quarter earnings growth of 8 percent on total revenue of $379.2 million, compared to the second quarter of 2015. Operating revenue jumped 7 percent to $375.8 million for the quarter.

Diluted earnings per share were $1.19. That’s an increase of 27 percent and 13 cents better than the analyst estimate of $1.06.

The Duluth, Georgia, company reported growth in its life insurance segment with a 14 percent boost in life insurance policies issued and an 11 percent increase in life insurance licensed representatives to 112,365.

CEO Glenn Williams says Primerica continues to see strong performance throughout the business.

“Our salesforce leaders delivered distribution growth and strong life insurance productivity in the second quarter,” Williams says.

Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP—NYSE) saw sales continue to decline in the second quarter with revenue of $564.7 million, down 4 percent from $588.9 million in 2015.

The Florida company reported a profit of $52.4 million or $1.03 a share, down from $62 million and $1.23 a share a year ago.

The latest results follow a 10 percent revenue decline in the first quarter. For the year, sales are down 7 percent compared to the first half of 2015.

Sales were strong in South America, up a total of 8 percent for the region. Brazil showed an increase of 22 percent. Tupperware U.S. and Canada reported a 1 percent sales increase.

Rick Goings, Chairman and CEO, said the quarter’s results show the strength of Tupperware’s products and people. Even with a 4 percent decline and a 7-point hit from exchange rates, “we grew sales by 3 percent in local currency—the high end of our range, with significant contributions from Brazil, China, Malaysia/Singapore and Tupperware Mexico.”

Medifast Inc. (MED—NYSE), a Maryland healthy lifestyle company, posted second quarter earnings of $3.4 million or 29 cents a share, down from $6.2 million or 48 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

Adjusted income was $7.5 million or 63 cents a diluted share.

Overall revenue was $71.1 million, down from $72.2 million in the second quarter in 2015. A majority (80 percent) of Medifast’s revenue came from Take Shape For Life, the direct sales segment of the company. With revenue of $57.4 million, the division grew 10 percent. This is the sixth quarter of year-over-year growth for Take Shape For Life. Medifast is heavily investing in the business segment, which marked its highest level of year-over-year growth in three years.

“Our team’s efforts to better differentiate our business segments and highlight their respective value propositions helped to fuel solid financial performance in the quarter,” says Michael MacDonald, Chairman and CEO.

Natural Health Trends Corp. (NHTC—NASDAQ) manufactures personal-care and wellness products. The California firm saw total revenue increase 15 percent to $80.4 million, compared to $69.7 million in the second quarter of 2015.

Net income was $12.2 million, or $1.07 a diluted share, compared to $12.3 million, or 98 cents a diluted share, in the second quarter of 2015. 

Revenue from NHT’s Hong Kong operations, which represent 91 percent of total revenue, increased 13 percent to $73.3 million, compared to $64.8 million in the second quarter of 2015.

Revenue outside of Hong Kong increased 43 percent to $7 million, compared to $4.9 million in the second quarter of 2015.

“Going forward, we will remain focused on expanding our global footprint, continuing to acquire members in new and existing markets, as well as our product development initiatives to drive sustainable, long-term growth,” says President Chris Sharng.

Mannatech Inc. (MTX—NASDAQ) a Texas-based health and wellness company, reported a loss in the second quarter of $1.3 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with a profit of $3.1 million, or $1.15 a share, in the second quarter of 2015.

But sales were the highest the company has seen in seven quarters. The results come after a company rebranding, in which Mannatech invested in a new brand, infrastructure technology and the release of 13 new products. Sales in the U.S. and Korea of a new fat-loss system called TruHealth positively impacted financial results.

TruHealth will rollout globally throughout 2016.

Recruiting of salespeople grew 11 percent, with new independent associates in the second quarter totaling 28,400 compared to 25,600 a year ago.

Mannatech’s overall revenue was $48.8 million, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier.

Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc. (NATR—NASDAQ) saw second quarter net sales revenue of $89.4 million, up 10 percent compared to sales of $81.2 million in the second quarter a year ago.

This marks the eighth consecutive quarter of net sales growth for the company’s operations in the U.S. and Canada.

The natural health and wellness company said it recorded net income of $2.4 million for the quarter, or 14 cents per common diluted share. On a local currency basis, net sales revenue jumped 11.5 percent.

The Lehi, Utah-based company’s Synergy Asia division delivered 28.5 percent local currency growth in the second quarter.

‘For the first half of 2016, net sales revenue hit $171.8 million, up 4 percent from $165.1 million compared to the first six months of 2015. The growth is driven by an $8.9 million or 23.7 percent increase in Synergy Asia and an incremental net sales revenue increase of $4.4 million related to sales through Hong Kong

September 01, 2016

Cover Story

Keys to Success part 1: Customer Acquisition

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Of all the misinformation about direct selling, perhaps the most often repeated—even by those who work most closely in the field—is the description of direct selling as an industry.

Most common dictionary definitions of the word “industry” refer to a collection of enterprises that deliver a common category of products or services, such as the skincare or nutritional supplement industries. Both of those industries include a number of direct selling companies, but they also include companies that sell products through wholesalers, in traditional retail stores, via e-commerce and direct to consumers. Direct selling, then, is a channel by which some companies opt to distribute products and services.

Why is this distinction important? By studying direct selling not as an industry but as a channel of distribution, it becomes easier to focus on the shared fundamentals of success. Over the next three months, Direct Selling News plans to use this lens to take a closer look at three of the drivers of direct selling as a distinct channel for distributing products and services: customer acquisition, recruiting and onboarding new consultants, and retaining those individuals as active members of an independent salesforce. By honing in on the factors that make direct selling effective when compared to other channels of distribution, we can accomplish two things: identify best practices that can both promote sustainable growth for companies and promote a broader understanding of the unique value proposition direct selling offers in the marketplace.

To begin the project, the DSN team conducted a review of the websites and key marketing materials for the direct selling companies experiencing the fastest growth in the U.S. market. This provided insight into the techniques leading direct selling companies are using today as well as served as a framework for conducting in-depth interviews with company executives, researchers and other thought leaders.

“We are always looking at the quality of products we are offering. That is the glue that holds us together.”
—Andres Forero, Vice President of Membership Services, Team National


As with any channel of distribution, getting products and services into the hands of customers is the ultimate measure of success in direct selling. The direct selling companies that do it best are laser-focused on the quality of the products or services they offer.

Take for example Florida-based Team National, which sells two-year or lifetime shopping discount memberships for a variety of products and services from mobile phones to furniture. The company saw its net sales increase 38 percent from $399 million in 2014 to $549 million in 2015, ranking No. 36 on the 2016 Global 100 list and placing it among the fastest-growing direct selling companies operating primarily in the U.S. market. The company’s top priority, says Vice President of Membership Services Andres Forero, is to make sure its vendors deliver savings.

Team National tracks how members use their memberships and which vendors they purchase from most often. If no one is using a specific vendor, that relationship is severed and replaced with a new one that customers are more likely to find beneficial, Forero says. The company also is investing in system improvements that allow members to more easily access their discounts through mobile devices.

“We are always looking at the quality of products we are offering,” Forero says. “That is the glue that holds us together.”


Having a high-quality product or service is critical, but so too is communicating that value to potential customers. This is where the personal service of an independent salesforce adds so much to the value chain. “It’s about conveying the idea that the products available are as good as or better than what the consumer can get in a traditional retail channel,” says Michael Solomon, a marketing professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a consumer behavior consultant who also serves on the board of the Direct Selling Education Foundation. “When sellers dig deep and find the pain points for people, they can help them gravitate toward a solution that makes their life easier.”

How can companies accomplish this? It could be a product demonstration or strategic use of social media that puts the desired product into the hands of blogging opinion leaders or gatekeepers who are influential within consumer communities. Millennial customers especially pay attention to online networks. Fashion bloggers are one example; such writers are not part of a particular industry but have made themselves influential. Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble realized the pull of mommy bloggers and harnessed the voices of these women to help sell its Pampers brand of diapers. The strategy played a big part in making Pampers a billion-dollar brand.

“It’s about conveying the idea that the products available are as good as or better than what the consumer can get in a traditional retail channel.”
—Michael Solomon, a marketing professor at St. Joseph’s University

A company’s website is often the first or second place (after talking with an independent business owner) that a customer may go to learn more about a product or the company itself. Given that fact, it is difficult to overemphasize the importance of establishing and maintaining a high-quality, consumer-centric website. “Transparency on the website is what most people look for in terms of answering the question, ‘Do I trust this company?’ ” says Dr. Brenda Cude, a professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. “Being transparent is positive messaging.”

The homepage reveals much about a firm, its philosophy and what is driving the business, and the functionality of the site can promote a level of trust between the consumer and the brand. Simple, everyday language is appealing to consumers; websites that use jargon and make it hard to understand what the product is are not customer-friendly. Customer-centric websites should answer questions such as:

  • How does the product work?
  • Are there clinical studies to back up results claims?
  • Is there proof that the stated product results are correct?

While customers are, by definition, most interested in the product information on a company website rather than the business opportunity, the language used to describe the business opportunity also can influence purchasing decisions. The key here, according to Cude, is to keep things simple. “The standard consumer advice is that if you don’t understand it, back away,” says Cude, who also serves on the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s board of directors.

Direct sellers should also let go of stale jargon, Cude says. For example, the average consumer may not understand the phrase “network marketing,” but certainly would “peer-to-peer.” “It is a best practice to fill in the blanks before others do it themselves,” Cude says. “Direct selling companies could be pushing people away just by the language they are using.”

“Once people see the results, then they become committed to incorporating our products into their daily habits and they become more long-time users for us.”
—Travis Ogden, President and Chief Operations Officer, Isagenix


Once customers make that first purchase from a leading direct selling firm, how does the company keep them coming back for more? With loyalty programs, discounts and free shipping, to name a few techniques. When done well, repeat customers feel like VIPs.

To achieve this goal, anti-aging and beauty products company Nerium International zeroes in on a customer’s first 90 days and techniques that will make the company’s products part of his or her daily routine. “We want them to use the product and take their own before-and-after pictures to see the results, reinforce the product and give them reasons to stay,” says Chief Marketing Officer Amber Olson Rourke. Nerium loads in plenty of rewards and incentives in those first three months, including 10 percent off an order, free shipping and other perks for maintaining an order, such as welcome calls and frequent follow-up calls from a dedicated customer support team. These “happiness heroes” nurture the customer’s relationship with the company and between the customer and his or her Brand Ambassador. It has paid off for the Texas-based company, which saw net sales increase 28 percent from $403 million in 2014 to $516 million in 2015, ranking it No. 38 on the 2016 Global 100. “We treat our customers like gold,” Rourke says.
What companies like Nerium know is that it’s cheaper to keep a customer than get a new one. Loyalty programs and discounts that keep customers coming back or re-engage them in new ways are critical to maintaining the customer relationship. In some cases, customers receive better product deals than consultants. When that happens, watchers in the channel say, it’s clear the company is truly customer-centric.


Some companies having success with customer acquisition have found truth in the management maxim “that which is measured gets done.” One of the most fundamental metrics in the area of customer acquisition is the ratio of customers to consultants; the higher the number of customers per consultant, the more successful a direct selling company is at customer acquisition.

“We treat our customers like gold.”
—Amber Olson Rourke, Chief Marketing Officer, Nerium International

At health and wellness products maker Isagenix, the average customer-to-consultant ratio is above an 80:20 split, usually hovering around an 85:15 ratio, says President and Chief Operations Officer Travis Ogden. The Arizona-based company saw its net sales increase 23 percent from $725 million in 2014 to $890 million in 2015, ranking it No. 22 on the 2016 Global 100. To ensure its customer growth and loyalty remain strong, Isagenix also tracks such metrics as average monthly order size, retention rates and the success of various promotions.

This data gives Isagenix business intelligence that then informs strategies for enhancing customer loyalty. Ogden points to two programs that have been particularly beneficial:

  • 60-day programs. These regimens guide customers through the use of specific Isagenix products to see transformations in their health and body image. Isagenix uses online programming and social media to connect customers so they can hold each other accountable, motivate each other and cheer each other on.
  • IsaBody Challenge. This is a 16-week program that preferred customers can enter. Participants form a community of people trying to transform themselves and their bodies. The company offers $200 in Isagenix products to everyone who completes the challenge, plus the chance to win $200,000 in cash, prizes and trips.

“Once people see the results, then they become committed to incorporating our products into their daily habits and they become more long-time users for us,” Ogden says.


Customer acquisition is a critical component to successfully using the direct selling channel to bring products and services to market. And the four strategies outlined here—focusing on product quality, communicating value, developing brand loyalty and tracking metrics—are driving growth at many of the fastest-growing direct selling companies in the U.S. today. Taken as a whole, these strategies bring direct selling’s advantage as a source for products and services to the forefront for consumers while providing effective guidance for companies pursuing longevity in this channel.

Customer acquisition also is inextricably linked with the next driver of direct selling: recruiting and onboarding new salespeople. At Florida-based It Works!, for example, people lead with the product. Interactions usually begin with “Do you want to try the product?” followed by a demonstration of the company’s signature body contouring wrap. That gives a consultant the opportunity to make a sale to a new customer, and it introduces the new customer into a building block of business building: product demonstrations. At Le-Vel, the Thrive brand of supplements and shakes is actually bigger and better known than the company itself. The product is front and center, which means so are its customers. This can make it easier to sell the opportunity when the time is right. Both companies experienced strong growth in net sales from 2014 to 2015—254 percent for Le-Vel and 39 percent for It Works!—thanks in part to a product-first, customer-centric approach.

As first-time customers become loyal consumers, the opportunities to convert those buyers into sellers follow. The October issue of Direct Selling News will delve into this next concept more deeply, considering that while not every customer will want to pursue a business opportunity, when customers are treated well, making the leap into business can occur naturally and seamlessly.


Read Keys To Success Part 2

September 01, 2016

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, September 2016

Click here to order the September 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Nu Skin Adds Expert in China Growth Strategies to Board of Directors

Simon ShenSimon Shen

Following its recent investment deal with Ping An ZQ China Growth Ltd., Nu Skin Enterprises announced that it is adding one of the group’s representatives, Simon Shen, to its board of directors.

The Provo, Utah, company said in June that it had inked a $210 million investment deal with the Chinese firm, which consists of a consortium of Chinese investors led by Ping An of China Securities Hong Kong, one of China’s largest insurers, and additional investors affiliated with ZQ Capital Ltd.

]Shen is the founding member of ZQ Capital Ltd., with a background in Asian capital markets and extensive experience in mainland China.

“We are excited for Simon to join our board as he brings valuable expertise in helping global companies realize their growth potential in China,” said Steven J. Lund, Executive Chairman of the Board. “Simon shares our excitement for the long-term prospects for Nu Skin globally, and particularly in China.”

Shen previously was Managing Director at Barclays Asia Investment Banking division and led its China Financial Institutions Business. He also spent six years with Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in its New York and Hong Kong offices.

Young Living Promotions Bring New Chief Financial Officer and Product Development Leadership

Janay StandifirdJanay Standifird
Michael BuchMichael Buch

At Young Living Essential Oils, the search for the company’s next CFO has circled back to Young Living’s own Janay Standifird.

Standifird joined Young Living four years ago, in the role of controller. Most recently, she served as Senior Vice President, Global Controller and Finance, overseeing the company’s global accounting.

“Janay stands out among the most seasoned professionals and inspires everyone, especially women in the workforce, to reach their goals,” said Mary Young, CEO of Young Living. “We thank Kevin Pace (retiring CFO) for his diligent service to our members and the company and are pleased to have a professional of Janay’s caliber take over the company’s finances.”

Standifird brings extensive knowledge of global financial systems and internal controls, global business strategies, building teams and risk mitigation. Her nearly two-decade career has included 10 years in the direct selling channel.

Young Living also has promoted Michael Buch, Ph.D., to Senior Vice President, Research & Development and Product Management. Buch oversees scientific research and development on new and established products and leads the
company’s product strategy.

Buch joined Young Living in 2015 and has more than 25 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. He has led global organizations at some of the world’s leading companies, and holds more than a dozen patents in the health care field. He is personally responsible for developing health care products with annual sales of nearly $3 billion and marketed in more than 100 countries.

Mannatech Appoints Direct Sales Veteran as VP of EMEA

David OriDavid Ori
Roger HsuehRoger Hsueh

Like many leading supplement companies, Mannatech sees potential for big growth outside of the United States. 

To help lead its global expansion efforts, the Coppell, Texas-based company has named David Ori as Vice President of EMEA, or Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ori has more than 20 years of experience in direct sales and international marketing and was most recently Vice President of International Development for a leading cosmetics and wellness company.

“David’s experience in the direct sales industry and international markets will help us create effective strategies for rapid global expansion,” CEO Al Bala said. “He will be instrumental in helping us lead and grow our operations in those regions, and his valuable work experience will enable us to better serve our associates.”

Mannatech also has named Roger Hsueh as General Manager of its operations in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where he will support Mannatech’s rapid expansion in Asia.

With 30 years of successfully working in the Taiwan and China markets, Hsueh’s appointment will help support sales, marketing and logistics efforts around the company’s expansion into China as an e-commerce seller. He will play a key role in providing strategic and operational leadership and execution, as well as realignment of partnerships with leaders in Asia.

Nerium Names Rafael Avendano Santos as GM of Mexico

Rafael Avendano SantosRafael Avendano Santos

Rafael Avendano Santos, a 20-year direct sales veteran, has been appointed General Manager of Nerium’s Mexico business. Nerium’s third country opening in 2014, after the U.S. and Canada, the market has continued to break sales records for the skincare brand.

“I know we will see Mexico success and excitement surge as we welcome GM Rafael Avendano, an accomplished professional who shares the Nerium values and culture, to our Nerium Mexico family,” said Founder and CEO Jeff Olson.

Avendano is a sales team leader and training and technology expert with customer relationship management expertise. He specializes in content development and implementation of training programs for countries throughout Latin America.

“We are committed to supporting our Nerium entrepreneurs throughout Mexico and I will ensure that our Brand Partners continue to receive the best products, tools, support and training,” said Avendano.

Scentsy Hires New Executives to Fill VP Roles

Annie PriceAnnie Price
Janet CronstedtJanet Cronstedt
Kari HomanKari Homan

Scentsy Inc. has brought in Annie Price, Janet Cronstedt, and Kari Homan to lead field and marketing initiatives.

As the wickless candle company’s Vice President of Field Touchpoints, Price will oversee consultant support, events, recognition and incentives, and overall field communication strategy. Since 1992, she has served in executive and leadership roles with increasing responsibility, most recently at Hewlett-Packard.

Cronstedt, who has more than 25 years of experience in direct selling, joins Scentsy as Vice President of Field Development, overseeing all sales management and training with her team providing analytics and coaching.

Nearly 10 years as a top recruiter for a leading beauty brand was a highlight of her career, before she joined one of the largest direct sellers in the world as Managing Director of the company’s U.S. division. She was later Senior Vice President of an established lifestyle brand and is a certified John Maxwell Coach and On-Purpose Mentor.

Homan is Vice President of Marketing Communications. She will oversee the integrated marketing strategy and social media teams. With a background in communications and organizational behavior, Homan began her career in traditional publishing before pursuing high-tech marketing. She has worked with Thomson Reuters, Hewlett-Packard, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and T-Mobile.

Regal Ware Names Dave Lenz Chief Operating Officer

Dave LenzDave Lenz

Regal Ware Inc. has appointed Dave Lenz as Chief Operating Officer at Regal Ware. He will oversee day-to-day operations to effectively grow the organization.

Since joining Regal Ware in 2002, Lenz has served in numerous leadership roles with increasing responsibility. Most recently he held the position of Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing with accountability for Regal Ware brands sales and marketing, executive leadership and management of new business development, and corporate benefits and salary administration at the senior level.

Prior to joining Regal Ware Dave held various leadership positions at The West Bend Company.

SISEL International Makes Top Sales Team Changes

Sisel Logo

SISEL International has promoted Aaron Rennert to General Manager and Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing as part of a restructuring plan geared to help support and fuel growth in the field.

Rennert will continue his role in sales but will direct additional focus on worldwide activities and internal management, according to Tom Mower Sr., President and Co-Founder of SISEL. Mower said, “As acting GM, Aaron’s vast experience in corporate roles will allow SISEL to utilize his business acumen to create systems and processes aimed at accelerating our growth.”

In addition to the promotion of Rennert, SISEL has hired Mike Hagen as Vice President of International Sales. Hagen will drive sales and training with concentration on North American operations, while eventually expanding his efforts globally. Hagen has owned several successful private businesses, and most recently led his own sales team for 13 years in the industry, training and developing distributors.

“We are excited to have Mike on our team,” said Rennert. “He has a strong track record of success, and this allows me to focus on the initiatives that we have needed to address.”

Tom Mower and his son Tom Jr. founded SISEL International in 2006, offering personal-care products and dietary supplements. The term SISEL (pronounced “sizzle”) is an acronym for Science, Innovation, Success, Energy and Longevity.

August 31, 2016

U.S. News

ForeverGreen Acquires Rights to Proprietary Nutrisorb Technology

A new licensing agreement with Nutrisorb LLC grants ForeverGreen Worldwide exclusive rights to the company’s prioprietary nutrition technology.

Utah-based ForeverGreen, a seller of whole-food supplements and other health products, will bring Nutrisorb technology to market in Prodigy-5, a forthcoming addition to its Xpress product line. The company describes Nutrisorb as a process that improves and optimizes the body’s absorption of key nutrients such as phytoplankton, antioxidants and vitamins.

“The biggest challenge in supplementation is the inefficiency of absorption,” said Ron Williams, CEO of ForeverGreen. “Meaning we are only as healthy as what we absorb, not merely what we ingest.”

The company aims to make supplementation more effective with its newly acquired technology. Nutrisorb is the result of a collaboration between ForeverGreen medical advisor Adam Saucedo, M.D., and Balamurali Ambati, Ph.D., M.D., who recently joined ForeverGreen’s Scientific Advisory Board. As part of the agreement, the doctors will provide education on the technology and Prodigy-5 to ForeverGreen Members.

August 31, 2016

World News

USANA Brand Ambassador Wins First-Ever Olympic Gold for Puerto Rico

Among those who took the podium at this month’s Olympic Summer Games was USANA Brand Ambassador Monica Puig, who became the first athlete ever to win a gold medal for U.S. territory Puerto Rico.

Puig, a singles tennis player, is one of more than 70 USANA-sponsored athletes who traveled to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics, including fellow Women’s Tennis Association competitor Madison Keys, who took fourth place in the women’s singles event.

Several other nutrition-focused direct selling companies had a presence in Rio de Janeiro as well, with some sponsoring individual athletes and others backing entire national delegations.

In the final match, No. 35-ranked Puig defeated the No. 2-ranked singles player in the world, Angelique Kerber of Germany, in three sets to capture the gold.

“I still can’t describe how it feels to be an Olympic champion and to have won the gold medal in Rio,” Piug said in the company’s announcement. “The last two weeks have been incredible, and the support I’ve received from USANA and fans around the world means a lot to me.”

Piug is the only Puerto Rican female to medal in the Summer Games since the Caribbean island sent its first delegation in 1948.

Utah-based USANA sponsors more than 1,000 world-class athletes, collectively known as Team USANA, who have signed on either as distributors or dedicated users of the company’s nutrition products.

Look for more coverage of direct selling companies at the 2016 Olympics in the October issue of DSN.

August 30, 2016

U.S. News

Viridian Report Earns Go Green Advertising Award

Viridian’s 2015 Sustainability Report earned the energy provider top honors in this year’s Go Green Advertising Awards.

The national competition recognizes excellence in marketing and promoting green-themed, eco-friendly products and services, such as Viridian’s responsible electricity and natural gas offerings. Gold, silver and bronze winners are selected on the basis of creativity, design, knowledge transfer and the overall quality of the work.

Viridian received a gold award for its 2015 Sustainability Report, which shows the company’s collective impact in helping customers avoid more than 7 billion pounds of carbon emissions. The energy provider has voluntarily published its report each year, going back to Viridian’s founding in 2009.

“Our Sustainability Report is a celebration of all we’ve accomplished and signifies who we are as a company,” Cami Boehme, Viridian COO, told DSN. “All species, big and small, are interconnected. This report allows us to see the big picture and helps demonstrate how we at Viridian are doing our part to make a difference.”

In the Go Green Advertising Awards, Viridian was recognized for providing substantive and complex information in a clear, engaging style. The report describes Viridian’s carbon emission impact, which equates to recycling 50.5 billion 2-liter plastic bottles, as well as service projects, such as planting 5,000 trees in five years. The company also discloses each Renewable Energy Certificate and carbon offset purchased.

August 30, 2016

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August 30, 2016

World News

Young Living Opens Seventh Global Farm in British Columbia

Photo: Young Living’s global headquarters in Lehi, Utah.

In conjunction with its recent Canadian convention, Young Living Essential Oils celebrated the grand opening of Northern Lights Farm, its new farm and distillery in British Columbia.

The Utah company operates seven farms around the world, where it sources plants for its essential oil products. At these locations and at partner farms, Young Living oversees its signature Seed to Seal process, a series of quality control measures to ensure the purity of the oils.
Northern Lights Farm near Canada’s Rocky Mountains is rich in black spruce trees, which supply Young Living’s Northern Lights Black Spruce essential oil. The oil is a standalone product, as well as an ingredient in some of the company’s top-selling blends. Last year, the farm produced 6,300 liters of Northern Lights Black Spruce.

Young Living hosted its first Farm Day at Northern Lights on Aug. 24, ahead of the company’s Canadian national convention. Founder and Chairman Gary Young, who has led the global farm initiative, was on hand to welcome visitors. “As one of my greatest passions and achievements, I’m honored to share Northern Lights with our members and the local community, who have supported this endeavor from day one,” said Young.

The grand opening event included tours of the farm and distillery, as well as an on-site conference and education center. The company, which often brings members to its farms to take part in the harvest, also plans to install a visitor center, spa and lodge at Northern Lights.

August 29, 2016

U.S. News

Nerium Hits 5-Year Milestone Offering Science-Backed Skincare

Nerium International is celebrating its five-year anniversary.

The Texas-based skincare company has had one of the fastest entrances in the direct selling channel, joining the DSN Global 100 list of the world’s largest direct selling companies after completing its first full year in business. Last year, the company’s net sales reached $516 million, earning it the No. 38 spot on the list.

Yet Founder and CEO Jeff Olson prefers to celebrate other benchmarks, things such as the company’s growing photo gallery of customer testimonials showcasing their anti-aging results, the 2013 launch of Live Happy magazine and the company’s designation as the largest corporate donor to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Olson estimates that more than 70 percent of Nerium’s sales are to people who are not attached to the compensation system and that the majority of the company’s Brand Partners are newcomers to network marketing.

“I said on Day 1 when we set up the company, I didn’t care how fast we hit $1 billion, I just wanted to do it right,” Olson told DSN.

Much of the company’s growth has been domestic. In 2014, the company expanded into Canada and Mexico, and it first ventured outside North America in 2015, when it began operations in South Korea. This summer, Nerium launched operations in Japan, and it is in the process of launching into the Australia market before the end of the year. Olson said he expects the pace of international expansion to pick up, with Nerium growing to 15 to 20 total markets and $2 billion in sales within the next five years.

Watch for the complete interview with Olson in the October edition of Direct Selling News.

August 26, 2016

World News

This Week: Amway’s Rebirth in China, Oriflame’s Expansion in India

Catch up on the latest direct selling chatter with these click-worthy links:

  • The Economist features the resurgence of Amway’s business in China, where a 1998 ban halted direct selling activities in the country for several years. Despite adjusting its business model to comply with new regulations, Amway remains the biggest direct seller in the market, with sales exceeding $4 billion in recent years.
  • Oriflame India has occupied a new, larger headquarters facility in the city of Chennai, as the Swedish cosmetics maker responds to growing demand in the market, according to a report from The Times of India. The new headquarters offers a variety of services to consultants, including the ability to directly place orders and attend trainings and opportunity meetings organized by the company. Oriflame officials also disclosed plans to establish 30 new service points, where customers can place orders and learn about the company, in India by the end of 2016.
  • A report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that Carl Icahn, longtime supporter of Herbalife in its battle against activist investor Bill Ackman, has discussed selling his 18 percent stake in the company, which recently settled a Federal Trade Commission investigation into its business practices. Sources told the paper that one group in talks with Icahn includes Ackman himself, who presumably would be interested in cutting Icahn’s stake to diminish confidence in Herbalife’s stock.
  • The Observer provides a window into J.Hilburn’s recent annual conference in Dallas, which included a runway show featuring the latest styles from the custom menswear brand. J.Hilburn is carving out a niche for itself by bringing high-quality, personalized garments to new audiences.
  • What J.Hilburn is to custom apparel, Gardenuity is to gardening. Forbes spoke to Donna Letier, Co-Founder of the Dallas-based startup, about using social selling and technology to simplify gardening. Letier discusses her own background in big business and how Gardenuity is appealing to busy professionals.

August 26, 2016

U.S. News

USANA’s New InCelligence Technology Speaks Language of the Cells

USANA Health Sciences this week unveiled InCelligence technology, a scientific advance that harnesses the body’s natural ability to renew and protect itself.

Researchers at Utah-based USANA developed the cell-signaling technology by studying the natural intelligence of human cells, which carry out processes essential to health. The company’s patent-pending InCelligence Complex directly triggers these processes, rather than simply supporting them, as traditional multivitamin supplements do.

Cells generate energy to power bodily functions, right down to the heartbeat, said Dr. Kevin Spelman, USANA Executive Vice President of Research and Development. “But this process can also generate free radicals that can damage the mitochondria within the cell. Fortunately, our cells have a natural process that helps clean any damaged mitochondria out of the cell to help renew efficient cellular function.”

CellSentials, from the company’s new InCelligence line, helps to activate the renewal process and nourish the cells, allowing them to function at high capacity. At its 2016 International Convention, which runs through Saturday in Salt Lake City, USANA also has introduced Proglucamune, a supplement that helps immune cells respond and adapt to stress.

The new technology positions USANA at the cutting edge of nutritional supplement research, according to company Founder Dr. Myron Wentz. “USANA continues to build a reputation as an innovator in the science of cellular health and nutritional supplementation.”

In addition to CellSentials and Proglucamune, two existing USANA supplements—Hepasil DTX for liver detoxification and Procosa for joint support—will now incorporate InCelligence technology.

August 25, 2016

U.S. News

Gold Canyon Moves beyond Home Fragrance with GC Lifestyle

Photo: A selection of GC Lifestyle Scented Jewelry.

Candle maker Gold Canyon is diversifying its offerings with the launch of GC Lifestyle, a new imprint coming in September.

GC Lifestyle will include scented jewelry and home décor collections that take their cue from Gold Canyon’s existing designs. The Arizona company currently sells candles and other home fragrance products, as well as a limited range of home décor. In a statement announcing the launch, GC Lifestyle is described as a “more contemporized brand” that opens new avenues for Consultants to build their businesses.

“This launch represents a natural evolution of our strong heritage in candles and fragrance to become a premium brand that offers accessories for our customers’ personal fashion and for their homes,” said Thomas Kelly, CEO of Gold Canyon. “It’s a perfect fit for our brand and for our network of consultants.”

The company’s new scented jewelry line will feature trendy necklaces and bracelets, with pendants and charms that double as fragrance diffusers. Customers initially will have the choice of three fragrances exclusive to the line. The expanded home décor collection will include vases, trays and throw pillows that reflect Gold Canyon’s fresh, playful feel.