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 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 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, 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.

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.

August 25, 2016

U.S. News

Total Life Changes Announces First Acquisition

Photo: TLC’s headquarters in Fair Haven, Michigan.

Total Life Changes 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 (TLC), 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.

Ryte launched in December 2014 with three dietary supplements that target common needs such as energy, weight loss, mood, relaxation and sleep. The company has since discontinued operations, but founders Riley Shaugaard, Dave Stewart, and Jeff Wilson, have been seeking an organization that could take Ryte’s products and assets and expand upon its original vision.

“We were introduced to the good people of Total Life Changes a few months ago and have found that company,” said Wilson. “TLC is an organization led by people who share our values and understand the great and largely untapped potential of our products.”

TLC has been in business since 1999, but in recent years growth has accelerated, as company executives shared in the April issue of DSN. In 2015, as revenue rose to $76.8 million, TLC upsized its headquarters from a 1,600-square-foot facility to a 24,000-square-foot facility in Fair Haven, an hour outside Detroit. The company also has opened a new branch in Salt Lake City that will support its merger and acquisition strategy.

August 24, 2016

World News

Nu Skin Supplies 500 Million Meals to Malnourished Children

Photo: Children in Malawi, Africa, receive VitaMeal.

Nu Skin Enterprises on Tuesday announced that it has reached a milestone in its Nourish the Children initiative, with 500 million meals donated to date.

The beauty and wellness company launched Nourish the Children in 2002 to combat poor nutrition, which causes nearly half of deaths in 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 food formulated by Nu Skin nutrition scientists. The rice and lentil meal was crafted specifically for malnourished children, and combines essential vitamins and minerals with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber.

“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. The for-profit structure enables distributors to receive commissions on VitaMeal purchases. The price covers production and distribution costs, with a minimal profit margin for the company.

“It is heartwarming to think of the impact of providing 500 million meals to malnourished children,” said Steven Lund, Executive Chairman of Nu Skin’s board and Executive Director of Nourish the Children. “Reaching such a significant milestone is a testament to the compassion and generosity of Nu Skin’s sales leaders, customers and employees and to the collective good we can do.”

To distribute VitaMeal, Nu Skin partners with third-party nonprofits that specialize in supplying aid to those suffering from malnutrition and famine. The company’s aim is to provide consistent levels of food on a sustainable basis. Thus far, Nourish the Children has helped to feed children in 50 countries.

August 24, 2016

World News

Oriflame Sees Gains on ‘Solid Performance’ in Asia and Turkey

Photo: Oriflame’s Ecobeauty range.

The latest financial report from Oriflame shows a solid first half of 2016 for the Swedish cosmetics maker.

The No. 14-ranked direct selling company in the world saw local currency sales increase 14 percent in the first two quarters. Reported revenue was up 1 percent to €615.4 million, versus €608.9 million in the same period last year.

“The solid performance in Asia & Turkey and Latin America continued and further improvements could be seen in Europe, while the situation in Africa was continuously challenging,” Magnus Brännström, Oriflame CEO and President, said of the company’s performance in the most recent quarter. “CIS experienced local currency growth in the quarter although margin improvement challenges remain.”

In the six months ended June 30, Switzerland-based Oriflame posted a profit of €28.8 million, or €0.51 a share, up from €20.4 million, or €0.37 a share, a year earlier. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) amounted to €68.3 million, surpassing the prior year’s €52.6 million.

Moving into the second half of 2016, the company is preparing to implement a new outsourcing partnership with IBM. The seven-year contract enlists the tech firm to drive Oriflame’s digital business transformation in IT and Finance.

*At the time of this writing, €1.00 was equal to $1.13.

August 23, 2016

U.S. News

USANA Names New Chief Scientific Officer ahead of 2016 Convention

Photo: Robert Sinnott, USANA’s new Chief Scientific Officer.

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.

The news comes as USANA is gearing up for 2016 International Convention, its annual salesforce meeting, which will kick off Wednesday in Salt Lake City. According to company officials, ongoing research efforts will be front and center during the event as the Utah company shares its latest scientific breakthrough with independent Associates.

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.

The latest innovation to come out of USANA’s research and development lab is MySmart Foods, the brand’s first-ever food product line. MySmart Foods protein shakes and bars allows customers to combine flavors and ingredients that fit their tastes and wellness goals, in alignment with the company’s growing “personalization” strategy.

August 23, 2016

World News

Herbalife Announces First Casa Herbalife Partner in New Zealand

(Photo courtesy of Herbalife Family Foundation)

The charitable arm of nutrition company Herbalife is bringing its Casa Herbalife program to New Zealand, in partnership with the local Starship Foundation.

The Herbalife Family Foundation (HFF) aims to improve the lives of children in need, primarily by providing critical nutrition on a number of fronts. In 2005, HFF launched the Casa Herbalife program, which focuses on reaching those in need by partnering with charities already on the ground serving children.

The first partner identified by Casa Herbalife New Zealand is the Starship Foundation, the charity of New Zealand’s national children’s hospital. HFF donations will help fund Starship’s services to families caring for sick children, including supermarket vouchers to purchase groceries.

“Many Starship families from all over New Zealand will face some of the toughest challenges of their lives when caring for a critically ill or injured young patient,” said Brad Clark, Starship Foundation Chief Executive. “This aid will assist these families with their food and nutrition needs and help them through the hard times.”

Herbalife members and employees, as well as their friends and families, currently support more than 130 Casa Herbalife programs worldwide through recurring or one-time donations to the Herbalife Family Foundation.

August 22, 2016

World News

ACN Targets Asia in First Market Expansion in Two Years

Essential services and health products firm ACN is expanding internationally for the first time in two years with the launch of operations in Japan.

Initially, the company is making its Benevita health and wellness line available to Japanese consumers. ACN introduced Benevita three years ago in select international markets, diversifying a longstanding portfolio of essential services such as wireless, Internet, and gas and electricity. ACN plans to roll out some of those services in Japan in the future.

The move into Japan puts the company in 26 markets worldwide. The island country is the first market ACN has added since July 2014, when operations commenced in Mexico. The North Carolina company branched into Asia in 2010 with the launch of its South Korea business.

“As the fifth-largest direct selling market worldwide, Japan was incredibly appealing to us,” said Greg Provenzano, President and Co-Founder of ACN. “But it was the people that sealed the deal when selecting Japan to continue our Asian expansion.”

The market will be served by a new regional headquarters located in Tokyo. In addition to corporate offices, the facility houses meeting spaces, a call center and a retail storefront. ACN’s Vice President of Sales, Danny Bae, will oversee operations in the country. Bae, who initially joined ACN as an Independent Business Owner, has been key to the company’s expansion into Asia.

August 19, 2016

U.S. News

Direct Selling Firms Are among Utah’s Growth Leaders

Utah has long been a hot spot for direct selling companies, and a new list from Utah Business magazine recognizes the fastest-growing of the bunch.

Four direct selling companies appear on this year’s Utah Business Fast 50, an annual ranking based on five-year compound growth as well as a revenue component. Financial data is submitted to an independent accountant for analysis.

Three of the honorees are established direct selling firms, perennially ranked on DSN’s own Global 100, a list of the top companies in the channel by revenue. The fourth, at No. 49 on the Fast 50, is Lehi-based Xyngular, a health and wellness company founded in 2009. Xyngular’s network of nearly 33,000 distributors generated revenue of $49.7 million in 2015.

Another health and wellness company hailing from the Salt Lake City area, LifeVantage, leads the direct selling contingent on this year’s list. LifeVantage came in at No. 6, despite 2015 sales that fell 11 percent to $190 million. In a recent Top Desk feature, CEO Darren Jensen explained how the company is implementing new technologies and training to expedite the process of bringing new products to market.

Salt Lake City’s USANA and Provo’s Nu Skin also lead the state in growth. USANA, No. 38, has broken its own revenue records for 13 straight years. In 2015, the nutrition company recorded sales of $918 million. Nu Skin’s wellness and beauty offerings brought in $2.2 billion last year. The 32-year-old company ranked No. 42 on the Fast 50.

August 19, 2016

World News

Amway El Salvador Partners with Local NGO to Fight Malnutrition

Less than a year after bringing its Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign to El Salvador, Amway is providing critical nourishment to hundreds of children in the country.

The campaign to raise awareness of global malnutrition, and in particular the need for proper nutrition in the first five years of life, is one of Amway’s largest corporate social responsibility initiatives. It supports funding and distribution of Nutrilite Little Bits, a daily micronutrient supplement containing 15 essential vitamins and nutrients.

Around the world, Amway often partners with established local organizations to distribute Nutrilite Little Bits to those who need it most. In El Salvador, the company has teamed up with the Gloria de Kriete Foundation (GKF), which provides complementary education and health services in impoverished communities across the region.

“As we were looking to launch the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign here, we looked for a strong local partner, one that had a solid reputation and was well known in the community. GKF had just that!” said Cameron Juarez, Marketing Manager for Amway Central America.

Amway launched the initiative in El Salvador last October, and the company’s participation has helped to fill a gap in the services available through GKF. “The concept of a private company joining forces with an established social organization that has experience working with the mother-child duo, further consolidates the overall process in the fight against poverty,” said Celina de Kriete, the foundation’s Executive Director.

At this time, Amway’s strategic partnership in the country is supplying critical daily nourishment to more than 700 children, including 1-year-old Axel, who weighed in at just 19 pounds when he entered the program six months ago. The company reports that today Axel is a happier and more active child, and at 24 pounds is no longer showing symptoms of malnourishment or anemia.

August 19, 2016

World News

Natural Health Trends Celebrates 15th Anniversary in Hong Kong

Photo: Hong Kong skyline.

Natural Health Trends Corp. recently hosted more than 10,000 at a Hong Kong event celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary.

Over the past 15 years, California-based Natural Health Trends has logged a compound annual growth rate of 19 percent, but last year sales climbed 113 percent from the prior year, reaching a record $264.9 million. Hong Kong is the company’s primary market, accounting for about 90 percent of sales. Natural Health Trends sells beauty, personal-care and wellness products under the NHT Global brand.

During its anniversary celebration, held Aug. 13–14, the company unveiled three new additions to its wellness line, including OcuFocus, an eye health supplement; NaturalGlo, a vegan beverage promoting skin health; and FE Enzyme Toothpaste, a lysozyme-derived paste with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

“I would like to thank all of our members that attended the event to celebrate our 15th anniversary, as well as the thousands more who have spent the time and effort to enrich themselves and other members in their shared passion for wellness.” Chris Sharng, Natural Health Trends President, said in the company’s release.

The two-day event also included a charity auction to fund the company’s ongoing philanthropic projects. The fundraiser brought in more than $65,000 from members and guests in attendance.

August 18, 2016

U.S. News

Inc. 5000: Which Direct Selling Companies Made the Fastest-Growing List?

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. The list is published each September, and while a handful of direct selling companies consistently make the cut, results vary considerably from year to year as revenue ebbs and flows and new players enter the market.

Topping the 2016 list is Los Angeles-based Loot Crate, which sends a monthly themed mystery box of gadgets, art, apparel, and other items tailored to “geeks and gamers.” The company also produces supplemental content to foster the kind of community found at Comic Con and similar events.

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 whopping 791 percent revenue increase in the period, which was capped by 2015 sales of $1.09 billion. Also named one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling, Jeunesse expanded operations earlier this year with the opening of a second corporate office in the Salt Lake City area.

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. As shown in the table below, 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.


Jeunesse Global



Consumer Products & Services





Travel & Hospitality


Nerium International



Consumer Products & Services





Consumer Products & Services









Market America





Pure Romance



Consumer Products & Services

August 17, 2016

U.S. News

Morinda Celebrates 20 Years of Business with Local Service Project

Photo: Morinda delivers sensory exploration kits to Kids on the Move.

As part of the wellness company’s 20th anniversary celebration, Morinda recently held a service project to give back to the local community.

Morinda’s entire corporate staff took part in the project, which benefited three organizations serving Utah County, home to Morinda’s American Fork headquarters. The company’s past philanthropic work has taken place both within the community and around the world, particularly in Tahiti, where Morinda sources the noni fruit found in its top-selling Tahitian Noni product line.

“We’re proud to continue the tradition that Morinda has created over the last 20 years and do something to give back to other people,” said Jon Hallstrom, Morinda’s Senior Director of Sales.

To mark the two-decade milestone, Morinda employees donated more than 500 pounds of food to the Utah Community Action Food Bank. The nonprofit takes a two-step approach to ending local poverty, by first meeting the immediate needs of individuals and families, and then providing education and a support system to help them rebuild their lives.

“Food drives like this one are critical to our success as we help those in need meet their very basic needs,” said Grace Thomas, Community Action’s Communications Director. “We can’t do what we do without generous community members.”

The company also compiled 200 sensory exploration kits for Kids on the Move, a local organization serving children with special needs and their families. Services are tailored to children with developmental delays and autistic spectrum disorders, and those in low-income families.

The third organization selected by Morinda was the Boys & Girls Club of Utah County, which received 500 school supply kits and additional craft supplies. Boys & Girls Clubs of America is dedicated to helping young people realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. The kits will be distributed to underprivileged youth who participate in the club’s after-school programs and other initiatives.

August 17, 2016

World News

Oriflame Partners with IBM to Take IT and Finance Services Digital

Oriflame Holding AG has inked a seven-year deal outsourcing its IT and finance operational services to IBM, the beauty company announced Tuesday.

The partnership will enable 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.”

Over the course of the partnership, 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 for increased accuracy and efficiency. Switzerland-based Oriflame said it will continue 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.”

The partnership with IBM is slated to begin next month, with implementation across the entire Oriflame group by the end of 2017.

August 16, 2016

U.S. News

Origami Owl to Roll Out Dreamworks-Inspired Collections

Photo: Products 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.”

Though no specifics have been announced, the company said its agreement with Dreamworks is a long-term one. Following the launch of the Trolls Collection, Origami Owl customers can expect to see additional collections inspired by favorite franchises and characters.

August 15, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Adds Nature’s Pearl to Growing Direct Sales Platform

Photo: Muscadine grapes.

Youngevity on Monday announced the acquisition of Nature’s Pearl Corp., a grower, manufacturer and seller of Muscadine grape products primarily for the personal-care and nutrition categories.

Nature’s Pearl is Youngevity’s second acquisition in as many weeks, following a deal with Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands. The acquisition of Renew Interests expanded Youngevity’s nutrition, coffee, weight-loss, energy and skincare offerings.

In a statement announcing the most recent deal, 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. Nature’s Pearl has a database of 17,000 distributors and 45,000 customers across the U.S. and international markets. The company is on track to generate $9 million in annual revenue.

California-based Youngevity sells a wide range of nutrition, coffee and lifestyle products through its growing direct sales platform, described as a “network of networks.” The company’s vertically integrated coffee business also serves the commercial and retail channels.

“We are pleased and excited to acquire the assets of Nature’s Pearl, a company that brings an array of products based on the benefits of the Muscadine grape,” said Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity. “Upon closing and full integration on September 1, 2016, Youngevity will be the only direct selling company to offer Muscadine personal-care products to its distributors and customers.”

In recent studies conducted at Wake Forest School of Medicine, the Muscadine grape extract used by Nature’s Pearl was found to have significant anti-oxidative and immunity-boosting benefits. The research, made possible by a $20 million philanthropic grant, also showed that the extract provides critical support for heart and circulatory health. Muscadine grapes are grown exclusively in the American South.

August 15, 2016

World News

Nerium Set to Launch in Hong Kong in Q4

Nerium International, a maker of anti-aging skincare and nutrition products, recently announced plans to launch operations in Hong Kong in the fourth quarter.

The Dallas-area company has appointed Eris Ching as General Manager of the region, which will be served by an office in central Hong Kong. “Nerium’s leadership team looks forward to bringing our unique business model and revolutionary products to the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong as we continue to expand Nerium International into the Asia-Pacific market,” said Jeff Olson, Nerium Founder and CEO.

Nerium’s expansion strategy in 2016 is largely focused on the Asia Pacific region, which accounts for 46 percent of global direct sales, according to research from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. After launching last year in South Korea, its first Asia-Pacific market, the company expanded into Japan last month. Nerium has targeted the fourth quarter to commence operations in both Hong Kong and Australia.

The company said it initially will roll out four products in Hong Kong, namely its Optimera Formula Age-Defying Day Cream, Age-Defying Night Cream and Firming Body Contour Cream, as well as an Age-Defying Eye Serum.

August 12, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Posts Record Q2 Revenue amid Continued Acquisitions

Youngevity International Inc. (YGYI—OTCQX) on Thursday said revenue rose 10 percent to a record $42.5 million in the second quarter, compared to $38.7 million in the same period last year.

The California-based company sells a range of health, beauty, and home products through its direct selling division, which accounted for 87 percent of quarterly sales. Youngevity is also a producer of gourmet coffees sold through commercial, retail and direct selling channels.

Management said about 4 percent of revenue growth in the quarter resulted from new acquisitions, a strategy that continued earlier this week with the acquisition of Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands.

“While we intend to continue to expand our distributor base, we also intend to remain diligent in identifying additional products, either developed internally or through acquisitions, which quarter after quarter has proven to be an increasingly predictable and sustainable business model,” said Davie Briskie, Youngevity President and CFO.

In the quarter ended June 30, the company posted a loss of $109,000, compared with a year-ago loss of $408,000. Adjusted EBITDA was $2.6 million, compared to $3.3 million a year earlier. Gross profit rose 7 percent from the prior-year period to $25.4 million.

August 12, 2016

U.S. News

J.D. Power Study Names Ambit Energy 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.

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.

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.

Across the nine states included in the study, half of those J.D. Power labels delighted customers—with overall satisfaction scores of 900 or higher—say they “definitely will not” switch providers, as do 37 percent of pleased customers (750-899) and 25 percent of indifferent customers (550-749).

What would it take to win over the average customer? Those labeled indifferent said they would consider switching for a cost savings of $30 a month, while pleased customers would require $35 in monthly savings. Delighted customers are even more resistant, citing a level of $46 a month to consider switching.

August 12, 2016

World News

Herbalife to Sell Direct in Three More Chinese Provinces

Herbalife recently obtained three new direct selling licenses in China, giving the nutrition company the green light to expand operations in the country.

Due to strict regulations on direct selling activities, China’s Ministry of Commerce grants permits on a province-by-province basis, following a review of the applicant’s existing operations in the country. Herbalife is now licensed to do business in the provinces of Gansu, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, which have a combined population of 57 million.

The company has 300,000 service providers in China and licenses to operate in 25 other provinces. In the first half of 2016, Herbalife logged revenue of $459.9 million in China, making it the company’s second largest region behind North America.

“Our business continues to expand as more consumers see Herbalife as a trusted, convenient and accessible nutrition brand,” Herbalife’s Senior Vice President and Manager of China Operations, Jerry Li, said in a statement.

In July, Herbalife opened a new manufacturing facility in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, to meet growing demand in China. The 372,000-square-foot factory doubles Herbalife’s production capacity in the country to 60 million units annually.

August 11, 2016

U.S. News

Isagenix Raises $5 Million in 4 Years for Make-A-Wish

Photo: (left to right) Travis Garza, Isagenix Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, with wish recipient Jordyn, her parents, Don and Beverly, and Isagenix team member Elizabeth Martinsen, who lost her child to cancer.

During its 2016 Celebration event this week, health and wellness company Isagenix International raised more than $100,000 in support of charitable partner Make-A-Wish.

Associates who traveled to Las Vegas for Celebration experienced firsthand the work of Make-A-Wish, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. In what has become a tradition for the company, Isagenix featured one wish reveal live from stage, while raising funds for the nonprofit throughout the five-day event.

This year’s recipient was Jordyn, a 16-year-old diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. The teen’s longtime wish to travel to London and take in its culture and history was granted before an audience of more than 14,000. It is one of 580 wishes Isagenix has helped to grant through its partnership with Make-A-Wish.

“Isagenix customers and employees remain committed to positively impacting and improving world health through our support of Make-A-Wish, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy,” said Travis Garza, Isagenix Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.

The Arizona company has raised more than $5 million for Make-A-Wish since partnering with the charity in 2012. In 2013, Isagenix received Make-A-Wish America’s prestigious Cause Champion Award for its outstanding contributions.

August 10, 2016

U.S. News

Youngevity Acquires Renew Interests, Owner of SOZO and Integris

Youngevity International LLC on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Renew Interests LLC, which includes the SOZO Global and Integris brands.

California-based Youngevity sells a wide range of nutrition, coffee and lifestyle products through its growing direct sales platform, described as a “network of networks.” The company’s vertically integrated coffee business also serves the commercial and retail channels.

The addition of SOZO and Integris, part of Youngevity’s ongoing acquisition strategy, will expand both the company’s salesforce and its product offerings across the nutrition, coffee, weight-loss, energy and skincare categories.

“The brands we acquired in this transaction exceed our high and stringent quality standards,” said Steve Wallach, CEO of Youngevity. “I believe SOZO’s emphasis on the coffee berry as an ingredient will have particular appeal to our growing customer base.”

SOZO Global’s Co-Founder, President and CEO, Mark Adams, said Youngevity’s extensive product lines, business structure and support system, and experienced management team made joining forces an attractive proposition. “Our team at SOZO Global viewed the unique opportunity provided through Youngevity’s platform as an opportunity we could not pass up,” said Adams.

Founded in 2009, SOZO takes its name from a Greek term meaning health, rejuvenation and wholeness. The Austin, Texas-based company sells a range of wellness and personal-care products. Integris, launched in 1996, is a maker of health supplements and shakes formulated with natural ingredients.

August 10, 2016

World News

In Nepal, doTERRA Partners with CHOICE on Earthquake-Ready Schools

Photo: Nearly a year after the 2015 earthquake, rubble still fills the streets of Bhaktapur, Nepal.

Essential oil seller doTERRA International and CHOICE Humanitarian recently completed the first two earthquake-resilient schools in Nepal, after a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated the region last year.

In September 2015, doTERRA announced that it would team up with CHOICE to provide aid and create jobs for poverty-stricken communities in Nepal. The international nonprofit is dedicated to ending extreme poverty and improving quality of life through a self-developing, village-centered approach. In Nepal, that approach has included the construction of local schools. The first two, built in partnership with the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, are also the first in the country to comply with new structural regulations instituted by the Nepali government.

“Through the amazing generosity of our doTERRA Wellness Advocates and those working in Nepal, together we’ve been able to help families begin to reestablish themselves,” said Emily Wright, doTERRA Co-Founder and Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Something as simple as having a school to attend or a safe home makes all the difference. We are honored and happy to be able to play a part.”

In the past year, doTERRA and its Wellness Advocates have donated more than $636,000 to rebuilding efforts in Nepal. The company also has sent several groups to assist in projects CHOICE is orchestrating on the ground. On the manufacturing side, doTERRA is investing in some of the most affected regions of the country through Co-Impact Sourcing of its wintergreen essential oil. The company’s co-impact initiative is focused on forming long-term partnerships with small-scale growers and distillers to bring sustainable income to underdeveloped economies.

August 09, 2016

U.S. News

Primerica Reports Q2 Growth Boosted by Life Insurance

Primerica (NYSE: PRI) 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:

  • 14 percent boost in life insurance policies issues.
  • 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 sales force leaders delivered distribution growth and strong life insurance productivity in the second quarter,” Williams says.

Primerica’s investment and savings products (ISP) also performed well despite uncertainty in the market. ISP revenue dropped 2 percent to $132.7 million. Income before income taxes decreased 4 percent to $36.1 million compared to a year ago. These results show a 6 percent decline in product sales to $1.47 billion. The company says this is due to lower variable annuity sales.

August 09, 2016

U.S. News

Mannatech Reports Higher Sales, Net Loss in Second Quarter

Health firm Mannatech Inc. (MTEX—NASDAQ) reported higher second-quarter sales on the heels of a company rebranding that ushered in new products and systems.

The new look and feel helps position Mannatech as a compelling and relevant choice for today’s consumer, President and CEO Al Bala told DSN. “We deliberately and conscientiously decided to take our time and understand the new Mannatech and who we are today, versus who we’ve been for 21 years, because a lot of things have changed in the industry and in the wellness space in general.”

With the introduction of new offerings and tools at the start of the quarter, sales in the period were the highest the company has seen in seven quarters. Overall revenue was $48.8 million, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier. Notably, in Mannatech’s largest regions, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, net sales per active independent associate and member increased 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Markets outside the Americas accounted for approximately 61 percent of revenue.

For the quarter ended June 30, the Texas company posted a loss 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.

August 09, 2016

U.S. News

Nature’s Sunshine Reports Sales Up, Driven by Growth in Asia

Nature’s Sunshine Products Inc. (NATR—NASDAQ) on Monday reported 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.

Unfavorable currency exchange rates caused a negative impact of $1.3 million on net sales revenue. The company also saw sales decline in NSP Russia and its Central and Eastern European segments.

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 incremental net sales revenue increase of $4.4 million related to sales through Hong Kong.

Net income for the first six months of 2016 is $4.2 million or 24 cents per diluted common share.

Chairman and CEO Gregory Probert says, “Sustained local currency growth in both NSP United States and NSP Canada continues to reflect the strong foundation within our most mature markets and is a reflection of our high quality products and effective business model. The improvements we have put in place at Synergy WorldWide are delivering strong results across all geographical regions.”

Probert is optimistic about its new market opportunity in China and remains encouraged by the success of Nature’s Sunshine’s patent-pending IN.FORM weight-loss and daily habit of health program.

Nature’s Sunshine shares have risen 25 percent since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Monday, shares hit $12.66, a decrease of 2 percent in the last 12 months.

August 08, 2016

World News

Your Inspiration at Home Earns Top Honor at Fine Food Awards

Australia-based Your Inspiration at Home was voted best in show at the recent 2016 Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania Fine Food Awards.

The company’s spice blends, dip mixes and specialty oils and vinegars proved popular at the gourmet food competition, earning a total of 108 medals. “The third-party judging and award process is a fantastic way to showcase our commitment to the quality of our product range and our commitment to our global community,” said company Founder, CEO and Spice Curator, Colleen Walters.

Your Inspiration at Home launched in 2011 to bring unique international flavors to kitchens everywhere. The brand has since come under the umbrella of JRJR Networks and expanded its operations to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the U.S. and Canada. To date, the spice maker has collected 480 fine food awards, including 12 Champion and Reserve Champion awards for best in class.

In the most recent competition, the company’s Raspberry, Cranberry & Hibiscus Balsamic Vinegar was named Champion Savoury Preserve and awarded the Richard Langdon—Best Exhibit in Show trophy, beating out a pool of 1,415 entries for overall best product. Your Inspiration at Home’s Chinese Five Spice blend was also recognized as the overall Herb & Spice Category Reserve Champion.

August 08, 2016

U.S. News

Medifast Beats Earnings Expectations, Revises Outlook

Medifast Inc. (MED—NYSE) recently announced second-quarter earnings that beat expectations, despite narrowly missing on revenue.

The weight-loss firm, including its largest division, direct selling arm Take Shape For Life, posted quarterly earnings of 63 cents a share from continuing operations, topping the analyst consensus estimate of 51 cents. The bottom line reflects a $6.1 million non-cash asset impairment charge, resulting from the company’s decision to abandon software in development, after an analysis found lower-cost alternatives now on the market.

In the quarter ended June 30, Medifast’s strategy of better differentiating its business segments was a key performance driver, according to Chairman and CEO Michael MacDonald. At Take Shape For Life, that strategy brought about a company-wide rebranding, which will be phased in over the next year, and the rollout of exclusive products under the new Optavia brand.

Overall revenue was $71.14 million in the period, compared to the $72.01 million expected by analysts. Revenue was down 1.5 percent from a year earlier. In the Take Shape For Life unit, revenue rose 10 percent to $57.4 million, versus $52.3 million in the second quarter of 2015.

“In Take Shape For Life, we have built a strong foundation for continued success and are pleased with the double-digit revenue growth in this business unit in the second quarter, which was the highest level of year-over-year growth in three years,” said MacDonald.

Management’s full-year revenue guidance remains in the range of $275.0 million to $282.0 million. Taking into account the impairment charge, the company now expects per-share earnings of $1.38 to $1.43, compared to its previous outlook of $1.75 to $1.80.

August 05, 2016

U.S. News

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

Photo: 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.

Last year, the company ran similar cause marketing promotions in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Toys for Tots, generating nearly $400,000 in overall donations.

The Hoyt 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 our 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 Hoyts are proof that, with perseverance, belief and a strong support system, we can achieve incredible things,” said Paul Gravette, Co-Founder, Co-Owner and Co-CEO of Le-Vel. “On behalf of our employees, independent Brand Promoters and their customers, we’re honored to support Team Hoyt and the Hoyt Foundation in their tireless efforts to help the disabled and physically challenged live their lives to the fullest.”

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.

August 05, 2016

U.S. News

Nu Skin Announces Q2 Results, New Board Appointment

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. (NUS—NYSE) topped its own sales guidance with second-quarter revenue that climbed 7 percent, the beauty and wellness company said Thursday.

In the quarter ended June 30, the Utah company logged revenue of $600.5 million, surpassing its $560 million to $580 million forecast. Currency fluctuations negatively impacted sales by 10 percent.

Notably higher sales in the South Asia/Pacific and Greater China regions—up 36 percent and 18 percent, respectively—were offset by a 19 percent decline in the Americas. In its largest market, Greater China, the company also recorded 22 percent year-over-year growth in the size of its independent salesforce.

Earnings per share were 79 cents, cut 13 cents by currency exchange rates, but up from 75 cents a year earlier. The results were in line with analysts’ expectations, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. The company expects third quarter earnings of 80 to 84 cents a share.

“Our balance sheet continues to be strong, boosted by positive cash flow from operations for the quarter of $139 million, with continued improvements to our inventory balance,” said Truman Hunt, Nu Skin President and CEO. “Our cash balance includes approximately $200 million of proceeds from the recent investment by Ping An Securities during the second quarter, which we plan to deploy in repurchasing shares over the balance of the year.”

Following its recent investment deal with Ping An ZQ China Growth Ltd., Nu Skin also announced that it is adding one of the group’s representatives, Simon Shen, to its board of directors. Shen is a founding member of ZQ Capital Ltd., with a background in Asian capital markets and extensive experience in mainland China.

The company boosted its full-year revenue guidance to between $2.20 billion and $2.24 billion. Earnings per share are expected to fall in the range of $2.44 to $2.54, or $2.80 to $2.90 when excluding a non-cash Japan customs charge taken in the first quarter.

August 04, 2016

U.S. News

Herbalife Beats on Earnings, Boosts 2016 Guidance

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF—NYSE) boosted its guidance for the year in its latest earnings report, released late Wednesday and watched closely by investors following the nutrition company’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Results exceeded Wall Street estimates for the quarter ended June 30, just weeks before Herbalife announced a settlement with the FTC. The long-awaited deal concluded a U.S. probe into the company’s business practices that had stretched on for more than two years, following accusations by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman that Herbalife rewards distributors for recruiting new members rather than sales of its shakes and supplements. Ackman has backed his claims with large bets against the company’s stock.

In its complaint, the commission did not accuse Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme, and the company is able to continue its U.S. operations, with some new restrictions. Herbalife agreed to pay a $200 million judgment and implement various policy and procedural changes, including distinguishing between those who sign up to sell products and those who only wish to purchase products at a discount.

Additionally, to compensate distributors at current levels, at least 80 percent of Herbalife’s product sales must be to legitimate end-users, rather than for the distributor’s personal consumption.

Taking into account the impact of these changes, management expects full-year adjusted earnings of $4.50 to $4.80 a share, up from May guidance of $4.40 to $4.75.

The company recorded a second-quarter loss of $22.9 million, or 28 cents a share, including a $203 million charge related to regulatory settlements. Excluding items, earnings were $1.29 a share, up 4 percent from a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted $1.21 a share.

Overall sales rose 3 percent to $1.20 billion, in line with the $1.19 billion expected by analysts.

The company is developing new tools and apps to help distributors implement agreed-to changes within the 10 months provided by the FTC. During a call with investors, Chairman and CEO Michael Johnson said Herbalife will “likely roll out” many of the changes globally, once it has studied affects in the U.S.

August 03, 2016

World News

Avon Sees Higher Profit in Second Quarter

After spinning off its North America business in March, Avon Products Inc. (AVP—NYSE) began to improve its bottom line in the most recent quarter.

The beauty company is implementing a cost-cutting plan introduced in January that will include trimming its staff and supply chain and moving its headquarters to the United Kingdom. After three years, the plan is expected to save Avon $350 million a year before taxes.

In the quarter ended June 30, the company cleared a profit of $33 million, up from $28.8 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings slipped to 6 cents from 7 cents a year ago. On an adjusted basis, earnings were down from 9 cents a share to 7 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 2 cents a share.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $1.43 billion, beating the $1.41 billion predicted by analysts. 

Earlier this year, the beauty company inked a deal with Cerberus Capital Management LP for majority ownership of Avon’s domestic operations. Cerberus agreed to inject $435 million into the business, which it then took private as New Avon LLC, along with another $170 million investment in Avon Products.

Revenue was down across the company’s remaining segments, hurt by foreign exchange rates. Constant-dollar revenue was up in all segments except Asia Pacific, where the company logged a 5 percent decline.

“Our performance improvements were broad-base with nine of our top 10 markets growing in local currency,” said Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products. “We continue to make steady progress on a number of fronts: improving pricing discipline; driving additional cost out of the business; and continuing to build our brand and enhance the Representative experience,” said Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products.

Following Tuesday’s release, shares in Avon climbed as much as 21 percent to $5.04—the stock’s biggest intraday jump since Feb. 12. Ahead of the report, the shares were up 2.7 percent this year.

August 01, 2016

U.S. News

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 illness 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.”

The Ohio company introduced Girls Take Flight during Thirty-One Conference, an annual salesforce meeting held this month in Columbus, Ohio, and Salt Lake City. The event featured a keynote speech by New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews, who has championed the work of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Thirty-One tied its new initiative to the message of Andrews’ popular book, The Butterfly Effect, which explores the ripple effect of small decisions.

“At Nationwide Children’s, we strongly believe in the butterfly effect of small gestures helping families we may never meet,” said Jim Digan, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation President. “The generosity and advocacy of the independent sales consultants and customers will change lives for the better. We are humbled and honored to work with them on this vital mission.”

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.

August 01, 2016

Stock Watch

Stock Watch, August 2016

July 31, 2016

Company Spotlight

Embracing Optimal Wellness: The Evolution of Take Shape For Life

by Nicholas Sakelaris

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

Company Profile

Founded: 2003
Headquarters: Owings Mills, Maryland
Executives: Mona Ameli, President of Take Shape For Life
Products: Healthy meals, snacks, bars and products
2015 Revenue: $202 million

NameMona Ameli
NameMike MacDonald

Since 2003, the Owings Mill, Maryland company Take Shape For Life (TSFL) has been battling American obesity through the support and encouragement offered by its Health Coaches to Clients utilizing weight-loss plans and products provided by the parent company, Medifast.

But Mitch Pinheiro, a senior research analyst for the Tennesse-based investment firm Wunderlich, which follows the company, hasn’t felt that TSFL is fulfilling its potential. In a June interview, Pinheiro, who covers the consumer sector with an emphasis on consumer staples and health and wellness companies, says he’s taken a “cautious” approach to the company, saying something needs to change for the company to gain momentum. He cited the fact that most of the company’s products were also available elsewhere through the parent company Medifast, noting that this lack of exclusivity created challenges for the direct selling division.

Indeed, TSFL has been focused on the medical heritage of Medifast, and its 100-calorie, fortified meal replacement products, which are utilized in the weight-loss plans. But unbeknownst to Pinheiro, or anyone outside the organization for that matter, Mike MacDonald, the Chairman and CEO of Medifast, agreed.

He had felt for some time that TSFL—the direct selling division of publicly traded Medifast (MED: NYSE)—had more to offer, and has been working since 2014 to bring about the internal changes necessary. That year, he recruited Mona Ameli as President to lead Take Shape For Life. He also brought on board a brand strategist from the U.K. Together, the new team tackled the issues, and the resultant strategy emerged after two years of many planning sessions, working with top field leaders and much testing, both domestically and internationally.

MacDonald’s efforts are now coming to fruition. By the time this article goes to print, Take Shape For Life will have held its annual convention in Austin, Texas, and launched the beginning of a complete rebranding effort. MacDonald credits Ameli’s leadership and the input of top field leaders for much of the company’s success as it launches its new plans to the field. “The timing of all of it was very, very good,” MacDonald says. “We’ve been able to bring in a lot of new ideas and new thinking and some great product innovation.”

“For the past 13 years, our products have been available elsewhere. Now, we are finally able to be an exclusive brand, as well as be understandable and ‘exportable’ to the rest of the globe.”
—Mona Ameli, President

Optimal Well-Being

The company’s financials are already in good shape—revenue has gone up the past five quarters, Ameli says, and globally, the company ranked 66th on the 2016 Global 100 list by Direct Selling News. The rebranding effort is not about turning the company around. According to MacDonald, it’s about evolving the brand to better represent the inherent philosophy of TSFL, and provide the foundation for growth and expansion outside the U.S.

Ameli agrees: “We are positioning ourselves to tell the full story of our offering, shifting away from being a ‘diet’ company to being a lifestyle company. We are really interested in the optimal well-being of our Clients, not just in their weight loss.” 

The transformation is beginning with a product line introduction at Annual Convention that will carry the new name Optavia™, pronounced opta-via and meaning “the optimal way” in Latin, and the new logo instead of the Medifast name. Both the name and logo were market tested extensively internally and externally, as well as domestically and internationally before adoption. The line includes 13 brand-new products made with premium ingredients sourced from around the globe. Each product is non-GMO, contains no artificial ingredients and includes a probiotic blend. All of the products in the Optavia™ line work within Take Shape For Life’s established weight-loss plans.

TextMona Ameli (center) at the TSFL National Convention in 2015 with Field Leader and Integrated Presidential Director Dan Bell (left) and Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, Co-Founder, Field Leader and Integrated Presidential Director.

Over the next year, the company will add more exclusive health products with the same nutritional profile as the Optavia™ launch. Existing products will be upgraded to the new standard set by Optavia™, and by convention in July 2017 the entire company will transfer over to the new branding and name. Take Shape For Life will fully evolve to become Optavia™.

One of the most obvious benefits to the new branding is that TSFL can become independent of its parent company and operate as its own entity, offering exclusive products. Ameli says, “For the past 13 years, our products have been available elsewhere. Now, we are finally able to be an exclusive brand, as well as be understandable and ‘exportable’ to the rest of the globe.”

The company has been adding new employees in anticipation of the changes, doubling their headcount since 2014. Ameli has even added a brand-new division called Field First Support, exclusively dedicated to the Health Coaches. Though most direct selling companies have support services for their field, TSFL only had support for end Clients. The Health Coaches felt neglected.

The rebranding effort is not about turning the company around. It’s about evolving the brand to better represent the inherent philosophy of TSFL, and provide the foundation for growth and expansion outside the U.S.

“Through ongoing trust-building and team building, such as incorporating the field in key decisions like the rebranding effort, we’ve helped re-ignite their engagement level and excitement about our future. We’ve also begun focusing more intently on supporting the Health Coach and not just the Client. The result is evidenced in the growth over the past 18 months after many years of low growth or decline,” says Ameli. Since Ameli’s arrival, the profit levels at TSFL are the highest they have ever been.

And the company plans to keep hiring. “We want to bring in people here who can help execute the programs that support what we want to do,” MacDonald says.

The Health Coach Advantage

The weight-loss industry is ultra-competitive, with many companies offering products and systems. Pinheiro pointed out several things that Take Shape For Life has done to stand out, starting with the Health Coaches.

“We believe Take Shape For Life has an advantage with the one-on-one coaching,” Pinheiro says. “There’s a relationship between the Health Coach and their customers. In the last year, they focused on helping the Health Coaches build the business. There’s a huge number of people who need to lose weight who would be perfect for Take Shape For Life.”

“It’s much better than seeing it on a billboard or seeing an ad in a magazine,” Pinheiro says. “You’re a walking billboard. When you see results face to face or with a social acquaintance, they say ‘I’m a Health Coach. I’ll show you how I did it.’ That’s how Take Shape For Life can actually work.”


Ameli wholeheartedly agrees with this assessment, and believes that the transition to Optavia™ will open even more doors, since the new branding is broader than weight loss. “Yes, we’ve been growing,” she says, “But in order to tap into the full potential of what we have to offer, we needed a brand that represented all aspects of TSFL, which is really the total well-being of a person and the connection to serving the community.”

Optavia™ will emphasize the four main components of the business model:

  • A Health Coach who has often gone through a similar health journey and provides information, support and accountability for the Client. “They help the client to achieve the ideal goal,” Ameli says.
  • The Habits of Health System that helps permanently change a person’s habits so the journey towards health will be sustainable. This systematic approach was developed by TSFL’s Co-Founder, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen. “It’s really teaching you through the Health Coach about the habits of health, the right behaviors, the shifts of how to stay healthy long-term,” Ameli says.
  • A community that celebrates success and creates a bond between like-minded people through the support of a mission-driven mindset.
  • The products, called Fuelings, that provide a balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, sugar and other elements that are a catalyst to weight loss. The Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan guides people through what to eat and offers five meal replacements per day. There’s also a lean and green meal that people prepare themselves. 

A Different Approach

Even under the Take Shape For Life name, this company has never been conventional in its business model or approach. Most direct sales companies offer wholesale pricing to their distributors, who then resell the products at retail. This has proven to be an attractive model, but it’s not the way Take Shape For Life is set up. Here, there is no wholesale discount and everyone pays the same price; no one signs up as a Health Coach only to receive a discount. As a result, the 12,600 active Health Coaches are very mission-driven.

“The majority of our sales are coming from end Clients,” Ameli says. “Though you can be a Health Coach and still use the products. In fact, a lot of them started out as Clients. They experienced results, and they really liked the community and decided to pay it forward by helping other people.”

This approach has helped Take Shape For Life stand out since it started in 2003, Ameli says. She adds that it’s especially important when federal regulators take a closer look at the direct sales channel as a whole, preferring to see a sharp line between customers and distributors. “The biggest scrutiny that comes to our network is people saying distributors are your consumers,” Ameli says. “We are completely at the different end of the spectrum. It stands out in a very crowded and a little bit of a controversial space currently to the public eyes, where people wonder whether this is the public company to join.”

Small Company Feel

Though Medifast is a giant company, with Take Shape For Life being the biggest part of that, MacDonald says they have kept that “small company” mentality.

“You’re able to join a family company that is a public company on the New York Stock Exchange but still has kept the values of being a family company focused on integrity, transparency and loyalty, which is extremely appealing,” MacDonald says.

Ameli adds that the executive team works really hard to stay involved with the employees on a day-to-day basis, fighting against the tendency to work in silos. She also says that MacDonald’s management style is based on interaction and engagement of all employees, regardless of rank. As a result, employees at the lowest level feel that they have a voice and that their input matters to the executive team. Ameli says, “Many of our employees are also parents, and we incorporate flexibility into their schedules. They know we care not just about them and their work, but also about their overall well-being and families.”

Complete Transformation

The company transformation process will be complete at Annual Convention 2017 as Take Shape For Life evolves to Optavia™ in every aspect of its being. MacDonald emphasizes that the company itself has been on a journey similar to what Clients and Health Coaches go through—learning from their experiences and making adjustments along the way, always striving for improvement.

“We see this as being the biggest, most important event that we’ve had in my five years of running the company,” MacDonald says. “We’re going down a common path to improve the health of people here and around the world. This whole new branding is really designed to demonstrate who we are, what we stand for and the difference we want to make in people’s lives, here in the U.S., and soon around the world.”

July 31, 2016

Company Focus

SeneGence International: Company Takes Village Approach to Help Women Grow Abundantly

by J.M. Emmert

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

Company Profile

Founded: 1999
Headquarters: Irvine, California
Top Executive: Joni Rogers-Kante, Founder and CEO
Products: Skincare, anti-aging, cosmetics, body care

nameJoni Rogers-Kante

Joni Rogers-Kante lives an intentional life. Her resolve to do so happened upon her by accident—literally. As a small girl growing up in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Rogers-Kante’s adolescent sense of adventure and lack of regard for boundaries caused her to nearly lose her life. While riding her bicycle in front of her family home, she was struck by a pickup truck. What she remembers of that accident is not an “out-of-body” experience but rather an intense feeling of being enveloped by warm, comforting light and a clear voice telling her that it was not her time to leave—that she had much work yet to do.

“From that moment on, I was aware that I was put on this earth for a specific purpose still unknown,” Rogers-Kante says. “I started to live intentionally and took up a sense of fearlessness in everything I set out to do. I knew because I was given that confidence from God that I could—and would—accomplish the feat of which I was destined. I had Him guiding me in everything that I did, and I didn’t waste one single day.”

That destiny would slowly reveal itself through direct selling, and today, that fearlessness helps Rogers-Kante lead the beauty and cosmetics company SeneGence International. “I know that it is my purpose in life to offer products and a career that really works to women all over the world, using this mission as a tool to give women confidence, security and abundance for themselves and their loved ones,” says Rogers-Kante. “That sense of purpose and determination has shaped the person I’ve become and also the mission of SeneGence.”

No Limit to Aspirations

What also helped to shape both Rogers-Kante and SeneGence was a relationship with one of direct selling’s icons: Mary Kay Ash. “She was my first business mentor, outside of my family,” says Rogers-Kante. “The way she approached entrepreneurship resonated with me. Mary Kay always looked for the good in people and encouraged her mighty salesforce to do the same, instead of prejudging their limitations.”

This approach was different from what Rogers-Kante had experienced in the corporate world, and because of the insight into the business model from Mary Kay, she realized direct sales was the industry that could actually make a direct impact on the lives of independent contractors. “I found a calling to help teach women how to run a successful business from home while caring for their family,” she says. “Mary Kay exemplified how a strong and determined woman could lead in a loving way, leaving a positive footprint of changing lives for the betterment of society. I found that to be irresistible.”

TextJoni Rogers-Kante hands out treats and toys to excited school children living on the islands of Vanuatu, where SeneGence sources ingredients for its products. The Make Sense Foundation is actively helping to rebuild their schoolhouse, which was destroyed by Cyclone Pam in 2015.

Rogers-Kante started SeneGence in 1999 with LipSense® Liquid Lip Color as its leading product. Currently the company has more than 300 products and accessory items in its SeneGence line—SeneDerm® anti-aging skincare, SeneDerm Solutions™ specialized treatment products and SenseCosmetics® patented, long-lasting color cosmetics—and primarily operates in the United States, Canada and Australia with a presence in 13 additional countries.

The growth of the company has shown Rogers-Kante not only that the business model works, but something even more important, and that is that women everywhere have the same desires. “I have been privileged to meet women from all corners of the globe,” she says. “These interactions have, of course, shown me the wide range of beautiful diversity in the world, but, most importantly, have shown me that women around the world aren’t so very different from each other after all. All women want a fulfilling life, whether that means a booming career, a happy and healthy family, a rich social life or all of the above. No matter from which country, women want to feel welcomed and accepted and work in a safe and loving environment where they are free to learn new skills that directly impact the well-being of their family. In this, we all speak the same language.”

SeneGence offers that business opportunity to women regardless of their educational background or their skills. It also offers a work-life balance that Rogers-Kante feels is critically important. “Gone are the days when women have to choose whether to have a successful, active career or a family,” she says. “Today’s woman does not limit her goals or her aspirations. I know she can achieve it all given the right opportunity. With direct sales, her life and her business understand each other, blend together and work hand in hand to accommodate the achievement of her goals. It’s amazing to think the busier a mom and her children are the more successful a woman can be simply because of ‘exposure’ to others that help support local entrepreneurs.”

“I know that it is my purpose in life to offer products and a career that really works to women all over the world, using this mission as a tool to give women confidence, security and abundance for themselves and their loved ones.”
—Joni Rogers-Kante, Founder and CEO

A Record-Breaking Year

The SeneGence opportunity has touched many across the globe and the company has experienced more than 100 percent sales growth year over year in each of the past three years. In fact, 2015 was a record-breaking year, with positive growth in both sales and sponsoring in all the countries in which it operates. 
However, SeneGence has had its share of ups and downs over the years, as all companies do. “Consistency has been one of the biggest contributing factors to our growth,” she says. “We have stayed true to and focused on our vision and mission and have never wavered from the original intention of SeneGence: to make a difference in the lives of women around the world sharing products that really work though a career opportunity that really works.”

To ensure a sustainable and secure financial base, the company has been very conservative in overhead through the years and has accomplished its goals with a skilled and versatile staff of less than 100. This has enabled the company to direct its focus on connecting with the field in the most personal manner possible. “Whether it is a local training event, a note from me or a phone call, we strive every day to make each distributor, employee, vendor, supplier, service provider, fulfillment worker, manufacturing personnel or anyone who is a part of this company feel appreciated and valued,” says Rogers-Kante.

Joni Rogers-Kante started SeneGence in 1999 with LipSense® Liquid Lip Color as its leading product. Currently the company has more than 300 products and accessory items in its SeneGence line and primarily operates in the United States, Canada and Australia with a presence in 13 additional countries.

Of course, growing a company does come with its challenges, and for SeneGence one of the major issues it has faced is its facilities. The company has outgrown its current office, pick and pack, warehouse and manufacturing space and is currently planning on moving into a new—and much larger at 50,000 square feet—space this fall. “This will be our third move to increase footage to date,” says Rogers-Kante. “It’s a daily challenge, from our corporate team doubling up in offices to our warehouse team adding extra shifts. We also had to overcome some out of stock product issues due to our amazing growth in order volume. All the growing pains allow us to constantly learn and find ways to better our branding, our marketing and our product offerings to continue to be a premier global skincare and cosmetics company.”

Growing the Distributor Base

Steady growth also has occurred in the number of independent distributors who have joined the company. With distributors already totaling tens of thousands, SeneGence has been successful in attracting new distributors through social media and the old-fashioned way—face to face.
“We have a wonderful ‘Wowing’ technique that our distributors have perfected, called showing their ‘stripes,’ ” says Rogers-Kante. “This is where they paint a line of our waterproof LipSense long-wearing color on their hands and then go about their day, constantly attracting attention and inquiries as to what is on their hand. When a distributor shows the interested party that the product does not budge when rubbing her hand, invariably the interested party says ‘Wow,’ no matter what language.”

2015 was a record-breaking year for the company, with positive growth in both sales and sponsoring in all the countries in which it operates.

While the “Wowing” technique has opened many doors to conversations about SeneGence’s products and career opportunity, the company also has started visiting areas where the growth has occurred to further increase distributor interest. “We study our demographic trends across the countries and take corporate-sponsored events or training to where they are needed most,” Rogers-Kante says. “This allows us to touch many new distributors and engage them in a way that is enduring. As well, our fabulous team of field leaders has organized a well-thought-out plan of informative and motivational training to support ongoing growth throughout each country.”

That training includes weekly interactive webinars hosted by an executive team member or a field leader distributor, as well as regular regional trainings and corporate-sponsored quarterly events, and each focuses on a different facet of business, from cosmetics application to social media, branding, managing people, and even etiquette training and public speaking. “We think it’s important to offer training in a wide variety of areas so that each leader feels more confident as her role in a leadership position takes on more notoriety and responsibilities that come with that,” says Rogers-Kante. “We always include recognition anywhere we can, as we believe that is a vital element to both our success and the individual distributor’s success.”

“No matter from which country, women want to feel welcomed and accepted and work in a safe and loving environment where they are free to learn new skills that directly impact the well-being of their family. In this, we all speak the same language.”
—Joni Rogers-Kante

Respect for the Global Community

In addition to supporting distributors to achieve financial success, SeneGence also has a mission to support the global community at large. Community responsibility is one of the core foundations of SeneGence and an integral part of the corporate culture. The sense of responsibility and care for others is reflected in the support given to charities in the distributors’ local communities as well as the international communities in which the company operates or gathers its natural ingredients.

Rogers-Kante founded the Make Sense Foundation™ (MSF) in 2002 to assist women and children in need, and the Foundation’s giving has expanded to include the American Breast Cancer Foundation, Oklahoma Tornado Relief, American Red Cross, CASA, CHOC, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Working Wardrobes, Laura’s House, Christopher’s Clubhouse, Walter Hoving Home and many more. The Foundation also held its first fundraising drive for a college scholarship for young women entering higher education this year. The goal was $10,000 and more than $25,000 was raised, allowing the Foundation to share the funds among multiple well-deserving young women in need, all of whom will attend college this fall through support from MSF.

Joni Rogers-Kante founded the Make Sense Foundation™ (MSF) in 2002 to assist women and children in need, and the Foundation’s giving has expanded to include the American Breast Cancer Foundation, Oklahoma Tornado Relief and Make-A-Wish Foundation, among others.

Tiana B., this year’s first place recipient of a MSF scholarship, says that by receiving the financial assistance, she was motivated even further to reach for her own personal goals, no matter life’s challenges. “As an African-American woman who comes from a low socio-economic area, entering college with the intentions of attaining a mechanical engineering degree, it moves me greatly to know that I have selfless, caring women who support my dreams and aspirations.”

Rogers-Kante adds, “Over the years, through distributor and employee donations and fundraisers, the MSF has been able to give to dozens of charities around the country, many of which were nominated by our distributors. It has been amazing watching our distributors give back to their communities and seeing the way real change is effected through their efforts with the MSF.”

Additionally, the company’s Partner-for-Profits program offers opportunities for distributors to raise even more money for charities. As they take orders, their “partner” in the order (business manager, hostess, or other figure coordinating a group) can then earn a portion of the order total back in profit, in free product or as a donation to the charity of their choice.

While local and national support is a priority, SeneGence also assists the international community. One example of the company’s worldwide efforts is in the Vanuatu string of islands in the South Pacific, where SeneGence responsibly gathers many beneficial botanicals and minerals for its SeneDerm SkinCare. The MSF has come to the aid of islanders several times over the past few years, including fundraising efforts to help with the aftereffects of Cyclone Pam, which devastated the area last year. “It is a precious place to us, and the people who call it home are even more precious to us,” says Rogers-Kante. “Throughout the years, Vanuatu has experienced some natural disasters that have left its people in need. Through the MSF, we have been able to help rebuild village schoolhouses and donate goods to support our Vanuatuan friends.”

Living and Working Intentionally

Leading a growing company and supporting numerous charities can—and is—a full-time challenge. If you are going to remain sane and maintain a happy family while operating a successful business, says Rogers-Kante, the key is to master the skill of carefully planning personal and business time. She does this by blocking her time in a balanced manner and then respecting and following through with the commitments she makes at work and at home. “The real key for me and my family is to include them in business activities whenever possible,” she says. “That way we work, play and travel together.”

“One thing I know to be absolutely true is that it takes a village, both at home and in business.”
—Joni Rogers-Kante

True to those early years when she promised herself to live intentionally, Rogers-Kante makes the most out of every second in the day. Whether it is play dates with her youngest son, William, or quality time spent with her oldest, Alan, or when riding in the car to a distributor training event, she takes advantage of every bit of time to make calls, scan social media channels, talk to the product development team, attend to emails or read the next book during flights.

“One thing I know to be absolutely true is that it takes a village, both at home and in business,” she says. “My hardworking, amazingly versatile, responsible, talented and dedicated staff and incredibly supportive family keep the wheels turning.”

July 31, 2016

Company Focus

Boisset Collection: Mixing the Wine Business with Passion for Life

by Heather Martin

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

Company Profile

Founded: 2012
Headquarters: St. Helena, California
Top Executive: Jean-Charles Boisset, Owner and Co-Founder
Products: Wine, gifts and accessories

nameJean-Charles Boisset
nameMelissa Lynch

Jean-Charles Boisset talks about wine the way most people talk about love.

“Wine is magical,” he says. “It’s a beautiful gift that Mother Nature has granted to us.”

Boisset owns Boisset Collection, a family of wineries in France and Napa Valley, California, that also operates a growing direct sales channel. But wine is so much more than a business for Boisset. For him, wine transcends the grape and the glass—wine is a life changer. And that’s exactly what the Boisset Independent Ambassador program is all about, say Boisset and the program’s Co-Founder and National Director, Melissa Lynch: changing people’s lives by giving them a chance to be financially independent and discover the world of wine in the process.

Boisset might be as zealous about direct selling as he is about wine. “It’s the most exciting thing I’ve personally ever done,” he says of the program, now in its fourth year. “There’s no other model that allows you to have a limitless amount of people energized by what you do.”

Lynch says Boisset’s energy for this venture is palpable. “He’s the No. 1 recruiter we have,” she says. “When you can get him in front of a room, he moves everybody to want to do better.”

The Ambassador program is still in its infancy and, as a private company, Boisset Collection doesn’t publicly share sales information. But Boisset says the program is doubling its revenue every year and has enrolled more than 1,800 Ambassadors to market and sell Boisset Collection wines. As is the case for many executives in direct sales, the people numbers are the numbers that matter most to Boisset.

“Our profit is secondary,” he says. “There’s no rush. There’s no ultimatum. There’s no quarterly insane results necessary.”

“Wine is magical. It’s a beautiful gift that Mother Nature has granted to us.”
—Jean-Charles Boisset, Owner and Co-Founder

Boisset says the program, which launched in 2012, accounts for a very small percentage of revenue at his wineries, which also distribute to retail locations and restaurants. But it is the fastest-growing percentage, he says. The Ambassador program also has created more brand awareness for the overall company, and Boisset says he is confident that over the next several years, he will see a return.

If recent wine sales in the United States are any indication, the market does seem ripe for a direct wine sales channel. According to Wines & Vines, a publication that tracks the players in and the health of the wine industry, overall wine sales in the United States totaled $38 billion in 2015. This is an increase of about $1 billion a year, or an average of 3 percent annually, based on total nationwide wine sales of $34.6 billion in 2012, as reported by the Wine Institute. Perhaps more compelling, though, is the growth in direct-to-consumer shipments—the way Ambassador program customers receive their wine. According to Wines & Vines, the retail value of such shipments was $2 billion in 2015, an increase of 34 percent over 2012.

Boisset’s Ambassador program also may benefit from the fact that direct selling for wine companies is still a relatively new concept—and the space isn’t very crowded. Only three other similar companies appear in a list of top Google search results.

Historic image of the harvest at Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, California. It is the oldest commercial winery in the state and was founded in 1857.

Heirloom Vines

Boisset says he’s been intrigued by the idea of social selling since he was a teenager in his native Burgundy, France. In the 1960s and 1970s, he watched his parents and grandparents grow the family vineyards while cultivating a community of people to share in their passion for wine and for the personal connections they believed it could create.


“People would come to our dining room, and my mother would serve glasses of wine to people from all walks of life,” Boisset says. And then his grandfather would write hundreds of letters to the people who had tasted the family’s wines, saying things like, “It was a pleasure to meet you—we have a new wine coming up and you may want to try it.” Boisset says that even at age 6 or 7, he was drawn to his family’s way of blending business and personal relationships. “I was doing my homework at the table and seeing them sending their letters and building their clubs. I think it was really magical.”

Now, decades later, Boisset sees the entire Ambassador community as a scalable version of those family gatherings around the dining room table. An Ambassador shares wines at what the company describes as “intimate home-tasting experiences,” introducing guests to small-production wines priced at $25 and up, most of which are made in such limited quantities that they are sold only in tasting rooms or through a Boisset Ambassador. The goal of the Ambassador program is to give anyone a chance to access these wines, even if they can’t travel all the way to Napa, Sonoma or Burgundy, Boisset says. “We bring the tasting room experience to them in a social, engaging and comfortable environment.”

This accessibility can be rare in the wine industry, Boisset continues. “The wine world is often a very opaque, intimidating world,” he says. “No one should be intimidated by wine.”

The chance to demystify and break down barriers to wine were major motivators for Lynch to work with Boisset on this initiative, she says. “We’re reaching a whole new demographic of people we haven’t been able to reach before and are helping other people be successful.”

“We’re reaching a whole new demographic of people we haven’t been able to reach before and are helping other people be successful.”
—Melissa Lynch, Co-Founder and National Director

Prior to joining Boisset, Lynch had been in the wine business for more than 15 years, having co-founded another direct selling company, so she was familiar with the mechanics of selling wine this way. One of the things she loves about the Boisset direct selling program is that the Ambassadors can visit the wineries and meet the growers who are tending the vines. “It’s an authentic experience,” she says.

A World of Opportunity

While Ambassadors do come from various backgrounds, Boisset says 80 percent of Ambassadors are women in their 30s, 40s or 50s who have children and a wide network of friends and family and want to work part time. Some men have joined the program, too—often teaming up with their wives—as a supplement to another direct selling venture they’re running, he says. An Ambassador home-tasting party will generate between $750 and $1,000 in sales—with some higher-performing Ambassadors booking as much as $3,000 on average, Boisset says. As with many direct selling businesses, Ambassadors earn a commission on those sales and also can earn commission on sales made by Ambassadors they recruit.

Some Ambassadors do book very large orders because they have a network of high-income contacts looking for high-dollar wines, in the $300, $400 or even $500 per bottle range. One California Ambassador in particular has organized wine events for such A-list tasters as Sharon Osbourne, Pharrel Williams and pre-Oscar partygoers. “We have some people in Texas with incredible networks, too,” Lynch says, noting that there was a tasting in Texas that booked more than $40,000 in sales in one night. “We have people blowing the doors off.”

TextJean-Charles Boisset celebrates with the company’s Ambassadors.

The company also sees opportunity to target event planners and caterers, who would have substantial built-in customer bases. Continued geographic expansion is on the radar, as well. About 60 percent of the company’s Ambassadors are in California—which is 20 percent less concentrated than in 2013. And Boisset ships directly to about 30 states, not including those that still prohibit interstate wine shipments. Lynch says that laws are changing all the time, though, and she sees the Midwest and East Coast as the next big frontiers for the channel.

Wherever they are based, most Ambassadors begin modestly—in network and in knowledge. Beginner Ambassadors usually know nothing about wine when they start, Boisset says, and they don’t have to become sommeliers to be successful. But the company does support its associates with training—not just on how to run a tasting but on how to discuss such things as wine and food pairings and the chemistry of wine, Lynch explains.

Ambassadors also connect with Boisset himself on regular conference calls, and they come to the Napa Valley for retreats once a year to share best practices, visit the wineries and learn the stories behind the wines they will introduce to guests. Sharing these stories about the wines is an important part of the Ambassador experience, Boisset says, because they reveal the traditions behind and the history of the wineries as well as highlight the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability—which includes such things as organic farming methods and solar-powered vineyard operations.

A related and promising revenue stream for Boisset Collection is the Circle of Boisset Wine Club, Lynch says. Since the direct selling channel launched, more than 3,000 people have joined the club, and Boisset is preparing to increase the frequency of shipments, which is only quarterly right now.

Generations of Commitment

Boisset’s passion for wine and direct selling seems matched only by his passion for family and for keeping the Boisset collection of vineyards close to home. He visits his parents, who are now in their 70s, regularly in France and is still very close to his grandmother, who is 103. He hopes that his twin 5-year-old daughters will feel that deep connection to family and to wine when they grow up and will want to manage the business. At the very least, he’s made sure they will inherit everything he and his family have built. “We have vineyards which are so spectacular, I would not want them to part ways with them,” he says. For Boisset, wine makes his living, but it also makes his life. And when he sees investors jumping in and out of the industry, hoping for short-term gain, he just sits back and watches.

“Good for them,” Boisset says, with a wink in his voice. “At the same time, I’m smiling because I know where we’re going. I’m going to keep building and building, and it’s going to keep getting stronger. You cash in and for what? You go to the beach? That’s not going to happen.”

He says his focus is on continuing to create great wine and grow opportunities for more and more people to join him on what he says is the best journey someone can take.

“The wine world is often a very opaque, intimidating world. No one should be intimidated by wine.”
—Jean-Charles Boisset

While Boisset prefers not to share revenue projections, he says he would like to enroll as many as 8,000 Ambassadors, which is more than quadruple the number on board right now. He’s looking for people who see wine like he does, as kind of an existential portal. “The Ambassador program helps you discover yourself. It’s the future to anyone who wants to be connected with the essence, the source of anything we do in life.”

July 31, 2016

Working Smart

5 Ways Third-Party APIs Are Reshaping the Direct Selling Industry

by Bill Crowley

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

Over the past decade, rapid developments in technology have fundamentally changed how direct selling organizations operate. From mobile apps to social media, digital tools have given companies new ways to connect with their customers and deliver better experiences to their distributors. But there’s one particular area of technological advancement that has yet to receive the attention it deserves from the direct selling community: It’s the API, and it’s going to change the way your direct selling organization does business.

Application programming interfaces, better known as APIs, are essentially sets of rules and protocols that dictate how one piece of software can communicate with another. APIs are the interface by which one program can command another to perform specific tasks, exposing pieces of its functionality for use by other applications. In itself that’s not particularly interesting, but new developments in cloud computing have made these connections between applications faster and easier to implement—and now they’re taking the tech world by storm.

Recently, a number of big-name platform providers like Facebook and Uber have exposed their APIs to the public, opening the doors for developers to plug their functionality into both new and existing applications. Think about the apps on your smartphone. Many have social media integration through Facebook and Twitter APIs. This makes it easy and seamless for you, as a user, to follow social feeds and share content to your profile without switching between apps. Other apps have integrated the Google Maps API to help users locate nearby restaurants, or use the Google Calendar API to quickly record event information to your Google account. Because developers don’t have to spend time building these services themselves, they’re able to deliver highly functional and frictionless experiences within their mobile apps in a fraction of the time it would have previously taken.

Recently, a number of big-name platform providers like Facebook and Uber have exposed their APIs to the public, opening the doors for developers to plug their functionality into both new and existing applications.

Enterprise APIs Are on the Rise

Of course, the trend toward APIs isn’t limited to social media and selfie sharing. A growing number of enterprise software systems are now seamlessly “talking” to each other through API calls and modular integrations. The motivation is simple: Developers have realized that much of the functionality they thought they needed to build into their software and/or apps is redundant as a result of what’s already been developed by other companies. Rather than reinventing the wheel, these companies are choosing to partner, tying into the pre-existing functionality they need through open and accessible APIs.

This shift is hitting many industries, and direct selling is no exception. Consider all of the behind-the-scenes operations and functions that are vital to keeping a direct selling organization on its feet: customer relationship management, enrollment, order processing and tracking, lineage management, reporting, inventory management, inbound payments, commission payouts, data analysis—it goes on and on. Traditionally, direct selling companies have had to tackle these processes on their own or rely on a collection of third-party software systems. Now they have another option: API integrations.

But why should companies opt for APIs over their existing software solutions? Below are five huge benefits of third-party APIs to direct selling organizations like yours.

No. 1: An Integrated Ecosystem

Given all of the operational processes listed above, it’s not surprising that companies often need to redirect their distributors outside of the corporate ecosystem to perform certain functions through a third-party provider. For instance, a direct selling organization might outsource their commission payments to a payments provider that only allows distributors to change their account settings or manage their earnings through a separate online portal. Some companies may not see that as an issue; others, though, will feel that it impedes distributor efficiency and ultimately dilutes the brand.

With API technology, companies can pull that kind of third-party functionality into their own application. In the above example, rather than sending distributors to a separate online portal or app environment, the direct selling organization could integrate third-party payment technology directly into their native application, allowing users to collect their commissions without ever leaving the app. Before API connectivity, the company would have had to build all of this payment functionality in-house. Now, direct selling companies can simply integrate with their commission payment provider’s APIs to create an integrated ecosystem within their application. As a result, distributors can easily manage their earnings without ever leaving the company’s digital space, providing a more fluid and efficient independent business experience.

No. 2: Improved Functionality

Third-party APIs give direct selling companies access to a far broader range of functionality than traditional software solutions. To give an idea, ProgrammableWeb maintains a repository of more than 15,000 APIs that are available to developers, including thousands categorized for enterprise users. Rather than settling just for the functionality available through rigid enterprise software, savvy direct selling companies can integrate unique capabilities into their applications through third-party APIs.

Third-party APIs give direct selling companies access to a far broader range of functionality than traditional software solutions.

No. 3: Fast and Flexible Implementation

Traditional enterprise software systems come with a unique set of challenges. For one, introducing them into a direct selling business is often an ordeal, as the company will need to migrate existing operations and processes onto a new platform. Secondly, customizing these out-of-the-box solutions to suit an organization’s unique needs is extremely difficult—if not outright impossible—meaning that companies often end up paying for functionality that they have no use for.

API technology alleviates both of these issues. Once a direct selling platform is equipped to connect with APIs, adding and removing functionality requires minimal effort. And because API-based SaaS (Software as a Service) suppliers typically break their functionality into smaller microservices, companies can integrate just the functionality that they actually need.

No. 4: Reduced Compliance Risks

When direct selling companies keep certain operational processes in-house, it can expose them to unnecessary administrative and security challenges. To draw on an earlier example, consider the process of commission payments, which—in order to conform with compliance regulations—requires that direct selling organizations store sensitive distributor information: Social Security numbers, banking information, and so on. Of course, handling this data requires that companies take the necessary security precautions to mitigate the associated risks. In contrast, API integration allows direct selling organizations to host these processes in their digital ecosystem without ever handling certain sensitive information—it can be routed to, and managed by, the appropriate third-party provider.

Tremendous benefits that come with third-party API integrations include improved efficiency, greater functionality and reduced cost.

No. 5: Powerful Mobile Apps

Mobile technology is improving every year, but our smartphones still have a finite amount of processing power and storage space. Instead of straining these limited resources, app developers are increasingly relying on third-party integrations to do most of the heavy lifting. With APIs, direct selling organizations can develop mobile apps that simply request and display information processed by a third-party host, dramatically reducing the storage space and processing power required to run the app. As a result, companies can deliver a range of independent business management and sales tools to a single, unified mobile interface.

APIs Are the Future

Consider the tremendous technological changes that have impacted the direct selling industry in recent years. Interactions that previously took place in person are now happening over social media. Training has gone mobile. Data processing has moved into the cloud. Make no mistake: APIs are the future. And, given the tremendous benefits that come with third-party API integrations—improved efficiency, greater functionality, reduced cost—it should come as no surprise that this is the direction enterprises and software vendors are trending.

Bill CrowleyBill Crowley is Chief Product Officer at Hyperwallet, a global payout platform specializing in commission distribution. Crowley has more than 15 years of experience building forward-thinking payment solutions for the direct selling industry.

July 31, 2016

Working Smart

The Case for a Chief Compensation Officer

by Kenny Rawlins

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

Over the past few decades, we’ve seen an increasing number of C-level titles. Traditionally, companies have had a Chief Executive Officer, a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Operating Officer. Then Chief Information Officers and Chief Marketing Officers became more commonplace. Now there are dozens of unique C-level titles.

Why is that? Companies have realized that there are areas within their organization that are strategically important enough to warrant a C-level executive. Growing cyber-attacks and other risks created the need for a Chief Information Security Officer to secure a company’s physical and digital assets. An increasing number of companies have a Chief Sustainability Officer to oversee the corporation’s environmental impact. And because design is such an important aspect of their products, Apple has a Chief Design Officer. Apple’s CDO is not only responsible for the look and feel of Apple products, but also their packaging and retail stores.

In the direct selling industry, distributor compensation consumes an average of 40 percent of your revenue; it is the single largest expense for a company. Yet, in my experience, most companies do not have anyone who is directly responsible for ensuring that this expense is supporting the strategic goals of the company. I believe that it’s time to put someone in your C-suite in charge of your compensation strategy. It is time for a Chief Compensation Officer.

It’s true that all direct sales companies have teams or individuals who know the compensation plan and who audit and pay commissions. However, a CCO owns the compensation strategy. The CCO would be both architect and evangelist for your compensation plan. This executive would treat your compensation strategy and plan like the living thing it is, tailoring it to meet the changing needs of your organization.

But how can you justify bringing another C-level executive into your crowded C-suite? I believe there are six main areas where a CCO can bring extra value to your organization, saving you significantly in operating costs while giving you competitive advantage in your market space.

There’s a reason why I call this CCO position a chief compensation officer and not a chief commissions officer. It’s because a compensation strategy includes much more than just commissions.

Creating a Comprehensive Compensation Strategy

There’s a reason why I call this CCO position a chief compensation officer and not a chief commissions officer. It’s because a compensation strategy includes much more than just commissions. Such as:

  • Loyalty and incentive programs
  • Contests
  • Promotions (such as shipping and product discounts; buy one, get one free, etc.)
  • Leadership events (such as rallies, tours, conferences, fly-ins, etc.)
  • Exemptions, waivers and business development agreements

It’s not easy to figure out all of these different elements and bring them together cohesively. A poorly constructed contest or promotion can undermine your compensation strategy and incentivize behaviors that can be very hard—if not impossible—to correct.

It’s also difficult to pair the different kinds of direct sellers in your organization with the compensation that will best motivate them. While sales leaders find motivation in large commission checks and leadership recognition, social enrollers and customers are excited by your product, not the dream, and are better served by loyalty programs and promotions.

There is so much focus in our industry on the top performers that we tend to build our compensation plans to cater primarily to them. Compensation plans do not always take into account the types of distributors in an organization, the reasons that the distributors joined, and the thank-yous that they are looking for in the compensation plan for referring customers to purchase product. A CCO can tailor your compensation strategy to appeal to all segments of your salesforce.

A good CCO works closely with other executives in the company to ensure that your compensation plan is supported by your marketing strategy, sales strategy and internal policies.

Qualities of an Effective Chief Compensation Officer

A CCO sits at the crossroads of IT, sales and marketing, business development, finance and compliance. This executive must work closely with these teams to ensure your compensation strategy is properly executed. Now that you’ve determined that you need a CCO, what qualities should this person have? Here are some key traits I would look for:

  • Creativity. Finding solutions to the various demands that will be made, as you try to implement an effective worldwide compensation plan, takes a creative mind that finds solutions to problems.
  • Understanding of analytics. The use of data to measure and analyze the effectiveness of compensation plans is going to become increasingly important.
  • Experience. Your CCO should have experience with the specific demands of the direct sales industry. Ideally, your candidate should have working experience with more than one or two compensation plans.
  • Communication skills. Your CCO should be able to clearly and concisely define and explain your compensation plan. The CCO should be an evangelist, not only for your compensation plan, but for your entire organization.
  • Leadership. When it comes to your compensation plan, there will be no shortage of recommendations, questions and challenges coming from all directions. A CCO must be a leader who can take input from these various sources and properly execute your compensation strategy.

Keeping Your Plan Competitive

Compensation plans used to be simple (with two or three commission types) and not change for decades. Now, direct sales companies must stay relevant in an ever-evolving market. Because a CCO stays current on trends in the market, your CCO will know if the latest industry fad has a place in your compensation strategy or if the same behavior is already being incentivized elsewhere in your plan.

A CCO ensures that your plan stays competitive and is an advocate for your plan with your field leadership. A CCO works with the field development team to make sure your field understands the strengths of your plan.

You shouldn’t keep paying for ineffective incentives, and the CCO—with an eye on the data—can ensure that you don’t.

Measuring Your Plan’s Effectiveness

Today’s information technology gives us the ability to pinpoint trends with metrics and data analytics. Compensation strategy needs to evolve to take advantage of this information.

Using data analytics, a smart CCO can track which components of a compensation strategy work and which don’t. For example, a CCO can track the measurable results that occur after a promotion, contest or leadership event. A CCO should have the ability to see which incentives are successful (both in the short term and long term) and which are not. If you do not see quantifiable results after a particular promotion, a CCO could work with the team to re-evaluate the effectiveness of these activities. You shouldn’t keep paying for ineffective incentives, and the CCO—with an eye on the data—can ensure that you don’t.

A CCO can use analytics to answer questions about your compensation strategy, such as:

  • Which incentives lead to the best retention?
  • What milestones are most important in creating successful leaders?
  • What impact did a recent promotion have on the field?

A CCO also tracks customer and distributor growth, monitors shifts in organizational volume within leaders’ organizations, looks for leaders whose downline growth and retention outpace others, and reviews compensation to ensure that productive leaders are being rewarded appropriately.

Manage Legal and Compliance Issues

The legal landscape of the direct sales industry is constantly changing, and recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission have created compensation plan uncertainty. How is your compensation plan impacted by these actions? Who does your legal team work with to address concerns?

For example, in the preliminary injunction against Vemma, the court ordered that distributors only can earn commissions if a majority of the sales come from customers outside the compensation plan, not distributors. A savvy CCO would view this action and consider how the compensation plan provides appropriate incentive for selling products to new and existing customers.

graphicYou have several key executives overseeing portions of your revenue. But who oversees compensation – your biggest portion of your revenue?

In addition, you need someone who can anticipate and spot loopholes in your compensation plan. An unscrupulous distributor might exploit a loophole to earn commissions unfairly and stain the reputation of your organization. Even though distributors are independent contractors, they still represent your brand. You need someone who is fully invested in the details of your compensation plan to ensure that manipulation and “gaming” does not become the primary build strategy.

Adjust to Meet the Demands of Global Markets

In order to be successful in the global market, you depend on distributors who understand the culture of your local market. Compensation plans also need to be adjusted to work in tandem with the cultures, social norms and local regulations of the countries in which you do business.

Elements of your compensation plan that work well in one part of the world may not appeal to a distributor in another. The execution of your compensation strategy needs to be tailored to regional markets.

Avoid Costly Pitfalls

Over the years, I’ve known direct sales companies that have made very costly mistakes because they didn’t have an executive who understood the nuances of the compensation plan. Consider this hypothetical:

Suppose a company has a Platinum rank requirement of three personally sponsored Gold-qualified distributors, and the qualification for Gold is 10,000 monthly OV (Organization Volume). Now suppose that in updated literature the requirement for Platinum was inadvertently changed to “three personally sponsored Gold distributors who are qualified.”

Do you notice the subtle difference? Most plans allow distributors to be commission “qualified” with as little as 50 or 100 PV (Personal Volume). This subtle change could be interpreted as meaning that three title-rank Gold distributors with 100 PV each could fulfill the requirement for an upline Platinum distributor. If this misunderstanding goes uncorrected, it could have devastating consequences, drastically curb growth and devalue this company’s ranks.

This is a detail that would be caught by an effective CCO.


Most people realize that there are certain aspects of their business that demand the attention of a C-level position. Your compensation strategy demands the sort of attention that only a CCO can provide. Make sure that such a critical component of your organization is not neglected.

Kenny RawlinsKenny Rawlins is the Vice President of Commissions Operations for InfoTrax Systems and is passionate about helping companies define, implement and execute their compensation strategies.

July 31, 2016

Executive Announcements

Executive Announcements, August 2016

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

LegalShield Promotes Four to Office of Chief Executive, Adds to Board

TextLegalShield headquarters located in Ada Oklahoma

From within its own ranks legal services provider LegalShield is making four new appointments to its executive team.

The Oklahoma-based company said Patrick Hodges is stepping into the role of President, Network Marketing and Sales, overseeing the direct selling channel. John Long has been promoted to Chief People Officer, a new role focused on leadership development of employees and field associates. The company also has named Keri Norris Chief Legal Officer, and Claire Terrell will now serve as Senior Vice President, Marketing.

“We are building a culture and company that is—once again—changing the face of legal and identity theft protection services,” said Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield. “These moves further our commitment to combining industry-leading talent, unparalleled experience and a startup mindset to help protect people.”

LegalShield also announced two board appointments, including Jeff Bell and Pete Jarvis, Vice President of technology solutions firm TidalScale.

Since Bell stepped into the role of CEO, LegalShield has seen production increase 28 percent and active members increase 10 percent to more than 1.5 million.

Jarvis brings to the board a history of technology innovation and management, particularly in the realm of emerging knowledge and intellectual property. Like Bell’s, his career has included a stint at Microsoft, as well as Intellectual Ventures, Bell Northern Research and 3Com. Jarvis is one of the IAM Strategy 300, a list of the world’s top intellectual property strategists published by IAM magazine.

New Avon Hires Betty Palm as President, Social Selling

Betty PalmBetty Palm

Direct sales executive and consultant Betty Palm has joined the growing leadership team at New Avon LLC, as President, Social Selling in the U.S.

The former North American unit of Avon Products Inc., now privately held, is in the midst of establishing a leadership team under chief executive Scott White, who came on board in April. 

Palm has been working with New Avon for the past several months through her consultancy, B. Palm Group LLC, which focuses on the direct selling channel. Throughout her career, Palm has 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, in addition to leading the formation of direct selling divisions at Mars Inc. and Jones Apparel Group.

“By aligning the sales organization under a seasoned direct-selling expert like Betty, we will accelerate decision making and simplify processes,” said White. “Betty has already had a tremendous impact on New Avon, and I look forward to working with her to empower our Representatives, enhance their ability to serve customers and improve their earnings opportunity.”

Stream Appoints Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

Daniel TerrellDaniel Terrell

Home services provider Stream continues to build its executive leadership team with the addition of Daniel Terrell, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary.

Terrell previously held the same titles at PLH Group Inc., a portfolio company of Energy Capital Partners. PLH Group provides construction and maintenance services to the electric power delivery and pipeline industries, including many of the nation’s largest utilities.

“Daniel is an excellent addition to our executive team. His strong, relevant background as an accomplished general counsel and company leader will serve Stream well,” said Larry Mondry, Stream President and CEO. “His experience and track record in similar growth-oriented companies will be of tremendous value.”

Before joining PLH Group, Terrell served as division General Counsel for The Shaw Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company later acquired by steel engineering and construction conglomerate CB&I. He also has worked as a private lawyer with the firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC.

Terrell is one of several recent appointments to Stream’s executive team, under the leadership of new President and CEO Larry Mondry. The Dallas-based company, formerly known as Stream Energy, branched out from its traditional energy offerings in January 2015 with the launch of mobile services. Protective and home services soon followed in an ongoing strategy to diversify the business and reach new customers.

Youngevity Hires Loren Castronovo as Chief Marketing Officer


Youngevity International has appointed Loren Castronovo, a marketing and brand management veteran, as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Castronovo’s 30-plus years of experience has been gleaned at top beauty and fashion brands such as Chanel, Estée Lauder and Revlon, as well as companies within the direct selling channel. Throughout her career Castronovo has held the roles of Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President of Sales and Vice President of Product Development, among others.

“Since 2010, Ms. Castronovo and her teams have won 21 Addy Awards; [Direct Selling Association] Ethos Awards in Education/Leisure, Product Innovation, and Sales and Marketing; the prestigious 2011 Rebrand Award and the 2011 Minnesota Best Brand,” said Steve Wallach, Youngevity Chairman and CEO. “We are excited to have such a winner join our winning company.”

According to Dave Briskie, Youngevity President and CFO, Castronovo stood out from other candidates for her considerable experience and ability to blend traditional marketing with direct selling. “Loren will certainly bring fresh vision to Youngevity, and all our distributors and customers will gain from her work,” said Briskie.

LifeVantage Brings Additional Strength to Leadership Team

TextCourtland Pearson

LifeVantage Corp. has hired another seasoned direct selling executive to help write the next chapter of its turnaround story.

The Salt Lake City-based supplement company named Courtland Pearson as Senior Vice President of International. Pearson brings nearly 25 years of experience in global business and direct sales. The addition of Pearson is the latest move in the company’s leadership overhaul, which began after direct sales veteran Darren Jensen was named President and CEO in May 2015.

“I’m thrilled to join the talented and experienced management team at LifeVantage,” said Pearson, who will focus on the company’s overseas markets, particularly Japan. “I see potential for tremendous growth at LifeVantage thanks to its world-class products, globally scalable business opportunity and proven field leaders around the world.”

Ranked No. 69 on DSN’s 2016 Global 100 list, LifeVantage entered the direct selling space about seven years ago. While growth has been sporadic in recent years, executives say the company’s outlook has improved over the last eight months, noting that its per share price has increased from a low of $1.40 to an average of $8.00 or $9.00. And Jensen says that he is confident that, with talent like Pearson’s, the growth will continue. “I look forward to working with Courtland to enhance our growth strategies and communications… and moving all of our international markets forward,” he said.

Direct Selling Europe Elects New Board Chairman

TextAndres Ruff

Direct Selling Europe (DSE) has elected as its new Chairman, Andres Ruff, CEO of WIV AG. Announced at the annual General Assembly in Zurich, Switzerland, Ruff was elected unanimously, showing the cohesion and strength behind the decision. He succeeds R. Glenn Drake, former Group President, Tupperware Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and Chairman of DSE from 2009 to 2015.

“I’m deeply honored to chair the Board of Directors,” Ruff said. “I look forward to collaborating with all the members to continue ensuring the highest ethical standards for the industry that DSE Members represent.” Ruff and the entire Board of Directors thanked Drake for his successful leadership of the Association.

Ruff holds a degree in business administration and has a wealth of detailed knowledge in sales and marketing in the food and consumer goods industry. With more than 28 years of management experience, he has a proven track record in national and international small- and medium-sized enterprises and family companies. Prior to joining WIV as Chairman of the Executive Board, he held executive positions at Procter & Gamble, Holsten brewery and dairy Alois Müller, and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Apetito AG.

LEO Appoints Winnie Leung as General Manager of Asia Pacific Market

TextWinnie Leung

Winnie Leung has joined U.K.-based entrepreneurial consultation and education firm Learning Enterprises Organisation (LEO) as General Manager of Asia Pacific, the company’s largest market.

Leung has extended experience in training people in business acumen, communication skills, negotiation and learning skills, and she comes from a varied background, having worked in a number of different fields. For more than 20 years, she has served in a management role with numerous top-tier direct selling companies around the world. She is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

“Winnie brings a wealth of experience to LEO,” said Dan Andersson, LEO President. “She has been very active in the direct selling industry for a number of years, and her expertise and knowledge will help take LEO’s Asia Pacific business to the next level.”

In other company news, industry veteran Paul Southworth, OBE, DL, who served as a past Director General of the U.K. Direct Selling Association, and former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman have joined the LEO Advisory Board.

Founded in 2012 by Dan Andersson and Atif Kamran, LEO has built an entire ecosystem for entrepreneurs to network, create, and fund their companies and their own ideas using the principles of direct marketing and network-building.

July 31, 2016

Cover Story

Meet Direct Selling’s Billion Dollar Markets

by Andrea Tortora

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

The story of direct selling is one of sustained growth that keeps breaking records.

Global retail sales and the industry’s total salesforce both hit new highs in 2015. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) estimates that retail sales rose 7.7 percent in 2015 to $183.7 billion, up from $170.6 billion in 2014. The total salesforce jumped 4.4 percent, to 103 million people, up from 99.7 million in 2014. In all, 23 countries posted sales of $1 billion or more from direct selling.

“Direct selling is well positioned in today’s marketplace as consumers seek personalized service and quality products from people who they know and trust,” says Amway President and WFDSA Chairman Doug DeVos. “It results in a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs, many of whom are seeking an opportunity to make a little extra while sharing products that they enjoy. With general attitudes toward entrepreneurship at very positive levels, the recent industry results are encouraging and the future is even brighter.”

Every region in 2015 reported sales jumps, and 80 percent of countries around the world showed increases in both sales and sellers. These are not just flash-in-the-pan bursts of activity, but sustained, steady growth spanning years.

“Given the mediocre performance of the global economy in 2015, I was pleasantly surprised by the steady and broad-based growth of direct selling during the year,” says Paul Bourquin, managing economist at Nathan Associates Inc. The Washington, D.C.-based economic consultancy works with the WFDSA to maintain confidentiality of incoming data, and to verify and vet the annual global data report.

The numbers are powerful because most national governments do not collect and report statistics on the direct selling channel, and “quite a few direct selling companies seek better or alternative information from that provided by syndicated sources,” Bourquin says. “The worth of the data is revealed by member companies wanting the information and dedicating the time and resources to do the research.”

The WFDSA also tracks the compound annual growth rate (CAGR), a measure of sustained growth over time. The global direct selling industry boasts a 7.2 percent three-year CAGR (2012-2015), with increasing sales from $149.3 billion to $183.7 billion.

The group of 23 countries with retail sales of $1 billion or more in 2015 claims 94 percent of all global sales. Sales are concentrated among the very largest direct selling markets, with the Top 5 countries accounting for 64 percent of all sales and the Top 10 accounting for 80 percent. The countries are an interesting mix of advanced and developing economies, which points to the strength and appeal of the selling channel in nations with a wide variety of infrastructure and technology as well as political and economic situations.

ABOUT THE research

The annual compilation of global statistics collects individual market data in local currency figures, and then converts them to U.S. dollars using current year (in this case 2015) exchange rates for all years. This practice eliminates the impact of currency fluctuation when comparisons are made to determine change across time, says Judy Jones, Market Research Insights Leader at Amway and Chair of the WFDSA Global Research Committee. Washington, D.C.-based economic consultancy Nathan Associates Inc. works with the WFDSA (World Federation of Direct Selling Associations) to gather and report the data.

The data collection effort is a collaborative, global effort of WFDSA, Seldia (the European Direct Selling Association), local direct selling associations and their member companies. The annual process takes more than 5,000 person hours, says Paul Bourquin, managing economist at Nathan Associates Inc. The research team uses a standardized process and continually works to make improvements.

The 2016 report comes with an expiration date of June 2, 2017, when the next year’s figures will be published. For some markets, sales are estimated until the respective country reports its official figures to the WFDSA, often based on official governmental reports. At that time, actual data is restated and accounted for the next year.


China was predicted to eclipse the United States as the world’s largest direct selling market as early as in 2015, but growth of 4.8 percent meant the U.S. reached record sales of $36.1 billion, up from $34.5 billion in 2014 and enough for the U.S. to hold onto the No. 1 spot. There are now 20.2 million Americans involved in direct selling, up 11 percent from 18.2 million in 2014.

These latest numbers illustrate the industry’s “strength, vibrancy and vigor” in the United States, says Joseph N. Mariano, President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association. He says the sales growth rate outpaces growth for traditional retail sales and the overall gross national product in the U.S.

“It is gratifying to see record growth in direct selling in the United States for the past five years,” Mariano says. “Today, there are more people involved and more revenue is being generated than at any other time in our history. Direct selling remains relevant today, because in an age defined by technology, people still see great value in person-to-person interaction and demonstration.”

Industry watchers note that China exhibited strong sales growth of its own, with sales jumping 19 percent to $35.5 billion, up from $29.8 billion in 2014. (The number of people selling products for direct selling companies in China is unknown.) As the Chinese government continues to approve more licenses for direct selling companies to do business within its borders, sales in the industry can only skyrocket, and China will most likely overtake the U.S. position in direct selling in 2016 or soon after. Today there are 78 companies with a direct selling license. Within two years that number is expected to jump above 100.

China’s Ministry of Commerce keeps close watch on the direct selling channel but does plan to keep issuing licenses. Observers say the Chinese government wanted to see slow, controlled growth in the sector before allowing it to accelerate. There are established direct selling firms in China, including Amway, Herbalife, Vorwerk, Infinitus, Mary Kay, Perfect, Tupperware, Nu Skin and Tiens. At the same time, startup homegrown Chinese companies are seeking their own success in the channel. These firms sell nutritional, beauty and healthcare products and are experiencing 15 percent to 20 percent year-over-year growth. They include: Kangmei, Kasley Ju, Golden Sun and Ten Fu Tenmax.

There is no doubt that the Chinese market is definitely opening up. A recent example is a November 2015 direct selling symposium held in Beijing. Sponsored by the WFDSA and the Direct Selling Research Center at Peking University, the event brought together the WFDSA CEO Council members, which included companies like Amway, Shaklee, Mary Kay, Bestworld Lifestyle, Nu Skin and Tianshi, among others.

The benefits of direct selling in China also are catching the eyes of traditional retailers like France’s Millet, a seller of outdoor and mountaineering equipment. The brand is employing a variety of distribution channels, including single-brand stores and e-commerce as it tries to reach consumers in second- and third-tier cities.

Such specialty shops are how some direct sellers, including Avon and Amway, maintained a presence in the Chinese market during the country’s ban on direct selling between 1998 and 2005. When China reopened its borders to the channel, it imposed strict rules for acquiring a direct selling license.

At the same time, the Chinese government welcomed online sales with a goal of boosting online shopping to more than 5 percent of China’s total retail sales, in an effort to reach more consumers. China encouraged multi-channel sellers with traditional stores to also open online shops.

This model embraces the Chinese middle class and its younger generations, which have money to spend and a love of technology, especially smartphones. Social media apps such as WeChat are popular ways for distributors to build online stores that let them promote and sell products.

In fact, the Internet and social media play a much larger role in China’s economy than in the U.S. economy.

Click to enlarge image


On a global scale, the state of the economy has a dual impact on direct selling, says Carlo Ledezma, USANA’s Vice President for Latin America and a vice president for Mexico’s DSA.

“Our industry thrives on economic growth and prosperity in the micro-economic conditions of any country,” Ledezma says. “On the other hand, when things in the overall economy and in the country don’t go so well, there is an extra incentive for people to try and go out and pursue something outside of what they would usually do. That is when they look for opportunities in the direct selling industry.”

The number of people interested in starting their own businesses—which is what direct selling delivers for distributors—is high, according to the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Report commissioned by Amway. The 2015 report interviewed nearly 50,000 people in 44 countries, and 75 percent expressed a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship.

Companies that know how to leverage both sides of this economic coin truly benefit. Those that are smart use strategies that can capitalize during prosperous times. Those that are even sharper know how to pitch the opportunity to people looking for new ways to make money in tough times, Ledezma says.

This duality is part of the story of direct selling’s continued sustained growth. It is a narrative that can be told region by region:

Asia-Pacific. This region, which includes four of the Top 10 billion-dollar markets, boasts the largest sales and the biggest growth, with 46 percent of global direct sales, and a three-year CAGR of 10.6 percent. The region generated $84 billion in sales in 2015. Sales in China, Japan and Korea account for 79.9 percent of that amount.

Ten of the 23 billion-dollar markets are from the Asia-Pacific region:
2. China
3. Korea
5. Japan
9. Malaysia
11. Taiwan
13. Thailand
19. Philippines
20. India
21. Australia
22. Indonesia

While direct selling’s growth in China remains a top story, the channel quickly is becoming embedded in the cultures of many Asian and Pacific countries.

Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia all offer great opportunities for direct selling. Indonesia, with a salesforce of 12.7 million people, boasts a three-year CAGR of 11.9 percent on sales of $1.07 billion in 2015. The industry does well in this country, and has yet to realize its fullest potential. The Philippines and Malaysia also are perennial growth stories. In the Philippines, compound annual growth rate of retail sales over the three-year period was 9.8 percent; 2015 sales were $1.24 billion. In Malaysia, the CAGR is 9.4 percent with 2015 revenue of $4.44 billion. The world’s No. 3 market, Korea, saw 2015 revenue of $16.89 billion and a CAGR of 7.5 percent, while Taiwan’s 2015 retail sales were $3.35 billion with a 6.6 percent CAGR.

Finally, Vietnam is a market to watch. The country’s 2015 sales were just $492 million, but the channel posted three-year compound annual growth rate of 25.4 percent, the third-highest CAGR among all nations where direct selling data is collected and tracked.

New Zealand is enjoying the benefits of a strong economy and a very low unemployment rate. This means residents have the income to purchase goods. And while many in New Zealand have jobs, recruiting for the country’s direct selling companies is actually on the rise. The country’s direct retail sales grew by 13 percent in 2015 to $206 million. There are 104,256 people involved in the industry as independent direct sellers. New Zealand accomplished a CAGR of 4.8 percent.

Garth Wyllie, Executive Director of the Direct Selling Association of New Zealand, expects the growth trend to continue, based on reports from the country’s individual direct selling companies, the strong economy, a positive regulatory environment and a supportive government.

“The only possible headwinds would be if employment gets any flatter, we may struggle
to find people looking for the opportunity,” Wyllie says.

New Zealand is actually gaining population as people migrate to the country from Australia and Asian countries to find work and enjoy a less expensive cost of living. Many Asian students, for example, turn to direct selling for an additional source of income while completing their studies, Wyllie says.

Australia is battling an economic downturn and people are leaving the country for greener pastures. At No. 21 of the world’s 23 direct selling billion dollar markets, Australia’s 2015 sales of $1.11 billion was down 5.6 percent compared to 2014. Direct selling growth in the country has slowed, with three-year CAGR of just 0.6 percent.

The tough economic situation could prove beneficial for direct selling, Wyllie says. Higher unemployment in Australia means more people will be looking for ways to replace lost income or supplement existing income.

Americas. Direct selling has a long history in the Americas, which includes the U.S., Canada and South and Central American countries, and three of the Top 10 largest direct selling markets. The group accounts for 34 percent of global sales or $62.9 billion, up 4.6 percent from sales of $60.2 billion in 2014. The U.S. delivers 57.4 percent of that revenue or $36.12 billion, while Canada contributes 2.5 percent or $1.63 billion. Three-year CAGR (2012-2015) for the Americas region is 4.8 percent.

Central and South America combined provide 40 percent of the Americas direct sales or $25.2 billion.

Seven of the 23 billion-dollar markets are from the Americas region:
1. United States
6. Brazil
7. Mexico
14. Colombia
16. Argentina
17. Canada
18. Peru

Today, the channel continues to enjoy a large following in the United States, where more than 20.2 million people are involved. Direct sales and the number of people involved continue to grow, with more individuals generating more revenue in 2015 than ever before. The most popular sales method employed by companies remains person-to-person interactions at 71 percent, followed by party plans at 20.4 percent, according to data from the U.S. DSA. The gender mix of people involved in the industry showed a larger number of women, with 77.4 percent of consultants being female.

Direct selling is intertwined with many cultures in Latin America, where some of the big companies started distributing products as long as 60 years ago. The industry is well established in many growing nations as it began when infrastructure such as roads and transportation were not yet abundant, making person-to-person sales an ideal way to distribute goods.

In many ways, direct selling has grown up along with many of these countries. Take Mexico, which came in at No. 7 on the list of billion-dollar markets with 2015 sales of $6.93 billion. This is a middle-income country facing many financial challenges from exchange rates and governmental changes designed to bring about economic reforms. Although the overall economy is solid, the population is disappointed that changes are not taking place as quickly as they would like, says USANA’s Ledezma. Most direct selling firms active in Mexico are based in the U.S. That means a struggle exists for these companies to absorb the exchange rate in ways that do not increase prices for consumers and distributors.

“Directors and managers are dealing with these challenges and have to find very efficient ways to manage costs and investments and leverage economies of scale,” Ledezma says. To help weather this storm, the Mexican DSA fosters a sharing of best practices.

Despite these challenges, direct selling is expected to continue to grow in Mexico. Ledezma says this is because of Mexico’s reputation as a good market for the channel. People in the country are familiar with the model, and the collaborative environment among existing direct sellers is attractive to new entrants to the market.

“Companies thrive in Mexico when they have a good product and when they deliver on their promises to consumers,” Ledezma says.

As a whole, the DSAs in the Americas are working hard to educate potential consumers and distributors about the industry and to dispel myths. Ledezma and his colleagues are very intentional about “explaining what we do and how we do it. There is a difference between legitimate network marketing and a pyramid scheme,” he says.

Europe. With three of the Top 10 billion-dollar markets, the countries of western, central and eastern Europe claim 19 percent of global sales or $35.4 billion, up 5.7 percent from $33.5 billion in 2014. Western Europe delivers 83.3 percent of the region’s total sales, or $29.5 billion. Central and Eastern Europe generated $5.9 billion in direct sales in 2015. The European region’s three-year CAGR is 4.3 percent.

Six of the 23 billion-dollar markets are from the European region:
4. Germany
8. France
10. United Kingdom
12. Italy
15. Russia
23. Poland


The full impact of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote to withdraw from the European Union remains to be seen. At the very least, the new economic climate will include financial uncertainty, which may bode well for the direct selling channel as individuals look for ways to earn additional income and create stability for their household finances.

Just like any other industry, direct selling is impacted by the current macro and socio economic downward trend, says Katarina Molin, Executive Director at Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association. Yet the negatives can be offset by the need for individuals to earn an extra income, coupled with the increased consumer need for recommendation and explanation before buying decisions are made. In this light, Seldia predicts an increase of the direct selling business in several markets now facing an economic downturn, for several reasons.

Entrepreneurship is growing more popular all around Europe. A digitized economy and increased demand for more flexibility in balancing work and private time from Generations X and Y are driving the trend.

“We believe the future labor market in Europe will lead to a stronger demand for flexible working models, for which direct selling is an opportunity,” Molin says. The growth of the “shared economy,” which accounted for €28 billion in transactions in 2015 across Europe, also contributes to an increased understanding and recognition of flexible part-time income opportunities for individuals as an alternative to fixed employment.

Throughout Europe, direct selling has shown constant growth in the last five years. In 2015 sales as a whole grew by 4.5 percent compared to 2014, and in the European Union sales grew by 7.5 percent (compared to average retail trade in the EU, which grew by 3 percent in the same time period).

Just as the younger generations are embracing direct selling and its tech-friendly platforms, so are “senior entrepreneurs,” or those over age 50. The 2015 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report shows an entrepreneurship potential for Europe at 38 percent, which has yet to be realized. Molin says the experience, knowledge and skills of this demographic is a huge asset to Europe, from a social and economic standpoint. By 2020, a third of the working-age population in Europe will be over 50, yet the Amway report finds that only 6 percent of the over-50 group is self-employed.

“The potential is enormous and remains largely unexploited in Europe,” Molin says.

Africa-Middle East. Direct selling is gaining a foothold in South Africa and other countries in this region, accounting for 1 percent of global sales or $1.3 billion, with a three-year CAGR of 3.2 percent. South Africa is the most active direct selling market in the region with 2015 sales of $597 million.


Wellness, cosmetics and personal care, and household goods are the Top 3 product categories across the globe. Independent consultants also provide customers with clothing, utility services, financial services, food items, books and toys.


The number of people participating as direct sellers is on the rise across the globe. The salesforce in the Asia-Pacific region grew 4.5 percent in 2015 to 51.9 million people, according to the WFDSA.

The Americas jumped 6.0 percent to 35.1 million sellers.

Europe climbed 0.3 percent to 14.6 million distributors.

And Africa and the Middle East now are home to 1.7 million independent consultants, up 4.8 percent year-over-year.

The industry can only keep growing as more countries embrace the model and more individuals realize the benefits of being an independent consultant. What will ensure success is for direct selling companies to self-monitor, to uphold the high standards they have set and to continue to tell the real story of direct selling.

“The opportunity for direct selling right now is tremendous. People around the world are increasingly looking for ways to work differently, with more flexibility and independence,” says Amway’s DeVos. “These are benefits that direct selling has always offered. If we continue to set appropriate expectations around our income opportunities, highlight our product offerings and keep providing strong consumer protections, the potential for our industry has no limits.”

The outlook is bright closer to home, too, says the U.S. DSA’s Mariano. “In the years ahead,” Mariano says, “direct selling in the U.S. can continue to grow if we continue to embrace technology, appreciate the different expectations of different generations of salespeople and never lose sight of our customers, who demand great products and a great customer experience.”

July 31, 2016

News in Brief

News in Brief, August 2016

Nu Skin Secures $210 Million Investment from China

TEXTNu Skin headquarters in Provo, Utah.

Nu Skin Enterprises has taken on a strategic investment in its largest geographic market. In June, the Utah-based company inked a deal with a group of investors led by Ping An of China Securities Hong Kong, one of China’s largest insurers, and additional investors affiliated with ZQ Capital Ltd. Under the terms of the deal, Ping An ZQ China Growth Ltd. purchased $210 million in convertible senior notes due in 2020. The agreement also stipulates that Shen Zheqing of ZQ Capital will be appointed to Nu Skin’s board.

“Ping An and ZQ Capital bring significant local market knowledge and valuable expertise that we believe will positively impact our long-term growth opportunities in this important region,” said Nu Skin CEO Truman Hunt. Nu Skin plans to invest a portion of the proceeds in its China business, which accounted for more than one-third of the company’s $2.25 billion in sales in 2015, and the remainder will be used to buy back shares in the company, boosting the stock’s value for shareholders.

Nu Skin is the 10th-largest direct selling company in the world, based on the 2016 DSN Global 100 rankings, and is truly an international giant with operations in 54 markets worldwide and the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation, which focuses its charitable efforts on health, education, economic opportunity and disaster relief programs around the globe. On June 20, Nu Skin celebrated its 13th-annual Force for Good Day with a number of humanitarian projects, including a massive clothing drive in Greater China, donating clothes and toys to two orphanages in the Netherlands, and assembling 10,000 lunches for children in need at Nu Skin’s corporate headquarters.

Tupperware Donates $200K to Establish Brownie Wise Park

Brownie WiseBrownie Wise

A $200,000 donation from Orlando-based Tupperware will help to develop a new local park in honor of Brownie Wise, the kitchenware company’s pioneering saleswoman.

According to Osceola County officials, Brownie Wise Park will be located on the eastern shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, about four miles south of Tupperware headquarters. The site, previously known as Candella Island, and surrounding land was purchased by the county in 2014.

The donation from Tupperware will furnish the park with an information kiosk, dock area, picnic pavilion and canoe and kayak launch. The kiosk will provide information and history on Tupperware and Wise, who for a time lived in a lakeside mansion owned by the company.

Wise was a driving force behind the development of the party plan model and headed up Tupperware’s Home Party Division from 1951 to 1958, following a stint at another early direct selling company, Stanley Home Products. As her success grew, the charming and upbeat Wise became the face of Tupperware and an inspiration for women in business, even becoming the first woman to grace the cover of Businessweek.

The story of Wise and the early days of the company was chronicled in Tupperware Unsealed, a 2008 book by Bob Kealing. A film adaptation, starring Oscar winner Sandra Bullock as Wise, is currently in development.

The planned Brownie Wise Park and its surroundings will be named Tupperware Island Conservation Area. All told, the county plans to spend approximately $1.1 million on park amenities and habitat restoration. Tupperware and its employees will have exclusive use of Brownie Wise Park for four days per year for 20 years.

Makeup Artist Luis Casco Becomes Mary Kay Global Beauty Ambassador

TEXTLuis Casco advises Mary Kay independent sales consultants as Global Beauty Ambassador.

Renowned makeup artist Luis Casco and one of the world’s largest direct sales companies are taking their partnership to the next level.

Mary Kay Inc. has appointed Casco as its Global Beauty Ambassador, a role it created just for him, said Chief Marketing Officer Sheryl Adkins-Green. Casco made his name on such well-known television shows as The View and Project Runway and has represented the cosmetics company in various capacities since 1996. In this new position, he will advise Mary Kay on product and color development and will work more closely with independent sales consultants on beauty trends, beauty techniques and sales education.

Adkins-Green said the synergy between Casco and Mary Kay, ranked No. 4 on Direct Selling News’ Global 100 list, has always been strong. This new position will further leverage their shared vision. “Luis has an amazing ability to make women feel very confident about wearing color and how to apply color—that’s essential to the success of a makeup brand like Mary Kay,” she continued. “Just as Mary Kay Ash said, everyone has an invisible sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ His value system makes everyone feel important.”

JRJR Networks Reports Positive Trends in 2015

Dallas-based JRJR Networks, which operates a portfolio of 10 direct selling and direct-to-consumer company brands, finalized its 2015 financial statement in June, reporting annual revenue of $138.4 million, up 27 percent from $108.8 million in 2014.

Last year, JRJR Networks approximately doubled the size of its business with the acquisitions of two United Kingdom-based brands: Kleeneze and Betterware.

Gross profit totaled $71.8 million, versus the prior year’s $53.3 million. The company, formerly known as CVSL, said the release was delayed by a longer-than-anticipated audit of its portfolio companies, whose operations span 50 countries.

The company narrowed its loss to $18.8 million from $23.7 million a year ago. The results include a $1.7 million after-tax write-down on inventory at basket maker The Longaberger Company. “Excluding inventory impairments, in 2015, we cut our operating loss by more than half,” said CFO Chris Brooks. “We also reduced the earnings per share loss by half. We expect continued good progress on that front. We also expect to see EPS turn positive this year.”

Beachbody Goes International with Workout Streaming Service

Following an initial rollout in North America and the United Kingdom, Beachbody is bringing its fitness streaming app to more than 140 countries worldwide.

Beachbody On Demand International connects users to a broad selection of programs and workouts led by the brand’s celebrity trainers, including P90X with celebrity trainer Tony Horton and Insanity with Shaun T. The service, which carries a 30-day money back guarantee, also features programs created exclusively for Beachbody On Demand subscribers.

The Santa Monica, California, company initially offered the streaming service to its network of nearly 350,000 Coaches, or independent distributors, who provided feedback on the user experience. For every new international signup, Beachbody has pledged to donate $5 to International Justice Mission.

“We want to do more than just help people get healthy and fit. We want to help end human trafficking and slavery across the world,” CEO Carl Daikeler said on his corporate blog.

The nonprofit IJM has 17 field offices throughout Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia, where it works to transform the justice system on a local level. Partnering with local police, public prosecution and social workers, IJM rescues victims from ongoing violence, represents them in court and restores them to their communities. Through this process, the organization aims to identify and address weaknesses in the justice system.

WorldVentures, Nancy Lieberman Open Latest DreamCourt in Indiana

TEXTNancy Lieberman Charities and WorldVentures dedicate DreamCourt to NBA coach Del Harris, for Wayne County Boys & Girls Club in Indiana.

Partnering with Nancy Lieberman Charities, the WorldVentures Foundation recently dedicated DreamCourt No. 25 in Richmond, Indiana. The state-of-the-art basketball courts are installed in underprivileged communities to provide a safe area for children to play and interact. As is usually the case, the new DreamCourt is situated near a local Boys & Girls Club, where young people congregate for after-school programs. The court pays tribute to former NBA head coach Del Harris, who began his coaching career at nearby Earlham College.

“I came to Richmond over 50 years ago and played on the old court right here in this park,” Harris said earlier this month at the opening of the six-goal DreamCourt. “In fact, we won a tournament here and many of my teammates went on to be inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame.”

The WorldVentures Foundation has built DreamCourts across the U.S. alongside charitable partner Nancy Lieberman Charities. Lieberman is a WNBA legend who joined the Sacramento Kings last summer as the second-ever female assistant coach in the NBA. Her charity aims to provide healthy physical, emotional and mental environments for young girls and boys to build their self-esteem and confidence.

“This court is not mine, it’s not Del’s, it’s yours,” Lieberman said to youth on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And we hope that one day you will do the same for other kids.”

Immunotec Reports Record Quarterly Revenue


Nutritional products maker Immunotec Inc. (IMM—CVE) reported record quarterly revenue and a new sponsorship deal with professional sailing team Artemis Racing.

In the quarter ended April 30, overall revenue was $25.6 million (Canadian), up 28 percent from $20.0 million a year ago. Quebec, Canada-based Immunotec logged a 38 percent sales increase in Mexico, a 27 percent increase in the U.S., and an 11 percent uptick in Canada.

“The increase of our sponsoring numbers is above 30 percent in all of our key markets, which indicates a strong momentum for the quarters ahead,” CFO Patrick Montpetit said of Immunotec’s customer and consultant tallies. “We are confident that we are on track to achieve $100.0M in revenues for fiscal 2016.”

Adjusted EBITDA also improved, amounting to $2.0 million versus $1.4 million in the year-ago period. Profit doubled year over year to $0.6 million.

In May, management announced a new sponsorship of Artemis Racing, which represents the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world. Immunotec will be the Official Supporter of Artemis as it takes part in Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events, leading up to the 2017 America’s Cup.

“The physiological demands of sailing the present America’s Cup foiling catamarans are immense, and keeping the guys healthy and optimizing recovery is crucially important,” said Pete Cunningham, Artemis Racing Exercise Physiologist. “That’s where I see Immunotec playing a major role with their products and also their clinical experts in this field.”

Health Canada last year approved the health claim that Immunocal, the company’s flagship immune support product, helps increase muscle strength and enhance performance when combined with regular exercise. Additionally, Immunocal and the second-generation Immunocal Platinum were recently certified by LGC, a globally recognized anti-doping lab. Cunningham said these factors, along with Immunotec’s long history of scientific research and publishing, were critical in deciding to partner with the company.

Festival Celebrates Direct Selling in China

TEXTLaunch ceremony of 9th annual World (China) Direct Selling Brand Festival in Wuhan, China.

Representatives from more than 50 companies participated in the 9th annual World (China) Direct Selling Brand Festival in Wuhan in June. The event is presented by DIR Group Management Co. Ltd., which provides industry research and consulting services to direct selling companies in China. It included a banquet, opening ceremony, general session, roundtable meeting for VIPs, workshop for distributors and leaders, and an awards celebration. The event also featured an exhibition of companies and suppliers. The next day, executives participated in a meeting focused on the analysis of the Chinese direct selling environment, followed by visits to several direct selling companies operating in China for site inspections and an exchange of ideas.

Nerium Targets Fourth Quarter for Entry into Australia

Nerium International has added Australia to the growing roster of markets the skincare company plans to open in 2016.

The news comes on the heels of Nerium’s Japan launch in July, where the company put fully integrated operations in place. From day one, Japanese Brand Partners and customers were supported by a regional office—including an in-house customer support call center—and a Nerium Brand Center set to open in Tokyo.

To date, the Dallas area company has expanded internationally into Canada, Mexico and South Korea. In addition to Australia, slated to open in the fourth quarter, management has disclosed plans to enter Colombia and another Asia-Pacific market, Hong Kong, by year end.

“Australia is a thriving market for both the global anti-aging skincare segment and direct sales industry,” Jeff Olson, Founder and CEO, told DSN. “Nerium’s leadership team looks forward to bringing our unique business model and revolutionary products to Australia as we continue to expand Nerium International into the Asia-Pacific market.”

LifeVantage, Usborne Books Parent Are Best in State for Annual Returns

Two direct selling companies appear in a new ranking by Forbes that identifies the top-performing public companies in every state.

In the past year, Oklahoma’s Educational Development Corp. (EDUC—NASDAQ) and Utah’s LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) produced the highest return on investment in their respective states. Forbes used data from FactSet, a financial research and analytics firm, to track the total return of every U.S.-based public company from June 2015 to June 2016.

Educational Development Corp. (EDC) publishes and sells children’s books through EDC Publishing and the larger Usborne Books & More direct selling division. After more than four decades in business, EDC is in the midst of three years of growth, following a nine-year stretch of declining sales. In first quarter 2016, the company logged record revenue of $22.9 million versus $9.6 million a year earlier. The stock yielded an annual return of 139.4 percent, according to Forbes.

LifeVantage led Utah-based corporations with an annual return of 253.6 percent, which puts it in the top five companies overall. In the past year, the maker of health and wellness products has made several key appointments to its executive team under the new leadership of Darren Jensen, who joined LifeVantage as President and CEO in April 2015.

July 31, 2016

Exclusive Interviews

Power of Attorney: LegalShield Unveils Tech Upgrade, New Services in 2016

by Emily Reagan

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

LegalShield held its annual convention last month in Oklahoma City, and if there was one key message CEO Jeff Bell hoped to convey to Associates, it was that LegalShield is a company whose time has come. The provider of legal and identity theft services has grown to a record 1.6 million members, yet, as Bell points out, there are 160 million households in the U.S. The sales and marketing veteran recently spoke to DSN about the slate of tools and services LegalShield is introducing this year, and why he believes the Oklahoma-based company is nearing a tipping point.

DSN: LegalShield is rolling out several new technology-based products and plans this year. Entering 2017, will this look like a different kind of company?
JB: I think the answer is yes, and I want to take a step back because in one way we’re unique in the direct selling and network marketing arena. I learned just this year that for the longest time the model was summarized by the slogan, “Wear the button, share the sample, show the plan.” I think one of the reasons we struggled to fit in is because we didn’t have a sample. … If you think about, for instance, skincare or food supplements like nutrition bars or powders, those things can be handed out. … What we’ve created is almost an ethereal concept. We tell people, “Hey, don’t pay a lawyer by the hour. Join our community, and with a monthly membership you can talk to a lawyer on any issue, and the meter’s not running. You’re not paying by the hour.” People find it interesting, but still kind of theoretical.

Now, we have the LegalShield App. Our Associates can pull out their phone, tap the app, and there it is—a press of the button will call your law firm. It knows who you are. This last week we added the Snap by LegalShield feature, which handles parking tickets by automatically sending a photo on to the law firm for processing. So now we suddenly have our sample. That’s a huge breakthrough. … That’s probably been the biggest change for us, but in many ways it’s back to the future—we’re becoming more like the direct selling and network marketing industry.

DSN: This evolution dates back at least to LegalShield’s acquisition of tech startup Shake Inc. in April 2015. What was the strategy there, and how has it enhanced the business thus far?

JB: Our first LegalShield App came out in fall 2014, and it was very simple. It made a phone call. It knew who you were as a member and it knew your law firm. Start simple, start small. With the acquisition of Shake Law, we added a really powerful functionality, which is the ability to create forms on your mobile phone or on the web, for free. We have added one significant benefit to what they originally envisioned, in that all the forms are prepared by the law firms in each of our U.S. states or Canadian provinces. Shake by LegalShield first asks you what state or province you’re in, and then the forms presented are specific to those jurisdictions. Additionally, we understand a do-it-yourself approach is taken by many because they think they can’t afford to pay a lawyer by the hour. We let them know the benefit of consulting a lawyer in preparing that form and some of the downside risks of going it alone, and then introduce the concept that they can join our community for as little as $17.95. …

The other thing the Shake team—located in Manhattan’s Little Italy—has done for us is launch an all-new app called Ask by LegalShield, which provides answers to more than 1,500 common legal questions. That app has already generated a lot of memberships for us. … Both Shake and Ask are prospecting tools for our Associates. Whenever they send an invitation to download those apps, they are deep linked. If someone decides to become a member after trying the app, that commission is attributed back to the referring Associate. We feel really good about the potential for these tools to raise awareness and close membership sales. We’ve had more than 200,000 downloads of the app, which in the app business is an awful lot.

DSN: Do you feel that services like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit have primed the market for LegalShield’s new tech offerings?

JB: Yes. I say this with pride, but it might sound kind of funny. We in many ways were one of the founders of the sharing economy, and when I say we, I mean LegalShield—it predates me by 40 years. We’re bringing together a bunch of consumers using a crowd-sharing approach, and with the purchasing power of $20 a month our members retain a law firm. That’s a game changer. You’re not paying a lawyer by the hour; you’re retaining an entire firm. That’s because we have the scale of all our members, now 1.6 million-strong, which is an all-time record for our company.

DSN: How are these new or enhanced products and services translating into revenue growth for the company?

JB: It’s been very positive. This last quarter we grew by 33.2 percent year over year, and that was our strongest quarterly performance in my tenure. In 2015, first quarter growth was 3 percent, then 11 percent. By the third quarter it was 28 percent, and then 26 percent in the fourth quarter—our largest quarter. The first quarter of this year we were worried. We got down to 24 percent growth and thought, oh my gosh, are we slowing down? But then last quarter was great; it exploded to 33 percent.

DSN: You and TidalScale’s Pete Jarvis were recently appointed to the board of directors, and you’ve also expanded the Office of the Chief Executive. How are those changes impacting the company?

JB: I couldn’t be happier to have my friend Pete Jarvis join the board. He and I have worked together in venture capital and angel investing. We’re both former “Microsofties” or Microsoft employees. He is going to help us continue to accelerate our technical development, not only in mobile apps, but also in our core membership, communication and financial management as a company. It’s the second new board appointment in my tenure, following on the heels of the great John Addison, former Co-CEO of Primerica. … I think these additions affirm our financial success, membership growth and Associate success. We’re very excited that the number of ring earners has tripled in the last year as we head into convention, and our monthly commissions paid are approaching an all-time high.

DSN: What was the impetus behind LegalShield’s new profit-sharing plan?

JB: We have a lot of hourly employees, and we want them to be recognized as we succeed and improve our productivity and customer service. At the beginning of the year, we made a change and moved away from seniority bonuses and announced we would end the annual Christmas bonus. … Those things weren’t really tied to individual, department or company performance. We announced we would pay a performance-based bonus, and there were some Doubting Thomases—and that’s okay, by the way. … We were able to pay a profit-sharing bonus in June, and it was a complete surprise. … I think we raised belief that the best is yet to come, but it’s already getting better.

DSN: You came to the direct sales channel from traditional retailers like Chrysler, Microsoft and Ford. Two years in, what has surprised you about the business model?

JB: I love the business model, and interestingly, it has more in common with the automotive franchise model than a lot of people realize. The auto dealers and their employees aren’t employees of the manufacturers. You have to have the appropriate incentives, starting with outstanding products and services, compensation plans, and positive information and human service support. That’s my focus. We’re here to serve our Associates no differently than when I spent 17 years serving the auto dealer. I love that the incentives are all positive and performance-based. That’s what’s so incredible as a business leader about this model—it’s a win-win.

The other thing that excites me is being able to champion entrepreneurship. We’re in an election year, and whoever may be the next president of the United States, there are a lot of people who are unhappy and maybe even a little angry. However you look at that anger, whether it’s socially motivated or politically motivated, I can tell you that ultimately it’s always economically motivated. If people felt they are better off now than they were four or eight years ago, they wouldn’t be so angry. I feel that all of us in direct selling have an obligation to continue to be champions of entrepreneurship, to let everyone know there’s a chance to take control of their lives, feel better about themselves, and earn more money while selling incredible products and services.

July 31, 2016

Publisher's Note

There’s a Company behind Every Growth Story

by Lauren Lawley Head

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

Lawley Head

Direct selling generated 183.7 billion in global retail sales in 2015, a new record for the channel, according to the newest estimates from the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. The total global direct selling salesforce also reached a new high, increasing 4.4 percent to 103 million people.

While the new data is important, the real stories are in the growing companies and consultants’ businesses that are fueling the growth.

One of the growth stories is California-based skincare and cosmetics brand SeneGence International, which has been increasing sales by 100 percent or more each of the past three years. And, while 2015 was a record year for SeneGence, Founder and CEO Joni Rogers-Kante is the first to point out that success in direct selling comes from a long-standing commitment to hard work. “I know that it is my purpose in life to offer products and a career that really works to women all over the world, using this mission as a tool to give women confidence, security and abundance for themselves and their loved ones,” Kante told writer J.M. Emmert for the story, which begins on Page 52. “That sense of purpose and determination has shaped the person I’ve become and also the mission of SeneGence.”

New arrivals on the direct selling landscape also play an important role in driving growth in the channel. This month’s Young Company Focus, beginning on Page 66, offers a closer look at one of these upstarts. Jean-Charles Boisset turned to direct selling as a sales channel for the Boisset Collection family of wineries in 2012 and, since then, has seen its network of Ambassadors grow to 1,800. “It’s the most exciting thing I’ve personally ever done,” he told writer Heather Martin of the decision to move into direct selling. “There’s no other model that allows you to have a limitless amount of people energized by what you do.”

And of course, large, established companies also contribute to direct selling’s global success as they continue to evolve. In a story beginning on Page 40, writer Nicholas Sakelaris shares the inside story of Maryland-based Take Shape For Life as it embarks on an extensive rebranding journey. The company launched a new product line called Optavia at its annual convention in July, broadening the company’s focus from weight loss to wellness. By July 2017, the entire company will adopt the Optavia name. “We see this as being the biggest, most important event that we’ve had in my five years of running the company,” Mike MacDonald, Chairman and CEO of TSFL’s parent company Medifast, told DSN. “We’re going down a common path to improve the health of people here and around the world. This whole new branding is really designed to demonstrate who we are, what we stand for and the difference we want to make in people’s lives, here in the U.S., and soon around the world.”

At Direct Selling News, we hope that these stories of purpose, commitment and innovation will serve as an inspiration to others. We wish each of you the very best as you and your teams work to wrap up your summer season.

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

July 31, 2016

DSA News

Using Technology to Address the Needs of Our Business Model

by Joseph N. Mariano

At the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s hugely successful 2016 Annual Meeting this June, I reported on some of the thoughts and observations shared with me throughout the year from direct selling executives, industry suppliers, members of the field, international peers and colleagues, investors, the press, policy makers and regulators. These “soundings” included the need to promote direct selling as a dynamic, ethical and innovative marketplace force; the question of how best to embrace and capitalize on social and technological change; and the need to be more responsive to our salesforce and customers. I think all should form the core of our industry’s strategic thinking moving forward. Here is a taste of some of those thoughts and observations.

Advances in technology and greater access to data give us the tools we need to monitor the market and ensure that the selling and buying experience we provide is of the highest quality. We have traditionally—and understandably—been closer to our consultants than to the ultimate consumer. But one of the greatest challenges I have in representing direct selling to various interested parties is explaining why we do not know our customers as well as we should. Analysts do not understand how we cannot be more in touch with our consumers, and regulators (and critics of the channel) cannot be convinced of the legitimacy of our model if we are unable to tell them with certainty who the people are who are using our products.

But now we have the opportunity to harness big data and the latest digital technology to become experts on who the people are who keep our companies afloat, what they want and how we can better serve them. The bonus here is that this will not only eliminate one of the biggest criticisms we face, it will help us win long term in the marketplace.

We also should recognize and define personal use of our products in new and accurate ways. Let’s use technology and data to demonstrate that consumers of all types—distributors and non-salespeople—are freely and legitimately using our products.

We can take advantage of our unique ability to embrace the growing trend toward a sharing economy and independent work and offer an environment where everybody who engages in our programs ultimately feels good about them and our companies. The motivations of independent contractors and how/why they work also are changing, with surveys suggesting that compensation is of less interest to the next generation of direct sellers, the Gen Xers and millennials.

Let’s promote what we deliver best: access to the brand and preferred pricing on products, interpersonal skill development, social networking, and potential for supplemental income and resources that afford anyone an opportunity to start their own business.

Be proud of the fact, too, that most direct sellers are satisfied with what they earn, even if the amounts are modest. Direct sellers do highly value the other non-income aspects of their businesses, so why invite the criticisms and misunderstanding of the model by touting the potential for huge incomes? Celebrate those few people who turn direct selling into a significant business endeavor because it’s quite an accomplishment, but also unabashedly acknowledge that the top earners are outliers and that although the possibility is there for everybody, most people will not achieve that level of income.

Additionally, let’s create mechanisms to clearly differentiate customer classes and better identify those who intend to sell as true direct sellers. DSA is ready to help each individual member company identify opportunities for the adjustments that will allow us to clearly demonstrate this reality of our business.

By embracing the tools of technology, data and the new economy, direct selling can become the preeminent business and economic force, because it is here that we can transform the public and regulatory perceptions of our business and become better understood and valued as the global model of entrepreneurship, empowerment and change.

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

July 29, 2016

U.S. News

Mannatech Sellers to Get Social Media Strategies at Two-Day Training

Associates of Mannatech Inc. are gathering in Dallas this weekend for a social media training event—the first ever hosted by the nutrition company.

The two-day event will be led by network marketing coaches Ray and Jessica Higdon, who have built their own business using both online and offline marketing. Mannatech’s Social, Mobile, Global Bootcamp will focus on using a variety of social media platforms to sell products, posting etiquette, populating newsfeeds and other strategies.

“We want to empower our sales Associates to take advantage of the YouEconomy, and this innovative training will open new opportunities for Mannatech entrepreneurs,” said company CEO and President Al Bala. “We believe we are the first company in our space that is providing two days of training on social media with the best experts available.”

In addition to hosting Associates in Dallas, home to its corporate headquarters, Mannatech will livestream the event on July 30–31 for online registrants.

Strategic initiatives like the Social, Mobile, Global Bootcamp are aimed at modernizing and expanding the 21-year-old company, which promoted Bala a year ago to lead the effort. During its annual salesforce meeting in April, MannaFest 2016, the company unveiled sweeping changes to its branding, compensation plan and product line.

July 29, 2016

U.S. News

Natural Health Trends Reports Strong Second Quarter Results

Natural Health Trends Corp. (NHTC—NASDAQ), a marketer of personal-care and wellness products under the NHT Global brand, has logged another quarter of double-digit revenue growth.

In the quarter ended June 30, 2016, revenue climbed to $80.4 million, up 15 percent from the prior-year period. The California-based company does the bulk of its business in Hong Kong, where revenue was up 13 percent to $73.3 million. Outside Hong Kong, revenue rose 43 percent to $7.0 million, compared to $4.9 million a year earlier.

Earnings slipped to $12.2 million, or $1.07 a share, from $12.3 million, or 98 cents a share, in the second quarter of 2015. Income reflects a $2.4 million tax provision for expected partial repatriation of profits from international operations. Excluding the tax, income increased 19 percent to $14.6 million, or $1.29 a share.

The company said it repurchased $23.7 million of its common stock in the first half of 2016.

“Through our strong cash generation, we are very well positioned to grow our business organically while simultaneously returning value to our stockholders through quarterly cash dividends and execution on our $70 million stock repurchase program,” said Chris Sharng, President of Natural Health Trends Corp.

On July 19, 2016, the board of directors authorized a dividend payout of 7 cents a share on the company’s outstanding common stock, upping the previous quarter’s dividend by 17 percent.