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April 01, 2017

DSA News

Key Consumer Insights

by Ben Gamse



Click here to order the April 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Greater consumer knowledge can generate growth opportunities for all businesses. Direct selling is no different. However, the unique nature of our business model means companies are often more closely in tune with their salespeople than their customers. Two new DSA consumer studies help bridge this gap with data and insights that companies can use to better understand and connect with their customers and potential customers—and with those who might become salespeople:

DSA’s 2017 Consumer Attitudes Study provides extensive data on awareness and perceptions of direct selling, the collaborative economy, social media usage and more. Key findings show that one-third of respondents give direct selling high favorability ratings, consistent with 2012 and up from 2008; half are neutral. The study also shows that confusion still exists among consumers as to what direct selling is, with many mistakenly associating it with eBay, Amazon, or even telemarketing.

“A key challenge in the industry is gaining foresight into the mindset of prospects,” says Jeff Kaufman, Director, Customer and Field Insights of Isagenix International and Chairman of DSA’s Industry Research Committee (IRC). “For example, in addition to communicating the benefits of a product, salespeople have to define the benefits of direct selling, which are often undefined in many consumers’ minds. DSA research like the 2017 Consumer Attitudes Study gives great insight into some of the challenges our independent salesforce face.”

DSA’s 2016 U.S. Consumer Trends Impacting the Direct Selling Industry Report explores trends in shopping, workforce, communications, innovation, and demographics as well as their implications for direct selling. (View a summary infographic from the Consumer Trends Impacting the Direct Selling Industry Report at www.dsa.org/ConsumerTrends.)

A key insight shows companies how to connect with customers more efficiently and scale up business by enhancing the personal relationship that customers enjoy (a particular strength of direct selling) through “tech-enabled intimacy.”

Monica Wood, Vice President of Global Consumer and Member Insights at Herbalife Nutrition and IRC member, says, “Tech-enabled intimacy is where we can connect like-minded consumers so they can engage in conversations, and we can make it an amazing experience for them in the social media platform. At Herbalife, we’re very focused on this, all while maintaining the personal touch.” In addition to enhancing human connectivity, tech-enabled intimacy can improve the speed, simplicity, and intuitiveness of the shopping experience.

With the clear need for direct selling companies to demonstrate “real sales to real customers,” it is increasingly important to understand our customers and their perspectives. Direct selling companies can use DSA research to drive growth by gaining a greater understanding of who their customers are. For more information, contact DSA’s Market Research Manager Ben Gamse at bgamse@dsa.org. 

Access to the full studies referenced in this article is a DSA member benefit. For information on joining DSA, contact Vice President of Membership Nancy Burke at nburke@dsa.org.


NameBen Gamse is Market Research Manager at the U.S. Direct Selling Association.