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February 01, 2012

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, February 2012


John Fleming

With the migration to our new web platform now complete, I thought this would be a good place to further explain our objectives in case you missed the article in last month’s publication. On reflection, what was once thought to be a simple improvement to allow better information sharing turned into a project that consumed the time of many individuals for many months. The URL is the same but the site is very different. Check us out: www.directsellingnews.com.

The new site is designed to make the content of our monthly magazine more accessible while providing easy access to archived content, but there is much more. A visually appealing website that is easy to navigate was also a major goal. We think you will be proud of the professionalism displayed in support of the entire global industry. We have built the Direct Selling News brand on the belief that positive journalism has a place and is much needed in our world today. Therefore, we will continue to espouse that philosophy through the website with our new ability to go beyond the restrictions of the print format. This simply means that you can expect more than what you would find in the print version of Direct Selling News. In fact, our U.S. and World News section, as well as other sections will be a source of content that may never be in the print format.

Kudos to the web development team, who delivered on their promise: Brian Cline, Nathan Noom, Karla Garcia and Judy Emmert, who led the project through its final phase.

This brings us to a major component of business philosophy—Trust. Trusting Direct Selling News is something we take very seriously and, with the world now watching, we will continue to build upon the reputation we have established as a most trusted resource on information pertaining to the direct selling method of distribution. We consider the preceding to be very important because as external observers come to us for information, we want our platforms to present the industry—and those who are involved—in a manner which evokes not only interest, but interest for positive reasons, and most important, respect for the direct selling way of doing business. Having been involved in the industry for many years, I can remember those times when I simply wished for more information to share with employees, potential employees, even leadership within the company, inclusive of board members and anyone who just wanted to gain a better understanding of direct selling. Now, with easy access along with a fresh approach to using the web, we think you will find the new website to be a source of information of which all of your management-level employees should be aware. The print subscription is still complimentary to all direct selling company managers and above. So with one click and a few steps, a subscription to the print version can be obtained at no cost.

You will also find the new DSN website provides easy access to all associations under the Direct Selling Association (DSA) umbrella. The Direct Selling News site is totally managed by our DSN staff, which is independent of and not affiliated with DSA or its staff. We are simply delighted to have gained these DSAs’ approval to link to their sites in our design. Of course we will link to other sites as well.

Our Cover Story this month addresses a new trend that is somewhat the reverse of what we have frequently observed over the years. Direct selling companies have often paved the way for mass and niche retailers to “knock off” or establish a new price-value relationship on a product category or service. But in the case of coffee, Starbucks probably gets credit for establishing a new price-value relationship on the second-most consumed beverage in the world. Some of us remember when coffee was only a few cents per cup and often given away by many small businesses. But Starbucks changed the game, paving the way for the margin possibilities so needed when using the direct selling channel of distribution. But while Starbucks may have created a new price-value consumer mindset, direct selling companies are taking it to yet another level.

As we go to press for this February print edition, the big and positive news over the past few days has been about the enormous turnaround and growth at ViSalus. At last year’s DSN Global banquet, the ViSalus team received our Bravo Award for Turnaround. Such an award was motivated by their success in turning what was not looking to be a prosperous business in 2009 to a growing business at the end of 2010. And the story continues. To go from $34 million in 2010 to $231 million in 2011 is quite another story, which we will write about at a later time.

Preparation also starts this month in identifying the Global 100—the top direct selling companies in the world. Submission forms for financial information are available on our website starting Feb. 1. We are once again excited about delving into the process of identifying the top 100 direct selling companies in the world for 2011. Newcomers to the list are expected as worldwide sales for direct selling are now listed at $132 billion, in accordance with the most recent data released by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. You can review that information at www.wfdsa.org. The 2011 list will be first revealed at the DSN Global 100 Banquet on April 16 at the Hyatt Regency, Dallas. To find out more about registering for the event and to purchase tickets, go to our website. We look forward to seeing you at the event.

Until next month … enjoy the issue and the website!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief