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December 21, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, January 2012

John FlemingHere we are! It’s another new year, another new measurement period and another new opportunity to dust ourselves off, reflect on the past and chart a new course toward a new vision for what can be. The brilliance of the calendar makes possible the opportunity for renewal, and for many, the opportunity to hit the restart button is most welcomed.

The last year, 2011, will be remembered for many reasons: the momentum gained, goals achieved both from the corporate and personal points of view, challenges experienced and lives forever changed. As we reflect on the stories we wrote and shared, perhaps one word seems to have emerged, used more often than any other: social. New ways to build social relationships have impacted every facet of business, leading to new ways consumers are making choices about the products and services they purchase and the extent to which others might engage in a business proposition. Traditional media is no longer the big influencer; it’s now all about social—social relationships, social commerce, social entrepreneurship, social media, social philanthropy, social everything—and this appears to be the new frontier for many. But it is a frontier direct sellers have always understood. So what does it all mean as we now march into the first phase of another new year?

Having just departed from the Direct Selling Association’s Be Connected Conference in Las Vegas, it is obvious that direct selling companies are all over the social frontier. It was the major conversation in just about every workshop I attended, including the general sessions. Most refreshing was the opportunity to observe how direct selling companies are utilizing the new tools, and how the leadership is setting the tone by equipping their sales organizations with tools not imagined a few years ago. If consumers and prospective business owners are making their decisions more and more on trust, and on the information and relationships they seek as well as quality, price and convenience, direct selling companies appear to be providing it all and are possibly about to experience their best positioning ever!

This we do know: There is a huge shift taking place in terms of who represents the new purchasing power, and consequently, the new recruits and potential leaders who will allow companies to sustain their relevance in the marketplace of today and tomorrow. Often referred to as Gen Y, they are here—and in a big way. Our Cover Story has been fascinating to pull together as this new generation of consumers and future managers and leaders will do things differently. Their emerging power has been steadily building, and now they are predicted to surpass the spending of baby boomers within the next five years.

As always, we enjoy the Company Spotlight stories we do each month. This month’s Company Spotlight has been one we have looked forward to for quite some time. Natura is one of the largest direct selling companies in the world and is the direct selling market leader in Brazil. Our opportunity to interview Alessandro Carlucci, CEO of Natura and recently elected Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, provides you with information and insight into this remarkable company and its leader. Alessandro also speaks to the very important role of the WFDSA and his plans to promote direct selling as an agent for economic, social and environmental change.

Joe Mariano, new President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association, takes this month’s Top Desk spot to share his message from both a global and domestic perspective.

As we look back at many of our accomplishments in 2011, we are privileged to have Scott Van Winkle of Canaccord Genuity contributing a monthly review in our Financial News section of the publication. Scott is one of the few analysts who follow a group of publicly held direct selling companies while also watching trends within the industry. His “Year in Review” in this month’s issue provides you with his point of view relative to performance in 2011 and includes his outlook.

During the month of January, you can also look forward to experiencing a relaunched Direct Selling News website with new functionality and easier access to archived information that has been published in the print magazine. The site will be accessible on tablets and mobile devices and will appear as an app in the iTunes store. We encourage you to visit and see for yourself what we have done to better serve the decision-makers who create and empower the industry as well as those who seek information.

We look forward to the work to be done and the months that lie before us. New stories will be told and one very important one is a new ranking of the Top 100 Direct Selling Companies in the World. The new ranking will be announced in April and revealed in the June 2012 issue of Direct Selling News. Once again, we will take on the task and the risk associated with identifying the companies that make the list. Certainly, we will need your help.

As we now move through another year, the positioning of direct selling companies as leaders in the utilization and inclusion of people from all walks of life—in what is definitely a new form of commerce—appears to be spot on. Many are saying that the need for training, retraining, entrepreneurship and self-reliance is more needed than, perhaps, ever! For these reasons, we look forward to continuously “serving” all of you.

Happy New Year! Enjoy the issue!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief