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March 01, 2011

Publisher's Note

Letter from John Fleming, March 2011


John Fleming

This month’s cover story is, once again, a pleasure to bring to you! One year ago we took on this project for the first time and the result was quite revealing, educational and informative. We ranked the markets that were responsible for $1 billion or more in annual revenues. The stats and facts, as always, are important, but the bigger story is the fact that each market is contributing in excess of $1 billion per year as a result of the direct selling channel. This means so much more than the revenues of the individual companies doing business in a market.

All industries impact the economies in which they do business. Most industries increase or decrease the number of jobs available. During recessionary times there are very few industries that can say they are actually increasing the welfare of the people through an increase in the number of jobs/opportunities being offered. In fact, we know that many jobs that once were will never be again. This is not only true here in the United States, but also in every mature market around the globe.

However, those engaged in utilizing direct selling as a channel of distribution can proudly boast that they are increasing the number of available opportunities for both personal and financial gain in every market where business is being conducted. Direct selling brings added value—never a decreasing value—to the economies in which business is conducted. Direct selling also provides something else that no other industry can match: the opportunity to grow personally as a result of training/development systems focused on the growth, self-confidence, self-esteem and achievement of the individual. Regardless of the product or service being offered, direct selling offers a unique training and developmental opportunity for people from all walks of life. This is an asset that the industry can be very proud of. Through this channel of distribution, people learn to shed their fears, believe in themselves, believe in goal setting and planning and, consequently, learn to understand that selling, servicing, recruiting, training and developing others is a very noble profession or choice of work. This remains one of the industry’s most valuable assets and gifts to the economies where direct selling is a channel of distribution.

In spite of the fact that the industry has experienced declining overall revenues over the past few years (direct sellers are not the only ones), direct sellers can be proud of the fact that the number of people participating apparently continues to grow. With more and more choosing to learn how to build a business and be more self-sufficient versus being dependent on typical job-based opportunities, the industry seems to be well-positioned for a strong rebound.

As you read the cover story, I am quite sure that you will be as fascinated as I was with some of the growth and movement since last year. Granted, some markets declined. Some markets moved up in the ranking and some new markets emerged, which provides insight for those of you who are thinking globally as you work through strategic expansion plans and focus. I remain most fascinated by China and India, as well as Russia and even Africa. Will the growth of other markets surpass the status of the U.S. market in the years to come? Is the U.S. market rebounding? These are the questions that will most likely determine the focus of global expansion in the years to come.

On the local front, private-equity investors are obviously paying attention to solid, growth-focused direct selling companies. The announced intent by MidOcean Partners to acquire Pre-Paid Legal Services for $650 million is another big win for the direct selling way of doing business. See our Financial Report section for more information on this story, which we will cover in more detail in the coming months.

We are proud of what we do here at DSN as we strive to fulfill our mission and purpose to bring you the best news and information, and sometimes, a bit of education through your stories and the gifts we receive from those who contribute to this publication. Like you, we are now constantly challenged to remember that the world is moving at warp speed. Communication has rapidly evolved into methods and vehicles that we could not have contemplated just five years ago. We are not quite there in how some of the tools may be utilized (we are still figuring some things out), but we are pleased to let you know that the U.S. version of Direct Selling News is now available as an iPad application, and we hope to have the European version as an app very soon.

As I reviewed our February issue, I was also reminded of the excellent job our new Managing Editor, Judith Emmert, accomplished in ensuring that our change in staffing would not interrupt the quality of the product we strive to offer you each month. My review of the last issue also reminded me of why we exist as a publication. DSA Supplier Member Companies have served the companies of this industry through the best of times, and most recently, through the most challenging of times. DSA Supplier Member Companies, especially those who continued to use our platform as a communications vehicle to reach you—the decision makers in the industry—are saluted and thanked as we continue our work to tell the best of your stories in the year to come!

Until next month!

John Fleming
Publisher and Editor in Chief