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July 01, 2015

News in Brief

News in Brief, July 2015

Click here to order the July 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

ViSalus Co-Founder Endows $200K to Entrepreneurial Program

Ashley and Nick Sarnicola Ashley and Nick Sarnicola

A recent donation from ViSalus Co-Founder Nick Sarnicola and his wife, Ashley, will support up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Nick’s native Michigan. Through their Next Generation Entrepreneurs (NextGEn) Foundation, the philanthropic couple has provided a $200,000 permanent endowment to the Muskegon Community College Entrepreneurial Studies program.

The gift goes hand-in-hand with a contribution from longtime friend and local real estate developer Jonathan Rooks, who donated the downtown Muskegon Masonic Temple building for the program’s use. The facility is slated to reopen by fall 2017 as the Rooks Sarnicola Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“Jon and Nick are making history at MCC with these incredibly generous gifts,” Tina Dee, Director of the Foundation for Muskegon Community College, said in a statement. “The total value of $550,000 is larger than any other single past contribution and will have an enduring and positive impact on our students and the greater community we serve.”

The Sarnicolas, who travel the world as Global Ambassadors for ViSalus, set up the NextGEn Foundation to provide scholarships, seed capital and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs. Their donation will supply a $10,000 annual award to graduates of the Entrepreneurial Studies program.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Presents Top Partnership Award to Nerium

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recognized its leading corporate partners during its recent National Conference in Philadelphia. The organization’s highest honor, the President’s Award, went to Nerium International for its wide-ranging contributions to BBBS over the past four years.

The organization pairs adult volunteers, or Bigs, with children at risk, or Littles, in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. The children generally come from poor or single-parent families, or have an incarcerated parent. BBBS asks a minimum one-year commitment of its volunteers.

In its four years as a corporate partner, Nerium has recruited Bigs among its employees and brand partners and raised more than $2 million for BBBS. The award also recognizes Nerium’s participation in spearheading new programs and ramping up funding through a variety of brand partner
giving options.

WFDSA Reports Positive Trends as Direct Selling Hits Global Highs

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) has published its 2015 Annual Report, supplying the most comprehensive data on the state of direct selling worldwide. In transactions that took place one-to-one, in retail shops, and online via e-commerce and social media, the industry continued its steady growth curve in 2014, seeing unprecedented sales and engagement.

Total retail sales climbed 6.4 percent last year to $182.8 billion, setting an industry record. Asia continues to outpace other markets, accounting for 45 percent of global retail sales. The Americas follow at 37 percent and Europe at 17 percent, with Africa and the Middle East representing the final 1 percent. In the past three years, the industry has seen a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 percent.

Behind direct selling’s positive growth trend are millions of entrepreneurs marketing an array of products and services. In 2014, their numbers swelled to a record 99.7 million, up 3.4 percent from 2013. Asia Pacific accounts for 51.1 million direct sellers, more than any other region, but the most significant growth took place in the Americas, where the salesforce increased 5.7 percent to 33.1 million.

“People today want to be able to determine their own hours, where they work, their level of commitment and effort, and their own goals,” WFDSA Chairman Doug DeVos, President of Amway, wrote in an introduction to the report. “This is what direct selling has been offering people for more than a century. And it’s why our industry is more compelling today than ever.”

DeVos also called on direct selling leaders to strengthen the industry’s image by proactively and transparently telling that story, as well as advocating for better consumer protections and legal definitions of the business model.

Utah Force for Good Day Honors Nu Skin Humanitarian Efforts

Former Direct Selling Association Chairman Truman Hunt, President and CEO of Nu Skin, has passed the gavel to Chairman David Holl, CEO of Mary Kay, but Hunt’s work to advance the industry as a force for good continues at Nu Skin’s Utah headquarters, where the Governor’s Office declared June 4, 2015, Utah Force for Good Day.

The observance is a nod to Nu Skin’s annual Force for Good Day, now in its 12th year. The company’s employees and distributors celebrate the day by participating in service projects that benefit children. This year, local participants supported the work of the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation by assembling 10,000 kids’ care bags and making 200 fleece quilts for children confined to a hospital stay. Globally, projects included donating and distributing education kits, serving children in orphanages, and sponsoring clothing drives.

Avon Unveils New Strategic Direction with ‘Beauty for a Purpose’

Avon is touching up its brand with the launch of a multimedia campaign aimed at sharing the Avon story with a new generation of women.

As its business has undergone a steep decline in recent years, Avon has been the subject of countless headlines portending the future of the brand. Now, the direct selling giant is looking to tell its own story with the launch of a new brand platform, Beauty for a Purpose. The attendant website, social sharing campaigns and rebranding will showcase Avon’s legacy, as well as its contemporary efforts to empower women.

“Beauty for a Purpose is a guiding vision for Avon’s future and is rooted in our rich history of empowering women,” said CEO Sheri McCoy, calling Avon an authentically purpose-driven company. “Financial independence is the most important driver of women’s empowerment, and for over 125 years Avon has provided women with an earning opportunity. Our commitment to women is also reflected in substantial work we have done in breast cancer and domestic violence as we work to help women live healthy lives, free of violence.”

The Beauty for a Purpose content site spotlights Avon distributors, executives and products. The brand is also tapping its lineup of celebrity partners—including names like Maria Sharapova, Olivia Wilde, and Fergie—for exclusive coverage. Of course, the site also prompts engagement from distributors, who can add their photos to the #BeautyforaPurpose gallery and share posts across social media platforms.

Avon said it plans to integrate its new messaging across the business by the end of the year. The company is collaborating with Santo/JWT Group, as well as creative partner Badger & Winters, on its new branding and advertising.

SimplyFun Donates Brand-New Belongings to Rescued Children

Children removed from their homes as a result of abuse or neglect often have nothing but the clothes on their back, but Washington-based SimplyFun LLC is working to change that through its partnership with the My Stuff Bags Foundation. The educational board game developer has announced a $100,000 product donation that will help to fill duffel bags with new belongings for children entering crisis shelters and foster care. The contribution marks the latest effort in SimplyFun’s eight-year partnership with My Stuff Bags.

ASEA Achieves Major Product Certifications and Launches Foundation

CEO Charles FunkeCEO Charles Funke
EVP Kurt RichardsEVP Kurt Richards

In its fifth year of business, ASEA LLC posted revenue of $70 million and joined the world’s largest direct selling companies on the 2015 DSN Global 100. ASEA recently adopted the tagline “Cellular Health,” a minor change that signals some major developments for the young biotech company. At its May convention, the brand unveiled new third-party certifications and scientific research, as well as a newly formed scientific advisory council. ASEA markets a liquid supplement and skincare gel containing redox signaling molecules, which signal the cells to activate antioxidants. With a technology largely unknown outside the scientific world, the company is pursuing a strategic research agenda to educate associates and consumers about its products.

DSN spoke to CEO Charles Funke and EVP Kurt Richards about some of the latest developments at ASEA.

DSN: ASEA’s production facility has obtained NSF Certification for Good Manufacturing Practices. What does that entail?
Richards: We operate our own production facility, and so this certification and registration was about three years in the making. Because we run our entire process from start to finish, as part of the intellectual property ASEA has, we actually had to build out a new facility and make sure it met the basic requirements. From there on, it takes a lot to get this certification done; it’s a fairly stringent process… The nice thing is that all our consumers and associates and those outside looking in can know that we run a very tight ship and are meeting or are above the FDA and GMP requirements.

DSN: You also obtained certification from BioAgilytix Labs. What is the significance of having the BioAgilytix seal on your products? Richards: The main part of our product, on the redox signaling side, is a unique active that helps to address the basic health of the cell. These molecules are fundamental to the way the cells work; they communicate internally with the tissues…The base of the product is salt and water, which then goes through a multi-day process, and then through the patented technology to create these molecules. One of the things we’ve wanted to do is find a partner—a third party—that could not only validate our internal testing to prove the molecules and the concentrations are there, but also certify that our product contains the molecules… BioAgilytix, which has partnered with eight of the top 10 global biotech and pharmaceutical companies, did two things for us. One, they validated our internal quality testing… And two, they tested both the ASEA Redox Supplement and the Renu 28 to say, yes, these contain the redox signaling molecules. Then we went a step further and entered into a partnership with them where they test our products regularly.

DSN: What is the story behind the new ASEA Advancing Life Foundation? Funke: We knew that it was time, particularly given our five-year history and the fact that we just this year broke into the DSN Global 100, to formally organize a charitable foundation. We were using the descriptor “Advancing Life” as a tagline for the company. As we’ve taken a fairly aggressive look at our branding and strategy, we felt it wasn’t really the right descriptor for ASEA, but it had a lot of name recognition and source credibility with our distributors. We’ve replaced it with the tagline “Cellular Health,” but we didn’t want to lose that “Advancing Life” concept…That’s why we established the ASEA Advancing Life Foundation, which is designed to help those in need, and we aren’t defining that too restrictively… At our convention, Founder Tyler Norton introduced the foundation and announced that, as a company, we would be donating $10,000 to CHOICE Humanitarian for their direct relief efforts in Nepal… Within the course of about a week and a half, our distributors had contributed an additional $20,000 for CHOICE Humanitarian.

DSN: You’ve expanded into Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand—25 total markets. Do you have any forthcoming expansions to share? Funke: We’ve actually tried to slow down a bit and be more strategic about our international expansions. Europe is a bit of a domino effect once you get there; you tend to move from country to country. I think what you’ll see in the future is more targeted markets that have more homogenous populations and larger population bases.

ACN Celebrity Tournament Raises Record Funds for Ronald McDonald House

Raised since the first ACN Celebrity Golf Tournament in 2011

Following its Ronald McDonald House Celebrity Golf Tournament in May, ACN Inc. announced that the fifth annual competition raised record funds for the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home for families of seriously ill or injured children as they navigate a hospital stay. The telecommunications and energy provider hosted more than 140 golfers at North Carolina’s Trump National Golf Club. The lineup of celebrity captains included sports stars such as Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano, Charlotte Hornets player Gerald Henderson, and former NFL player Donnie Shell. Presenting sponsor Dish Network and 75 corporate sponsors helped to raise $287,560 for Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte, located near ACN’s headquarters in Concord, North Carolina. Contributions from last year’s tournament totaled $228,000. “We are so fortunate to have the support of ACN!” said Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. “We always have a blast at the events they host for us throughout the year, but the best thing about them is that they are focused on the families we serve.”

Southwestern Advantage Receives BBB Award for Business Ethics

Southwestern Advantage’s Trey Campbell (left) and Southwestern subsidiary ThinkingAhead’s Greg Boucher

Southwestern Advantage was recently recognized for its ethical business practices by the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee (BBB), where the company has operated since its founding in 1868. The Nashville-based brand was one of two large companies to receive the 2015 Torch Award for Ethical Commerce, based on a unanimous vote by a panel of judges.

“We believe in building people. We also know that we are not what is important—what we do is important,” Southwestern Chairman and CEO Henry Bedford said in a statement. “Integrity and ethics are a very important part of our mission to help people develop the skills and character they need to reach their goals in life.”

The educational brand markets a learning system to help children build knowledge and life skills outside the classroom. The company is known for selling its products through college students enrolled in the Southwestern Advantage Sales & Leadership Program. Each summer, the company signs on nearly 2,500 students across North America and Europe and trains them to run their own Southwestern Advantage businesses.

LifeVantage and Real Salt Lake Unveil World-Class Testing Lab

Now in the second year of its Real Salt Lake jersey sponsorship, LifeVantage has announced the creation of a performance testing facility in partnership with the Major League Soccer club. The LifeVantage Sport Science Lab will apply advanced science and technology to help players improve their on-field performance.

The joint venture will hone in on each player’s response to training stress. With the data collected, the Real Salt Lake Sports Science Department will measure the cellular stress profile—including factors such as oxidation and inflammation—of each athlete and create tailored workout regimens and nutrition plans.

Direct Selling Companies Gain Ground in the Second Quarter