August 01, 2011
O Canada!—A Look Inside Our Northern Neighbor’s Direct Selling World
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
On Jan. 25, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement declaring 2011 the Year of the Entrepreneur:
“Canada’s entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth in communities large and small across our country. They invest themselves completely in their businesses, working countless hours on every aspect of their enterprises, from research and development to manufacturing, marketing and delivery.
I am therefore pleased to declare 2011 as the Year of the Entrepreneur as part of our Government’s efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of entrepreneurs to Canada’s economy and pay tribute to their drive and dedication.
Our Government has listened carefully in the last five years to what entrepreneurs told us they need to succeed. We have listened and have taken decisive action to address their needs and concerns, including reducing taxes and red tape, improving access to business financing, making substantial investments in training, research and development, and opening up new markets.
I encourage Canadians to participate in activities taking place this year to support local entrepreneurs and to thank them for contributing to the quality of life we all enjoy.”
Amway has been conducting business in Canada for nearly 50 years. Amway Canada, the first of Amway’s international affiliates, has been providing independent business owners with quality products supported through national advertising, sponsorships, and social media efforts that help to increase awareness of the Amway, Artistry and Nutrilite brands.
“A lot of time, energy and resources have gone into transforming the Amway business over the last several years to ensure that it remains cutting edge,” says Angela Abdallah, Manager of Communications and Government Affairs for Amway Canada. “Investments in advertising, training, new product launches, enhancements to our website and mobile applications that put the Amway business in the palm of your hand are just a few of the ways we support the incredible efforts of our Canadian IBOs.”
Mary Kay in Canada opened on Sept. 13, 1978. Throughout the years the company has become known by government officials, the public and its salesforce as an organization that enriches the lives of women, conducts business on the highest ethical level and provides great opportunities for personal growth and financial independence.
“In our three and a half decades of business, we have enjoyed considerable growth; after 35 years of conducting business in Canada, our salesforce has grown to 15,000 individuals,” says Ray Patrick, President of Mary Kay Cosmetics Canada. “As our salesforce grows, so has our sales revenue grown accordingly.”
Patrick says that the company is incredibly optimistic for the future of direct selling in Canada and for the future of the DSA. “As we look forward to our 35th anniversary, we are currently enjoying considerable growth in the Quebec market as well as Prairie Provinces,” he says. “We expect to enjoy growth from the cultural groups in Canada, particularly the Asian markets.”
Silpada Designs has been operating in Canada since April 2008. According to Jerry Kelly, CEO of Silpada, Canada was a natural choice when his company was looking to expand outside of the United States.
“The close proximity of the two countries and the fact that both countries speak English are contributing factors,” says Kelly. “In addition, many Canadians experienced Silpada when visiting the United States and expressed interest for Silpada to expand into Canada.”
Silpada has experienced consistent growth in representatives each year it has been in business in Canada. The company is expecting a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of representatives in 2011.
In addition, Silpada’s growth in Canada throughout the global recession has exceeded expectations. “We have a very positive outlook for 2011 and beyond with continued growth and brand awareness that will keep Silpada Designs at the forefront of this industry for years to come,” Kelly says. “It was very important for Silpada Canada to be a standalone Canadian operation, separate from our U.S. operation, with its own dedicated field development, support and fulfillment infrastructure, not just a sales office. This has created a very unique and valuable Canadian Silpada-ish culture and reflects our long-term commitment to Silpada Canada.”
Immunotec Inc. is Canada-based, and according to COO Robert Felton, the only publicly held direct selling company trading on the Canadian exchange. The company has been in business 15 years and operates in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland, and Mexico. Their largest market is still Canada.
Immunotec has years of scientific research and clinical trials behind their products. Their flagship product, Immunocal, was developed at McGill University in Canada and is listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference. Fifteen years ago, when research on the product was presented to a pharmaceutical company, executives passed on it since it works primarily as a “preventative” product by optimizing the immune system. So one of the founders and investors in the research turned to network marketing as the distribution channel, starting the business out of his garage in Quebec.
“For the past several years, the company has been positioned to treat illness, but is in the midst of a repositioning toward wellness, for people who want a better quality of life,” says Felton.
Regal Gifts is another company with roots in Canada. The company was founded in Toronto in 1928 and is a well-known brand name in Canada with over 80 percent consumer recognition. It was in the Top 5 of direct selling companies in Canada prior to a restructuring in 2005. Since then it has refocused on its core business and direct selling model and, although smaller, is profitable and growing.
“Our independent reps have grown steadily the last number of years and through the recent recession,” says Greg Neath, President and CEO of Regal. “So far this year we are up almost 10 percent in reps and we have also had slightly less growth in our sales.”
Neath admits that the company’s growth has been challenged by lower consumer spending, but that has not deterred executives from finding new opportunities like social media, which they see as perfectly suited to the direct selling model.
“We are finding that the older ISC trying to do business in the same model of the last 20 years is seeing declining sales, while newer ISCs, who are using the new tools, are seeing strong results,” says Neath. “We are in a transitionary stage where these newer ISCs are growing and beginning to replace the lost revenue from the old model, but are yet to reach the annual sales that took years for our older ISCs to achieve.”
Neath believes that Regal will continue to grow in the coming years despite the challenges now faced. “Our business is growing and we see high single or low double-digit growth through the next number of years as the newer web-based ISCs really begin to take-off,” he says. “The ups and downs of the economy will continue but we believe strong direct sellers who recognize how to compete for the consumer dollars are in a better position than most retailers. Through keeping costs variable and organizing around the ability to quickly react and change in real-time speed, Regal will continue to be a strong Canadian brand for many decades to come.”