Direct Selling’s Economic Footprint Continues to Expand in United States, According to New National Survey

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New industry findings align with Bloomberg Government research underwritten by DSA, which showed a high level of satisfaction among independent contractors

Direct Selling Association (DSA) today released new data indicating that retail sales volume among U.S. direct selling companies grew 4.8% between 2014 and 2015 to $36.12 billion. Individuals involved in direct selling increased 11% during the same period, surpassing 20 million (20.2 million) people in the United States for the first time.

“When it comes to retail in 2016, consumers have dozens of options,” said Joseph N. Mariano, DSA’s President. “Even in the face of fierce competition from brick-and-mortar stores and online marketplaces, direct selling has continued on a path of solid growth since the end of the last decade. That’s the best evidence I know that the marketplace values meaningful engagement with customers. In an era when good customer service is increasingly rare, direct selling is bucking the trend.”

Wellness products represent the biggest single-year gain between 2014 and 2015, rising more than 16% to $12.1 billion in retail sales. They also represent the largest product group within the direct selling channel, according to the data, rising from 21.4% (2007) of total retail sales to 33.5% (2015). The survey also indicates growth in the personal care products category, which rose from $5.7 billion to $6.2 billion in retail sales, a nearly 9% increase.

“Direct selling has always been attractive to people who love our companies’ products, and are looking for flexibility in their work,” continued Mariano. “Now, thanks to technology and the changing nature of how people work, we are excited to see that even more Americans are becoming involved in direct selling.”

New research on independent contractors from Bloomberg Government underwritten by DSA validates direct selling as part of a growing economy for independent work. More than three-quarters of survey respondents (77%) experienced a high level of satisfaction with their work. Top motivations for becoming an independent contractor included being their own boss, flexibility in schedule and better work-life balance. When comparing the motivations of direct sellers to all respondents, the survey concluded that more than 60% of direct sellers are motivated by the ability to be my own boss, compared to 45% of all independent contractor respondents.

Additionally, 51% said that technology made a very positive impact in their pursuit of independent work, while another 36% said it made a positive impact. The Internet and cell phone technologies were the top technologies used by independent contractors.

DSA’s 2016 Growth & Outlook Report: U.S. Direct Selling in 2015 is based on responses from 102 direct selling companies and other sources, tabulated by economic consulting firm Nathan Associates.

Nearly any product and service can be marketed through the direct selling channel, including clothing, housewares, insurance, energy, wellness goods and jewelry.

RESOURCES

DSA Growth & Outlook Survey Infographic:
http://www.dsa.org/benefits/research/factsheets

DSA Video on Growth & Outlook Survey Results:
http://www.dsa.org/benefits/research

Bloomberg Government Workforce of the Future Survey Infographic:
http://www.bbhub.io/bgov/sites/12/2016/05/TheWorkforceoftheFuture-Survey.pdf

Bloomberg Government Survey Results:
http://www.bbhub.io/bgov/sites/12/2016/05/Workforce-of-the-Future-Survey-Report.pdf

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The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is the national trade association for companies that offer entrepreneurial opportunities to independent sellers to market and sell products and services, typically outside of a fixed retail establishment. More than 20 million Americans are involved in direct selling in every state, congressional district and community in the United States. In 2015, direct selling generated more than $36 billion in retail sales. For more information, visit http://www.dsa.org.

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Paul Skowronek
Direct Selling Association
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