U.S. Direct Selling Association Releases Annual Sales and Salesforce Figures

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Wellness and Services Categories Show Strongest Growth.

The U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) today released the results of its Annual Growth & Outlook Survey, which shows U.S. direct sales totaled $31.6 billion in 2012, a 5.9 percent year-over-year increase from $29.87 billion in 2011. In 2012, there were 15.9 million people involved in direct selling in the United States, an increase from 15.6 million the prior year.

“The strong performance of direct selling in the United States and around the world continues to underscore the economic and social relevance of this business model,” said DSA President Joseph Mariano. “Despite progress toward economic recovery, there are still many Americans looking for a source of supplemental income. Coupled with increasing consumer confidence, both sales and interest in the opportunity are at near-record levels.”

The U.S. direct selling market grew faster than the overall U.S. economy, which grew 4 percent as measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

The share of sales for two categories: Wellness (including weight management products, nutritional supplements, health foods and beverages, etc.) and Services (including utilities and financial products) has steadily increased for the last several years.

“Easy access to information about health and wellness has contributed to increased consumer interest in such products,” said Mariano. “Direct sales not only offers desirable products in this category, but has the value-added benefit of personal interaction with a knowledgeable representative to help the consumer make their purchasing decisions.”

Additionally, energy deregulation has contributed to the rise in sales in the Services category, as a number of energy companies have chosen a direct sales approach.

“Whenever you have a product or service that is enhanced by personal recommendation or explanation, direct selling is a viable distribution model,” Mariano noted. “Consumers aren’t used to ‘comparison shopping’ for utilities so they rely on recommendations of those whom they trust. That’s one of the key benefits of direct selling.”

Seventy-six percent of smaller direct selling companies (those with annual retail sales less than $3 million) saw growth, with an average retail sales increase of about 22 percent.

“Our research has shown that, across the board, consumers like the idea of supporting small, local businesses,” said Mariano, who adds that there are not only a number of young direct selling companies seeing growth, but that each independent direct seller is essentially a micro-entrepreneur who may be pursuing direct selling for a variety of reasons, spending anywhere from a few hours a week to 40 or more hours a week on their business.

DSA released the findings of its 2012 Growth & Outlook Survey during a joint announcement with the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) at the DSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix.

The United States was ranked as the top direct selling market in the world with 19 percent of worldwide sales in 2012. Japan came in second with $22.7 billion (14 percent), followed by China at $20 billion (12 percent), Brazil at $14.6 billion (9 percent) and South Korea at $13.3 billion (8 percent).

“We saw growth in sales and salesforce in all regions of the world,” said Alessandro Carlucci, WFDSA chairman and CEO of Brazilian direct selling company Natura Cosméticos. “Importantly, we are also seeing strong growth in emerging markets around the world, demonstrating the solid economic and entrepreneurial opportunity direct selling offers to people from all walks of life.”

Global direct sales increased 5.4 percent from $158.3 billion in 2011 to $166.9 billion in 2012, according to Carlucci.

Findings from the DSA 2012 Growth & Outlook Survey are available at http://www.dsa.org/statistics/.


About the Direct Selling Association

DSA is the national trade association of the leading firms that offer entrepreneurial opportunities to individuals as independent contractors to market and/or sell products and services, typically outside of a fixed retail establishment, through one-to-one selling, in-home product demonstrations or online. Compensation is ultimately based on sales and may be earned based on personal sales and/or the sales of others in their sales organizations.

Direct sellers may be called distributors, representatives, consultants or various other titles. They may participate in various ways, including selling the products themselves or through their sales organizations, providing training and leadership to their sales organizations, referring customers to the company and purchasing products and services for personal use.

For more information on direct selling, DSA and its Code of Ethics, please visit the DSA website at http://www.dsa.org.

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