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Opportunity in 2012 – A Look Ahead

With the first month and a half of 2012 behind us, now is the perfect time to take a step back and remind ourselves of those oh-so-ambitious New Year’s Resolutions we set for ourselves a mere 50-some days ago. While gym membership will inevitably wane in the coming months and those who fervently swore off stress or bad habits may fall back into similar patterns in the future, in terms of direct selling, it’s imperative that we – at the very least – keep our 2012 business goals in focus, however daunting a task that might seem at times.

While many companies have established full-year sales and recruitment goals, for direct sellers everywhere, a new year means a new opportunity to revive business, reach out to new audiences and strengthen relationships with former customers or team members.

With that in mind, February provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to take some time to visualize what the next 11 months could mean for direct selling as an industry.

Recently, we asked a number of executives from a variety of direct selling companies to share with us their insights, predictions and concerns for 2012. While DSA members had the opportunity to read the full responses from those executives mentioned below in a previous edition of our InTouch publication, some of their insights deserve further exposure.

The Economy:

Cindy Juncaj, President & CEO, Demarle at Home: “Due to the state of the economy as well as the rising cost of education, people will continue to look for ways to create, supplement or build their income through non-traditional means such as direct selling, but, it is imperative to simplify the business so that anyone can do it and anyone can afford it. People today are looking for more value when it comes to spending the money they worked so hard to earn and many direct selling companies offer only top-notch products as well as friendly, personalized sales.”

Lori Bush, President & General Manager, Rodan + Fields: “When economic times are tough, discretionary purchasing will be impacted. People will trade down or do without. However, direct selling does have the opportunity to alter the value proposition by providing a more personal engagement than other classes of trade.”

Consumer Behavior:

Jay Rudman, CEO, Paperly: “Nationally, one of the biggest challenges for direct selling in 2012 is consumer behavior. Businesses have truly trained consumers to look for and wait for a deal, either through online deals or extreme discounting. Couponing is almost glorified at this point through television and radio, as well as other mediums. For these reasons and many others, in our industry, competition is a significant challenge. Traditional retailers can live in the moment. They can drop a promotion to hit the next day, whereas direct sellers have a much longer cycle, meaning that in order for a direct selling company to promote something, it’s got to go through the field, out to the customer and then back to the company. Conversely, I still believe that direct selling far trumps a website or even a traditional retail experience because nothing compares to the one-to-one social interaction that the direct selling experience provides. Direct selling will continue to thrive in 2012 and beyond because there will always be a need for that consultative relationship.”

Outreach:

AJ Deeds, President, Loving Works, LLC: “In order for our credential as a community to be as strong as it should be, we need to help spread the message about the direct sales channel to those outside the industry. We’re not commonly perceived as an influence in the economy by those who aren’t directly involved in this industry. Our goal should be to spread the word about direct selling such that people begin to look to our leadership to espouse how to run organizations or set an example for economic success. Every person in the United States who has any degree of entrepreneurial spirit can own their own part-time business and achieve the benefits that are just waiting there to be achieved. While we have more success stories than can be counted, we are rarely considered for, much less invited to, the national leadership table. By bringing the stories of our industry forward in 2012 to a national stage, we, the direct sales channel, can represent part of the economic solution.”

What do you envision for direct selling in the months ahead?

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This blog is written by Amy Robinson

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Many know me as SVP and CMO at the Direct Selling Association, but I have two more important roles – a consumer and mother who knows what it’s like to want it all. I have seen so many people find success in direct selling, but I know there are a lot of people who have questions about this method of buying and selling. Through this blog I want to promote a meaningful discussion that will help connect people with answers and connect direct selling companies with the issues they need to address. Read more about this blog in my first blog post.

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