How Direct Sales Can Keep Business Resilient Amid Adversity

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Amid a fast-changing global landscape marked by constant disruption, there are certain industries that have proven to be resilient in the face of change. One such sector is the direct selling industry which started more than a century ago with young men going door to door to sell products.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the industry is accelerating in the adoption of digital tools such as video conferencing, Facebook live sessions, and webinars that will further enhance the remote working capabilities and productivity of direct sellers. Beyond generating income from their own product sales, direct sellers are also able to develop and lead a team of other product sellers. It’s effectively an avenue where entrepreneurial-minded people can work independently to build a business of their own.

“People want flexibility to work when and how they want, and the fulfilment of doing more. We believe the gig economy should generate new opportunities for people, not take them away. To thrive in the new economy, companies must prioritize their human experience,” said Ryan Napierski, president at Nu Skin.

A professional and ethical industry

The global direct selling industry has become increasingly professionalised over the years, with its own code of ethics and set of best practices.

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) was set up in 1978 to address various industry issues around the world by providing a platform for DSAs to share information and strategies, and to plan common practices. It also aims to build understanding and support for direct selling worldwide in addition to integrating and aligning direct selling companies, and pursue the “highest level of ethical conduct in the global marketplace”.

In that regard, the first WFDSA World Code of Ethics was established in 1985 and adopted by local DSAs. Direct selling company Nu Skin, a retailer of premium-quality beauty and wellness solutions, is a member of each of the DSAs in the nearly 50 markets it operates in.

Global players

Established over 35 years ago, Nu Skin is one of many successful and ethical direct selling companies in the industry.

At the heart of the organisation’s success is its extensive global sales force – 54,760 as of 2019 – who are entrepreneurs engaged in selling and promoting Nu Skin products. Since its founding, the company has grown into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Nu Skin has sold over US$10 billion in global sales of its ageLOC products since 2008. The company has also paid out more than US$16.7 billion in sales compensation since 1984.

Nu Skin debuted in Southeast Asia over 20 years ago, setting up its first regional office in Thailand in 1997. It has since expanded to six other markets in the region: the Philippines (1998), Singapore (2000), Malaysia and Brunei (2001), Indonesia (2005) and most recently, Vietnam (2013). At the end of 2019, the Southeast Asia region had contributed about 12% to the company’s total annual revenue.

Beyond commercial success, Nu Skin and its distributors have also sought to give back to the communities it operates in. The US-based Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation and its charity partners donated US$10.3 million in 2019 towards improving the lives of children around the world. Through its for-profit social enterprise, Nourish The Children initiative, Nu Skin’s  sales force and employees around the world have helped to purchase and donate 650 million meals to feed malnourished children since 2002.

In Southeast Asia, the Nu Skin Southeast Asia Children’s Heart Fund (SEACHF) helps underprivileged children with congenital heart disease undergo corrective heart surgery. To date, SEACHF has saved over 12,500 children since its inception in 2003.

Through its business and philanthropic activities, Nu Skin is one example of how the direct selling industry continues to develop, providing products, opportunities and a supportive community in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.

“Nu Skin provides an opportunity for all to earn supplemental income, enjoy time flexibility, and have the potential to build a global business. We hope to inspire and empower more people to improve lives with our products and create more smiles, not just in Southeast Asia, but throughout the world,” shares Nu Skin Southeast Asia President Dr. Vicky Leevutinun.