Innovative technology and nutritional products that optimize the body’s biology.
The nutritional supplements giant LifeVantage didn’t start the biohacking movement, but they’re the direct selling company that has embraced it. Also known as DIY biology, biohacking is the desire to optimize your body and mind by using everything at your disposal – technology, tools and science – to become the best version of yourself.
The word biohacking was coined by combining the Greek root word bio, which means life, with the modern word hack, which refers to a shortcut or way of doing things more efficiently. “Similarly, LifeVantage includes the words life or bio and advantage or optimization,” says Justin Rose, LifeVantage Chief Sales Officer. “Our name, LifeVantage, is synonymous with biohacking.”
One of the main ways biohackers seek to control their biology is through their gene expression, says Ryan Goodwin, LifeVantage Chief Marketing Officer. That’s where nutritional genomics comes in. Nutrigenomics is the study of how nutrients and natural compounds affect gene expression. LifeVantage’s Protandim. line of scientifically validated nutrigenomic products support the body’s natural cellular function by targeting the biochemical effects of aging.
“Our name, LifeVantage, is synonymous with biohacking.”
—Justin Rose, LifeVantage Chief Sales Officer
Ranked No. 36 in the Direct Selling News 2020 Global 100, LifeVantage is publicly traded on the Nasdaq (LFVN) and headquartered in Sandy, Utah, near Salt Lake City. The company initially began selling its premium dietary supplements in retail stores like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe when it was founded in 2003. It wasn’t until 2009 when LifeVantage transitioned from a retail to a direct selling business.
Darren Jensen, LifeVantage President and CEO—who joined the company in 2015 with 30 years of direct selling experience—says LifeVantage saw a dramatic leap in revenue after shifting from a retail to a direct sales model. “Direct selling is a much more powerful way of conveying a complex message directly to the consumer,” Jensen adds. “We started out in retail, and it didn’t work for us. Our true calling is in direct selling.”
Leveraging Smart Technologies
One of the things that differentiates LifeVantage is its emphasis on technology and innovation. The company seeks to emulate the kinds of game-changing technologies designed by leaders of the gig economy—big names like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit— and apply it to the tools used in the direct selling industry. “We want to make it as easy to build at LifeVantage as it is to drive for Uber,” Jensen says. “That means we have to compete within the gig economy. We have to take out as much friction within our systems as possible to make it easy to do business with us.”
To make that happen, LifeVantage has focused its time, talent and resources on developing and funding smart technologies and apps. “We are hell-bent on making technology a competitive edge for LifeVantage,” Goodwin says. “Our goal is to leverage the best practices of e-commerce, internet marketing and network marketing to create the best digital user experience for both consumers and distributors.”
For new LifeVantage distributors, this will translate into an app that provides guidance and instructions—just like the Uber mobile app tells its drivers where they need to go to pick up people who need rides—throughout the life cycle of their business, including making recommendations on how to prospect and how to close business.
Another way LifeVantage has incorporated smart technologies into its everyday operations is through integrating artificial intelligence into the way it handles inbound calls. Every call the company receives is digitized, transcribed into text and fed through machine learning. “It’s then analyzed to see what the tone and sentiments are and how questions were answered,” Rose says. “That’s given us a tremendous amount of insight into what is occurring within the distributor force. This type of technology will be helpful for us and any company that integrates it.”
“As a company, we’re leading the way by integrating technologies and new practices into direct selling.”
—Darren Jensen, LifeVantage President & CEO
You can bet technology will play a big part in the company’s future growth strategy, too. Another new innovation on the horizon will likely incorporate elements of gamification, which generally speaking is the application of game-playing elements (point scoring, competitions among users, digital games, timed challenges, etc.) to other non-game activities to encourage user engagement. “You’ll see more gamificiation and a hybridization in the way we do business over the next few years,” Jensen says. “I believe as a company we’re leading the way by integrating technologies and new practices into direct selling.”
When a new LifeVantage distributor joins the company, they will already have access to the free LifeVantage mobile phone app, which walks them through tasks, analyzes their business and makes recommendations for action steps. Another new technology just released is a tool called Playbook, an online resource library of shareables, product information, training on prospecting for customers and distributors, and monthly updates and sales promotions.
Gaining Global Advantage
LifeVantage currently does business in 17 countries, according to Jensen, but the United States boasts its largest footprint. “The U.S. represents sixty percent of our business,” Jensen adds. “Our second largest market is Japan. We’re always expanding throughout Asia and Europe. We’re looking for other opportunities around the world to grow.”
To strengthen its global growth, LifeVantage has adapted its compensation plan to allow for greater flexibility to better adjust to the way other countries do business. “We’re an e-commerce company in mainland China,” Jensen says. “So, we’re experimenting with multiple forms of business. We’re trying to find that next evolution of direct selling.”
A big change LifeVantage just made is its launch of “Daily Pay” bonus programming that integrates with the company’s payroll and time management systems, and enables LifeVantage to calculate a portion of distributors’ commissions on a daily basis, in addition to their monthly commissions checks. LifeVantage has also invested resources in acquiring staff members who speak multiple languages to enable the company to enter new countries on solid footing and maintain their market positioning in current ones.
Looking ahead, Jensen says he anticipates the company will increase its focus on eco-friendly initiatives. “I think you’ll also see from us more of an effort at being good stewards of the planet,” Jensen says. “You’ll see us shifting more toward adapting all of our packaging and our business practices to even more of a sustainability focus.”
As a publicly traded company, LifeVantage incorporates discipline into everything it does, Jensen says. “When it comes to strategy and our business practices, we are a very straight-arrow company,” Jensen says. “We do things the right way and part of our values is that people come first.” DSN
Leaving a Legacy
One of LifeVantage’s corporate values is to leave communities better than they found them. To that end, the company created the charitable organization, LifeVantage Legacy, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to impacting the lives of children and families through programs and initiatives that make a lasting impact on future generations.
One of the hallmarks of the organization is the annual Legacy Volunteer Service Trip to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, to build homes for families in need. Partnering with the nonprofit Families Helping Families to build and furnish houses in poverty-stricken areas, LifeVantage Legacy buys the lot and building materials, and supplies the manpower—thanks to LifeVantage distributors and staff—to build each home.
“We don’t just give them the home, we furnish it,” says Darren Jensen, LifeVantage President and CEO. “When the mother opens the refrigerator and sees it’s stocked, that’s when she starts to cry because she sees her family is safe.” LifeVantage Legacy’s outreach efforts have resulted in:
- Nearly $1 million in donations raised
- 25 homes built
- 90+ children with a roof over their head
- Thousands of people fed
- 50+ jobs created in Mexico
- 700+ volunteer homebuilders
The service trip has become so popular among LifeVantage distributors that, this year, volunteers will be selected through a lottery system. “We give people a way to give back,” says Justin Rose, LifeVantage Chief Sales Officer. “Deep down inside, we all want to be a part of something bigger.”