Scentsy Ascends Again

Headquarters: Meridian, ID
Top Executives: Orville Thompson, CEO, Heidi Thompson, CEO
Products: Fragrance and home decor

Through 15 years of gains and a few dips, Scentsy stays the course with a record year of growth.

When Scentsy was first founded by Orville and Heidi Thompson in 2004, the company operated out of a 40-foot shipping container at the couple’s small sheep farm in Meridian, Idaho. Today, Scentsy has grown into one of the direct-selling industry’s leading companies. The home-and personal- fragrance market leader boasts nearly 117,000 consultants and more than 1,000 employees who work out of the company’s home office on an Idaho campus of 73 acres.

A lot has changed since Scentsy’s humble beginnings 15 years ago, but what hasn’t changed is the company’s commitment to its mission: To bring value to the world by providing an industry-leading, family friendly business opportunity selling creative, artistic, high-quality products that Warm the Heart, Enliven the Senses and Inspire the Soul.

The words “industry-leading,” “family friendly” and “quality products” aren’t feel-good phrases. They’re company commitments that have endured through Scentsy’s 15 years of operation. “We are very connected to our mission statement, which has been surprisingly resilient for a long time,” says Orville Thompson, Scentsy CEO. “That’s been very consistent through all the different phases of the business that we’ve been through.”

Through the years, Scentsy has demonstrated its agility—the ability of a company to react to changing market forces—in the face of constant change. This agility, combined with the company’s stalwart stability, sets Scentsy apart—since truly agile organizations are both stable and dynamic at the same time.

Last year was a good year for Scentsy, with revenue of more than $472 million—a figure that reflects Scentsy’s second ascension. Scentsy’s revenue went from $140,000 in 2004 to $178.4 million in 2009. Then, in the company’s hyper-growth period during 2011 and 2012, Scentsy climbed to $535 million and $560 million, respectively. But starting in summer 2012, Scentsy’s sales dropped while Glade, owned by S.C. Johnson Company, and others introduced copycat retail products. Since then, Scentsy has steadily climbed upward.

“We have done well in adapting to the changes,” Orville admits. “When we were very small, we dealt with being small. When we tipped and started to go through hyper-growth, we handled fast growth. When we went into a bit of a dip, we dealt with that well. And our renewal since then, we’re handling that well.”

Party Plan’s Personal Touch

As a direct selling company with a party-plan model, Scentsy faces both challenges and opportunities. One of the challenges is they are more susceptible to retail competition, such as from Amazon, where their products have shown for sale. But the biggest challenge of the party-plan model, according to Orville, is the universal sense of disconnection that pervades our culture today.

“People are less interested in gathering together for a party,” Orville says. “So, we have to reinvent what a party means. We have to devise new ways of creating a personal touch in a changing world.”

However, Scentsy Co-CEO Heidi Thompson sees the personal-touch challenge as an opportunity as well. For instance, Scentsy consultants will often personalize and package their customers’ orders themselves—perhaps by including personal notes and candies.

“Our consultants personalize their product orders, which is something Amazon can’t do,” Heidi says. “I think we have an advantage in that personal touch in a party-plan business model.”

Scentsy’s commitment to manufacturing high quality products has also helped them compete with retailers like Amazon. “People can beat us in price, but nobody has been able to beat us in quality,” Orville says. “Nobody can come close.”

Lure of Product Licensing

One of the ways Scentsy has stayed agile is by looking for new business opportunities and partnerships. They found them by licensing their products with major brands such as Disney, Marvel and Lucas Films.

“Our consultants personalize their product orders, which is something Amazon can’t do.”
—Heidi Thompson, Scentsy, Co-CEO

“Over the last few years, product licensing has been very good for us,” Orville says. “It brings in customers whom we have not had before—because those brands have incredible followings.”

As a result of Scentsy’s launch of a new product called the Jeb Skellington Scentsy Wax Warmer, which was part of the Disney Nightmare Before Christmas collection, the company set a record for daily sales.

“The first hour, we sold more of those Jeb Skellington wax warmers than we had sold of any other warmer in its first month,” Orville says. “The two brands—Scentsy and Disney—came together and created incredible energy. That fueled our growth in 2019. It energized our consultants, gave them more hope and excitement, so they went to work. Everything was lifted.”

“The two brands— Scentsy and Disney—came together and created incredible energy.”
—Orville Thompson, Scentsy Co-CEO

As a growth strategy, product licensing is working for Scentsy—boosting revenue and morale among consultants. “Licensing our products gets the consultants excited,” Heidi says. “It builds energy among our consultants. We’ve also signed some licensing agreements that we can’t tell you about yet.”

Culture of Connection

Rather than targeting any particular generation, Scentsy consistently markets to women in their late 20s, a demographic that is currently populated by Millennials but will move to Gen Z in a few years.

“We focus on people in their late 20s—because early millennials are different from late millennials,” Orville says. “We want to give young, stay-at-home moms a valuable means of connecting with their friends and community.”

Scentsy has worked hard to cultivate a family friendly culture and thus stay true to their mission. “Our culture is one of connection, love and kindness,” Heidi says. “We want a place where people feel welcome and can be their authentic selves. There are a lot of people in this world who don’t feel like they’re part of something. We seek to create that space for our Scentsy family.”

The connection, love and kindness in Scentsy’s culture lead to hope in a brighter future, Orville says. “We’re a very hopeful place,” he adds, “not just that the business will do well but that the business will serve as a means of making our lives better.”

One of Scentsy’s challenges is translating that sense of connection, love and kindness into foreign markets and languages. “I think that’s because it’s more difficult to demonstrate connection, love and kindness without being able to speak heart-toheart with one another,” Orville says.

Scentsy’s consultants currently sell products in 12 markets, including (in alphabetical order) Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.

“Our culture is one of connection, love and kindness.”—Heidi Thompson, Scentsy, Co-CEO

“We’re growing well in most of our markets,” Orville says. “The United States market is growing so much now. When the U.S. grows, everything gets better. Everything picks up. Europe is also growing very strongly. We could quadruple in Europe quite easily. So, we have a lot of room to grow.” DSN

The Scentsy Mission

To bring value to the world by providing an industry-leading, family-friendly business opportunity selling creative, artistic, high-quality products that Warm the Heart, Enliven the Senses and Inspire the Soul.