Direct Selling is not really new, as it has its origins in Biblical times. However, Direct Selling as we know it today started in the mid 19th century with companies like Avon, Stanley Home Products and Tupperware.
Direct Selling refers to direct person-to-person sales. The DSA (Direct Sellers Association) states that around $30 billion worth of products are sold annually in the US alone. The DSA has approximately 200 corporations in its membership and approximately 14 million salespeople. Founded in 1978, the World Federation of the DSA is a non-governmental, voluntary organization representing the direct selling industry globally as a federation of national Direct Selling Associations (DSAs). There are presently over 56 national DSAs represented in its membership, and in 2001 it is estimated that worldwide retail sales by its members accounted for more than US$101 Billion through the activities of more than 57 million independent sales representatives.
Today the buzz words are Network Marketing and Internet Marketing. However still, nothing is new. Network Marketing refers to Direct Selling through a network. Multilevel Marketing refers to a multiple level sales compensation plan, using the Direct Sales model. Then there is “Direct Marketing” which is a similar term. However, this refers to sales by telephone or computer, which does not include personal contact. Internet Marketing, also similar, is still a form of Direct Sales, but with a unique character of its own.
Edward Ludbrook, Network Marketing Strategist and leadership trainer says in his new book “Shakeout!” which has sold 1 million copies worldwide: “The facts clearly show that this industry will boom. This new boom, the Shakeout Boom, will be much bigger and much faster than anything in the past.”  Edward writes that all industries grow within a defined industry lifecycle, which has the following five stages: birth, growth, shakeout, mature and recline. Edward says that Network Marketing has passed the growth stage, and is currently entering the shakeout stage. So now is the perfect time to join the industry and experience this success.
As an example of Direct Sales ethics – Avon, the largest Direct Selling Company, set out a list of principles for its distributors:
- We will provide individuals an opportunity to develop and earn in support of their betterment and happiness.
- We will serve families throughout the world with products of the highest quality, backed by a guarantee of satisfaction.
- We will provide service to Representatives and Customers that is outstanding in its helpfulness and courtesy.
- We will rely with full confidence on Associates and Representatives, recognizing that our corporate success depends on their individual contributions and achievements.
- We will share with others the rewards of growth and success.
- We will honor the responsibilities of corporate citizenship by contributing to the well-being of the society in which function.
- We will cherish and maintain the friendly spirit of Avon
The following characteristics have been identified as reflecting the essence of direct selling. They are not listed in order of priority, which will vary according to individual and organizational philosophy.
- Career opportunities, especially for women
- Commitment to quality and belief in the product
- Dedication to education and training
- A philosophy rooted in family orientation
- Adherence to a direct channel of distribution
- Demonstrability of products
- Socially responsible behaviour
- Strong belief in a Supreme Being
Direct Selling is a Marketing Design that will be with us for years to come. It will touch our lives one way or another. We might as well learn to appreciate that we will all be consumers and distributors of the products we support – and we can all have financial success while being satisfied consumers.
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 MLM Magazine Australia & New Zealand p 9