Global Direct Selling Market - Statistics & Facts

Published by Liam O'Connell, Jan 17, 2019
Direct selling is a business model in which a company utilizes person-to-person interactions to sell products. Typically the process involves an independent seller buying the goods from the parent company and then selling them to other individuals, sometimes recruiting them to also become independent sellers. Direct selling companies can specialize in anything from wellness supplements to cosmetics to household items. The direct selling market is controversial, with several major companies being accused of forming “pyramid schemes”, an unsustainable business model in which sellers receive money for recruiting other sellers, who must also recruit their own sellers in order to turn a profit, creating a business structure that resembles a pyramid. Since 2015 the global retail sales from direct selling have increased from about 184 billion U.S. dollars to approximately 190 billion dollars in 2017. Direct selling companies specializing in wellness products make up a 34 percent share of sales in this industry, making it the largest direct selling product category.

In the United States, direct selling has seen a decline in retail sales and number of representatives in the last couple years. From 2016 to 2017 the size of the U.S. direct selling community decreased by about two million people. A recent survey found that the share of consumers who have a low opinion towards direct selling has increased by two percent since 2012, but that the share that have a high opinion also increased by one percent, demonstrating that direct selling has become a more polarizing topic.

The top direct selling companies in the United States are Amway, Avon, and Herbalife; each reporting revenue of at least four billion dollars in 2017. The largest of these, Amway, offers a broad range of products, with nutritional products, cosmetics and home goods making up the vast majority of the company's sales. The second largest company, Avon, specializes in makeup, fashion, and home goods. Avon has seen a decline in net sales since 2013, decreasing from about eight billion U.S. dollars to about 5.5 billion dollars in 2017. Herbalife primarily offers weight management and nutritional products, and reported net sales of approximately 4.43 billion U.S. dollars in 2017.

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Direct selling market worldwide

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U.S. market

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