2021 is ending in a few weeks… Just like the previous one, this too, was not an easy year and the adversities are not over yet.
As we come to the end of another year, I asked some of the prominent names of the global direct selling community what they see coming in 2022.
“What will be the most important issue, whether it be an opportunity or a threat, in the direct selling industry that will need a closer focus Next Year?” was the question.
You will read their responses in a two-part article. This week’s part comprises eight insightful opinions. Feel free to add your comments at the end of the pieces.
Laure Alexandre, Executive Director of Seldia (The European Direct Selling Association)
“In the EU, the Green and Digital ‘Twin’ transition is the key policy focus direct selling companies will have to adapt to. The Digital Services/Markets Acts will regulate illegal content online, be it speech, products or practices. The Directive on platform workers might define the future rights for self-employed. The revised Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and guidelines will set out requirements for online marketplace bans and agency agreements. And under the ’Circular Economy Action Plan’, the Sustainable Products Initiative promises to establish a Digital Product Passport gathering environmental and material data of a product along its entire value chain and life cycle.”
Mona Ameli, Founder and Managing Partner of Ameli Global Partnerships
“While 2021 was a year of adjustment, 2022 will be a year of evolution for our industry. Given all the regulatory, operations, social justice, and PR challenges experienced by virtually all direct selling companies this year, for 2022 the ability to successfully evolve our business model will be the real key to success and sustainability. This would be a 3-prong evolution to: Having a true omnichannel customer & product-centric business and comp plan, creating an authentically transparent brand that reflects trust, and fostering a real inclusive culture and community for employees, field, and customers equally. Our agility to evolve will be essential.”
Oscar Cano Arias, Managing Director of Direct Selling Europe
“2022 will be an intense year for the sector in the EU from a regulatory perspective. First of all, the EU Commission will publish soon a new law changing the status of self-employed persons. Certainly, this will impact on companies like Uber, Deliveroo etc. DSE is already working to ensure that the interests of our sellers are taken properly into account. Furthermore, DSE will continue working to amend the proposal on a a new EU Consumer Credit Directive, so unsolicited credits for direct sales continue being possible. Last but not least, some EU countries will have new provisions on unsolicited sales as of June 2022; we will monitor the different markets so that the new provisions are in line with EU law.”
Adriana Colloca, President of Brazil Direct Selling Association
“I believe the next year is going to be super for direct selling as economic activity is gradually recovering and direct selling is an excelent entreprenership opportunity. To keep its competitiveness and relevance, digitalization is still key for the industry. Investments and focus should be driven to turn the operation as digital as possible and conquer new customers.”
Brett Duncan, Co-Founder and Managing Principal of Strategic Choice Partners
“The regulatory threats are legitimate, and will force major transitions, especially for traditional MLM models, one way or another. I am surprised at how slowly most companies are responding to these shifts. The opportunities exist for companies that embrace the transition proactively, and quickly. Blue ocean awaits!”
Sean Eggert, CEO of Hanna Shea Executive Search
“US employees are quitting their jobs at record rates in search of jobs that offer greater work flexibility, including not having to work from an office. Our industry is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this change and offer these employees the freedom they are looking for. We have a major opportunity in front of us if we can tap into this market and show these newcomers positive results in an ethical and sustainable manner. Now more than ever, it is vital that we improve the onboarding and consultant experience to ensure as much success as possible for anyone that makes the decision to join a direct selling organization.”
Tamuna Gabilaia, Executive Director and COO of the WFDSA (World Federation of Direct Selling Associations)
“As 2021 comes to an end and we look forward to a new year, we see that overall the global industry growth during pandemic underscores the strength and adaptability of the industry. Global retails sales amounted to 179.3 billion USD showing a year-over-year increase of 5.8% and the number of independent representatives amounted to 125.4 million which represents 4.3% increase. Despite the universal factors that impacted most industries, including prolonged community lockdowns, job displacements, global supply chain disruptions, we saw many direct selling companies and their independent representatives adapt and find new ways to stay connected with their customers and grow their businesses and we are positive this trend will continue in the future.”
Jonathan Gilliam, Founder and President of Momentum Factor
“Undeniably, our most significant threat at the moment is the regulatory attack underway in the US. The Federal Trade Commission has made it known through rulemaking, lawsuits, and new enforcement tactics that it has little tolerance for what it perceives as misrepresentations by direct sellers and the field. Its most recent initiatives, the Penalty Offense Authority and the Business Opportunity Rule, are particularly onerous, and any direct selling executive should get familiar with these new rules and learn how to adapt their company policy, compliance and training methods to them.”
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