The greatest challenge within this channel will be determining how we will effectively compete within increasingly competitive market conditions. Competition from novel direct-to-consumer brands has provided greater consumer access to products and services. This has not only stolen market share from direct selling companies, but has also made it more challenging and expensive for companies to compete for brand awareness. To survive these challenges, we must evolve to support distributors by leveraging new technology platforms, marketing channels and communication strategies in 2020 and beyond.
-—David Isserman, COO, Touchstone Essentials
To stay focused on the strategic imperatives in the midst of the potential distractions. One of our three imperatives is customer focus. We don’t want to be a good customer program for a direct selling company. We want to be a good customer program in general. People are used to buying online from Amazon Prime or Sephora or any other brand. We want our actual customer experience to be world-class in respect to the channel. The other two imperatives we’ll be focusing on market partner engagement/activity and product excellence.
—Stuart A. MacMillan, president, MONAT Global
Continued growth through embracing the benefits of and respecting the responsibilities in this channel. The direct selling space is ripe with benefits for companies and customers alike, direct relationships between consumers and corporate, instantaneous and extensive feedback through data, and lower-than-average customer acquisition costs to name a few. But dealing directly with individuals also means we have an elevated responsibility to do the right thing. While we haven’t always lived up to our end of the bargain, now is the time to do the right thing. Every time. And by doing so, we put the focus on relationships which organically drives growth.
-—Sarah Shadonix, founder & CEO Scout & Cellar
The biggest challenge of 2020 will be getting health testimonials and opportunity claims under control. With all the accusations, investigations and warnings issued recently by the FDA and the FTC, it is imperative companies maintain a consistent voice from the executive team to the brand-new consultant. A standardized method of onboarding, training and follow-up is key to ensuring the company’s messages are stated the same from every individual. Marketing, sales, compliance and training departments must link arms and develop a strategy to educate from day one. If it starts from the top with a clear voice, it should continue through the ranks to the customers—always.
-—Jillian Corley, vice president of global marketing, AloeVeritas US
As direct selling companies head into 2020 the pressure is on to become a “product sales first” style of company. At Belo + Company we believe direct selling companies must align themselves with suppliers that can help their field focus on driving new business, reaching new customers, social selling using corporate approved brand messages, and continuing to use tools that have a proven track record of success. Everything revolves around the success of your distributors and the power of your brand.
—Eric Mills, vice president operations, Belo + Company
The biggest challenge for MLM companies in the coming year is FTC enforcement actions. Companies must prepare for FTC investigations to be in the best position to withstand them. Although the FTC stated that it views MLMs as legitimate businesses, its recent enforcement actions tell a different story. In the coming year, MLM companies must prepare to withstand FTC scrutiny—making sure the company is not low-hanging fruit for the FTC to capture. Companies whose policies and compensation plan contain red flags will have to be looking over their shoulder unless they cure those red flags quickly.–
—Katrina Eash, partner, Winston & Strawn, LLP
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