The story of survival: How direct selling fought through the pandemic?

The story of survival: How direct selling fought through the pandemic?

Minu Chandran
Updated on 07 September 2021
5 min read

Have you seen a knight in shining armor? Mighty and brave, saving the weak and the downtrodden?

The role of direct selling in the 2020 economy was no lesser than that. Fingers crossed. It’s no exaggeration though it may sound. The global direct selling industry stood at USD 179.3 billion in retail sales for 2020.

The U.S. direct selling market alone generated 40.1 billion in retail sales for 2020—22.3% of the global retail sales.

What’s the big deal???

I know that is probably the question looming in your mind.

When a million other industries support the global economy, why am I glorifying direct selling?

Well, I am not!

The glory comes from the spontaneous ability of the direct selling industry to demonstrate success in all its shapes and forms, despite the growth barriers. Now, here we’re to look at the warmth and glory of the direct selling industry earned through the pandemic crisis of 2020.

Setting Up Opportunities to Fight

Direct selling’s scorecard remained straight and steady when the pandemic devastated the economy with jobless youths and healthless crowds. 125.4 million individuals resorted to direct selling as independent representatives/distributors in 2020 alone, a 4.3% increase from 2019.

Direct selling salesforce in 2020

That’s one way the industry helped the populace fight the economic downturn, giving them opportunities to develop a career of their own and to move forward at their own time and pace.

Changing the face of work

The pandemic and the related restrictions brought forth a completely new working atmosphere. Working in the comfort of home soon turned into a nightmare for companies and individuals struggling to communicate and coordinate in a remote setting. Direct selling organizations invented competent ways to engage distributors in the midst of all these disruptions.

Direct selling organizations etched out digital face-to-face stories to maintain their customer-distributor relationships during the endless lockdowns. The United States ranked number two among countries investing in virtual team building. Direct selling organizations supported their salesforce with online tools and growth platforms to help them fight their way through the crisis.

The direct selling products that shimmered and shined

When the pandemic crept over, everyone got anxious about their health.

The fear of contracting the disease saw people in pursuit of wellness and healthcare products. This gave direct selling a chance to serve their customers with a new ray of confidence and assurance with its wellness products not to mention the countless false claims that damaged the reputation of the direct selling industry. This in turn rewarded 64.8 billion in sales for the direct selling industry in the health and wellness category.

Product-wise retail sales in direct selling

From the place of its origin, Covid-19 spread across the globe withering away the hopes and health of humans. Some of the most affected countries like the US, Brazil, France, Malaysia, etc were the ones that took the top positions among the leading world markets for 2020. Striding through the roughest phases of 2020, it is undoubtedly the resilience of organizations to adapt to technology and evolving market trends that goaled success to their courts.

Comparison of retail sales of the top 10 world markets

The highs and lows of these world markets are indicative of the impact and their fight to resist the impact. China faced a major slash down in sales that hit a 3.6% low to its 2019 record. Many countries ranked up and for some others, ranks dropped and some even got out of the list of toppers. Apart from China, Japan, Mexico, and France also faced a slight drop down in sales.

Mixed feelings of resentment, anxiety, depression, and success were experienced by these world markets with each country experiencing practical difficulties in operating their business in a fully untutored setup.

Story of struggle and survival

Success is never an overnight story. It requires years and years of hard work and commitment. And then one fine day, when all of your years’ efforts are squandered, you are left with nothing but hope. Hope for a new beginning.

Top direct selling products across continents

Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) measured for 3 years from 2017 to 2020 shows a healthy expansion rate of 3 percent which excludes China and a -0.1 percent including China. The major strides in sales of the top countries give us a picture of how they fought through the trying times to reinforce their existence.

YEAR-OVER-YEAR RETAIL SALES OF THE TOP 10 COUNTRIES (IN BILLIONS)

USChinaGermanyKoreaJapanBrazilMalaysiaMexicoFranceTaiwan, China
202040.119.1817.9617.7415.418.256.975.275.134.46
201935.2123.9817.817.4515.957.466.025.385.284.21
201835.3534.2516.9516.8216.147.225.75.255.213.96
201734.933.5816.9216.4216.17.335.045.185.053.99

This is never an ending but the beginning of a million new stories of victories, failures, and fights.

The story of struggle and survival continues… Into the future and beyond. What is worth looking forward to is the strategies direct selling organizations will adopt to fight their survival.

 

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