Direct Sales Industry Overview 2021

Direct sales industry overview

The business model is based on person-to-person interactions and door-to-door product selling. There is a parent company that provides goods to independent salesmen who promote and sell these products to customers. The specialization of direct sales organizations can be different. The salesman can sell cosmetics, natural supplements, and other items. In comparison with the conventional retail sector, the direct sales industry has lower facility, advertising & marketing fixed costs but rather higher sales compensations.

Direct Selling & Conventional Retail Fixed Cost Comparison.

Direct Selling & Conventional Retail Fixed Cost Comparison. Source: DSA (Direct Selling Association)

The direct sales global market is one of the biggest ones nowadays. The worldwide revenue of the direct selling companies in 2020 equals $180 billion in total. These statistics are provided by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. Among leading markets are the USA, China, and Germany.

This overview depicts today’s condition of the global direct sales industry. The current report is made out from the perspective of the comprehensive research of the direct selling companies and analysis of the market and direct sales success strategies. The experience and insights provided by the representatives of the flagship and top-ranking players are taken into account. The overview is based on the real figures, facts, conclusions, investigations, and practical reasoning of the leading companies that really matter and are relevant to the global direct sales industry.

Direct Sales Companies: Benchmark Projects, Statistics, Review

According to the Statista reports, the total revenue raised on the direct selling markets worldwide is about $180,5 billion. The USA stays the top direct selling market in the world according to the latest Statista statistics. It goes without saying that American direct sales companies are among flagship projects when it comes to the door-to-door selling business model.

Global direct sales industry statistics in 2020. Source: Statista

Speaking about the US market separately, it is worth noting that about 21 thousand direct selling projects are registered on the territory of America. The annual average revenue equals $35 billion according to the showings presented by the report of the US Census Bureau.

The direct sales industry overviewed globally proves the fact that some specializations are more popular. For example, companies that sell wellness supplements and beauty products are among the leading direct-selling projects in 2020. The annual DSA Meeting determined the 25 largest companies in the global direct sales industry. Among them, 18 nominees make a specialty out of wellness (Amway, Herbalife), cosmetics (Mary Kay, Avon), beauty goods (Young Living, Younique), and health-centric products (Usana, SeneGence). Check a full list of direct sales companies that are included in the top-list on the DSA official website.

Let’s take a closer look at the statistics of the flagship organizations with a direct sales model that specialize in selling wellness and beauty goods in the USA. Here is the list of the successful direct sales companies we would like to have a quick look at today:

  • Amway;
  • Young Living;
  • Arbonne International.

It is worth noting that each of the presented direct selling US players successfully increased their annual revenues even against the background of the global pandemic and crisis. These three representatives of the direct sales industry managed to drive demand for the diverse array of their wellness and beauty products in 2020.


Amway is the real embodiment of a successful direct sales company with a person-to-person sales method. Among selling products are household appliances, cosmetics, wellness, and home & personal care items. Despite the fact that 2020 was predicted as the year of statistics decline, Amway managed to generate about $8,5 billion. This revenue is $100 million bigger than in 2019 (+1%), according to the BFH report. The number of salespeople is also increasing every year. Now, about 3 million individual distributors sell Amway-branded products.

Young Living

This company is notable for its multi-level compensation structure and a door-to-door sales method. About 1,5 million salesmen sell Young Living-branded goods. The main selling items are essential oils free from synthetic components and chemical irritants. In 2020, Young Living managed to raise about $2 billion. This revenue is $95 million bigger than in 2019 according to the Business for Home report. The global pandemic was not a reason for declining sales. The US direct sales industry increased due to the Young Living 5%-markup.

Arbonne International

The US-based door-to-door selling organization also demonstrated an increase in sales in 2020. The annual revenue equals $706 million. It means that a revenue difference is +5% in comparison with 2019 ($672 million). Arbonne International uses digital channels for advertising and marketing purposes:

  • YouTube channel views are 700 thousand.
  • The number of YouTube subscribers is 36,200.
  • There are about 43 thousand Twitter followers.

It is worth noting that all the above-mentioned companies in the US market use a combinative approach in their sales strategies. Both digital channels and retail models are used. The raised revenue is the true example that this approach allows players of the global direct sales industry to perform well when only traditional selling methods are not effective.

Direct Sales Consumers & Distributors

According to the Statista research data, female distributors are more involved in direct sales. Women got a 74% share of the global direct selling market. At the same time, 26% of distributors worldwide are men.

Global Direct Sales Market Share According to the Gender. Source: Statista

Speaking about the distributors’ age, the biggest share is formed by millennials (36,9%). But the gen Z salesmen become more active year by year. In 2020, about 34% of the total number of direct sales distributors were representatives born in 1980-1990. Gen Z, baby boomers, and silent generation form rest 29%.

People Involved to Direct Sales by Age. Source: DSA

Speaking about the profile of the direct sales customer, this data can vary from location to location. In most cases, the target audience is female purchasers of different ages. The most active customers are the following women:

  • Senior women aged 50;
  • Fifty-plus women;
  • Wealthy boomers;
  • Baby boomers.

To summarize, women almost of any age starting from 20-25 years are ideal customers on the direct sales market. According to the She-Conomy survey, wealthy and baby boomer purchasers are more active and generate the biggest revenue to the global direct sales industry.

Direct Sales: Distributors’ Motivation

People who work in direct sales should be well-motivated because they do not get a standard salary and do not represent any company officially. They are independent salesmen with their own motivation. According to the DSA research, there are three main motivations for people involved in the direct sales sector:

  1. Product motivations – most of the salesmen adore the products they promote and sell. The main benefit for this category of distributors is their personal discounts.
  2. Lifestyle motivations – this category of salesmen prefer their flexible working hours and independence. They enjoy their freedom from office routines and schedules.
  3. Business motivations – these distributors like the way they run their own business and gain additional income for their purposes. These people are motivated by self-development prospects.

3 Key Motivations of Direct Sales Distributors. Source: DSA

Direct Sales During Coronavirus Pandemic

The direct sales sector was impacted significantly by COVID-19. Most companies could not perform internationally, so their revenue rates decreased in 2020. According to the IBISWorld statistics, the direct sales industry has been adjusted from 7.7% to 1.7% in 2020. The high level of unemployment was also mentioned in 2020.

But most flagship companies managed to transform their direct sales campaigns into digital multichannel ones. This way the industry representatives can modify their strategies and put significant efforts into the newly-created digital selling channels.

Industry digital transformation was just accelerated by the Pandemic crisis and each crisis change the industry leaderboard.

Now, direct sales companies can either start the digital transformation to thrive or resist and try to survive!

The Final Word

As can be seen, some traditional sales models stop bringing successful results, so direct sales companies aspire to move in the direction of innovations and digital transformation.

The direct selling market players will be searching for unique and efficient approaches, new ways to motivate distributors and grow their network together with target customers through digital channels and automated software solutions.

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