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Top 5 Direct Selling Companies in North America

Updated on February 15, 2013

The Direct Selling Association

The, "DSA" is an American trade association of about 200 manufacturers and distributors that sell directly to consumers. Their mission is;

"To protect, serve and promote the effectiveness of member companies and the independent business people they represent. To ensure that the marketing by member companies of products and/or the direct sales opportunity is conducted with the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers."

Most important, I will offer a critique of the, "Top 5 Direct Sellers," as given by the Direct Selling News. I have chosen to offer the Top 5 North American Companies for 2011 but also I must say that these companies still fall within the Top 8 in the World. As of this update, after reviewing the 2012 List, all positions from 2011 to 2012 are maintained.

I hope you find it enlightening.

The Logo above is offered courtesy of the Direct Selling Association (

Avon Logo
Avon Logo


One of the Oldest, One of the Best

Avon supports your efforts with very good quality products at reasonable prices. You acquire as many retail Customers as you can then find a few people to sell as well and you receive a percentage of their sales. The first level is to be paid between 20% and 50% on your own sales. At the Unit Leader level, you must acquire 5 new partners who will also create retail sales. For this, you may see a further 3% to 7%. To achieve Advance Unit Leader, you must acquire 12 second level partners and the return is a further 3% to 8%. The Executive Leader level requires a 20 person team and the return is a further 3% to 12%. The final level is Senior Executive Leader and this offers up to 12% commission on the entire team's sales monthly as well as a car allowance.

NOTE: on any compensation plan, figures can change at the discretion of the Company. But this is where Avon is at the time of writing.

Now, Avon is easy to start up with. The cost is minimal at about $10.00. But here is what they do not talk about;

1) What is it that you are selling? With Avon, it is diverse but the products that may be considered an embellishment or a treat. Most of your Customers are not going to buy from you every month so you are going to need a good sized Customer base of ( my thoughts), 50 or 60 people.

2) Is there enough room for me to work with Avon? The bottom line is, yes. But, even though AVON has been around for 125 years, and has a great product offering, people are still coming and going. This is likely due to its business model. There is no company based plan to help you easily keep in touch with your Customers. And this is definitely a relationship-based business, needing a lot of regular and constant contact with your Customers.

So, look at the offerings as a whole. Each month, you must meet minimum sales. That means that there flyers or catalogues to distribute to your Customers, orders to take and process and pay for and then ship or deliver. You do a lot for what you receive, and you need to do it every month.



The Grand Daddy of Direct Sales

Amway has been around since 1950 and was founded by Jay VanAndel and Rich DeVos. Their first product came out in 1959 and now has 450 products in health and beauty, household cleaners, water purification and many others.

As with Avon, you have to sell every month and reach a minimum. Then, you recruit others to do the same and get them to duplicate what you do. Each level has specific requirements, increasing at each level. For instance, a Platinum Leader has to maintain $30,000 a month in sales for 6 months, beyond that, the Precious stone levels, Emerald, Ruby and Diamond require even higher specifications. The bonus compensation depends on you maintaining the requirements for your level and range from 3% to 25%, depending on your level.

The Start Up kit apparently costs $175.00

To sum up, like Avon, there are products that have to be marketed to your Customer Base on a monthly basis. Orders must be collected which will include online worry free orders, emails / calls to discuss Customer needs and receive their orders. You then must pass the orders up to your Direct Distributor and pay for the order before you receive it. Then, the products must be distributed to your Customers or your team members and get them paid for. This is when you receive your profit.

I did have one commenter advise that a lot is done online now, which is fine. The challenge with this is due to the monumental need to be in contact with the Customer constantly to ensure you are going to get refill orders in a timely fashion, and to maximize Customer retention as well as keep the Customer well informed on new products, including demonstrations.

Again, as with Avon, there is a lot of monthly work to do, even with the time saving addition of online ordering and direct delivery. The products are more diverse than Avon but even duplication of your efforts is going to take time away from promoting what you are doing.



A global nutrition and weight management company

Herbalife was founded in 1980 by Mark Hughes. They sold $3.45 Billion in weight loss management products in 2011.

Though this estimate is approximate, to make a reasonable income, you must work up to selling $4,000 in one month or $5,000 in 2 months to reach a Supervisor level and up to 35% in compensation.

But, let's look at this and all other weight management companies out there. Herbalife, Visalus and all the others are competing in one very focused field, weight loss and an even smaller field, weight management, those looking to increase weight and / or muscle mass. There are also a few personal care products. You need to know going in that you are the most successful when you lose all of your Customers. You have a very finite product offering and will have to market and find new Customers all of the time. And, if you have a single Customer who fails using your products, it is very hard to assuage the situation to a positive result.

Entry costs range from $75.00 to about $135.00. However, like most of the Amway offerings, pricing of products are quite high, regardless of the, "concentrated saves," argument.

Mary Kay
Mary Kay

Mary Kay

Time Tested

Mary Kay and Avon, of course are head to head for the cosmetic dollar. Entry cost is $100 but, you have to place a $200 wholesale product order every three months. If you do not do that, you lose your license. So, Mary Kay = you better be very sure of your Customer Base before signing up.

As with Avon and Amway, they do recommend that you "stock" some products. So, even though the entry is minimal, keeping an inventory can be a mental challenge. "I have all this product sitting in my basement / garage / bedroom / spare room / car trunk (not recommended), and it is not being sold / disappearing like I want it to. You are, as I mentioned, going to have to do a lot of upfront marketing to ensure that you have a good Customer base who are going to generate minimal monthly sales.

Again, as with Avon, Amway, Herbalife and Mary Kay, there is a lot of work that has to be put into achieving your sales goals every month. And you have to depend on everyone else in your Team doing the same and staying motivated. Now, where am I going with this? Keep the faith. We still have one more Top Company to review and I will then reveal all.



Products for Every Household

Tupperware has been around in the 1950s. They started the Home Presentation Party. You can start with them for $79.99 for a Business Kit or $119.99 for an Executive Business Kit. They offer three basic compensation levels as an Associate, Manager or Director. However, to maintain Associate level, you must achieve a sales total of $250 in the first four months. See what you need to see here? You need to be pre-committed in most Direct selling companies and have an equally committed Customer base before you sign up. If you enter into a venture without this placed first, you are committing yourself and some of your resources to potential failure.

To be a Manager, your Sales Team needs to show a monthly volume of $2000 and have a personal volume of $500, oh, and sign up three associates. Are you seeing what I am seeing? Compared to the other Companies, these sales volumes are quite a bit lower. But, your compensation will be lower as well. To get to Director, your Team Sales volume needs to be $10,000 per month or more.

Products are relegated to plastic food preparation and storage products.

Looking for something?
Looking for something?

New Concepts in Direct Marketing

Something New That Allows You to Focus on Growth

Well, we have looked at the five top direct selling companies in North America for 2011. All have product offerings that have got them to the, "Top 5." But will their 50's style marketing keep them there as time goes on? My thoughts tell me that they will either morph to other marketing concepts or die.

So, what alternatives are out there now?

There is one Company that I have personal experience with that I can recommend. However, upfront, I cannot display the company name without jeopardizing my own position with the Company. Having said that, I can talk to individuals. I can share all the information with you, personally, just not in any broadcasted manner.

But hey, don't stop reading. I will not leave you cold on this.

Our Company is presently in 23 countries around the world and 60 new countries are scheduled to come on board in the next few years. So, what "opens" a new country? This Company deals in telecommunications, energy and security. In short, think of just about everything that you write a cheque for every month, we have it covered.

In addition to having our own Internet Service in high speed and cable up to 16 mbps, we also run our own telephone company in both analog and digital modes. To offer cell phones and internet keys, electricity, gas, water heater rentals, security and home automation, we have been asked by huge corporations to represent them. This makes placing their products / services very easy.

Ok, are you ready for the real kicker? As you are placing these products / services, your Customer pays their bills every month. This means that as long as they are using these services, you get paid, every month. You only had to find that Customer once and now, you can spend your time in making further sales and adding new Customers. So, anytime you want a raise, put in the time to add some Customers and that raise is yours.

Would you get that from your Boss?

The only requirement that is important is to keep within the "relationship marketing" paradigm. You need to "know" your Customer. The best business is still done face to face though online sales are improving. There is a very good and important reason for this. Some of our Suppliers have very low Customer retention rates, as low as 45%. Our retention rate is 94%. You can see why they and many more in the future will want us to work with them.

For those interested in looking more seriously and learning about our Company, please contact me through my Profile or contact me here;

What You Really Need to Know from Amazon

Guestbook and Comments - Let us Know What You Think.

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have worked an still do work with a few of these companies and the pay structure is wrong. Like with Herbalife you can make up to 50%

    • KathyZ1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very handy info. Thanks!

    • junkcat profile image


      5 years ago

      I knew about these companies but never knew how popular they have become.

    • KarenHC profile image


      5 years ago from U.S.

      Very informative lens! My daughter-in-law did very well selling Tupperware after their son was born. They moved, and she's trying to get started up again, but I think it's a little hard in a new place where they're just getting to know people.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the information!

    • mermaidsbite profile image


      5 years ago

      I grew up in a family that was Always involved in some DSA. I find that as an adult, I constantly pursue the best products for my health, and they usually start in DSAs. Nice lens! Hmmmm... very effective, too. I'm off to find your mystery company! ;)

    • michalk lm profile image

      michalk lm 

      5 years ago

      There are so many pyramids that are scams but you have the honest ones

    • kevinfream lm profile image

      kevinfream lm 

      6 years ago

      Decent lens. It would get better traffic in Marketing rather than mis-categorized in Ethics.

    • JoshuaJDavid profile image


      6 years ago

      Some of these are surprising to me, I need to pay more attention I guess.

    • Michelle Hogan profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Hogan 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank You for pointing this out. Copy has been corrected and updated.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Michelle, Please note that the DSA does not produce any type of "Top List". It appears that your list came from our annual "DSN Global 100" list. Direct Selling News is not an official arm of the DSA, we are a Supplier Member. Could you please correct and list your sources.

      Thank you,

      Direct Selling News Staff

    • WorldsBestDad profile image


      6 years ago

      Did you see where Miss America Mallory Hytes Hagan recently promoted Amway on her Twitter?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I know about all these marketing companies, I met one lady long time ago, who used to work with Mary Kay and she got a big Mary Kay Car, which was very beautiful car. I see most of the times Avon Associates in the Mall by selling their products. I think these all are popular ones.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Informative !

    • Michelle Hogan profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Hogan 

      6 years ago

      @srsddn lm: When our Company comes to India, we will talk. Our commodity is used by nearly everyone and is automatically paid for every month. That means you get paid every month.

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 

      6 years ago

      Amway and Tupperware has made inroads in our country. Really good products.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 

      6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Yeup, these companies have set the standard in direct marketing for sure. I used to use Shaklee cleaning products and loved them. Not sure how they are doing these days but think they were one of the greats as well.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I sell Avon. Great lens. Love your topic.

    • Michelle Hogan profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Hogan 

      6 years ago

      @shawnhi77 lm: Surprisingly, I do nothing with this lens but keep the tags up to date and get 5 or 6 visits every day, even weekends. It is a popular subject but great care must be taken about it.

    • shawnhi77 lm profile image

      shawnhi77 lm 

      6 years ago

      Reallly good information.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens- I enjoyed reading it very much.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana

      You are right, even the big ones will have to adapt. Great story!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I was an Avon Rep. for 6 years and was still doing Avon when I joined Squidoo. That is why my user name is Cosmetic Mom :)

    • Michelle Hogan profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Hogan 

      6 years ago

      @shellys-space: Twenty years ago, a lady in Detroit was extremely successful in Avon, so successful that they asked her to move to a new city and leave her hard work behind. Can you imagine?

      Well she could not move. Her husband was a top Chrysler executive. She lost everything that she had built. But there is a silver lining. She had some friends, guys that had been in other companies like Amway, Herbalife etc. and they discovered that they were in line for the same treatment.

      The guys got together and started talking about starting their own company, and they decided they had to determine how their company would develop. It would NOT leave the top earners in the lurch like they had uniformly experienced themselves. So, they sat down and took a legal sized pad of paper, drew a line down the middle and filled the left side of the sheet with all the good things about network marketing and all the bad stuff on the right side.

      Then, they cut the sheet down the middle and threw the bad stuff in the trash. And they have been running their Company for the last twenty years on the items written on the surviving piece.

      If you would ever like to hear more, let me know, anytime.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for introducing this lens. I don't have direct experience. Your lens helped me to have a close look at this opportunity.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These are my top favorite direct marketing companies as well, I grew up on tupperware parties and Avon. I have relatives who still sell avon products at their places of employment. Herbalife must be really doing well these days due to the growing number of babyboomers looking for preventive medicine options.

    • chas65 profile image


      6 years ago

      I have tried several, including Amway. it is a tough way to make money. But the successful people can make a lot of money. Good job from a fellow Rocket Squid.

    • designsbyharriet profile image


      6 years ago from Indiana

      Interesting thoughts on direct marketing. Check your spelling in the first paragraph of the last module (therm should be them). Easy to miss.

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image


      6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I love the concept of Direct Sales...I ran a business for years and know there is so much potential there...Interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.


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