As a general matter direct selling, which is often also referred to as network marketing and multilevel marketing, is a channel of distribution best suited to market consumer products and services directly to the customer, or end consumer. Some business-to-business, commercial companies market their business products and services to other businesses. Many times business-to-business products and services are best suited to be sold by staffed sales professionals, as opposed to the sales consultants used by network marketing companies.
Historically, the products sold by direct selling companies are in the categories of personal care, health/nutritional, cosmetics, jewelry, household products, and technology, etc. These types of products are not only marketed to the end consumer, but the end consumer is often the best candidate to pursue a part-time opportunity in marketing those products as well. And, thus network marketing is not only best suited for consumer (as opposed to business) sales, but the potential pool of recruits is to be found in the thousands, millions of end consumers.
This is not to say that network marketing is not involved in a wide array of both consumable and one-time use products and services for end consumers. In fact, certain markets have been created by direct sellers, including water treatment devices, magnetic products, pre-paid legal services, home food storage containers, etc. In addition, the industry has established great success in the marketing of telcom, energy and various insurance/financial products. Its imprint can even be found in application to the real estate industry. Sales of the U.S. network marketing industry exceed $30 billion and the number of participants is approaching 20 million.
See Hard Facts about a Growing Industry – 2015 for current statistics on the direct selling industry.
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