Welcome from DSA President Joseph Mariano

I’m Joseph Mariano, President of the Direct Selling Association (DSA), and this is my inaugural post on DSA’s brand new blog. We intend for the blog to serve as an informal and lively forum, and an honest and reliable source of information and advocacy for our Association and the vibrant industry we represent. We’re excited to be up and running, and looking forward to the ensuing conversation.

Today’s entry is for introductions, and I’ll confine myself to a quick overview of the direct selling industry and DSA’s mission. As I expect most of you already know, direct selling is the retail channel occupied by the some of the most popular brands in the world, companies that use independent salesforces, affiliated with but not employed by them, to sell all types of good and services directly to consumers outside fixed retail locations.

The popularity and success of direct selling have never been greater. We’re thriving in the digital age. We’re adapting to opportunities offered by social media, cloud computing, the sharing economy. Our retail sales were near historic highs last year. Our impact on the national economy, directly and indirectly, has never been bigger.

The industry generated almost $36 billion in retail sales in 2016. According to a 2015 study, direct selling had a nearly $84 billion impact in direct, indirect, and induced effects on the American economy.

One in six U.S. households have a family member engaged in direct selling in some capacity. They represent the broad diversity of the American people. Almost three-quarters are women. 22% are Hispanic. 9% are African American. About a third are millennials.

Some 20.5 million Americans are involved in direct selling, many attracted to our member companies by the low startup costs and low risk involved. Average startup costs are just a little more than $100, and DSA member companies are required to offer at least a 90% refund for unused inventory.

One in six U.S. households have a family member engaged in direct selling in some capacity. They represent the broad diversity of the American people. Almost three-quarters are women. 22% are Hispanic. 9% are African American. About a third are millennials.

Some direct sellers work full time. Most work part time. Some build extensive businesses. Others build small ones. Some make good livings. Many earn modest, supplemental incomes. And many others are attracted to direct selling in order to buy products they love at a discount and perhaps sell a little to family and friends.

A Bloomberg Government study, The Workforce of the Future, found the experience those engaged in direct selling value the most is being their own bosses and having control over their schedules to better balance their work and family life. More than three-quarters attested they were highly satisfied with their work.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) represents more than 160 direct selling companies that utilize independent salesforces. DSA has served for more than a century as the preeminent public advocate for direct selling companies that have chosen to collaborate to promote the interests of direct selling as a dynamic marketplace force, responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the times, and that are committed to the highest ethical standards in the industry.

All our members pledge to protect the industry, their independent salespeople, and their customers from fraud. They adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, overseen by an independent Code Administrator. Our Code is always evolving to meet new challenges posed by technological and cultural changes. But it has consistently exceeded standards imposed by laws and regulations and represents the gold standard in our industry.

In the weeks to come, this blog will provide pertinent facts about direct selling and our members to broaden the understanding of direct selling by the public, the press, and public policy makers. In the process, we’ll counter with facts and informed opinions the myths and falsehoods that occasionally present an inaccurate image of this thriving retail channel and the people who are drawn to it. And we’ll use the blog to propose new ideas for fighting fraud and encouraging best practices for our members and for any company or individual that claims to be a direct seller.

For now, I’ll close by noting that I’ve been at DSA for 32 years, and in all that time the appeal of direct selling has never waned. It is a privilege to work on behalf of innovative entrepreneurs committed to the highest ethical standards and to the satisfaction of their contractors and customers.

Thanks for reading, and please come again.

Joe Mariano.

Joseph N. Mariano

Joseph N. Mariano

Joseph Mariano joined the Direct Selling Association in 1985 and assumed the role of President in 2011. Previously, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. As DSA Chief Executive Officer who has ultimate responsibility for all association programs and activities, Mariano is charged with providing progressive leadership, development and implementation of Association policies in the fields of government, consumer and international affairs. Mariano represents the Association’s interests in all fifty state capitals and on Capitol Hill. He serves as a personal resource to direct selling companies who need overall guidance on general legal and business trends that affect direct sellers both in the United States and worldwide. Mariano also serves as President of the Direct Selling Education Foundation.