Direct Selling: A Global and Social Business Model


This book is a must read for anyone curious about, interested in, or involved with the direct selling channel. The topics are covered thoroughly, and the material is easy to understand. As a lawyer with 30 years of experience in the direct selling marketplace and a former board member of the Direct Selling Education Foundation, I have relied on a variety of materials to explain the ins and outs of direct selling. This excellent book—written by experienced and knowledgeable academics and business leaders—is exactly what I have sought all these years!—Kerry Tassopoulos, The Tassopoulos Law Firm PLLC

“To best understand a channel of distribution experiencing innovation, transformation, and repositioning, we benefit from looking back as we look forward. This book provides the reader with an opportunity to do both. I found every chapter to be supportive of critical and strategic thinking. With the growing appeal of the gig-focused economy and the use of technology and digital platforms, the direct seller is envisioned to become even more unique as an intermediary connecting products and services with consumers in a personal manner. Every direct selling company executive needs to understand what is documented and presented in this work.” —John Fleming, Principal – Ideas & Design Group, LLC

The Power of Direct Selling.

Direct selling is not an industry per se nor is it merely a go-to-market business model and channel to reach consumers. It is bigger than any of this – direct selling is people. The ability for people with entrepreneurial spirit to build a successful business, whether it be from the ground up or by representing a company’s product, is at the heart of direct selling and it is people who made (and continue to make) direct selling the successful marketplace that it is today. The direct selling marketplace is comprised of mission-driven and socially responsible companies offering a wide variety of product and services, and the list of direct selling companies is abundant with entrepreneurs who built their businesses by utilizing an independent salesforce channel to market and sell their products or services directly to consumers.

Possibly one of the most prominent of these entrepreneurs is Mary Kay Ash, a legend as a glass-ceiling breaker and a woman who built a very successful business with a go-to-market strategy of direct selling. Unlike Mary Kay Ash, however, not all aspiring business owners are willing/able to invest their savings and time on a start-up business. These micro-entrepreneurs desire to have the economic and social benefits of managing their own businesses but do not want the startup costs and demands associated with traditional business planning. As such, becoming a direct selling distributor offers a low-risk, low-cost pathway to micro-entrepreneurship.

The traditional barriers to small business ownership are removed when a micro-entrepreneur builds a direct selling business that is backed by established brands. These established brands, several of which are featured in this book, offer the micro-entrepreneurs quality products, business training, and technological resources to achieve a self-determined metric of success.

Framed within the context of entrepreneurship and an historical overview of the long-term sustainability of this business model, this book is intended for practitioners who want to read about the breadth and depth of direct selling. Importantly, this book provides considerable depth in terms of three particular issues associated with direct selling:

  • Compensation,
  • Ethics & compliance, and
  • Global reach.

For scholars, this book is built on a strong foundation of valid and reliable research endeavors. The authors have published research on direct selling in high quality, reputable and peer-reviewed academic and practitioner journals. Thus, this book can add foundationally to the research efforts of academics who are conducting research in a wide variety of topics (such as sales, women empowerment, business strategy, ethics, distribution models, gig economy, and global entry – to name a few), as well as to members of the press who want reliable and valid content upon which to build their stories.

The book’s content is also particularly informative for policymakers at the local, state, national, and international levels. For students, reading this book will offer a variety of insights, particularly related to the intricacies of channel selection and design. Direct Selling: A Global and Social Business Model is a collective project from eight academics and practitioners who have dedicated much of their careers to understanding direct selling as both a go-to-market strategy and a channel of distribution and to capturing the people who are the foundation of direct selling. The pages of this book bring together a wealth of research and knowledge that can inform a broad spectrum of constituents about the economic and social benefits of direct selling, while also providing detail and clarity on key issues related to direct selling as a sustainable business model.

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About the Author(s)

Sara L. Cochran

Sara Cochran is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Management and entrepreneurship at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

Anne T. Coughlan

Anne T. Coughlan, Polk Bros. Chair in Retailing and Professor of Marketing, Emerita, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Victoria L. Crittenden

Vicky Crittenden, Professor of Marketing, Babson College

William F. Crittenden

William F. Crittenden, Professor of International Business and Strategy, Northeastern University

Linda K. Ferrell

Linda K. Ferrell is the Roth Family Professor of Marketing and Business Ethics at Auburn University

O.C. Ferrell

O.C. Ferrell is the James T. Pursell, Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics at Auburn University

W. Alan Luce

The late W. Alan Luce was the Senior Managing Principal at Strategic Choice Partners, LLC

Robert A. Peterson

Robert A. Peterson is the John T. Stuart III Centennial Chair at The University of Texas at Austin

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Pub Date

September 14, 2021





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