The direct selling industry is arguably the oldest distribution channel in history, evolving in tandem with civilisation. The bartering of commodities evolved into a vast network of trade that adopted the direct-to-consumer distribution channel. The first direct-selling company was established in 1855, with a business model that involved employees going door-to-door to sell their wares.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Today, over 128 million independent representatives are involved in the $186.1 USD billion industry worldwide (World Federation of Direct Selling Association – WFDSA report 2021).

Independent representatives, individuals who work on their own time and schedule to promote and sell products to others through direct selling, are present all over the world. These range from homemakers looking for an additional income while balancing their responsibilities at home, to young college graduates wanting to start their own business. These independent representatives are responsible for setting their own time and schedule and their earnings are typically commensurate with their efforts.

Some choose to do this part time, while others have turned it into a full-time career. They often have the flexibility to work from home or on-the-go, which appeals to those who value work-life balance. It enables the distributor to be their own boss and create a business that fits their lifestyle and goals. Many well established direct-selling companies offer training, support, and resources to help their independent representatives or distributors succeed.

The story of direct selling reveals paradigm-shifting events and thresholds that have fundamentally changed the industry and helped to shape today’s direct seller.

As a people business, the industry has seen its fair share of scrutiny and scorn, giving it negative attention. Some individuals make outlandish and unsubstantiated claims, conduct aggressive recruitment campaigns, misrepresent companies and brands, pocket funds through unauthorised channels and give the industry a bad name.

The QI Group’s flagship direct selling business, QNET has pioneered the direct selling industry in many emerging markets where this industry is still unknown and hence not properly understood. QNET strives to conduct its business on the foundation of its core values of Integrity, Service, Sustainability and Leadership. In line with this, QNET has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption, bribery and extortion, whether from our employees, distributors, vendors, partners or anyone we deal with.

To solidify our stance on ethics, honesty and transparency in business, QNET has spearheaded the formation of the Direct Selling Disinformation Centre (DSDC).

The Centre serves to combat the proliferation of disinformation and misinformation about the direct selling industry and the QNET brand. This year, as the company celebrates its 25th anniversary, QNET aims to use the DSDC to work towards clearing the misconceptions around the direct selling business model and engaging with relevant stakeholders in the industry to ensure best practices are followed, including transparency, realistic expectations of partners, and accurate product descriptions and claims. At the same time, the DSDC will collaborate with relevant stakeholders in government, trade bodies, and regulators in new and emerging markets to educate them about the business model, its potential, and impact on the economy.

We are proud that QNET is leading the way in promoting transparency and integrity in the direct selling industry. By spearheading initiatives such as the DSDC and offering training and support to its independent representatives, QNET hopes to promote awareness and create a culture of ethical direct selling practices, as the business looks to the next 25 years and beyond.

For more information on the Direct Selling Disinformation Centre, please read Winning The War Against Disinformation In Direct Selling: Interview with Trevor Kuna, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer of QNET.