Doug DeVos grew up learning about Direct Selling Associations. His father, Rich DeVos, co-founded Amway, and introduced Doug to meetings as a teenager.
Today, Doug is the president of Amway — and he also heads up the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. Recently, we learned why he says the WFDSA is important for sellers and consumers. Today, Doug shares how the WFDSA acts as an advocate for those in the industry.
How do you see Amway Business Owners benefitting from your leadership of WFDSA in these areas?
WFDSA is about creating the right environment for our industry and then allowing the member companies to operate within that, so that their distributors can thrive in their businesses. That benefits all direct selling participants.
WFDSA is leading efforts to get all of us to articulate consistently to the marketplace, in terms they can relate to, who we are as an industry and what we’re about. We need to work together as an industry to make sure the marketplace – regulators and consumers – clearly understands direct selling, so consumers can make intelligent choices about both buying from direct sellers, and considering whether to join an opportunity.
And finally, we’re working to help regulators to create an even playing field to enhance competition for everyone who wants to participate in direct selling.
There are some individual markets where the regulatory environment is really challenging. What’s the global message to regulators from the WFDSA?
Regulation is critical, and it’s important to distinguish fraud from legitimate direct selling. So our message to regulators is, we want you to distinguish between the two as much as you want to do that.
– Doug DeVos, Amway President
We have a perspective to offer on how regulators can do that in a way that increases the ability for legitimate direct selling competitors to offer more and better opportunities to people – whether that’s product opportunities to consumers, or business opportunities to prospects. We can connect them with best practices around the world, for legislation that has been effective in adding to competitiveness in the direct selling marketplace – legislation that is designed with the consumer at the center, from a product quality standpoint and an income opportunity perspective.
What does that look like? It means standards like 100% satisfaction guarantees on business registration fees and product purchases; no minimum product order requirements; and written contracts between the companies and the business owners defining the relationship and providing clear rules of conduct. These comprise effective legislation that enables a healthy direct selling marketplace.
A lot of direct selling companies offer consumer protection measures that are really unmatched. How important do you think it is for people to understand the consumer protections that are put around getting into direct selling?
We need to put consumer protection at the front of what we do when we interact with the marketplace.
The quality that’s built into our products, the guarantees behind our products, the ease of entering a direct selling company from a business opportunity perspective, the business support that is given, the expectations that are laid out — and the ability to exit without being hurt – those are the things we have to articulate so people in the marketplace understand.
It’s critically important that our member companies and national DSAs talk to the marketplace about our industry in a way that reflects consumers’ experience.
– Doug DeVos, Amway President
We can correct people who talk badly about us, and that’s right to do; we can be upset by unfair attacks. But what we all really need to do is look at ourselves as an industry and ask, “What are we going to do that will demonstrate that our global industry can be trusted by consumers?” We have to consistently do that over time if we want it to change.
How do you answer those who challenge whether direct selling can remain vibrant given its long history?
I tell them that with so many new opportunities, terrific products and technology tools, direct selling is just as relevant and vibrant today as it has ever been.
You know, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. We see it all the time. People are looking for income opportunities – the economy in the traditional sense is having a tough time creating enough jobs and earning opportunities for those who need them. With the flexibility and other advantages that direct selling offers – and the strong product categories you see in our industry – many of them are finding direct selling a good fit for their needs.