by J.M. Emmert
Professor Paul Zane Pilzer has kept a watchful eye on the direct selling
industry for more than 30 years. In the 1990s, the renowned economist
who served in two White House administrations predicted that network
marketers would help make the then-emerging $200-billion health and wellness
channel the next trillion-dollar industry. The success of companies such as
Herbalife, Medifast, Monavie, Amway, Nu Skin, USANA and Blyth are helping to
confirm Pilzer’s theory.
As the current economic crisis continues to take a toll on people around
the world and unemployment rates steadily rise, direct selling may be the
answer to a shrinking job market. Pilzer warns that too many people today see
unemployment as part of the economic cycle—that when the economy recovers,
employment will naturally go up.
However, unemployment is not a macro-economic problem, he says. It is a
micro-economic issue, typically related to a skill deficiency on an individual level.
“The question lies not in economic recovery but employment recovery,” says
Pilzer, who has written nine bestsellers. “We have a massive social problem.
What are we going to do with 30 million people who are now permanently
unemployed? The No. 1 social need in the United States right now has nothing to
do with the economy.”
The real challenge is to replace lost jobs with new earnings opportunities and
provide much-needed training. The jobs that baby boomers and Gen Xers trained
for years ago have disappeared. Technology has replaced millions of workers and
demanded new skills that too many older Americans just don’t have.
“Instead of focusing on new methods of training, our politicians and news
media are looking at unemployment and the economic recovery as linked—and
they are not because most of the unemployed people today are skills-deficient.
If they are over 50 years old, they probably don’t touch-type or e-mail, and that
doesn’t work in today’s economy.”
So what happens to those displaced workers? Direct selling may have
the answer. The direct selling business model has always had a competitive
advantage in the training that it offers, both in business and personal skills. It
allows people to be retrained while they pursue something new. It gives people
an opportunity when no one else will.
The biggest need in every sector of the economy, says Pilzer, is intellectual
distribution—the dissemination of information about products and services. “We
have a huge backlog of better products and services that people aren’t buying
because they don’t know about them. Direct selling is the most efficient method
for the distribution of intellectual information that will improve your life. It is the
ideal model that allows anyone to reach out.”
Direct selling offers people the skills and tools to create new income
opportunities—to venture out on their own as entrepreneurs and grow in
confidence versus being consumed by the fear associated with a shrinking job
market. “Technology is available to everyone at home and is even better than
what you can get in a large company,” says Pilzer. “When we examine the
workplace, we often find outdated computers and data management systems.
However, the best tools and support needed to run a home-based business are
now available to individuals at an affordable cost. This makes a home-based
business—and a direct selling opportunity, in particular—very appealing.” ■