Growth and Evolution for the Direct Selling Industry

The global economy remains volatile despite the lifting of lockdowns and movement restrictions brought on by the recent pandemic. Geopolitical strife, high-interest rates, and volatile commodity prices have beset the months  

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s January 2023 World Economic Outlook Update, global growth is projected to fall to 2.9% this year but rise to 3.1% in 2024; but although the 2023 forecast is 0.2 percentage points higher than predicted in the October 2022 outlook update, it remains below the historical average of 3.8%.

Remarkably, despite the challenges, direct selling has managed to not only prove its resilience yet again but also make a positive impact on the global economy. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) found that direct selling generated $186.1 billion in retail sales and saw over 128 million distributors globally in 2021.

The industry has been consistently recognised for improving income generation and job creation, reviving stagnant sectors, and opening more entrepreneurial opportunities. While challenges and unpredictability are set to remain, experts also predict unprecedented opportunities for expansion.

Here are some of the key growth areas that the direct selling industry will be focussed on in 2023 and beyond:

Entrepreneurship and the gig economy

The current century has seen a surge in entrepreneurship, with COVID-19 fuelling this trend. Thanks to its flexibility, low capital and operational costs, and supportive entrepreneurial ecosystems, direct selling has become a viable part-time and full-time option for millions. As entrepreneurship grows and evolves in the next five years, direct selling companies must adopt a future-ready stance by focussing on sustainability, ethical practices, and community development.

Gig work is also expected to gain popularity continuously. According to a report by MBO Partners, the number of independent workers globally is expected to reach 86.5 million by 2027, up from 64.8 million in 2020. Direct selling is poised to lead the way by providing gig workers with simplicity, flexibility, alternative incomes, and unique advantages such as mentorship, targeted learning, and more extensive growth opportunities.

Training and Mentorship

As mentioned, direct selling will continue to take advantage of the growing gig economy. However, shifting from a single-side hustle to a multi-hustle environment will make training even more crucial.

Being in direct selling is always a good opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn and grow. This year, to catch up on what has been lost during the height of the pandemic, there will be a focus on identifying market gaps, meeting customer needs in unique ways, and building resilience.


Innovation will continue to be vital to growth this year. But while technologically-driven products and services will undoubtedly be an area of focus for many, the bulk of the emphasis on direct selling innovation is expected to enhance the digital sale and purchase experience.

This year’s focus will be proactively forging ahead to unlock new opportunities. This will involve the continued development of artificial intelligence (AI), in which the market is expected to grow from $58.3 billion in 2021 to $309.6 billion by 2026, as well as the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain, among others, to create better business solutions for entrepreneurs and customers.

Sustainable Business

The 2000s have seen an increase in people leaving their traditional jobs to become entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship is expected to continue to grow and evolve in 2023.

However, there will likely be a stronger emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection among younger business owners, especially from the growing Gen Z population, who, according to the WFDSA, now account for nearly 10% of the direct selling industry. A 2022 report by Deloitte found that 90% of Gen Z and millennial respondents believe that climate change is a pressing issue that requires immediate action and are exerting efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.

Sustainability has always been important in the direct selling industry, and efforts to protect the environment for future generations will play a more prominent role in business strategies. Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious, and businesses must ensure that sustainable practices are at the core of their operations.

Inclusiveness and Diversity

Direct selling has been a source of income for women for years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023, especially in regions with low female representation. The conversation on inclusiveness has shifted towards promoting greater diversity.

Direct selling is already primed for inclusiveness and diversity in many ways. One is how it provides opportunities regardless of gender, ethnicity, or background. The 2021 WFDSA Annual Report showed that 74% of people involved in direct selling are women, and the top 10 markets are evenly spread across various regions. This allows a broader range of individuals to participate and succeed in the industry.

Additionally, as previously mentioned, direct selling companies provide mentorship programmes and training opportunities to help individuals grow and develop their skills. These programmes, such as QNET’s FinGreen programme, support underrepresented groups and help bridge the gap in skills and knowledge, thus promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the industry.

Furthermore, the same can be said about direct selling companies promoting sustainable and ethical business practices, which align with the values and beliefs of a diverse range of consumers, thus enabling them to feel more welcome to prolong their careers in the industry.  

This year, the industry can become even more inclusive by expanding equal opportunity policies and support structures.

Expansion and Development

Despite ongoing supply chain issues, rising costs, and geopolitical tensions, there is optimism that 2023 will see the direct selling industry evolve and expand, providing more opportunities for millions to achieve their goals. The next five years present numerous growth opportunities for the direct selling industry.

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