The direct selling industry has immense potential in the Middle East and given the pace of development, an industry player says that sales could reach more than Dh100 million this year.
At the three-day Direct Selling Festival Expo and Conference, which began yesterday at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Singapore-based Robert Wang, Business Development Manager of emMax – one of the exhibitors – told Emirates Business: "I am very upbeat about the growth of this industry in China, Hong Kong and the Middle East. These days direct selling covers all sectors, from travel and entertainment to online shopping. My company has been making $10m (Dh36.7m) for two years. In the United States, the industry is worth $1 billion and in the UAE the aim is to reach $30m in sales this year. People are open to this idea and I hope we have a good future."
There are companies in the UAE who have been in direct selling for more than two decades. The California-based direct selling cosmetics giant Avon, which has been in business for nearly 122 years, has been in the country for 22 years through its local partner Al Hathboor International Group.
"We are a $8bn company worldwide and in the UAE we have registered 20 per cent to 25 per cent growth every year. We welcome members from all walks of life to be a part of the Avon family by giving them basic training and supporting them in every way. Currently, we have 3,500 Avon members in the UAE," said Premi Oommen, National Sales Manager of Avon.
Sher B Khan, a Saudi student who works as sales and marketing manager for another exhibitor at the festival, Forever Living, has high hopes from this industry.
"We are a multi-billion-dollar American company. With operations in 130 countries we registered $2.1bn in sales in 2007. Japan and Germany are our biggest markets but we are optimistic about upcoming markets like the UAE," he said.
Globally, the direct selling industry is worth $110bn, but in the UAE and the region it remains fragmented.
"The need of the hour is to organise and introduce the industry to the UAE in a proper manner. This requires channelising the potential of the industry and legitimising it by the UAE Government. The aim of the Direct Selling Festival is to help more and more people to build a successful career as a Direct Selling professional," said Professor Charles W King, marketing guru from the University of Illinois.
Niousha Ehsan, Marketing Manager, Direct Selling Festival said: "Direct selling is a multi-billion industry, which has not been exploited in this part of the world. Bearing in mind that 85 per cent of people in the business are women, I think we will have considerable interest from women."
Direct Selling, also known as Multi Level Marketing, is the sale of a consumer product or service person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location, which has become a large part of the economy in countries such as Japan.