But as people all over the world have demonstrated many times over the past 54 years, it most certainly can be seized.
That is because the biggest product isn’t anything that you can put on a shelf—it’s the business opportunity that comes with being a distributor, or Independent Business Owner (IBO).
Amway offers relevance, especially amid our current economy in which so many people are clear that a sole income stream isn’t enough to pay the bills. This part-time business opportunity, requiring very little financial overhead and no specialized education, provides that flexible “income on the side” that helps make ends meet.
In her recent interview with Forbes’ Jennifer Rooney, Candace Matthews, Amway Chief Marketing Officer, referred multiple times to the “business opportunity” that is at the heart of the company’s business model.
For some, the truth that Amway is a business centered not on any given product line, but on the bigger picture of opportunity, is very exciting and life-changing news.
It’s what empowers young people barely in their 20s to great success. That’s the profile of Matt and Sandee Tsuruda when they built their business to Diamond in the WWDB organization more than 20 years ago and outperformed others with decades of traditional corporate experience.
For a long time, the Amway Corporation has served as the standard bearer for the multilevel marketing and direct-selling industries. Its infrastructure, solid relationships with governments worldwide (the company does business in more than 100 countries and territories), formidable research-and-development muscle, generous compensation plan…all of it spells “credibility.”
For others, the reality that Amway is an opportunity business is unsettling to the point of distraction. They can’t seem to get their heads, or hearts, around the notion of a multi-level marketing business being legitimate.
But when you generate more than $11 billion in annual sales, as Amway just reported it did in 2012, you become a very big target. As a result, Amway has borne more than its fair share of attacks, much of it stemming from isolated negative experiences with a tiny fraction of IBOs.
Still, it keeps on growing, showing particular resilience when the economy is reeling. As Matthews noted in her Q & A with Forbes, the corporation’s international sales growth during a time of great economic distress “talks about how relevant this business model is everywhere across the globe.”
It comes in a variety of packages that have changed with the times, most prominently the Nutrilite vitamins and supplements, the Artistry skincare products and the XS Energy Drinks that have become a top-selling hit for Amway.
Anyone can sell a consumable product, especially those of outstanding quality. To cite a few examples in Amway’s lineup, Nutrilite is the world’s #1 selling vitamin and dietary supplements brand, Artistry is a Top 5-selling premium skincare brand and eSpring is the world’s largest kitchen water treatment system.
Plus, those brands are all backed by a robust R&D department (1,000 patents and 800 pending) committed to continual improvement.
What will become of those product lines over the next five, 10 or 20 years? As the corporation’s history of success demonstrates, there is ample reason for them all to continue flourishing. But what if they don’t?
Then something else will fill the gap—because Amway and its IBOs are unlike most businesses that owe their existence primarily to a product and, therefore, are in a perpetual state of vulnerability.
And that sobering truth gets amplified when technology changes the game—how many record stores (like Tower Records), bookstores (so long, Borders, among many others) and magazines (bye-bye, Newsweek’s print edition) have disappeared in recent times?
After 244 years in print, Encyclopaedia Britannica published its last print set (tipping the scales at 129 pounds) and has transitioned fully to digital.
The only way they survive is to change their primary product mix and redefine themselves to stay relevant with the times and changes in technology. Such a transformation is usually impossible.
By contrast, Amway’s continually refining its product mix without changing the core purpose of the business: the opportunity to create one’s own business network of fellow entrepreneurs. And, most significantly, any improvements in technology that help those networks collaborate more efficiently makes Amway even more relevant.
In the Amway economy, the future belongs to those with the vision to see beyond what can be touched, tasted, sniffed or squeezed.