While economic hardship continued in many parts of the world, 2012 was a record year for direct selling worldwide.
Global retail sales grew over 5% and interest in participating increased 6%.
Global Retail Sales in 2012 reached an all-time high of US$166.9 billion, an increase of 5.4% in constant US$ vs. 2011. This follows an 8.5% increase the previous year. A full 80% of the 60 member countries showed increases, testament to the fact that direct selling generally resists the insult of economic crisis.
A force of 89.7 million energetic participants worked to achieve this record sales level. The sales force increased 6% year-over-year vs. 2011. 70% of the 60 member countries showed sales force increases.
All regions showed increases both sales and participation
ASIA is the largest region for Direct Selling, with a 44% share of global Retail sales. Sales volume in Asia grew by 4.4% year-over-year. Participants grew nearly 10% [9.9%]
AMERICAS is the second largest region, with 40% of worldwide sales. The region grew by 7.9%. Participants grew 4.2% [North – 1.9%; Central/South – 6.9%]
· The 11 markets in South / Central America are equal to the size of the 2 markets in North America: Canada and the US.
· Both these mature markets were up. And notably, Central/South America were up by double digits, showing an increase of 10.4% !
EUROPE showed retail sales increases of 2.2% [1.3% in the West and 4.3% in the East]. Participation was flat: up nearly 5% in the West [4.6%] and flat in the East [-0.7%]
Preliminary studies show that AFRICA / MID EAST account for 1% of global sales.
Today’s direct selling story is increasingly a story of emerging markets
Emerging markets have increased by 9% in just 2 years from 2010 to 2012.
Today, 56% of direct sales come from advanced markets and 44% from emerging markets, up from 35% in 2010. However, the 15% of the world’s population living in the advanced markets enjoys 85% of global GDP.
Two emerging markets grew to exceed the US$ 1 billion threshold this year: India and Philippines. As such, they joined the Top 23 countries in the world. Together, this group accounts for 93% of global retail sales. Only 9 of the Top 23 markets are classified as advanced economies.
 WFDSA reports sales at Estimated Retail level, not including value-added-tax. Figures reflect Constant US Dollars (2012) to eliminate the impact of currency fluctuation. All prior year figures were re-stated to ensure comparability.