The USA Lost 8 Million MLM Distributors in 2018

The USA Lost 8 Million MLM Distributors in 2018

According to the 2018 DSA report and press release the USA has 6.2 million Direct Selling distributors, down approx. 8 million from other years due to “better separate direct sellers from customers”.

The DSA:

According to the “DSA 2019 Growth & Outlook Report: U.S. Direct Selling in 2018” released today by the Direct Selling Association (DSA) at its Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, 2018 saw growth in retail sales, as well as the number of people selling and purchasing products and service through the direct sales channel.

Growth & Outlook is DSA’s annual survey that reports on the size and scope of direct selling in the U.S. and is audited by Nathan Associates, a third-party international economic consulting firm.

The annual Direct Selling Growth & Outlook Survey provided the following data on the industry:

Retail Sales

The direct selling channel generated $35.4 billion in retail sales in 2018 – up 1.3 percent from 2017. Wellness products remained the most popular product category in the U.S. in 2018, accounting for 35.6 percent of sales, followed by Services (22.6 percent), Home & Family Care/Durables (15.8 percent), Beauty & Personal Care (15.6 percent), Clothing & Accessories (7.7 percent) and Leisure/Educational (2.7 percent).

Direct Selling Population

The DSA further refined the 2018 data collection to better separate direct sellers from customers. This new research shows that the number of people selling products or services using the direct selling model grew 1.6 percent, with more than 6.2 million U.S. entrepreneurs selling in either a part-time or full-time basis.

Demographic breakdowns for both direct sellers and discount buyers include 6 percent (under 25); 19 percent (25-34); 26 percent (35-44); 24 percent (45-54); 17 percent (55-64); and 8 percent for 65 and older.

By gender, 75 percent of direct sellers in the United States in 2018 were women and 26.5 percent men. The percentage of women joining the channel increased by 1.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, men joining the channel dropped by 1.5 percent.

Ethnic and racial demographics for 2018 went unchanged from 2017. Eighty-five percent of those involved were White/Caucasian, 8 percent African American, 4 percent Asian, 1 percent American Indian or Native Alaskan, 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 1 percent other not identified.

Demand for Direct Selling Products

The DSA said in their press release that in 2018, there were more than 36.6 million people actively buying through the direct sales channel, with notable growth coming from an increase in preferred customers. This customer count excludes those who have not signed an agreement with a direct selling company.

“The U.S. direct selling industry is moving in a very positive direction,” said Joseph N. Mariano, DSA president and chief executive officer. “Retail sales were strong, thanks largely to the U.S. direct sales force and their ability to attract millions and millions of customers.

The 2019 Growth & Outlook Survey also provided additional insights into the people involved in direct selling – particularly due to segmentation efforts – helping our member companies provide an even better experience for those who buy and sell through our channel. As we look forward and evaluate industry data, as well as national economic and retail projections, we believe the industry will continue to see modest growth during the next three years.”

For more information on DSA’s 2019 Growth & Outlook Survey: 2018 Direct Selling Data in the United States, you can also read more on this topic at The DSA has also added a new interactive component when you hover the arrow or cursor over various content on the page.


Editor note:

On June 13 we received from the DSA this statement:

“While we appreciate you for including the latest Direct Selling Association (DSA) Growth & Outlook data on your site, I am writing to request a correction to your recent post titled, “The USA Lost 8 Million Distributors in 2018.”


It is not accurate for you to state that the U.S. has 8 million fewer direct sellers as reported from 2017 to 2018.

According to DSA research and data, it is most accurate to state the 2018 Growth & Outlook survey results show that 6.2 million people are part-time and full-time business builders, and there are 36.6 million customers actively involved in direct selling today.


The way the DSA collects its data has evolved since 2017, primarily due to the increase in companies distinguishing those involved in the business. We’ve begun to characterize the people involved in direct selling according to their sales and purchase habits, so in terms of tracking the overall number of people involved in the channel from 2017 to 2018, it would not be a true “apples to apples” comparison.  


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