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There are a lot of outspoken bloggers and critics online, as well as negative opinions floating around the social networks, but the positives drown out the negatives. It’s not hard to find a loud voice criticizing the direct selling industry through a quick Google search. And it is true… there are many pyramid/Ponzi schemes, primarily internationally based, that parade themselves as MLM/direct delling… and they are not. They are merely pyramid headhunting recruitment schemes that often use bogus products and services as an excuse to move money. The entire emphasis of such organizations is to cause investors to pay money and cause others to do the same, with a thin veneer of an actual product or service. In fact, the revenue to pay commissions instead comes from distributor payments and not sales to the ultimate user.

Despite this, the facts remains MLM and direct selling are a major part of the fabric of commerce. Statistics on 2014 sales, compiled by the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations, indicate global sales of $183 billion and 100 million distributors. In the U.S., there are 18 million distributors posting $35 billion in sales. Numerous direct selling companies are traded on the NYSE.

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The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) has released its 2012 global direct sales statistics. In its document titled “Global Sales by Product Category – 2012” the WFDSA outlined the global sales of specific direct sales product categories.

In summary, out of 100% of global sales by product category, cosmetics and personal care products revealed the highest global percentage with 35% of global sales. Wellness products came in second place with 25% of global sales. Household goods and durables came in third, representing 14% of the global marketplace. Clothing and accessories came in fourth with a nine percent share of global sales. “Other” products represent four percent of global sales, while home care, as well as books, toys, stationary, etc. both held three percent of global sales. Home improvement products, utilities, and financial services all tied holding a two percent share in global sales. Lastly, foodstuff and beverages only held one percent of total global sales.

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