The underrated sales channel – 11 facts about direct selling

In this article, you will learn the most essential facts and figures about classic direct selling. This one is the first in a series on Direct Selling: its importance and opportunity as a profitable and sustainable sales channel that could represent a new opportunity for you and your business. 

What is Direct Selling?

Direct selling is probably the oldest form of selling in the world. The characteristic of direct sales is always the direct, personal contact between the supplier and the customer, which enables a mutual exchange of information and is associated with intensive advice for the customer. Direct selling is the personal and direct sale of goods and services without intermediaries. This also includes the new sales channels via digital media such as online shops, Facebook, Instagram, telephone, and online meeting sales. Selling at trade fairs, weekly markets, and pedestrian zones are also referred to as direct selling. 


Typically, products sold directly require explanation and advice. Therefore, the advice from a representative/ salesman in direct contact is perceived as pleasant. 

Differences within the type of distribution

There are direct sales in both B2B and B2C. So, when selling companies to companies and when selling companies to end-users. 

Probably the best-known example of classic direct sales to end consumers is the Vorwerk company with its Thermomix, which is sold via a cooking presentation or, because of Corona, also via digital media. In addition, the Vorwerk company, with its vacuum cleaners and other companies such as Tupperware (plastic household containers), AMC (pots and kitchen utensils), and Amway (cosmetics, household appliances, and cleaning products), have been very successful in B2C direct sales for years. 

In addition to the division into business and private customer areas, it is also important to know the sub-forms of direct sales. This includes network marketing or multi-level marketing (MLM), #party sales, and digital trade.  

Forms of employment in direct sales

The 11 most important facts & figures about direct sales

There are different forms of employment in direct sales. You have the choice between being employed or an independent business person. 

As an employee in sales and training, you have an income usually made up of a fixed salary and commissions based on the sales you and your team achieved. 

In the case of self-employment, the sales staff receives their remuneration purely on a commission base after the sale has been made. This could be, for example, independent sales representatives who are responsible for a specific area. 

Personal direct sales are underestimated as a sales channel! 

Especially nowadays, when everyone is talking about the internet and digitalization, direct selling is underestimated or even not considered as a potential sales channel. 

 As marketing and sales professionals with many years of experience in direct sales, we know that this sales channel is more relevant than ever. 

 To reduce reservations about direct sales and to underline its relevance as a modern sales channel, we have compiled the 11 most important facts for you.


Direct selling generated 

0 $
volume in 2020


Germany is the third-largest direct sales market with a share of

0 %
behind China and the USA.


AMWAY is the largest direct-selling company globally at

$ 0 Billion
Vorwerk is 4th at 4,2 billion annual revenue.


More than 

0 People
work in direct sales worldwide, more than 900,000 in Germany alone.


0 %
of the worldwide sales partner are female - in Germany the proportion is 59%.



0 %
of distributors are full time.
0 %
are part time.


With a share of

0 %
party sales are the most popular direct sales channel.


0 People
in average in a sales party in Germany.


Products from the areas of wellness (35.6%), cosmetics & body care (28.6%) dominate worldwide, followed by household goods (11.5%). The household goods product group takes the top position in Germany with 

0 %
die Spitzenposition ein.


The cancellation rate in direct sales in 2014 was only 0.19% for the companies organized in the Bundesverband Direktvertrieb BDD. For comparison, the estimated return rate for online orders in the clothing/footwear product category was in 2019

0 %



0 %
of the orders placed with the BDD member companies in 2014 were due to so-called unsolicitated sales visits.

Our conclusion

The facts and figures demonstrate the importance of personal direct sales as a sales channel. Nevertheless, direct sales – at least in Germany – are still greatly underestimated. Its significance for the labor market is also often not adequately appreciated.

Direct sales have long since shed the sometimes-bad image of the past – caused by pusher columns and forbidden pyramid schemes. Today, direct selling is a beneficial addition to digital and traditional commerce. If the information and the price are in the foreground when buying online, direct sales are personal advice, service, and experience. Products are demonstrated live and the #sales party for the event. Both types of distribution do not compete but complement each other. 

Your Opportunity

Sales-oriented companies – both B2C and B2B – should deal intensively with personal direct sales as an additional or sole #sales channel. And this recommendation applies in particular to providers of innovative products or services that require explanation. 

As part of a cleverly coordinated and interlinked #multichannel strategy, modern direct sales can open up additional market shares and completely new target groups and generate considerable income. 

For more information on direct selling, follow us on LinkedIn.

You would like to find out more about your opportunities in direct sales?

Send us a message or call us. We are looking forward to an exciting dialogue. 

Note & Sources:

Unless otherwise stated, the figures refer to the year 2020  

WFDSA Annual Report 2020 (WFSDA = World Federation of Direct Selling Associations)  

DSN, Direct Selling News  

BDD Bundesverband Direktvertrieb, 2021 Situation of the direct sales industry in Germany  

University of Bamberg (Research Group Returns Management), survey period 2018-2020