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How does network marketing fit into the Australian wellness conversation?

Network marketing, otherwise known as direct selling, is a $2 billion industry in Australia, and a $178 billion one globally.

To find out more about the companies that have garnered so much interest from consumers in recent years, Wellness Daily spoke with senior representatives from two of the major players, Arbonne and Isagenix, about how it all works and where it's headed.

What is the mission of network marketing companies in Australia?

The ultimate goal of such companies is much more holistic and far-reaching than one might expect from a face value impression, according to those at the coalface.

"[The mission is to] allow ordinary people to be extraordinary, and help anyone create a vision for what they want their lives to look like in the future," says Arbonne vice president Michelle Sutherland.

"It's about taking people on a personal development journey, and using health products as a vehicle to change their lives," added Isagenix one star manager Brett Marshall.

"They want to help as many people as they can; it's about sending the elevator down to the bottom to pick people up."

How does being part of such a community aid health and wellbeing?

For Mr Marshall, the supplements and other products offered by the company are just a vehicle towards better health and wellbeing, but it is the community – the friendships, support networks, and subsequent personal growth – that is so invaluable.

"What drew me in what the ability to meet like-minded people that I wanted to develop friendships and network with, allowing me to grow personally, and really take my life to a new level," he said.

Ms Sutherland agreed with this, noting that such personal connection was crucial given how people nowadays are more cognizant of their health needs.

"You're surrounded by a positive collection of people who want you to do well, and personal development is the nucleus of that environment," she said.

"In order to really grow in a business, you have to work on yourself, and rethink your approach to personal development."

Why are such companies so popular in Australia?

Network marketing companies are a two billion dollar industry in Australia, Ms Sutherland said, and Australia has proven to be a particularly responsive demographic for such businesses.

"Australia is becoming a very entrepreneurial country, and more people are looking and thinking about flexible working arrangements, which network marketing allows you to do by building a brand without needing enormous capital," she said.

"Australia is also a weird country in that is has extremes – there is a lot of obesity, so things like our 30-day challenges are very useful, but there are also super healthy people who want quality products to keep feeling good about themselves."

Mr Marshall noted that in the current tech age, network marketing companies offer a way for people to get ahead of their professional and financial goals.

"It gives them that edge where anyone can start sharing and earning a little extra income, which for a lot of people, is all they need to feel more comfortable," he explained.

Are there any particular challenges to growth or uptake across the country?

Pre-conceived notions about network marketing appears to be the biggest hurdle to further expansion or community engagement.

"I think there's always been a little bit of a stigma around any sort of network marketing or sales, and that's the wrong way of approaching this," argued Mr Marshall.

"This is all about sharing your experiences and having positive moments with your family and friends. If you share that, then they're going to have the same result that you have."

Ms Sutherland made similar points, but also said it's sometimes not so much about the companies, but the individuals themselves who give the products and the advocacy message a bad reputation.

"I spend a lot of time explaining [to individual consumers] that there is actually another way to live and work, and you can shape your own path," she said.

What are the benefits for working Australians?

Ms Sutherland said that she asks people questions around what makes them happy versus unhappy, and what do they want from their lives.

"When you bring that home for them, they often realise they might be further away from what they actually want than they thought," she said.

"[Network marketing] can be a vehicle to get them closer to what they want."

For those looking to make "massive changes" in their lives, being more involved as individual consultants is the way to go, she said.

"It helps you grow personally and professionally, learn more about yourself and the skills it takes to build relationships and influence people, build your own brand, and create another income stream rather than relying on the one."

"It is residual and has longevity," she argued.

Mr Marshall reinforced this: "Network marketing provides an extra income stream that can be on par or even overtake your current one, which means you can have the lifestyle you want."

"It all comes down to whether you love what you are doing, and how that impacts your wellness. Everyone, in every industry, has to decide whether or not to look after their health, and this allows you a way to grow your wellness to a point where you can even live off [those wellbeing strategies]," he said.

This is the most important thing, Ms Sutherland concluded: your health is number one.

"If you're not healthy, everything else falls apart," she said.

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy is a senior writer for Lawyers Weekly and Wellness Daily at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in early 2018, Jerome is admitted as a solicitor in New South Wales and, prior to joining the team in early 2018, he worked in both commercial and governmental legal roles and has worked as a public speaker and consultant to law firms, universities and high schools across the country and internationally. He is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines self-help book series and is an adjunct lecturer at The University of Western Australia.

Jerome graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry).

You can email Jerome at: [email protected] 

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