The story of the peak pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 was one of struggle and doubt.
From predictions of a reversal of fortunes, businesses were instead forced to endure additional uncertainty and losses, following the onset of a major pandemic, widespread political unrest, and growing inflation that has affected everyone around the world.
Remarkably, despite the countless issues, the evidence shows that direct selling managed to weather the different storms and even chart impressive growth figures over the same period.
Historically, direct selling’s unique characteristic of serving as an avenue for supplemental income generation has helped the industry stay extraordinarily resilient in times of financial upheaval.
In 2021, however, that factor was also underpinned by positive customer sentiment, resulting in a remarkable 12 months for the industry, and QNET especially.
As a matter of fact, 2021 stands on record for QNET as not only a year of phenomenal gains in the Asian and MENA regions but also one in which the company attained outstanding industry recognition, culminating in an unprecedented 33 awards from multiple global platforms. This year, this list of awards has grown by another 24 so far.
So, what’s in store for us and the industry in the next 5 years?
Well, with the imminent expansion of vaccination and booster rollouts, this year is forecast to be even more important for direct selling.
As such, our focus at QNET will be to continue the growing success of our aspiring entrepreneurs and focus resources and attention on several growth areas. Here are some of them:
Although this current century has seen more people leaving 9-5 jobs to become their own bosses, COVID-19 has undoubtedly lit the entrepreneurship spark. And that, in turn, has seen direct selling emerge as a viable opportunity for millions of individuals.
Starting a business is never easy. However, direct selling’s distinctive features of more flexibility, minimal capital obligations, and operational costs have enabled many to go into business for themselves and realise their dreams.
Additionally, what has helped empower new business owners, even more, are conducive and nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems and a digital-first mindset; things that QNET has focussed on from the beginning.
The prediction is that entrepreneurship will continue to grow and evolve in the next five years.
Thus, to best empower new business owners, direct selling companies will also need to adopt a future-ready stance as QNET CEO Malou Caluza says. This will involve focussing on sustainable products, ethical production, distribution and sales practices, and community development.
The gig economy
Entrepreneurship aside, direct selling is also expected to leverage the gig economy in the next years.
Gig work, of course, has been both massively popular and important to the world’s destabilised workforce. The industry has played a crucial role in keeping many national economies from tanking.
Yet, despite the appeal of flexibility, gig work has come under scrutiny for, among other things, a lack of worker support and growth prospects.
This is where direct selling, regarded as a forerunner to gig-based work, is expected to make a difference.
We understand that gig workers seek simplicity, flexibility and stable incomes. Thus, the opportunity for forward-thinking companies is to present how direct selling aligns with those needs and yet also provides unique advantages; specifically, mentorship, targeted learning, and larger growth opportunities.
From a surfeit of personal service apps to better media streaming offerings, it’s easy to see how the pandemic has spurred the demand for innovative online offerings. As such, the forecast for the next decade is that innovation will continue to be important to growth.
However, while technologically-driven products and services will undoubtedly be an area of focus for many, the bulk of the emphasis on innovation for direct selling is expected to enhance the digital sale and purchase experience — an area where QNET has already been making strides.
As one of Asia’s first direct selling companies to embrace e-commerce, QNET has always placed digital transformation at the top of our agenda. The focus is now on forging ahead proactively at lightspeed to unlock new opportunities.
For example, we recently worked with Microsoft to create a robust and agile system that ensures an improved digital experience for distributors and customers and stands up to modern cybersecurity threats.
Incidentally, QNET’s recent award-winning digital innovations have been spearheaded by young talent spread across the region.
Despite steady progress being made before the pandemic, representation of women in the workplace took a major nosedive during the pandemic.
Thankfully, despite the brutal reality of layoffs and job losses, direct selling has served as not just a lifeline for women who’ve suffered setbacks, but an avenue to lead from the front.
QNET has borne witness to so many success stories over this period. The opportunity now and in the coming years will be for direct selling companies to expand their equal opportunity policies and support structures to ensure even greater participation and success of women entrepreneurs.
The long and short of it is that the next half a decade presents countless opportunities for direct selling to grow. And QNET, which has proven resilient over the two years of flux, will be looking to make even greater strides.