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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Exporting a Sales Model

The Amway way isn’t just the American way anymore, however. It’s spreading into a global phenomenon under its rallying cry of economic “freedom.” As Kaoru Nakajima, one of Amway’s major distributors in Japan, puts it: “I was a salaried man working in a company for eight years. Now I am my own boss. Now I am free.”6 Peter Muller-Meerkatz, who with his wife, Eva, amassed one of Amway’s largest distributor networks in Europe, adds: “We believe in capitalism. We are convinced that democracy and free enterprise are the world’s only economic hope. Why wouldn’t we want to share it?”7

Amway certainly did share it, exporting its direct sales model—“the Plan,” as Amway IBOs call it—to much of the world. The company operates in 80 countries and territories and the breakdown of its domestic and international business has flipped. At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, 70 percent of Amway’s business was in the United States. By 2009, however, 90 percent of its sales came from outside the United States.8 Two-thirds of its business is in Asia.9 Its single largest market is China, which accounts for more than a third of its more than $9 billion in annual sales.10 The company’s success there is due in part to tapping a vast market of more than a billion people who are breaking away from old feudal systems and are part of a culture that encourages family members to support a relative’s business venture. Amway says it’s committed to help budding entrepreneurs ...

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