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Frequently Asked Questions

About the DSA

What is the Direct Sellers Association of Canada?

Since 1954 the Direct Sellers Association (DSA) of Canada has established and upheld rigorous standards, ethics and good business practices as the recognized voice of the direct selling industry. We are a family of competitors using our combined strength to ensure fairness in regulations and gain credibility and respect within government.

The DSA’s mission is to promote, serve and protect the interests of our member companies and independent direct sellers marketing their products, and ensure the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers.

What is the Direct Selling Education Foundation?

The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) is a not-for-profit organization established by the Canadian DSA in 1994 to promote public awareness of the direct selling industry in Canada. The DSEF serves the public interest through educational programs, research into direct sales and micro enterprise, and the establishment of links with consumer and government organizations.

The DSEF is focused on providing programs and information that address issues of importance to business leaders, academics, students, public policy officials, and members of the micro-entrepreneurial community.

What benefits does the DSA provide to its members?

Membership of the Direct Selling Association of Canada provides a level of trust and integrity for member companies and shows their commitment to quality business practices and consumer protection.

  • Our logo is a symbol of credibility and the highest business standards. Members who display the DSA logo on their website and marketing materials are viewed as upholding these high standards.
  • We provide a collective voice to government, which ensures an open marketplace in which our member companies and their Independent Sales Contractors (ISCs) can conduct business.
  • Through a variety of channels, such as our newsletter, website and social media platforms, we offer timely updates on issues of importance to the industry.
  • DSA works through media to influence policy and promote direct selling as a unique and growing business model.
  • Our Annual Conference, webinars, seminars, networking events and mentoring opportunities ensure that members benefit from the DSA’s unique industry perspective in regards to business trends and best practices.

I am a sales consultant with a DSA member company. What benefits does DSA provide for me?

As a consultant with a DSA member company, you receive the benefit of your company’s pledge to abide by the DSA Codes of Ethics & Business Practices. You are encouraged to share your affiliation with a DSA member company with all of your customers as DSA membership is a symbol of the highest possible business ethics.

What are my responsibilities as an independent sales consultant with of a DSA member company?

As a representative/distributor of a DSA member company, you are responsible for upholding the same high standards of business ethics your company has pledged to uphold, which are embodied in the DSA Codes of Ethics and Business Practices.

How does the DSA protect consumers and potential entrepreneurs?

The DSA is committed to ensuring that consumers and potential entrepreneurs are dealt with fairly and honestly in their dealings with DSA member companies. All member firms must adhere to strict Codes of Ethics and Business Practices as a condition of membership.

About Direct Selling

What is direct selling?

Direct selling is the sale of consumer products or services, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location. It is a retail channel used by large, global companies and small, entrepreneurial brands to sell all types of goods and services. Driven by independent sales consultants, direct selling is also called social, network or personal selling.

It’s also an avenue for entrepreneurial-minded Canadians to work independently and to build a business with low start-up and overhead costs. Over 1.2 million Canadians are involved as independent sales consultants and over 14 million are involved as consumers.

What products and services are marketed through direct selling?

Direct sellers offer a whole array of products, including nutritional and healthcare, cosmetics, jewellery, housewares, food and beverage, giftware, utilities and much more. People who purchase through direct selling cite product quality, uniqueness and money-back guarantees as the top reasons for shopping through direct selling.

How many direct selling companies are there?

There are more than 75 direct selling companies currently operating in Canada. The DSA estimates that forty-two percent (42%) of the Canadian population counts on the direct selling industry to deliver a wide range of products and services to them.

Describe the direct selling business model.

Direct selling uses a distribution and compensation method where products are sold by a sales force of independent contractors, who market the products through personal explanation and demonstration. Individual direct selling entrepreneurs earn compensation based on their own sales and, often, the sales of others. Compensation is based on sales of products/services.

In some instances, an individual signs-up as a distributor with the sole intent of buying the products for their own use at a discount.

How can I become an independent sales consultant for a direct selling company?

You probably already have the basics: an interest in people and a desire to succeed. You’ll be taught the rest, and you’ll earn as you learn. Direct selling may answer your dream of running your own business with little risk and strong corporate support.

Not all direct selling companies belong to the DSA. Those who do pledge to abide by the DSA’s Codes of Ethics & Business Practices, their commitment to ethical business practices and consumer protection. Dealing with a DSA member company is an assurance of trust and integrity.

We’ve made finding your fit in this industry easy. Click here to access our member directory. Identify a product or service that appeals to you and click on the company link for more information.

What is the economic and social impact of direct selling?

In the Canadian market, the direct selling industry enjoys annual sales of $2.54 billion and creates direct tax revenues of $568 million, through over 1.2 million independent sales representatives.

A majority of independent sales consultants work part-time, and the flexibility to set your own hours offers busy parents, caregivers, professionals and others an ideal level of work-life balance. Direct selling has a long history of both substantially contributing to the economy and supporting the Canadians involved.

What are the different direct selling business and compensation structures?

  • Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) is a form of direct sales where independent sales consultants (ISCs) have the opportunity to sponsor new ISCs and build their own sales team or downline. Compensation is based not only on one’s own product sales, but on the product sales of one’s downline.
  • Single-Tier Sales is a form of direct sales where each ISC reports directly to the company with which they are associated and works on their own. There are no sales teams to build and lead.
  • Party Plan is the term used to describe one of the most popular forms of direct sales, whether through multi-level marketing or through single-tier sales. An ISC will help their customer plan a home party, where products or services are showcased.

What is a pyramid scheme?

Pyramid schemes focus on making most of their money from new recruits. Pyramid schemes are ILLEGAL.  If a company claims to be involved in direct selling but has more focus on recruiting people than on selling products, it may be a pyramid scheme. Conversely, legitimate direct selling companies contribute to a vibrant marketplace by selling competitive, high quality products and services, and providing a sustainable source of income for those who choose to sell those products.

It’s a red flag if anyone tries to entice you with unlimited wealth simply by recruiting more people into the scheme and/or payment of large, up-front membership or entrance fees. Pyramid schemes will typically charge high fees, often buried in the cost of a starter kit, in startup inventory, or for training or other services. Legitimate direct selling companies offer easy and inexpensive opportunities to start selling their products or services.

Pyramid schemes will concentrate on the importance of recruiting others to achieve high profits. Little or no focus is placed on the product or service they may claim to represent, or on the subsequent sale of these products and services to customers.

A representative with another company is trying to recruit me. Does the Codes of Ethics and Business Practices address this?

Yes our Codes of Ethics and Business Practices address this topic. As per our Codes of Ethics and Business Practices; every member shall refrain from business recruiting practices directed at the Salespersons or other Members, whether directly or through third parties that do not comply with the provisions of applicable federal and provincial laws, including the Civil Code of Quebec and the applicable common law that may, among other things, deal with wrongful or malicious interference with contractual relationships in effect between companies and their independent contractors.