This isn’t our usual type of interview, but something very interesting came across our desk and we decided to explore this story further.

Nu Skin is best known for skincare products and is one of the largest beauty brands in the world. They have a strong presence in the region, establishing a strong growth plan to turn the region into a billion dollar market for the company.

We got a chance to ask Nu Skin Global President, Ryan Napierski to find out how Nu Skin’s evolving business model and expectations borrows from the startup industry and the impact it will have on the region.

With a sales force of more than one million independent contractors in nearly 50 countries around the world, Nu Skin has set their eyes on the Southeast Asia region to boost growth.

Here’s what Ryan shared with us.

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Nu Skin range of products. Image courtesy of Nu Skin.

Can you elaborate a bit about the Velocity programme that you’ve launched?

Velocity is a key element of Nu Skin’s Growth Strategy that is focused on three key growth drivers: platforms, products, and programs.  Velocity, our latest business model innovation, is one of our business programs that ensure we provide the most flexible, fast, and fulfilling opportunity on the market. With Velocity, individuals can earn rewards and cash daily for sharing the products they love with others, while those who want to take their business to the next level can build a group of customers or lead teams of people where they can earn additional bonuses.

Can you explain the reasons behind copying a traditional ‘startup’ business model of the ‘gig economy’?

I actually view direct selling as the first gig, and for more than 30 years now Nu Skin has provided a platform for people to become entrepreneurs.

It is now more commonplace for people to look for more empowerment, flexibility and independence in their work, to where we now hear about the rise of the gig economy. Recently, social selling has made it easier to share products with friends and family, and Nu Skin’s growth strategy is to provide the products, platforms and programs that empower people to be successful.

There is also an online platform that Nu Skin has launched to support your distributors. Do you feel this was done at the right time or is Nu Skin just catching up to an increasingly digitally-connected customer base?

It is coming at the right time to capitalize on macro trends such as the rise of the gig economy and the growth of social selling that has made it easier to share products with friends and family. Social selling is opening a global market for us that is far larger than any single market we have opened to date, and it also requires us to be faster and more agile than ever before. To accomplish this, we are investing heavily in technology to provide our micro-entrepreneurs with the best tools to build their business.

What has the impact been in Southeast Asia with the velocity programme?

Velocity was just launched in five of our seven Southeast Asia markets in July, so it is still in its early stages. So far, we have received positive feedback from our sales leaders. In other regions that launched Velocity, early results show a strong acceleration of customer acquisition, which translates to positive sales leader growth.

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What are your plans for the coming year in Southeast Asia?

As is the case in all our regions, Nu Skin expects to sustain growth by executing our growth strategy, focusing on engaging platforms, enabling products, and empowering programs. 

With platforms, we are investing heavily in technology to provide our micro-entrepreneurs with the best tools to build their business.

Our products are founded upon world-class anti-aging and consumer trend research that empower sales leaders. Recently we launched ageLOC® LumiSpa®, our latest skin care device, and we are seeing a strong response from the market with this offering. We think such beauty devices are likely to continue to grow in popularity.  There were also several additional products previewed at SEA Nu Skin LIVE! that have been developed to support our sales leaders’ social selling efforts. Additionally, we think customization will expand as consumers want items that are for them personally. A key area that fits well with customization is color products.. Anti-pollution is a growing concern globally with more and more urbanization. Many of our Nu Skin products contain technologies that provide protection against and/or help to remove pollution. For example, the exfoliation benefits of ageLOC LumiSpa help to remove pollution that might be adhering to the skin.

Finally, we think our business programs, including Velocity, ensure that we provide the best, most flexible, fast, and fulfilling opportunity on the market. This strategy is vital to ensuring Nu Skin’s success.

Do you have any advice for the millions of people in the region who can become part of the gig economy?

Nu Skin’s positioning is perfect in the emerging gig economy—with the shift in workforce dynamics towards independent contracting, driven largely by millennials emerging as the largest percentage of the workforce, the gig economy has emerged. Nu Skin’s unique business model empowers people to live life on their terms by providing a rewarding business opportunity to market and sell leading personal care and nutrition products. For this very reason, we have refined our vision statement to ‘become the world’s leading opportunity platform’, seeking to provide micro-entrepreneurs with a flexible opportunity requiring minimal investment by enabling them to utilize existing assets such as their own social networks to build a business.