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Nu Skin outstrips sales forecasts for Singapore, Republic now accounts for 35% of S-E Asia sales

Business Times Online 2 Apr 2001

 By Liew Hanqing

NEW YORK-LISTED Nu Skin Enterprises, which made its debut in Singapore last December, is expanding rapidly with actual sales of its personal and skin care products far outstripping original forecasts.

"Initially, we expected Singapore to do about 25 per cent of our South-east Asian sales," Andrew Fan, regional vice-president for South-east Asia, told BT recently.

"Right now, we have exceeded our target -- Singapore now accounts for about 35 per cent of the whole region's sales." Singapore is also expected to be an increasingly significant market.

The group, which uses direct selling to distribute its products, was coy about releasing details on its sales turnover and network. But as a gauge of how fast its products are gaining popularity, a spokesman said Nu Skin started with 4,000 distributors last December. At an official distributor event recently, it drew another 2,000 prospective distributors. That's not counting the many others who joined before the official distributor event.

"Other companies spend a lot on advertising. We do not spend these amounts of money -- we only use the power of word- of-mouth as a channel to market our products," said Mr Fan.

On the daily long queues in front of Nu Skin's Singapore office, Mr Fan said: "Every month since our start-up has been a growth month. We believe that our growth this month will be double that when we started out."

Nu Skin's distributors are required to undergo training in order to provide point-of-sales education about products and their use. In this way, high overhead and retail expenses are avoided.

Nu Skin gives its customers here a seven-day money-back guarantee. Plans to introduce its automatic delivery programme here are also in the pipeline.

"About 25 per cent of our customers in larger markets are on our automatic delivery programme, wherein our products are delivered directly to the doorstep. We are still in a soft-launch stage in Singapore -- it is logistically not feasible for this service as yet, but we definitely plan to introduce it soon."

Just over a week ago, Nu Skin launched its Epoch line of products here. These ethnobotanic products combine traditional indigenous remedies with scientific techniques, and have been well-received.

"Our products are focused on our founder Blake Roney's philosophy of 'all of the good, none of the bad'. They are different from other products, in that they don't contain fillers or harmful mineral oils."

Nu Skin Enterprises Inc, the parent company of Nu Skin Enterprises Singapore, is a marketer of personal care and nutrition products. It is one of the world's largest direct selling companies with operations in 33 countries worldwide.

On the global front, Japan is Nu Skin's largest market, accounting for 60 per cent of the company's US$880 million (S$1.6 billion) in sales last year. At last count, there were about 280,000 active distributors in Japan.

Fast expanding are also Nu Skin's China operations -- investment in China totals approximately US$20 million -- with 14 specialty shops and one manufacturing facility established. Production in China kicks off in May.

"Direct selling is currently banned in China, but there is talk of the ban being lifted -- we are hence doing a lot of preparation to begin direct selling in China," Mr Fan said.