Amway exports the American Dream to ChinaCompany: Amway
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For most of her 20s, Tang Shaoping worked at a Nike shoe factory in China. The repetition and long hours left her exhausted. Sleep deprivation and irregular meals took a toll on her health.
Then, four years ago, her sister introduced her to Amway, the American direct-sales company that offers would-be entrepreneurs a chance to earn big by selling vitamin supplements, makeup and dishwashing soap door to door.
Amway is booming in China — and this month it is sending about 13,000 of its top sellers on an all-expenses-paid trip to Southern California. Tang, now 36, is one of the "independent business owners" who earned the perk with annual sales of at least $160,000.
"Since joining Amway, my health and confidence have improved so much. I see Amway as a career for life," she said on the Universal Studios tram as she and her husband, fellow Amway rep Wu Jiayun, 37, snapped photos of a "Jaws" attack and a simulated earthquake.
Amway broke into the China market in 1995, but three years later the government cracked down on direct sales, calling the business model an illegal pyramid scheme. The Michigan-based company changed its approach, opening actual stores, hiring some employees and eliminating its practice of paying direct commissions to sales reps on the sales made by their new recruits.
These days the Amway brand is a favorite among China's fast-growing middle class. An army of at least 200,000 peddles more than 200 products, and Amway's approach works well in a society that values personal connections and word of mouth.
The tourists visiting Southern California this month are the top 5% of Amway's China sales force. They are the faces of a wealthier, more confident and cosmopolitan China.
Zhou Fanyang has worked for Amway since 1995, earning many an award trip. "I've been to more than 40 countries," she said.
This year she used her own money to bring her 5-year–old daughter on the company trip, whose highlight is a visit to Disneyland. In fact, thanks to her recruiting, her entire family is here. Her husband, parents, brother and sister-in-law all have become ace Amway agents. Even her 76-year-old father and 74-year-old mother have built a strong customer base, introducing nutritional supplements to their buddies in a senior-citizen dance troupe.
Read the rest of this article in the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-amway-visit-20100606,0,443753.story