Responsible direct selling, based on widely supported self-regulatory codes of conduct, is an expression of the industry’s recognition of its social obligations. The fundamental value of self-regulation lies in its ability to create, enhance and preserve consumer trust and confidence in the business communities behind it, and thereby in the marketplace itself. In addition to protecting consumers, self-regulation is also an instrument for the safeguarding of individual companies’ goodwill and reputation. Self-regulatory codes continue to be developed and refined in response to societal, technological and economic changes.Since 1937, when the first Code of Advertising Practice was issued, ICC has produced, and successively revised, global sets of ethical rules, covering all main marketing disciplines.
The ICC Code of Direct Selling forms part of that comprehensive ICC normative system. In 2006, ICC adopted a new code that consolidated the major part of the previous, specialised codes into a single, easily accessible document on marketing communication. By reference (see Scope), the Direct Selling Code is clearly linked to the Consolidated ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice.The ICC Code of Direct Selling was first published in 1978 and followed the already then well established ICC policy of promoting high standards of ethics in marketing via selfregulatory codes, intended to complement the existing frameworks of national and international law. Like its predecessor (1999), this edition has been developed in close co-operation with the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. The WFDSA has also adopted world codes of conduct applicable exclusively to members of direct selling associations. There is conformity in substance between the ICC Code and the industry codes. The ICC Code is to be followed by all involved in direct selling.
The Code is intended to achieve the following objectives:
- to demonstrate responsibility and good practice in direct selling across the world;
- to enhance overall public confidence in direct selling;
- to respect privacy and consumer preferences and to provide effective consumer protection;
- to promote fair competition and free enterprise;
- to provide practical and flexible solutions;
- to minimise the need for detailed governmental and/or inter-governmental legislation or regulations.