Avon and Amway, two other American companies that use independent representatives, have even larger sales forces here. Avon says it recruits up to 50,000 women a month and now has one million agents.
But that growth has not come without controversy. Many direct sellers in China have been accused of operating sophisticated pyramid schemes and other sales swindles. (In one widely publicized case a few years ago, people were conned into buying stakes in ant farms.)