Extensive use of deceit: denying that they are an MLM when asked, use of front groups, making dubious or false claims about their product, claims of great potential wealth and success from joining, claims of utter failure if you don’t join or if you leave, going to great lengths to hide or de-emphasize their compensation structure (if they reveal it at all)
A number of folks in the oils industry have suggested that the reason YL and doTERRA recommend so much internal usage of oils is to drive up usage and drive up sales. I don’t know their motivation, but that would make perfect sense.
an endless chain of new distributors: a standard franchising model is protected and franchisees buy into a specific segment of the market with the understanding that they will not be directly competing with other franchisees within the same brand – MLM imposes no such limits and actually encourages exponential growth
While issues of morality and ethics can be tricky to discuss, materialism and greed are universally condemned by every major religion, and even by most of the irreligious. This does not mean people are not materialistic or greedy; in fact, the common caution to not overdo it is strong evidence that we are.
There are many diverse opinions when it comes to Network Marketing. Some people will swear by Network Marketing, whereas others will swear Network Marketing is a scheme where only a few make money and the ones on the bottom of the tier make little to no money.
Choose the right mentor. In most MLM models, the person who recruited you becomes your mentor. That mentor will coach you through the early stages of your work. Typically, the more successful you are, the more money your mentor makes, so it is in his best interest to be there for you. In a mentor, you’d want:
So, as the saying goes, “Get in early!” This is a rationalization on the level of “getting in early” on the L.A. looting riots. If profit from the sale of products is fundamentally set up to fail, then the only money to be had is to “loot” others by conning them while you have the chance. Don’t miss the “opportunity,” indeed!
Given the above, the ‘business opportunity’ promised by MLMs can often look like a gift from heaven to mums. We’re told that, with a tiny investment (compared with starting your own business from scratch) you can join an established business that promises a comfortable, easy income – and even great wealth.
^ Jump up to: a b Taylor, Jon M. (2002). “Comparing Recruiting MLMs with No-product Pyramid Schemes, and with Gambling”. Consumers Awareness Institute. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
To put these statistics into context, John compared them with the failure rates for traditional small businesses using the Small Business Administration’s statistics for 2008. And he discovered that 44% of small businesses survive at least four years, 31% at least seven years, and 39% are profitable over the life of their business. In 10 years only 64% of small businesses fail.
MLMs also appear to prey on the weak and vulnerable with promises of wealth and an easier life. They are touted as an ‘income opportunity’ and yet, very, very few people DO apparently make any money out of them.
MLMs are also criticized for being unable to fulfill their promises for the majority of participants due to basic conflicts with Western cultural norms. There are even claims that the success rate for breaking even or even making money are far worse than other types of businesses: “The vast majority of MLMs are recruiting MLMs, in which participants must recruit aggressively to profit. Based on available data from the companies themselves, the loss rate for recruiting MLMs is approximately 99.9%; i.e., 99.9% of participants lose money after subtracting all expenses, including purchases from the company.” In part, this is because encouraging recruits to further “recruit people to compete with [them]” leads to “market saturation.” It has also been claimed “(b)y its very nature, MLM is completely devoid of any scientific foundations.”
Some people don’t want to give out their SS# to become a rep. The companies need these to file taxes with the IRS. I understand concerns about keeping your SS# private. One alternative is to get a Tax ID # from your state. (Update: One reader shared there is a way to get a discount from doTERRA without your SS#.)
“You see, if you can convince ten people that everyone needs this product or service, even though they aren’t buying similar products available in the market, and they can convince ten people, and so on, that’s how you make the real money. And as long as you sell to a few people along the way, it is all legal.” Maybe…
None of these conditions exist anywhere in the real world. Markets change, trends come and go, customers are fickle and demanding, and competitors constantly enter/exit the market. There isn’t an endless supply of people willing to serve as self-appointed salespeople in any market, anywhere – some of us have better things to do than sell overpriced supplements to our friends on Facebook. And there are almost always plenty of competitive alternatives to every consumer product. So what inevitably follows is point #4…
And bigger companies are feeling the heat, too. Last year, Herbalife narrowly avoided being branded a pyramid scheme (the U.S. Federal Trade Commission instead opted to cite the company with a less-serious “unfairness” charge). But, it did have to pay a $200 million fine to the FTC and was required to restructure its operations so that it “tracked and rewarded sales that ended in purchases by consumers” — as opposed to rewarding employees for bringing in new recruits. And of course, there’s an oft-cited report by consumer advocate Jon Taylor, which claims that 99 percent of people who participate in MLM actually lose money on their businesses.
More than professional success or flexibility, though, community might be one of MLM’s biggest draws. Like Donald, “a lot of women will join direct selling companies when they become a mom,” Hassay says. “They’re looking for something to do to get out of the house. That one party a week is a significant contributor to mental health, income, a sense that they’re contributing to the family.”
Because of the encouraging of recruits to further recruit their competitors, some people have even gone so far as to say at best modern MLMs are nothing more than legalized pyramid schemes with one stating “Multi-level marketing companies have become an accepted and legally sanctioned form of pyramid scheme in the United States” while another states “Multi-Level Marketing, a form of Pyramid Scheme, is not necessarily fraudulent.” In October 2010 it was reported that multilevel marketing companies were being investigated by a number of state attorneys general amid allegations that salespeople were primarily paid for recruiting and that more recent recruits cannot earn anything near what early entrants do. Industry critic Robert L. FitzPatrick has called multi-level marketing “the Main Street bubble” that will eventually burst.
Raise your hand if you remember when MySpace and Friendster were all the rage. Today, we use a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and more. It has to be at least nine years since I logged into MySpace. Although, I created my Facebook account in … Read more
Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), is a business model where independent contractors buy into a company and earn a commission on the products they sell. The profession appeals to many people because they can be their own boss, set their own hours, and work towards their own success. It is a big commitment, but network marketing can be a very lucrative career.
Research has shown that our brains release more of the pleasure chemical dopamine when we unexpectedly get a reward at a random time. Gambling addicts will run up credit cards and bankrupt themselves chasing that high, continually putting coins into the slot even though it’s become clear that, overall, they are losing. Likewise, LuLaRoe customers will stay glued to Facebook groups and consultants will keep buying inventory they can’t afford in the hope they will stumble across the rarest, most elusive styles.
To try and understand what LuLaRoe success looks like, I studied Nicole’s Facebook Live stream. What was she doing so right? Nicole and another consultant pulled out 71 pairs of leggings in an hour. They deemed almost every one “pretty,” “beautiful,” or “cute.” The most egregiously ugly leggings—like one pair covered in paintball splats with flowers overlaid on top—were “fun” and “different.” In an MLM, saleswomanship is key, no matter what the wares you’re selling look like.
Finally, everyone knows that a good bit of the pricing of MLM products go toward rewarding “top reps” with trips to Hawaii, etc. One company told me that the percentage of their pricing that goes toward commissions and rewards is 40%.
But even if LuLaRoe were to go out of business tomorrow, another MLM pushing scented candles, jewelry, or kitchen products would rise up to take its place. “The regulators cannot keep up with these companies,” Brooks says. “There are so many of them. When one company blows up, the founders and high-level distributors move on to another company, and it goes on and on.” At best, LuLaRoe is a company that grew too fast; at worst, it consciously preyed on business-naïve communities eager for a sense of self-sufficiency.
Sarah Stern, a stay-at-home mom in southern Florida, signed up with LuLaRoe in March 2016 after receiving a glowing review from a friend. “She told me that they have a cult following, the clothes sell themselves, and it’s under 10,000 people now, so you want to get in while it’s on the ground floor,” she says. Stern joined her friend’s LuLaRoe Facebook page and saw women fighting in the comments to buy beautiful leggings and dresses. She showed her husband, a VP of sales for a consumer-products company, the profit margins, and he told her to go for it.
A few people do make big money from MLMs. And these people are often trotted out in promotional videos, celebrated at annual events, and very publicly ‘rewarded’ with prizes like prestigious cars (although these ‘prizes’ aren’t as generous as they first appear – you simply get a discount on the lease which you must take out in your own name, and if your sales fall, the discount ends…). You also need to promote the company on the car they ‘give’ you.
Much has been made of the personal, or internal, consumption issue in recent years. In fact, the amount of internal consumption in any multi-level compensation business does not determine whether or not the FTC will consider the plan a pyramid scheme. The critical question for the FTC is whether the revenues that primarily support the commissions paid to all participants are generated from purchases of goods and services that are not simply incidental to the purchase of the right to participate in a money-making venture.
Ami Chen Mills Shaking the Money Tree captures the “stink” of MLM pathology and culture most vividly. Hold your nose, and dive into major deja-vu at http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/10.03.96/cover/multilevel-9640.html
There is some stigma attached to networking marketing, especially with regard to multi-tier and multilevel structures, which attract pyramid schemes. Still, the appeal of network marketing is that an individual with little skill but a lot of energy can create a profitable business for themselves with little monetary investment. A good rule of thumb, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is that single-tier network marketing operations tend to be more reputable, but multi-tier schemes in which people make money based on the number of distributors they recruit — rather than self-generated sales — can be problematic. Some reputable examples of single-tier network marketing operations are Avon, Mary Kay and Excel Communications.
Network marketing is a business model that depends upon a network of distributors for growth, such as in multilevel marketing. It is a direct selling method that features independent agents that make up a distribution network for goods and services. Some network marketing systems are based on tiers that denote how many levels deep a sales and distribution network goes. In two-tier or multi-tier examples, the people that make up the top tier of a distribution network are also encouraged to build and manage their own networks of salespeople. Each network creator (or “upline”) then earns a commission on their sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the network they have created, otherwise known as “downline.” There are many examples of reputable network marketing operations, though some have been criticized of being pyramid schemes and have been banned in some countries as a conduit for consumer fraud.
In 2016, the US Census Bureau stated the median rural household income is 4% lower than it is for urban families, and income inequality is also higher. The US government tried to help people understand the risks before joining these kinds of companies, but MLMs had their way. In 2012, federal legislation passed requiring all franchise companies to provide a disclosure document with information on weighing the benefits and risks of signing up. However, MLMs poured money into lobbying and flooded the FTC with more than 17,000 comments from consultants saying the disclosure would be a burden, and asked to be excluded. The FTC complied, and now MLMs aren’t required to disclose information on risks to interested consultants.
I really like the support available with both YL and doTERRA. I didn’t avail myself of all of it, but of what I did, I found doTERRA’s support network to be stronger. Both companies had websites with treatment and/or testimonial resources available (actually, the most valuable resources were not but together by the companies, but by outside sources–likely reps high up in the business).