In the MLM business model, the commission derived from the MLM’s pyramid-shaped structure (i.e. from the sales of one’s recruits) is the most profitable revenue stream. This revenue stream, however, is also the least statistically probable source of remuneration to a salesperson. Conversely, the revenue stream from direct-sales of ones own personal sales is the least profitable. This revenue stream, however, is also statistically the most likely source of remuneration to salespeople. For the overwhelming majority of participants, however, neither one of these two revenue streams will be profitable after operating expenses are deducted.
In April, Stern quietly put all her inventory on sale for 25% off, paid off her credit-card debt, and got out. She’s an example of someone who rode the wave and managed to leave before wiping out entirely. She has now started a new company selling leggings using the same skills she learned from selling LuLaRoe—without the binding policies, and with an added charity element. She’s one of the fortunate ones. But what about the rest?
Jump up ^ Jeffery, Lyn (March 21, 2001). “Placing Practices: Transnational Network Marketing in Mainland China”. In Chen, Nancy N. China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Duke University Press. pp. 23–42. ISBN 9780822326403. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016.
Direct selling does not necessarily incorporate the endless chain of recruiting that makes MLM so controversial, and is not necessarily unethical. However, the modern direct selling industry is utterly dominated by MLMs. According to the Deceptive Direct Selling Association (DSA), the industry’s trade association and lobbying arm, 97% of its members are MLMs as of 2017. The distinction between direct selling and network marketing, which many MLMs hide behind to maintain their legitimacy, is therefore essentially meaningless.
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
“The majority of [retailers] earn income from only selling LuLaRoe clothing and not through participation in the Leadership Bonus Plan,” says a LuLaRoe spokesperson of their recruitment-based bonus structure. “LuLaRoe’s success is based on [retailers] selling the comfortable and stylish clothing to consumers, not ordering more inventory.” LuLaRoe says that in 2016, 72.63% of their consultants earned their income through selling clothing alone.
^ Jump up to: a b c d Salinger (Editor), Lawrence M. (2005). Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime. 2. Sage Publishing. p. 880. ISBN 0-7619-3004-3. Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
Network Marketing distributes goods and services through distributors, which may include hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands of distributions networks. Distributors may buy products from the company for pennies on the dollar, and then sell the products, or they may simply sell the goods and/or services for the company and receive a commission on the sales.
It is generally agreed that to mislead people in order to get their money is morally reprehensible. It is labeled “theft” or “fraud,” and those who do it should be punished. No one is naive enough to suggest that you can’t make money at it. Crime can pay, at least temporarily.
In 2014, two MLM companies selling essential oils, Young Living and doTerra, were issued warnings by the FDA for falsely claiming their products could protect against ebola, autism, Parkinson’s Disease and other illnesses.
A February 10, 2011 article stated “It can be very difficult, if not impossible, for most individuals to make a lot of money through the direct sale of products to consumers. And big money is what recruiters often allude to in their pitches.”
Jump up ↑ “13 successful multi-level marketing companies based in Utah County”. Provo Daily Herald. May 11, 2017. https://www.heraldextra.com/business/local/successful-multi-level-marketing-companies-based-in-utah-county/collection_8720a5f3-7203-5b55-864a-f0f3323a2551.html. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
MLMs disproportionately flourish in suburban and rural America: According to LuLaRoe’s retailer map, it only has 10 consultants in all of Manhattan, which has a population of 1.64 million. By comparison, Pueblo (Colorado) has the same amount for its population of 110,000, St. George (Utah) has 12 sellers to its 82,000 residents, and Idaho Falls (Idaho) and Casper (Wyoming) both have nine sellers servicing each’s 60,000 citizens. In 2016, the US Census Bureau stated that the median rural household income is 4% lower than it is for urban families, and income inequality is also higher. Job growth in metropolitan areas has far outpaced that in rural areas since 2008, and the job market in these regions has shrunk 4.26% in the same time.
On the seller side of things, it’s also somewhat demeaning to imply that women who join MLM companies are doing so blindly. Jamie Clarkson, a 28-year-old Arbonne executive regional vice president from Winnipeg who joined the company as a 22-year-old university student, says she didn’t sign anything until she’d done her research. “It was really important to me to do my due diligence on the business and the industry before starting this opportunity,” she says. “What really drew me to Arbonne was the fact that they are a member of the DSA, which has a strong code of ethics and high standards for business practices.”
In recent months, sellers have claimed that LuLaRoe leggings have a tendency to tear like “wet toilet paper.” The $25 leggings—their most popular item—are manufactured in the US, Vietnam, Guatemala, Indonesia, and China, and are mostly made of a mix of polyester and spandex. Starting in fall 2016, customers started reporting that LuLaRoe’s “buttery soft” leggings were falling apart. Sometimes within just a few hours of wearing them, pinholes would splatter across the fabric, a “blow out” would reveal the wearer’s underwear, or they’d lose all their dye in the wash, leaving them a sad, mottled grey. LuLaRoe has denied that anything was wrong with its leggings, saying that only 1% of its clothing is returned with defects.
The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%. By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales. Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware, and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs. The DSA has approximately 200 members while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.
BioPerformance was an MLM that sold “gas pills” claimed to improve fuel economy when added to an automobile’s gas tank; the product was found to have no effect whatsoever on car fuel economy and in 2006 Texas’ Attorney General shut down BioPerformance for being an illegal pyramid scheme.
For more, see the Frequently Asked Questions, Additional Points and Rebuttals section at http://www.vandruff.com/mlm_FAQ.html E-Mail the author of this article, Dean Van Druff, at end of this section.
Targeting vulnerable or disadvantaged groups (ethnic minorities, recent immigrants, non-English speakers, ex-cons, recovering addicts, poor communities, high school/college students, women), often accompanied by love bombing
The choice is pretty clear: why would I work my butt off every month selling widgets to make $1,000, when I can make the same money by recruiting ten other people to sell, and then do nothing? And when the distributors under me see me kicking back and relaxing, what motivation is there for them to do all the work and make a fifth of what I make?
Jump up ↑ O’Donnell, Jayne (February 10, 2011). “Multilevel marketing or ‘pyramid?’ Sales people find it hard to earn much”. USA Today. https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2011-02-07-multilevelmarketing03_CV_N.htm. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
Who has an eye on “X,” the point of market saturation at a given price, in an MLM? Well, the funny thing, or perhaps the tragic thing, is that “X” will be reached and exceeded without anyone noticing or caring.
The above title is meant to be absurd. Most people, no matter how jaded, would not foist such a con on their own mothers. Even if people don’t know the specifics of what is wrong with MLMs, intuition often warns us: “Don’t tamper with that relationship.” The first marks for recruitment are the gullible, or the “expendable” friends. But successive moral compromise, experience, and desperation… may yet lead to “good old Mom.”
Personal interaction is also useful. Always have business cards on you and be ready to talk about your company. You never know when you may come across someone who is interested in what you have to offer.
Recruit new members. Just like you were recruited to a network marketing company, you’ll have to recruit members to your team if you want to be successful. Always be on the lookout for new prospects who you think will be valuable additions to your team. Try recruiting services like: MLMRC. Also, you’ll want someone who is personable, a good salesperson, and a team player committed to cooperating with you.
^ Jump up to: a b O’Donnell, Jayne (February 10, 2011). “Multilevel marketing or ‘pyramid?’ Sales people find it hard to earn much”. USA Today. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved April 5, 2011.
Multi-level marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes, which use money from new recruits to pay the people at the top, often take advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multi-level marketing. Pyramid schemes can sometimes be spotted by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.