But one woman’s trash may be another woman’s treasure. New consultants are reporting getting boxes full of old merchandise that appears to be from merchants who went out of business—the ugly stuff others couldn’t sell. “While LuLaRoe may resell some inventory returned in original packaging and in new condition to its employees in its company store,” LuLaRoe CMO Lyon says, “LuLaRoe prefers that product that is returned in original packaging and in new condition be used for donations or giveaways only.” Consultants dispute that claim, posting pictures of “new” merchandise with old patterns and tags that have been marked up by other consultants.
Build new leads. In network marketing, leads are potential customers. You’ll need to keep finding new leads if you want to keep making money. There are various ways you can find new leads, and you should use multiple strategies to attract the largest market possible.
“One of the unique facets of this business is that the victims are also perpetrators,” Brooks says, speaking generally of MLMs. “You’re trained to recruit your friends and family and neighbors.” He points out that when you onboard someone underneath you, especially if they live in your town or are in your friendship group, you are essentially creating a competitor. It’s as if you open a Subway sandwich shop and then encourage your neighbor to open a Subway right next door—and everyone is already sick of sandwiches.
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.
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.
And typically I did. Instead, with other companies, you can get rep pricing without signing up! I’m not averse to MLMs that have special products that you can’t get elsewhere, but I don’t see it being good to get roped in to end up even going into debt to buy more just to stay “active” with a company.
Business failure of any type is traumatic on the relationships involved, but in most small businesses there is at least the chance of success. And this is never the case in an MLM, unless “success” can be defined as profiting off of the failures of others.
According to internal consultant calls, LuLaRoe is still onboarding more than 150 retailers a day. (LuLaRoe declined to confirm how many people are joining daily.) In this spandex rush, so many women were signing up to sell LuLaRoe that the onboarding queue stretched for weeks. Former customers were often convinced to become sellers so they could get their own wares wholesale, plus hopefully make some profit on the side. “Every time I got a really good customer, they would sign up under someone else,” Sophie says.
Read your contract carefully. Don’t sign anything right away. Take some time to read over and understand the entire contract. You may even want to consult a lawyer or accountant to make sure you’re getting a fair deal and that the company is legitimate.
“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.
Any business must carefully consider supply and demand. For example, if the ReVo Corporation thinks that it will have a full-fledged fad on their ovoid sunglasses next summer, perhaps they should plan to build and distribute, say, 10M units. This involves gearing up factories, setting up distribution and dealer networks, and carefully managing the inventories at each level so that ReVo will still have credibility with their distributors, retail outlets, and the public the following year.
But the dialog usually never even gets to this. The fact that MLM is in a mad dash to oversupply is largely chided as mere “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Expert MLMers know how to quickly deflect this issue with parable, joke, personal testimony, or some other sleight of mind.
Jump up ↑ “Women say they were branded and traumatized by secret group’s doctors”. CBS. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nxivm-women-say-they-were-branded-traumatized-group-doctors/. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
The upper echelons of LuLaRoe’s consultant community have a reputation for being vicious to their downline. “It’s like the policy police,” Ashley says. “‘We’re going to find you, stalk you, tell on you. How dare you guys say a single word bad. We’re going to shame you.’”
Jump up ↑ Cohan, William D. (November 18, 2014). “How a Strange, Secretive, Cult-like Company Is Waging Legal War Against Journalists”. The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/article/190881/how-strange-secretive-cult-company-waging-legal-war-against-journalists.
Clearly, there’s a disconnect between what most people think about MLM and what the women who are actually participating in these companies experience. And we may be doing a disservice to these business owners by characterizing all MLM companies as scams.
A tutorial on market saturation hardly seems necessary in most business discussions, but with MLM, unfortunately, it is. Common sense seems to get suspended when considering if MLMs are viable, even theoretically, as a profitable means of distribution for all parties involved. This suspension is created by a heightened expectation of “easy money,” but more on that later.
Besides being cheesy and offensive to our sensibilities, this is not a big deal for participants, right? But consider that all companies must have control over the way they are presented to the public. Thus, an MLM has the right and obligation to dictate what material is used. Otherwise any agent could say whatever he or she liked about the nature of the company, causing obvious problems. Again, it would take too much time to audit and approve each individual’s idea for a presentation where the goal is mass marketing. Using “boilerplate” presentations affords the added benefit of consistency. This is basic “information quality control.”
All products and services have partial market penetration. For example, only so many people wish to use a discount broker, as evidenced by the very successful but only partial market penetration of Charles Schwab. Not everyone wishes to join a particular discount club, or buy gold, or drink filtered water, or wear a particular style of shoe, or use any product or service. No one in the real world of business would seriously consider the thin arguments of the MLMers when they flippantly mention the infinite market need for their product or services.
LuLaRoe merchandise boxes are like Lycra slot machines. LuLaRoe merchandise boxes are like Lycra slot machines. In the onboarding package, new recruits don’t get to choose the size or style of their items. For example, Sophie knew plus sizes would sell best for her, but her initial package contained five XXS dresses and several long-sleeved shirts that were a tough sell for a Texas retailer in June.
Jump up ↑ Sepkowitz, Kent (December 5, 2014). “Honey Boo Boo, Snake Oil, and Ebola: The Weird World of Young Living Essential Oils”. Daily Beast. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/12/05/honey-boo-boo-snake-oil-and-ebola-the-weird-world-of-young-living-essential-oils.html. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
I’m sure you’re wondering now; can you actually make money with Network Marketing? The answer is “YES”, you can, but only if you are willing to do the work to grow your network, to really sell the product or service. You have to really believe in yourself and the service or product you are selling if you are going to achieve any level of success. You do not only have to be willing to SELL to the end consumer, you definitely have to be willing to put in the time and effort to train others, and to get them ENTHUSIASTIC over the product or service as well. It takes some time and dedication, but if you believe in yourself, you believe in the product or service and are willing to put in the hard work, you CAN succeed beyond your wildest dreams in Network Marketing!
In mainstream terms, it’s most similar to franchising, where a business operator buys the rights to a specific brand and in turn receives support from the company that owns the brand. But there are two big differences:
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.”
The end result of the MLM business model is, therefore, one of a company (the MLM company) selling its products/services through a non-salaried workforce (“partners”) working for the MLM company on a commission-only basis while the partners simultaneously constitute the overwhelming majority of the very consumers of the MLM company’s products/service that they, as participants of the MLM, are selling to each other in the hope of one day themselves being at the top of the pyramid. This creates great profit for the MLM company’s actual owners and shareholders.
A few noteworthy points on this list… The only companies considered for this list are U.S.A. based; and if you click on each and every company linked above, what you will not find should be as interesting to you (and as revealing) as what you will find. There are no travel companies, only two technology companies (ACN and 5LINX), just one service company (Legal Shield), and 22 health and wellness companies. Even Amway, whose core product line still includes soap, really got started by way of the wellness revolution! Read this book by Paul Zane Pilzer and you’ll understand why nutrition, weight management, and skincare products continue to drive the trends in the network marketing industry to this day.
Stern was taught ways to unload her unwanted stock on unsuspecting buyers by her group’s leaders. “You have to be creative about how you sell it,” she says. Stern would bundle 10 pairs of leggings together—nine less desirable ones and one unicorn pattern—into “mystery sales,” where the first 10 women to comment “sold” would purchase a random pair, but only one would get the coveted leggings. She feels guilty about using this psychological gambling trick, but it worked.
“Most people aren’t in it to replace income. Most people are in it to make additional income,” says Hassay. “If you could give me $1,000 that I don’t have right now, my life would be a heck of a lot better. And that’s what most people are doing. There’s a wonderful group of women who join in September or October, buy Christmas presents for their family, quit in January and join again the next year.”
Revenue and total profit of the MLM company is thus largely generated from the pockets of participants within the MLM pyramid who are simultaneously both salespersons and consumers at once. Only an insignificantly small proportion of revenue and total profit is derived from non-participant retail consumers who are outside of the MLM participant pyramid. Many MLM companies will not disclose what percentage of its consumers are simultaneously their own participants. Other MLMs do not keep said figures because they do not differentiate between participant consumerism versus non-participant retail consumerism.
↑ Jump up to: 6.0 6.1 Krige, Detlev (2012). “Fields of Dreams, Fields of Schemes: Ponzi Finance and Multi-Level Marketing in South Africa”. Africa 82 (01): 69–92. Error: Bad DOI specified. ISSN 0001-9720.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a decision, In re Amway Corp., in 1979 in which it indicated that multi-level marketing was not illegal per se in the United States. However, Amway was found guilty of price fixing (by effectively requiring “independent” distributors to sell at the same fixed price) and making exaggerated income claims. The FTC advises that multi-level marketing organizations with greater incentives for recruitment than product sales are to be viewed skeptically. The FTC also warns that the practice of getting commissions from recruiting new members is outlawed in most states as “pyramiding”.