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MLM can no longer claim to be new and, thus, exempt from the normal rules of the market and the way goods and services are sold. They have been tried and, for the most part, have failed. Some have been miserable failures in spite of offering excellent products.
Since MLM organizations are notoriously flash-in-the-pan, one has to wonder why any new company would choose this flawed marketing technique. Perhaps one of the things to consider is that the MLM organization can effectively skirt the Federal Trade Commission by using word-of-mouth testimonials, supposed “studies” done by scientists, fabricated endorsements, rumors and other misrepresentations that would never be allowed to see the light of day in the real world of product promotion, shady as it is.
↑ Jump up to: 1.0 1.1 Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 235–36. ISBN 0-471-27242-6. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. http://www.skepdic.com/mlm.html. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
Direct selling method in which independent-agents serve as distributors of goods and services, and are encouraged to build and manage their own sales force by recruiting and training other independent agents. In this method, commission is earned on the agent’s own sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the sales-force recruited by the agent and his or her recruits (called downline). Also called multilevel marketing (MLM), cellular marketing, or by other such names, it is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that distributes practically any portable item, although restricted or banned in several countries due to its history as a vehicle for consumer fraud.
During “the pitch,” anyone can make it work. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.” “Just look at the math!” But mention the inevitable saturation and the losses this is going to cause for everyone, and then you’ll hear, “Of course it would never really work like that.” “Most will fail,” you will be told, “but not you, Mr. Recruit. You are a winner. I can just see it in your eyes.”
Thus the MLM organization becomes exploitative, and many high-level MLM promoters have been shut down, the “executives” incarcerated, for selling the fraud of impossible success to others. Other, larger MLMs have survived by hiring large batteries of attorneys to ward off federal prosecutors, even bragging about the funds they have in reserve for this purpose.

Regardless of LuLaRoe’s official policy, the selling community is rife with consultants strong-arming risky decisions with smiling faces. Emails outlining new policies are sent out to independent retailers directly, who then discuss the company’s communications between themselves. Directives for how to interpret rules are often filtered through Facebook groups by team leaders eager for bonus checks, leaving the door to miscommunication—and manipulation—wide open.
“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.
On the other hand, many people have gotten into Network Marketing and have made a fortune from it. People such as John Haremza, who signed up as a sales rep for a small water filter company, and is now worth millions. Alternatively, Sebastian Greenwood, who made an investment in Onecoin, and put in the hard work and time necessary. He is now considered an ambassador of the company, having made his fortune there, and spends much of his time helping others grow successful.
Promoting products or pseudo-products of dubious or very low intrinsic worth (supplements, cosmetics, financial products, Bitcoin,[37] videos/seminars, software, subscriptions, coupons/discounts) at very large markups, with low profit margins (often less than 1%) for the “distributor”
They will claim to have made “new friends,” most of which are MLMers or new acquaintances who could be considered “future prospects.” The shallowness of these “new friends,” the stilted conversations among the “old friends,” and the embarrassment, in general, for what seems clear to everyone but the MLMer go unnoticed. Callousness sets in; standards are lowered.
Herbalife was able to show its revenues were based more on the sale of its products than through recruitment, and it offered numerous protections, such as a money-back guarantee, so members would not be stuck with products they could not sell. According to Herbalife, 80% of its members do not recruit other members.
Water.org is an international nonprofit organization that has positively transformed millions of lives around the world through access to safe water and sanitation. Founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org pioneers innovative, market-driven solutions to the global water crisis — breaking down barriers to give families hope, health and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The Skeptic’s Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 235–36. ISBN 0-471-27242-6. Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
After a slew of complaints, LuLaRoe rolled out a Happiness Policy in April 2017, which states that customers can get a credit, cash refund, or replacement pair (but not the same pattern) for defective leggings purchased between January 2016 and April 2017. However, many are saying their refund checks have still not been issued, even though they were told they’d arrive several weeks ago.
Jump up ^ Richard Eisenberg (June 1, 1987). “The Mess Called Multi-Level Marketing With celebrities etting the bait, hundreds of pyramid-style sales companies are raking in millions, often taking in the gullible”. CNN. Archived from the original on August 31, 2012.
LuLaRoe also says it invests “considerable time, resources, and talent” to support its “independent retailers,” as it calls its consultants. If they experience financial or psychological hardship through operating their businesses, it says it’s not the company’s fault. “Retail is not for everyone,” says a LuLaRoe spokesperson. “Retailers own their own business and make their own decisions…The success of any business depends on its leader’s own respective and independent business goals, and the strategies they employ to achieve those goals.”
Founded in 2012 by a Mormon mother, Deanne Stidham, LuLaRoe is named after her three grandchildren, Lucy, Lola, and Munroe. As the company lore goes, she designed clothing for her daughter and had so much success selling copies to the parents of her daughter’s friends that she hired consultants to sell for her. In just four years, her company’s range of leggings, dresses, shirts, and other wares generated $1 billion in sales, making it one of the largest MLMs in the US; between October 2016 and June 2017, it claims it sold nearly 40 million pairs of leggings. Mary Kay, one of the oldest and most successful MLMs, had $4 billion in sales in 2015.
Interestingly, the issue of supply and demand is what brought the USSR to its knees. By design, the Soviet government tried to macro-manage supply, where bureaucrats would decide how many potatoes were needed, how much toilet paper, etc. Assuming these bureaucrats did the best they could, unfortunately their efforts to deliberately manipulate the control “knob” of supply and demand was not good enough. Notwithstanding their good intentions, they were usually wrong, which created huge shortages and surpluses, and led to a massive economic collapse.
Mentor your recruits effectively. If recruits are successful, you make more money, so you should be prepared to train them well. This may be a substantial time commitment, even up to several weeks. But you should understand that you’re building a team and it is in your best interest to spend enough time making sure your recruits are competent enough to go off on their own.[8][9]
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%.[24] By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales.[25] Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware,[26] 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.[21] The DSA has approximately 200 members[27] while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.[28]
Jump up ^ Ryan (Editor), Leo; Wojciech, Gasparski (Editor); Georges, Enderle (Editor) (2000). Business Students Focus on Ethics (Praxiology): The international Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology Volume 8. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 0-7658-0037-3.
And it’s working. In 2015, MLM companies generated $2.55 billion in sales, a 10 percent increase from a decade before, says Linda Herron, the interim president of the Direct Sellers Association of Canada (DSA). These businesses are overwhelmingly female: 83 percent of the direct sellers in Canada are women, something you’ve likely noticed if your Facebook feed looks anything like mine.
And so the MLM relationship “bull” tramples through the relationship “china closet,” blindly ruining fragile and valuable things. Some never pull out of this, figuring the coldness they experience in their emotional lives is due to some other cause than their MLM participation.
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.
Eric Scheibeler, a high level “Emerald” Amway member: “UK Justice Norris found in 2008 that out of an IBO [Independent Business Owners] population of 33,000, ‘only about 90 made sufficient incomes to cover the costs of actively building their business.’ That’s a 99.7 percent loss rate for investors.”[33]
The difference between a MLM and a pyramid scheme can be blurry, both legally and practically. It’s never been legally defined in the US by a statute, but the FTC defines it as whether a consultant can make an income by selling to the public alone without having to recruit consultants underneath them. “Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate,” the FTC states in its literature on MLMs. “If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.”
Consultants and clients say the clothing’s quality has been going back up, but the PR damage has been done. Shoppers are becoming wary—and wondering why they’re not buying leggings that don’t rip on the first wear for $7.99 at Wal-Mart instead.

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