Jump up ↑ Danny Robbins (September 10, 2006). “Nobel Prize winners say sites falsely cite research”. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Archived from the original on 2006-12-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20061206191858/http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/nation/15486298.htm.
Buying products from a network marketing company isn’t cheaper, faster, or more pleasant than buying them on the open market, and it’s often considerably worse in all three of these categories. That’s because unlike normal retail business, where the supply chain is direct and logical (from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to retailer, to customer), in MLMs the supply chain follows the customer’s upline, accumulating markups and compounding inefficiencies at each level of the pyramid. The result is higher prices, frequent unexplained delays, and products that are constantly “on back-order.” MLMs will often try to artificially suppress competition by claiming their product is unique or superior to all others – even claiming that their competitors’ products are poisonous or even Satanic – but equivalent products are always available from normal retail outlets, often at a fraction of the cost.
MLMs blur the line between ‘contractor’ and ‘customer.’ That’s because participants aren’t just required to sell products – they’re required to recruit other people, presumably in the same general geographic area, who also sell the same products. When you recruit someone, you’ve just created a competitor, which will decrease your own sales. What you gain from recruiting that person (i.e. the cut from his sales) is never enough to offset the loss of your own sales, and thus, your income.
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.
Although an MLM company holds out those few top individual participants as evidence of how participation in the MLM could lead to success, the reality is that the MLM business model depends on the failure of the overwhelming majority of all other participants, through the injecting of money from their own pockets, so that it can become the revenue and profit of the MLM company, of which the MLM company shares only a small proportion of it to a few individuals at the very top of the MLM participant pyramid. Participants, other than the few individuals at the top, provide nothing more than their own financial loss for the company’s own profit and the profit of the top few individual participants.
“Network marketing” and “multi-level marketing” (MLM) have been described by author Dominique Xardel as being synonymous, with it being a type of direct selling. Some sources emphasize that multi-level marketing is merely one form of direct selling, rather than being direct selling. Other terms that are sometimes used to describe multi-level marketing include “word-of-mouth marketing”, “interactive distribution”, and “relationship marketing”. Critics have argued that the use of these and other different terms and “buzzwords” is an effort to distinguish multi-level marketing from illegal Ponzi schemes, chain letters, and consumer fraud scams.
According to numerous independent analyses and the MLM industry itself, the vast majority of MLM distributors make little to no money or lose money; according to one researcher, “you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone [in network marketing] making more than $1.50 an hour.” Some MLM participants lose much more than just money, squandering social capital and damaging careers, reputations and relationships.
The problem is that in a recruiting-driven MLM, there is no upper bound save the market population itself, and the bottom rung of distributors makes no money at all except from sales. This ensures a fierce scramble among distributors to sign up their own downline (Amway in particular is notoriously aggressive about this) so they can move up the ladder, often to the exclusion of product sales, and also ensuring market saturation—most distributors wind up selling only to themselves and perhaps a few friends, with only the most driven (and often least principled) making any money at all.
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.
Provide relevant information to the people who will be viewing your site, and keep to your own niche. Find out what the people you want to attract are searching for online, and then provide that content. You can check social media sites and forums as they’re a great repository of information.
Dr. Jon Taylor’s website includes surveys of MLM tax preparers (do they really make money?), answers the question of “odds of success” at MLM vs. gambling (hint: you are way better off in Las Vegas,) and provides a history of MLM at http://www.mlm-thetruth.com
I’ve been pretty disappointed with the response of some readers to Part 4 of this Best Essential Oils series. There’ve been numerous attacks on my character, both here, on Facebook sites, and elsewhere. (Check out Part 4 to see comments and my responses.)
Can I ask what you think about their claims about their oils being special b/c of permeability? I looked into that and was told that all EOs can permeate cells and that EOs are not permeable so not sure what they are getting at. Thanks! And what does clinical grade mean?
Fed the fantasy of achieving the all-elusive American dream, many of them are being wooed by multilevel-marketing companies. Known as MLMs (or “direct-sales”), the current US administration is stocked with their cheerleaders: Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, is married to a cofounder of Amway; Ben Carson is a spokesperson for a vitamin MLM called Mannatech; and president Donald Trump used to have an MLM, Trump Network, and was a spokesperson for another.
Jump up ↑ Lewis, Truman (September 10, 2012). “Medifast Subsidiary Agrees to $3.7 Million Penalty”. ConsumerAffairs.com. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2012/09/medifast-subsidiary-agrees-to-37-million-penalty.html. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
^ Jump up to: a b Merrilees, Bill; Miller, Dale (1999). “Direct Selling in the West and East: The Relative Roles of Product and Relationship (Guanxi) Drivers”. Journal of Business Research. 45 (3): 267–273.
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.”
I don’t mean to be too sarcastic here, but this seems confusing to me. I get that there are fees for printing and sending a check (actually a small business owner commented on this post about needing special ink for check writing, which I didn’t know about), but I don’t see why there should be a fee to “figure out your commission.” Doesn’t software do that?
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.
LuLaRoe’s messaging is filled with positive language: “I believe in you” is the company’s unofficial tag line, and body-positive imagery floods its website to showcase its large selection of flattering plus-size outfits. “It’s hard to find plus-size clothing that actually looks good—that makes you feel like you look good,” Sophie says. “That’s why there’s such a customer base for LuLaRoe.”
Jump up ↑ 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. https://books.google.com/books?id=0f7yTNb_V3QC&lpg=PP1&dq=isbn%3A0761930043&pg=PA880#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
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.
Would a rational person, abreast of the facts, go to work selling any product or service if he or she knew that there was an open agenda to overhire sales reps for the same products in the prospective territory?
MLMs sell themselves using self-empowerment language and sparkly beauty products. They’re #girlboss mythology repacked for Christians and Mormons; entrepreneurialism for women brought up believing men should be the breadwinners; and a peppy dream for millennials who were told they could do anything.
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.”
MLM presents itself as a “business opportunity,” with products that are ostensibly sold to the general public. However, it doesn’t resemble any other retail business at all, and what it does strongly resemble is a pyramid scheme – the underlying mathematics of the two are identical. MLM has also been described by regulators as a form of gambling or lottery. Some MLMs resemble cults. The MLM industry denies that MLMs are anything other than normal, legitimate businesses, and unlike pyramid schemes, MLMs operate openly and (just this side of) legally in most countries.
“I realized if they’re making the money that they say they’re making all over their Facebook pages and how it’s life changing, why can’t it change my life?” Kayla assumed she could just buy a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of leggings to get started, but she found out that she was required to buy a startup inventory package, which costs between $4,900 and $6,000. “Initial inventory packages are designed to provide sufficient inventory to help retailers succeed,” says a LuLaRoe spokesperson. “If a retailer can’t afford it, a retailer should not buy it.”
“People need to be warned about this company now,” one anonymous woman said in a Facebook message to me in April. When I followed up a few days later, she had changed her mind. “I actually onboarded Monday with Agnes & Dora, another direct-sales clothing company. And as part of their policy and procedures, I cannot speak badly of another company.”
LuLaRoe gives these women a way to have it all: a career, new friends, body confidence, extra money, all with enough time left over to be an excellent mother and wife. “Want to earn full-time income for part-time work? Ask me how!” reads a sign that was sent out to new consultants last year. Stidham often promotes the idea of her company being a perfect part-time job for mothers by talking about being a single mother of seven hustling out of her home—even though she was already remarried and her kids grown before LuLaRoe was founded.
Non-MLM real-world businesses that offer products of interest to friends, family, etc., such as insurance agents and small retail shop owners, seem to be more circumspect in dealing with personal relationships in all but a few rare (and grievous) cases. But the MLMer is recognizable by duplicity of friendship overtures, overbearing glad-handing, full-time prospecting, outrageous initial deception, and social callousness. This is no accident, but rather sheer desperation. How could it be otherwise? For the active MLMer is in a hopeless bear trap: with hubris as one steel jaw and oversaturation the other.
Multilevel marketing (MLM) or network marketing is a type of unfair and deceptive financial woo, purportedly a business, promoted by a non-salaried workforce selling a company’s product/s or service/s independently, who are paid according to a commission structure that heavily incentivizes endless recruitment.
For a portion of independent retailers, LuLaRoe is to economic opportunity as Goop is to wellness: It’s for ladies who already have it all. The ability to throw down $12,000 to start a LuLaRoe business and work 30 hours a week sometimes comes from a place of privilege, not desperation. Some mothers who are just looking for a hobby have husbands whose salaries are already high enough to support their families. “I felt like I was trying to keep up with the Joneses to stay in business against these other consultants who can afford to drop a $500 order every few days,” Ashley says.
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”.
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!
“I did pretty well for myself,” says Stern, who split sales with her business partner. The work was part-time, and she pulled in anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a month in revenue. Every month, the head of her consultant group would post a leaderboard for the top inventory buyers and sellers, some of whom were bringing in up to $60,000 a month. Stern noticed that the amount of inventory bought correlated with higher income, so after attending one of LuLaRoe’s touring conferences, she was inspired to bulk up her inventory. She and her business partner went on a buying spree, posting pictures of all the unopened boxes on her Facebook page, which began to swell with excited customers.
In an October 15, 2010 article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month, before costs. Fortune was under investigation by the Attorneys General of Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina with Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, and Florida following up complaints against the company.
After earning $3,000 to $5,000 a month for a few consecutive months, Kayla quit her job in late 2016 to sell LuLaRoe full time. “The next month my profits took a dip. And the next month my profits took a dip,” she says. “I’ve not been able to recoup anything since I quit my job.” After trying to sell off as much inventory as she could, she resigned from the company last month and is awaiting her refund check—which, at the time of writing, still hasn’t arrived.
Stern jumped in during the heyday phase of a MLM when the people at the top grew rich, and quick. By the start of 2017, nine months after Stern joined, LuLaRoe was pushing 80,000 independent retailers. According to interviews with several consultants, this is also the time when sales suddenly became tougher: The hundreds of thousands of ravenous customers who once clamored to buy leggings from 10,000 consultants flipped in less than a year to eight times that amount selling to just a fraction of the clients. The scales began to tip.
“Right now, I make more doing hygiene than recommending products to people, but maybe in four or five years I could retire as a hygienist,” says Donald. “Because people don’t realize that you actually have to work and put in a good few years before you start seeing money — it’s like any business. You can’t open your doors and expect to be rich tomorrow.
The main pitch of most MLMs is passive income – the promise of being able to sit back and relax while someone else does all the work. But if everybody wants to “let someone else sell the products,” who will actually do the selling?
But having devotion to a company despite evidence that they are not telling the truth or that their products are not superior taints the reputation of all MLMs and their reps. It’s frankly uncalled for.
Jump up ^ Michael L. Sheffield (Feb–Mar 1999). “Comp Plan Conversion:Direct Sales to MLM Compensation Plans”. Direct Sales Journal. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. (citing Neil Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association)
Pyramid schemes are illegal. They are illegal because they are exploitative and dishonest. They exploit the most vulnerable of people: the desperate, the out-of-work, the ignorant. Those who start and practice such fraud, should, and increasingly are, being punished for their crimes.
Dynamic Essentials was an MLM promoting “Royal Tongan Limu,” a seaweed extract. The company was dissolved by its parent after it was ordered to pay $2 million in fines and destroy almost $3 million in unsold inventory for falsely claiming the product could cure cancer, arthritis, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), among other ailments.
“A statistical analysis of income disclosures made by 10 major multi-level marketing (MLM) companies… reveals that, on average, 99% of all participants received less than $10 a week in commissions, before all expenses.”
MLMs work by geometric expansion, where you get ten to sponsor ten to sponsor ten, and so on. This is usually shown as an expanding matrix (just don’t say “pyramid”!) with corresponding kick-backs at various levels.
Jen Donald first heard about Arbonne a few years ago. A dental hygienist in Oakville, Ont., she was in the middle of scaling a patient’s teeth when she noticed her amazing skin. When Jen asked about her beauty regimen, her patient raved about products from Arbonne, a health and beauty direct sales company that claims to use a botanically based formula and premium ingredients. (Though not everyone agrees — nutritionist Meghan Telpner believes Arbonne’s marketing materials count as “healthwashing.”) Donald began buying Arbonne products, which range in price from $44 for cleansers and $88 for night cream to $364 for the company’s complete suite of anti-aging products, from a friend who had recently joined the company, but never really considered signing up as a salesperson herself.
But for most MLMs, the real money isn’t in selling wares: It’s in signing up consultants. Up until July 2017, LuLaRoe’s sellers who signed up new retailers got a 3-5% commission on the inventory their downline bought. But they only garnered that commission if they and everyone underneath them each bought 175 pieces a month, a rule that incentivized inventory buying.