Let’s face it, whether you call it multi-level marketing, direct sales, or network marketing, the entire industry gets a bad rap.  It’s often labeled as a pyramid scheme or get rich quick scam, and frankly, there is ample evidence to approach it with caution.  However, as I have studied trends in this business model, I have come to a very different conclusion. One that actually suggests that network marketing can play a crucial role in how well baby boomers and others transition into retirement.
I found your article interesting. My wife and I have been involved with AdvoCare since November 2011. Even if I never make another dime in AdvoCare, I will continue to use the products because they have worked and continue to work for us. What I find interesting is the statistic that the majority – 99.7% in MLM actually “lose” money. What is the context of that statistic? That would mean A: the majority of MLM companies don’t have a buyback or return policy B: people that get started with MLM’s have to take on much more inventory that they are able to sell or C: this statistic is not accurate. I believe that C is the right answer. I do agree there are flaws in the MLM industry just as there are flaws in every industry. However, I believe that the MLM industry has made huge improvements in recent years and we do have a better way. People are the variable. When you have a great product, a passion and purpose that drives you everyday, are teachable and coachable, and love others as much as you love yourself, you can be successful in this business. Through the process of investing in your own personal development and learning to serve others, you are able to lead others to do the same. Thanks again. I look forward to reading more from you in the near future.
MaryAnne, I would recommend finding a product that you LOVE, a product that you feel can benefit the people around you and who you feel integrity with. You want to find their products useful so that you will feel good about buying them every month and want to share them with other. It is a business, but you also want to be able to have fun with it too
Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called pyramid selling,[1][2] network marketing,[2][3] and referral marketing,[4] is a marketing strategy for the sale of products or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company's products/services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system.

OK here is the difference Steve. If you quit any of these MLM companies for a whole year, Continue buying product but help no one set up a shopping account, even 2 years, will you continue to get paid by the company? So Steve, as a Director with Melaleuca you helped 8 people total set up a shopping account. There is no Direct or multilevel sales in that, and if they shop you earn commission on their shopping. You will not know what they shop for and thats ok cause its private. Melaleuca is a Consumer direct Manufacturer that sells to the public the products that THEY THEMSELVES make. So by your standards then …Proctor and Gamble is an MLM also. Oh and yes, I took over a year off of inviting people to see what Melaleuca was, and still received my residual check every single month. It is against company policy to sell Melaleuca products.
When you’re asking people to volunteer their time to sell a product or service, the experience needs to be fun. As adults, we all feel tremendous pressure in multiple areas of our lives. If a network marketing company starts to feel stale, unappreciative and a little corporate-y, consumers will invest their energies somewhere else. As Millennials hit the scene, it’s important to understand that they’re placing less emphasis on financial metrics. Companies need to always maintain a sense of humor and constantly show appreciation for their sales force. When a company starts leading with an iron fist and sends out warnings to fence in a sales force, it almost always backfires. People need to have fun with the brand and fun sharing the brand with others. If it’s painful, forget about it.
look if you go and search top MLM businesses, no matter what link you click on, the number one company is amway. Why everyone goes with different companies i don’t get it, check it out compare to mary kay. Here’s the thing though, I contract with amway, but my organization is worldwide. Mentorship organization. I feel which ever MLM business you choose, join a mentorship organization that is in that business. The reason why amway is number one is because of worldwide. it’s only 10% of everyone that is in amway, yet 90% of the 6 and 7 figure earners are part of worldwide…why? because they broken down the company and know exactly how to succeed and retire quicker than someone who tries amway on their own or joins another mentorship company. what’s the success rate? to those who do what others have done 100%. So at the end of the day, consider all of this. With amway and worldwide, it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from, ANYONE can do it. Mary Kay is a female company, good luck getting a bunch of single dudes to make it with that.

In the MLM industry nutrition companies are like the auto industry, most of the companies are the cheap and low quality choices, a few are in the Mercedes category, and only one company in the Rolls Royce category with 7.5 billion in sales, located in 90 countries, 300 scientist and 30 Ph.D’s on staff, number one selling meal replacement shake and protein shake in the world, 90,000 private clubs and centers, Noble Prize winning scientist, research supported by major universities, proven success track record of more then 36 years, and already owns more then 33% of the meal replacement market, used by some of the worlds top athletes, product of choice for Pre-NFL combine, and the weight loss product that used by the Genesis book or world records for most weight loss in the shortest time – 403 pounds in 18 months. Picking the right company only comes down to whether you want the Rolls Royce or something else.
Thanks for this list. Loved seeing Monat as #1! I am a Market Partner for this company and the money is crazy good because the products are awesome. I was disappointed to see Plexus at #28 and I wasn’t impressed by what you had to say about them. Plexus is NOT a weight loss company. Their products promote a healthy gut and they are clinically proven to decrease inflammation and balance blood sugar. Weight loss is a natural side effect of body balance. The products work and there are a lot of people I know personally making good money with Plexus.
This argument suggests that only the people who get in early make money, which isn't true. Many ground-floor members make nothing while many who come in years later make a fortune. The truth is, in good network marketing companies, members can make any amount regardless of where they are in the organization. Income is related to effort, not position. 
The short answer to the above question is “ABSOLUTELY!” However, many people have attempted to get into Network Marketing and haven’t been willing to do the work necessary to see dividends on their investment. They go into it thinking it will be easy, that they can just sit back and start raking in the cash. When they discover it takes work and diligence to make it work, they often are taken aback and simply give up.
During the Obama administration, the Federal Trade Commission made its biggest-ever effort to curb this industry when last summer it slapped nutritional supplement–seller Herbalife with a $200 million fine and, as part of a settlement with Herbalife, demanded it restructure its business so that it would “start operating legitimately,” as FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez put it. The FTC alleged Herbalife had engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices,” and put it under a federal monitor for seven years, demanding onerous changes to its compensation plan and requiring extensive documentation of customer sales. Ramirez then set down an ambitious posture for the FTC: In the future, she said at an MLM industry conference in October, these companies should adopt the new Herbalife rules when structuring their businesses, as the FTC would be watching.

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.
An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multi-level marketing company is whether it sells its products primarily to consumers or to its members who must recruit new members to buy their products. If it is the former, the company is a legitimate multi-level marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for several decades and has found many that blur the lines between the two. According to industry data, there are 90 million members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful income from their efforts. To some observers, that reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.
Network Marketing is a business model that relies on a distribution network to build the business. Network Marketing business structures are Multilevel Marketing in nature, as the payouts occur on many different levels. You might hear the terms Person-To-Person Marketing or One-on-One marketing, which are just other ways of describing Network Marketing. Basically, network marketing involves the direct selling of merchandise or services. Some popular Network Marketing businesses you most likely have heard of include; Avon, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway and Herbalife Ltd. 

With so many of the fastest growing MLM companies pushing to have you join, it can get confusing when you’re looking at MLM products, compensation plans, where to get leads, marketing tips, and most of all – can I really make money with this? What you need to remember, is that the best MLM to join in your situation is going to come down to one thing – finding a product and a business you are excited about sharing!
Plexus Worlwide is ranked by Inc. magazine as #8 (in 2014) and #132 (in 2015) fastest growing privately held company with a three year growth of 2833%; all while offering a 60-day money back guarantee on all its products – which means the products work. And at a consumer friendly price point. 40% of all sales are from customers and not ambassadors.

Global, a wide range of products from which you can choose your favourite to promote, and based on the plant aloe vera which is being talked about a lot recently as one of the 147 medicinal plants. I have been a Forever Business Owner since November last year, so I remember well my first steps and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Pyramids are illegal and are based on taking advantage of people. For a person to actually make money in a pyramid scheme, someone else has to lose money. But in network marketing, each person can multiply his or her efforts, skills and talents by helping others be successful. Network marketing has proved itself as part of the new economy and a preferred way to do business here and around the world.
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.
Network marketers may also find a degree in marketing or business administration very useful. A degree program in marketing helps students understand the consumer market and the factors that influence consumer-purchasing decisions. A degree in business administration prepares students to plan and direct the everyday operations of small businesses and large corporations.
At the end of the 1990s, network marketers were learning to harness the power of the internet. The implementation of online shops and electronic orders made employing social networks much easier for individual distributors and businesses. Since the rise of social media platforms, it’s become common to see advertisements by people in your network for companies like Rodan + Fields or ItWorks.
What makes this business model a highly popular choice by many is that it offers a virtually limitless potential that cannot be seen in any other traditional business. Independent distributors enjoy numerous benefits by operating their own “franchise.” Not only do they get to retail the products and services to consumers, they also get to expand their businesses by encouraging others to do the same.
As far as the retirement saving crisis is concerned, more and more people are coming to terms with the fact that they probably aren’t going to be able to save enough money to just sit around and slowly deplete their nest egg from age 62 to 100.  With the average 50 year-old estimated to have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, there is an obvious need to find alternative ways to either save more or generate supplemental income starting now, and continuing throughout retirement.  Moving beyond just the dollars and cents, boomers are growing tired of feeling guilty or bad about their past savings habits and are interested in moving towards possible solutions.
I see Melaleuca on here. I see that as both good and bad. They are an awesome company with a great compensation plan. However, they are not an MLM. They are not even listed with the federal agency that oversees those companies. They are a Consumer Direct Marketing company. How does that differ? While I am required to purchase a certain amount each month, that’s all I need to purchase. It’s all products I use in my own home for myself. I don’t have a monthly quota to meet. I don’t have to buy product and sell it to people. The idea is that the product goes to the consumer only. In fact, it’s against company policy to buy product and sell it to others. The only comparison I see are the “levels” of customerS in my group. Can you shed any light on why you think they are an MLM? Thanks, so much! 

Thank you for your article. I am also with doterra and I never in my life thought I would do something like this. The reason I started was because of health issues that led me to the oils. I have been an RN for 23 years and I feel more free and excited to share about health than ever. If you are going into something to get rich quick, I think that is the wrong attitude. I think most of my fellow doterra wellness advocates, have come to the same realization as me. I believe most of us started out trying to help ourselves and our families. I left my nursing job of 17 years in Feb, not because I am making enough money to replace my past income, but because I truly love helping others and I love the company and what it stands for. I can’t argue about MLM’s because I truly don’t care about that side of it. Maybe I am wrong to think that way. I hope that this ride doesn’t end anytime soon because the difference that doterra is making in my life, and the lives of those around me, is amazing. Thank you again for your information and your viewpoint.
Pyramid structure is said to exist when you get paid to get a new recruit and there is no involvement of any product. It’s an ill-practice which makes a person earn money by taking advantage of his friends and family. Companies having a pyramid structure model tend to deceive people while making them believe that they’ll earn in future (which they do by deceiving more people). For e.g. a person will be asked to pay $100 to be a part of the company with a promise that he’ll get 25% of every new recruit’s admission fees who he refers. This is a money-making strategy of the company where the participants are at a loss.

This article was really informative and honest! I’m not presently involved in an MLM and I don’t ever plan to be especially after reading this article and the comments below. Why? Well because of EXACTLY the kind of “networking” and “recruiting” that these companies and many of the people commenting on here are advocating. I have been bombarded on my facebook, and other social media from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. Its becoming constant, and I am not on social media to make money. Roden and Fields, shakeology, some girl I went to high school with is now trying to get me to buy leggins from her. I have a cousin that I actively avoid now because he is constantly steering every single conversation to Herbellife and why I NEED it to be healthy. Jesus. Its just enough already. I’m all for empowering people, and I love the idea of earning an additional income to take care of your family or yourself. But I could not imagine alienating or even just annoying friends and family in order to make an extra dollar. What I dislike most is that many of those that are recruiting make it seem as if they recruiting you simply because they want to “help” you or provide you with an opportunity. They make it seem as if they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, when really the actual motivation is line their own pockets with more money, because the more people you recruit for your team, the more money you make. That feels dishonest and slimy to me. Unless I’m asking for “help” or an “opportunity” I wish people would assume that I don’t need and am not interested in one!
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.[15]
But, some of the companies here are much better than others in my opinion. There are two different ones that are worth considering. The first is Thirty-One Gifts. This storage company has appealing products that do sell to the right audience. In fact, many customers go back for extra products time and time again. The commission plan isn’t amazing but it’s decent enough and has no serious issues.
You’ve probably encountered a situation like this. Or at least know someone who has. If you haven’t experienced this kind of in-person pitch, you’ve likely seen old high school friends or an aunt on Facebook or Instagram posting about an amazing business opportunity that involves selling eyelashes or health supplements or essential oils for something that can be described as a “multi-level marketing company.”
Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high performance coach, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, and is in the Top 100 Most Followed Public Figures on Facebook – with more than 10 million fans across his pages. His personal development videos have been viewed more than 100 million times and Success Magazine named him “one of the Top 25 Most Influential Leaders in Personal Growth and Achievement.”
Nutritional supplements are not classified as either “foods” or “drugs”. They’re not foods because you don’t eat them for sustenance (you eat them to “supplement” your existing diet). And they’re not drugs because they’re not intended to treat any condition. The FDA largely ignores the industry, which means MLMs don’t face the same harsh regulations as food or drug providers in other industries.
Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM.  She’s been able to replace her full-time income but explains, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I still work every day.  I am very disciplined with my business and wake up every day knowing what I have to do in order to succeed at this.  You have to treat it like a business and be willing to follow advice from others who have made it.”
If you don’t understand something, ask for more information until it is absolutely clear to you. Your sponsor and other distributors should be willing to answer your questions. Remember that your sponsor (and others above your sponsor's level) will make money if you join the program. So take your time, and resist pressure to join. Be aware of shills — fake references paid by the company or distributor to pretend they were successful earning money through the plan.
But, there are also companies that are somewhat unusual, which is what this list focuses on. These are companies that sell a different type of product and ones that have their own unique style or angle. Their unusual nature can a major advantage. It means that the products can stand out and you’re not just promoting the same old thing as everyone else. You won't just be “the tupperware lady”. You could be offering real value.
Elliot Roe is a leading expert in Mindset Optimization for High Performers and is the world's #1 Mindset Coach for poker players. In just the last three years, his poker clients have won more than $50,000,000 and nearly every major tournament title including the World Series of Poker Main Event. His clientele also includes Olympic Medalists, UFC Champions, Hollywood Actors, Business Executives, and Wall Street Traders. His unique mindset coaching system leverages the power of hypnotherapy to eliminate fears and breakthrough mental roadblocks allowing you to operate in a state of peak performance.
Hey Erica, I’m a doterra gal also. Just over 3 years ago I just wanted to see if these hippie oils really worked from there I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and I share with whomever will listen. I recently read this in the leadership magazine and I love it. “An oil for every household, a drop to change a life”. That is my goal. I never plan to get rich off my sharing but if I can change a life, help someone along the way it will be worth my time.

Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.
You can contact me too. I am with a solid company with good honest testimonies about the products. I am in a group with one of my team members who had rheumatoid arthritis. I know her personally. She has had great results. I can let you talk to her if you like. Our products seem to do well with arthritis and other health issues. I would love to talk to you if you are interested.
Market America is just as known for their massive discounted products portal as they are for their crazy rich CEOs. I’m talking Forbes list, mansion in Biscayne Bay and penthouse in Manhattan, celeb bffs, and giant yachts rich…all thanks to MLM. They’ve hit their fair share of SEC-shaped road blocks, but Market America is still going strong at #29 on the DSN Global 100.

One of the main issue with people who are against Network Marketing is that there is a potential for abuse by unscrupulous businesses that take advantage of them, pocketing their money and returning very little in the way of dividends to the investor. One of the key areas of abuse with Network Marketing is what is known as the ‘Pyramid Schemes,’ so it would be right at the outset to explain what Network Marketing is and the difference between legitimate Network Marketing companies and Pyramid Schemes.

I totally agree, Mary. You can lose soooo much more just by opening up a small storefront business. I was in the Spa Industry and then the economy tanked in late 2008. I did not renew my lease in 2009. Lost my several hundred thousand dollar build-out. Lost so much more than taking an MLM business seriously. Even if I would have front loaded on a ton of product, I still would have been better off. People spend $750 and get some business cards then do nothing and blame MLM.


Great listing and especially the honest look at what being in an MLM means. Direct sales is a hard business, especially if you’re not passionately using the product daily. You see too many people who join thinking it will be a get rich quick scheme and don’t actually care about the product or their customers. Genuine lasts and is successful, companies like Avon and Mary Kay have been around for generations because people love their products.

Eric Worre's Go Pro has become the de facto bible of network marketing. Eric takes his more than 25 years experience in the profession and boils it down to nuts and bolts practical wisdom you can learn and apply. If you want to succeed, if you are serious about being a network marketing professional, make this book the centerpiece of your library! --Chris Widener, author of the Art of Influence
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I see Melaleuca on here. I see that as both good and bad. They are an awesome company with a great compensation plan. However, they are not an MLM. They are not even listed with the federal agency that oversees those companies. They are a Consumer Direct Marketing company. How does that differ? While I am required to purchase a certain amount each month, that’s all I need to purchase. It’s all products I use in my own home for myself. I don’t have a monthly quota to meet. I don’t have to buy product and sell it to people. The idea is that the product goes to the consumer only. In fact, it’s against company policy to buy product and sell it to others. The only comparison I see are the “levels” of customerS in my group. Can you shed any light on why you think they are an MLM? Thanks, so much!
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