Some people may think this is the definition of a pyramid scheme, or believe that Multilevel Marketing (aka MLM) is synonymous with Pyramid Scheme. However, there is a massive distinction between MLM and Pyramid Schemes. You wouldn’t call Mary Kay Cosmetics, or AVON a pyramid scheme, would you? Both of those companies are prime examples of Network Marketing or MLM companies. The distinction comes in how the company compensates its employees or distributors. When a Network Marketing company’s primary compensation is for recruiting rather than selling, then it could very well be considered a pyramid scheme, which actually, is illegal.
At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.

Even while the popular culture’s view of MLMs is shifting, FitzPatrick doesn’t think we’re yet at a tipping point where consumers reject them en masse. Trump’s election may help explain why. After the election, FitzPatrick says he sent out a newsletter to the many victims of pyramid schemes who’ve come to him for help, explaining the connections with Trump.
When you buy a franchise for, say, Jamba Juice, you’re buying the right to be the only franchisee in a certain geographic area. They don’t sell twenty franchises to twenty different business owners in the same city. That would result in Jamba Juices on every street corner owned by twenty different people all competing to sell the same product, which would cannibalize the profits of all the franchisees. No one in their right mind would buy a franchise in a company that ignored basic economic principle of supply and demand.
A quiet giant in our Profession, Donna Johnson has been involved in Network Marketing for nearly 40 years - 30 of those with her current company.  During that time, she's built one of the largest sustainable organizations in the world based on culture and ethics.  She has hundreds of leaders earning six and seven figures each yearend her business is thriving and growing globally.
Looking compliant is easy. Building a CULTURE around compliance is hard. Building a culture requires doing more than paying lip service to compliance. It requires full buy-in at the corporate level to teach and enforce the important policies. It requires field leaders committed to responsible growth, and corporate leaders that avoid saying things like “the lawyers make us do this.” And finally, it requires constant investment.
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That brings up another difference between traditional franchises and MLMs: When you own a traditional franchise, you’re not pressured to recruit other people to become fellow franchisees. In fact, if you did that, it could ruin your chances at economic success because you’d be competing with multiple business owners for the same customers. Also, that would be an illegal franchise pyramid scheme.
At the corporate level, MLM professionals develop an easily communicated mission and image, and create resources that facilitate that communication. The key to knowing how to communicate this message to customers is knowing and understanding them. Therefore, effective MLM begins with data, and builds upon that data throughout a campaign. With the sales and customer information generated at each presentation, companies can better discern what products to acquire and/or develop, how to best portray them to their audience, and how to tailor their message to different market segments.
One of the earliest critics of Amway, former insider Stephen Butterfield, wrote about how its conservative economic policies actually helped bolster Amway’s ranks in his 1985 book, Amway: The Cult of Free Enterprise. “In alliance with the religious right, Amway (which stands for American Way) has spent more than three decades building an authoritarian, pro-business movement in the American middle class,” according to a promotion blurb for the book. “Amway preaches devotion and obedience to its leaders, hard work and sacrifice for the Company, contempt for the poor and worship of the rich.”

I agree with Jeannie. You can build a solid foundation from your warm market & then it snowballs. It is hard work & not a get rich industry. I to am with dōTERRA which is such a product driven company that 80% of wholesale customers are just customers because the products work. I love how everyone I have interacted with in my Upline are so driven by a purpose much bigger than amassing wealth! After almost 20 years of business experience (corporate sales & real estate), I can proudly say that I’ve never worked in such an edifying & encouraging environment. I can’t remember even 1 of my former bosses sitting down with me to chart a plan to bring me up to their level or even to take their current spot on the corp ladder – too much insecurity in that world & after all only 1 person makes it to the top of that pyramid. I love that in Network marketing you can easily surpass the rank & income of the person above you if you work with great purpose. The mentoring available & the personal development which happens in this environment is incredible!

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.
If you are in any type of networking marketing this book is the ultimate guide to success. So well written, relateable and a ton of info in a small amount of reading. I purchased this as part of a network marketing class that I was taking with weekly meetings. This was are reading "requirement" I'm so glad I purchased.. My only regret is that I bought the kindle version. I WISH I would have bought myself a hard copy!! I may still do that!!! LOVE!
22 Companies over $1 Billion Annual Revenue - The perception is shifting. We are really just hitting our power band. Network marketing is coming to its maturation stage. People are figuring out what successful business models are and Network Marketing is one of those at the top. Old business models don’t work like they used to and everyone knows it (think about Woolworths, Barratts, La Senza, JJB Sports, Comet, Clinton Cards, Peacocks, Kodak, Jessops, Blockbuster, Virgin Megastores, HMV, Jane Norman, Phones4U, Austin Reed, BHS, Maplin, Toys R Us - where are they today?)
They were hot. These guys caught some shade for over-inflating their health products, but what health MLM doesn’t inflate their prices “a tiny bit” so they can dish out those juicy commissions? Well, their fiber product was 900% more than “leading alternatives” and their Trioten protein blend was 600% more expensive than Herbalife and Shaklee proteins. Ouch.
Check out Rain International. Their products are unique in that they are the only company where their products are seed based. The seeds are the powerhouse of any plant and therefore the most concentrated form of nutrition. Since the seeds are non-gmo, organic and cold pressed they help neutralize free radicals contained within the body, Rain’s products are super compounds. As a strong antioxidant that helps fight oxidation, the products help prevent cellular damage. These seeds give the body the nutrition it needs to lower inflammation levels therefore helping it to heal. They also have an awesome compensation plan: 7 ways to get paid.
Monat reps like to shake their stunning tresses, claiming this miracle hair care system can help anyone achieve the same. Meanwhile, the company is plagued by lawsuits asserting that the product causes balding, itchiness, hair loss, and scalp irritation. So in this case, it’s not just the selling tactics that make people hate it — it’s the actual product.
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.
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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!


I’m surprised Rodan and Fields didn’t make the list, considering they are the fourth largest premium skin care company with the top three being 50+year old companies, Estée Lauder, Lancôme & Clinique. We are North America’s 4th largest and fastest growing premium skincare company, but we’re not in stores, the top 3 — Clinique, Lancôme and Estée Lauder.
Network marketing, also known as Multi-Level Marketing, is a legitimate business model whose method of selling is by distributing a company’s products and services through a network of independent distributors. These independent distributors use direct selling and network building to market the products and services to potential customers. They act as a franchise to the company and earn commissions based on the volume of merchandise sold, or equivalent to its point value, as a result of their group dynamics.
Le-Vel THRIVE is #1 in Health and Wellness with innovative products that work. Le-Vel is a completely Cloud Based, work from anywhere company. Besides the Core 3-Steps of THRIVE (which help with energy, sleep, digestion, joint support, aches and pains, weight management), Le-Vel has a plus-line product called MOVE that is wonderful for joints. Thrive is not a weight loss system, but a lifestyle change of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics and is designed to fill nutritional gaps, making you feel amazing. Thrive is easy to promote by just sharing your experience and it’s completely Free to join as a promoter, no startup costs, no monthly fees, absolutely no strings attached! I’ve been a Promoter for over 2 years now and Le-Vel and Thrive has completely changed my family’s life!

Hi JP, Your assessment of Melaleuca stating… “When you hit over a billy in annual sales, that’s reason enough to be on the shortlist. On top of that, they’ve been in the MLM game for over two decades, and they’re now the “largest online wellness shopping club” (basically just sounds like a fancy way of saying they sell a lot of miracle diet pills).” is VERY misleading and inaccurate. They offer “far more” products and services than weight control supplements. I have been a “customer” only of Melaleuca for over 20 years and can attest to the superb quality of their products. Please get your facts correct before posting inaccurate information. 🙂


I enjoyed this post and spent too many hours reading all your other posts and watching your videos. You have some excellent real life experiences to share and glad I found this blog. My wife and I are with It Works Global (She started it and I came on board later). I was curious why they didn’t make your list? Do you think blogging would work with this type MLM? I have only had success using Instagram and Facebook. The MLM model is not something I like but it is what is I guess. My wife joined to get a discount on wraps and now this insane looking chart pays the bills. I want to take it further just keep searching for a good way to do so. Maybe blogging is the answer? Thank you. for your time. Mike
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