If you hear someone talk about a business model using one of the above terms, there’s a good chance it’s a multi-level marketing business. But understand this: just because a business uses one of the above terms, DOES NOT automatically mean it’s an MLM. As we’ll see later on, a business that uses direct sales to get products or services to the consumer might not be an MLM.
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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.
Trump’s Cabinet picks also have MLM links. First there’s his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, whose husband’s family fortune derives from its ownership of Amway, the world’s biggest MLM, with $9.5 billion in annual 2015 revenue on everything from soap to cat food. While the company’s sales have been in decline, falling from a peak of $11.8 billion in 2013, Amway remains the 29th largest privately held company in the U.S., according to Forbes.
Pyramid schemes come in all forms. A really simple example are those chain letter things where you’d get a letter with seven names and addresses. You were supposed to send $1 to the names on the list. After you did that you were supposed to add your own name to the bottom of the list and send the letter off to at least 7 people. Supposedly you could make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few weeks doing this.
http://www.idahofallsmagazine.com/2014/12/demystifying-Melaleuca does NOT fit any of the descriptions about multi-level marketing. Best double check. 😀 We had to. We thought it was until we looked closer. Opening Online Shopping Accounts! Not a “home parties” company, no inventory, and no delivering of products. Just a website! Best HOME BASED Business we have ever found. And we have been LOOKING! Thanks.
Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers.  They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds.  They’re shifting their focus from accumulating a giant nest egg to a desire to be part of something bigger and better… to have a positive effect on others... and working in retirement.  Facets of life that can be fulfilled with specific types of products and service available through some MLM or Direct selling opportunities.

In other words, they built their nest egg in a dead or dying tree.  They may not get along with their spouse any longer, don’t have a life or friends outside of work, have broken relationships with their children, or have let their health go in hopes of getting it back later.  They essentially sacrificed some of the things that are most important to them for the benefit of trying to buy them back in retirement.  As a result, when they get there, they can feel lost, out-of-sorts, and struggle with their transition.
You are right in that most MLM have monthly dues and have high entry fees to be distributors or consultants. You are also right in that most MLM companies focus on recruitment and not product sales. I’ve been working with Arbonne now for quite a while and none of those comments apply to this company, which is why I believe they have survived and are only growing at this point, despite some people’s opinion that they will soon be relics like Mary Kay. To become a consultant is a mere $75 dollars, the kit is involved with all free samples and material. Product loading is prohibited. Each event we host regularly ends with most if not all attendees becoming a preferred client for $20 joining fee for the first year and a $15 renewal every year with no monthly expectation and a guaranteed minimum of 20% off of all stock at all times and 40% off of all packages at all times. Not only that consultants can will their business down 6 generations, and the Mercedes incentive is for a purchase, not a lease. We do look to grow our network, but we emphasize this takes hard work and is not a get rich quick scheme. While you hit the nail on the head with most MLM businesses, there are MLM businesses like Arbonne who are a cut above the rest and who are in the habit of not putting pressure on anyone attending to either purchase or join as a consultant. We only want the best in our network and we have thousands of examples of very successful men and woman to show for it. Great article!!!
Network marketing isn't about taking advantage of your friends and relatives. Only a few years ago, network marketing meant retailing to, and sponsoring people from, your "warm list" of prospects. Although sharing the products or services and the opportunity with people you know is still the basic foundation of the business, today we see more people using sophisticated marketing techniques such as the Internet, conference calling and other long-distance sponsoring techniques to extend their network across the country.
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.”

“We decided to take a cash-out refi to pay off unsecured debt,” wrote Kimberly Rotter from San Diego, a personal finance writer and frequent commenter. “The debt was incurred for emergency maintenance on our property, including several months of lost income for my husband while he did the work. Our home was 100 percent paid off so this was a very hard decision for us. However, our alternative was to do the zero percent shuffle on multiple credit cards to handle $85,000 in debt, which I know from past experience is difficult (although possible) at that level. We got a loan against the house for 5 percent and have a very strong and committed 36-month payoff plan. The pain of this choice will hopefully keep us on track. I am optimistic that we will meet our payoff goal.”


People who wonder why network marketing doesn’t work have likely also never joined the best MLM for them at the time or had great upline support and a team around them to get through the often frustrating first few months. Opportunities abound – even publicly traded multi-level marketing companies, who you would think are these huge businesses that give you no attention, have small teams and wonderful leaders to join. It’s just a matter of finding the top teams in the company you’re looking at.
Network marketing programs feature a low upfront investment--usually only a few hundred dollars for the purchase of a product sample kit--and the opportunity to sell a product line directly to friend, family and other personal contacts. Most network marketing programs also ask participants to recruit other sales representatives. The recruits constitute a rep's "downline," and their sales generate income for those above them in the program.
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. 

Independent non-salaried participants, referred to as distributors (variously called "associates", "independent business owners", "independent agents", etc.), are authorized to distribute the company's products or services. They are awarded their own immediate retail profit from customers plus commission from the company, not downlines, through a multi-level marketing compensation plan, which is based upon the volume of products sold through their own sales efforts as well as that of their downline organization.
Their products may not be as popular as you initially expect either. It's easy to get excited about a company when you have the opportunity to sell their stuff and make money. But if you leverage your friends and family to sell this stuff to them, you'll find yourself muted on Facebook or Snapchat, and getting more calls ignored. It's pretty annoying to have that one friend who always tries to recruit you into an MLM. My suggestion? Start a website and market your products or bizop to the world of the internet instead of just sticking to people you know.
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I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money.  After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.

Well I have just come across this and am blown away with the amount of health and wellness companies there are. I am a user and 1000% BELIEVER in THRIVE by Le-Vel. Been promoting now for 18 months and will never go a day without it! I did my due diligence and searched on a majority of the companies and I looked for social media presence of the company along with the CEO’S of the companies. I restore older vehicles for a living and I thank Thrive for coming into my life when it did cause it is hard to explain and can only be experienced. Have a wonderful President’s Day everyone! #BoostMyThrive 

This motor club is one you’d want to be a part of, and it’s less expensive than let’s say AAA, but they offer a lot of the same services.  Some services they offer are packaged up with some of the same old things you’d need, but they also offer some original services that are very beneficial.  Their CEO designed the company’s referral plan down to every detail, that those who sign up just keep wanting back in.  Interestingly enough, they have been in business since 1926 – an adequate amount of time to be a staple in American society.
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I’d like to point out a few things: statistically something like 96% of businesses fail within the first 5-10 years, which is a much more impactful loss, both financially and time wise, than the few hundred dollars one puts into whatever product they’re using in MLM. So realistically the success rate as a “self employed business owner” with MLM is probably a bit better than it is with launching a traditional business, or at least consistent with it. It takes discipline and tenacity that many people don’t have- that’s why they chose to remain employees in the first place.
Take it all the way to the top. Ask yourself questions about the person who introduced you to the opportunity and whether you can trust what they tell you. Make sure to ask if they are willing to divulge exactly how much they've been making. Probe into the founders of the company, assuming it's a newer company. Research whether they have been successful and reputable in their previous businesses. Investigate your entire upline just like you would a business partner you've never met before.
On a side note, I started using doTERRA about five years ago and love the oils! I didn’t join them to sell, or make money. I just wanted to raise awareness in what they could do and help with for individuals and families, as they did me and mine. In fact, many of my friends are now distributors (not under me). Lost opportunities? Not at all, in my book. More power to them! Back to R + F, and a little more insight from you would certainly scratch an itch.

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.
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.
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.

“We decided to take a cash-out refi to pay off unsecured debt,” wrote Kimberly Rotter from San Diego, a personal finance writer and frequent commenter. “The debt was incurred for emergency maintenance on our property, including several months of lost income for my husband while he did the work. Our home was 100 percent paid off so this was a very hard decision for us. However, our alternative was to do the zero percent shuffle on multiple credit cards to handle $85,000 in debt, which I know from past experience is difficult (although possible) at that level. We got a loan against the house for 5 percent and have a very strong and committed 36-month payoff plan. The pain of this choice will hopefully keep us on track. I am optimistic that we will meet our payoff goal.”
When you look at our hypothetical MLM, it’s hard not to notice that it pretty much works like a pyramid scheme: you make money by recruiting people below you. Instead of the people below you giving you and the people above you money in order to be part of the MLM — as in a traditional pyramid scheme — you (and the people above you) get a commission off the product purchases the recruits below you are required to make from the MLM. Distributors make little to no money selling product to people outside the company.
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. 🙂
(May 2017 update: did this go under?) The sign up cost will make you do a triple take (almost four figures), but you get to set your own retail price on every product you sell. If you’ve got the skills to make people cough up the cash for their products (which, btw, are pretty legit), you could definitely make that money back. They’ve also been winning plenty of awards (even a growth award from the Direct Selling Association themselves).
Network marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme. Of course some people do make large amounts of money very quickly. Many would say those people are lucky. But success in networking isn't based on luck. (Unfortunately, money won't sprout wings and fly into your bank account no matter what someone has promised you.) Success in network marketing is based on following some very basic yet dynamic principles.

In recent years, the heavily publicized Herbalife battle has shined much-needed light on MLMs. Last year’s scathing John Oliver segment on them has received almost 10 million views, 2 million of them in Spanish. (Immigrant, often undocumented, Latinos trying to make it in the U.S. have become a major target group.) A documentary on Ackman’s Herbalife battle, Betting on Zero, hits theaters March 10 and will be available on demand April 7.


The legal distinction between MLMs and traditional pyramid schemes has been characterized by many authorities as a legal fiction. Jurisdictions that retain a legal distinction between MLM pyramid businesses versus illegal pyramid schemes retain said distinction on two key distinguishing features: 1) that MLMs always encompass the sale of actual products/services, while traditional illegal pyramid schemes ordinarily do not (though sometimes they do), and 2) that climbing an MLM pyramid is overwhelmingly statistically improbable (especially to its highest participant levels) but not theoretically impossible, whereas climbing a traditional illegal pyramid scheme is both statistically and theoretically impossible.[citation needed]
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.
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.

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.

But MLMs can get away with this because of the second big difference between a traditional franchise and an MLM “franchise”: In a traditional franchise, the end customer is the consumer, whereas again, the primary way you make money in an MLM is by recruiting other sales people and making commissions off the product they’re required to purchase from the parent company


I’d like to point out a few things: statistically something like 96% of businesses fail within the first 5-10 years, which is a much more impactful loss, both financially and time wise, than the few hundred dollars one puts into whatever product they’re using in MLM. So realistically the success rate as a “self employed business owner” with MLM is probably a bit better than it is with launching a traditional business, or at least consistent with it. It takes discipline and tenacity that many people don’t have- that’s why they chose to remain employees in the first place.
Internet and Social Media changes the landscape a lot, because what originally had to be a door-to-door process is turning into more of a net-based thing. However, Network Marketing is always about direct social interactions, belonging to something, helping others etc. It seems that Network Marketing and Direct Selling was the precursor of internet based customised door-to-door deliver that happens just now everywhere.
Next comes Trump’s special adviser on federal regulations, investor Carl Icahn, who has an estimated net worth of $17 billion. Icahn is something of an accidental beneficiary of MLM wealth, having invested in Herbalife to get back at his nemesis, fellow shareholder activist Bill Ackman, after Ackman launched a public short on Herbalife in 2012 and called it a pyramid scheme. Icahn has ended up virtually running Herbalife, owning 24 percent of its shares and holding five board seats. But despite Icahn’s clout, Ackman’s lobbying effort to bring down Herbalife led to the FTC crackdown, which could pummel Herbalife’s earnings. (The company has other problems, as it recently disclosed that it is subject to an anti-corruption probe by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice over its burgeoning China business.)
You may remember Rodan + Fields in their former iteration when they sold acne medicine via infomercial. Or when Estee Lauder bought the brand and sold the products in stores. Now they tempt stay-at-home moms with promises of lucrative, flexible careers, free vacations, and six-figure incomes. All they need to do is sell some upscale skin care products via direct sales.

Yes, you might want to learn the overview of it so you’re knowledgable and understand how your checks are getting formulated, but I’ve met too many successful networkers who can’t explain comp plans to spend any real time on them. When people ask questions, I refer them to the documentation that’s available and ask them if they’re ready to start a business they can work from home – even online in most cases.


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!
These things require capital. I would say that the BIGGEST mistake startup entrepreneurs make when they start a network marketing company is the failure to appreciate the amount of capital required. They do the simple math, add up a few known expenses, and assume the company will be profitable within the first few months. Capital allows the founders to be patient and focus on longer term goals, which leads to healthier companies. Desperation for money has led countless entrepreneurs to make catastrophic mistakes. And be wary of companies listed on exchanges as penny stocks — I’ve seen very few network marketing companies navigate those waters successfully without defrauding investors.
Well if you didn’t know before, this company is all about body shapers and nutritional products, with a “greens line” in their product line up as well.  The company got some built up heat in 2015, but have later cooled down a bit.  There was minimum quota of $112 that had to be met every month in order to earn commissions from the company and after a while their distributors had a hard time keeping up with these expectations. Not everyone (including their grandmothers) needs more than one or two body shapers. LOL.
To understand how network marketing works, it may be helpful to think of a business model that most consumers are familiar with, franchising. In a franchise, an owner pays a company for the right to do business using that company’s products, services, and name. The parent company agrees to provide the owner with training, development, advertising and marketing support. While the name on the outside of the building is that of the parent company, the actual location is privately owned by an independent business owner.
That is really the magical element behind the multi-billion dollar market that is the direct sales and network marketing industries. And a large part of those are MLM-fashioned businesses that offer primarily are styled as health and wellness supplements in the name of weight loss, cognitive enhancement, skin care, hair care, beauty, anti-aging, dieting and anything else nutritionally-related or health-focused.
Establishing—and regularly updating—the company brand is critical to the success of the campaign. Multi-level marketers will identify the company’s primary goods and services, and then research the target market whose needs they’re meeting. Marketers and creative alike will make certain that the “personality” of the brand resonates with the general personality of the target customer; likewise, messaging will be regularly adjusted to reflect customers’ changing and growing interests.
One of the most common complaints about MLM companies is that new consultants have to fork over a lot of money to pay for initial inventory. One of the worst of these is the direct sales company LuLaRoe, which forces new recruits to buy $6,000 worth of inventory just to get started. The apparel retailer is known for their wacky prints and patterns, but consultants can’t choose what they like — they get whatever version the company feels like sending and are then expected to sell it.
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.

USANA Health Sciences is a powerhouse in health supplementation. I personally love the focus on cellular nutrition and their high level of manufacturing practices. Considering they have 1000+ olympic and elite athletes who use their products, rated number 1 nutritional product in the world for over a decade. The products have blessed the health of my customers/clients and as USANA is about to hit the 1 billion target, it’s proving that they are a company dedicated to the health and wellbeing of everyone.


Scentsy is an MLM company that manufactures wickless, scented and flameless candles with a lot of varying fragrance that leaves customers drooling. People, who haven’t used this brand of candles, instantly fall in love with it once they do. Network marketers are given a good and lovable product to resell and the chances for success are really high.
Consultants make up the vast majority of MLM jobs. However, The Direct Selling Association (DSA) reports that the average annual income for consultants is about $2,400; in addition, roughly 90 percent of all consultants earn less than $5,000 annually. Not exactly the stuff through which marketing careers are made—although it could prove to be valuable entry-level experience.
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