The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[21]
Company payout (in commissions & bonuses) per sale for the total of all upline participants equals or exceeds that for the person selling the product – resulting in inadequate incentive to retail and excessive incentive to recruit. Jim can make more money getting commissions off the product that distributors beneath him are required to buy from the company than he could from selling the shakes at retail to customers outside of the business.

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A good MLM will have more than a few products to sell. They will have more than market sector covered (not just nutritional supplements, water filters or essential oils). They will also have other major retailers that they market for. The money those major corporations spend on the annual marketing, will be paid out to the MLM and their distributors for their sales & marketing efforts and results. That is where those companies will get
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Representatives for direct selling companies affirm that most participants in their companies aren't making much. "Earnings are typically quite small," says Joe Mariano, president and CEO of the Direct Selling Association. He notes that nearly three-quarters of people involved in direct selling are "discount customers," meaning they're buying the products for themselves – not selling them. For that majority, earnings aren't just small: They're nonexistent.

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In just 30 years, Melaleuca has grown from a little startup in rural Idaho to a billion-dollar enterprise doing business in 19 countries around the globe. It has become one of the largest catalog and online wellness retailers in North America. And it is the largest manufacturer of consumer packaged goods in the Northwest. Today, more than a million customers shop with Melaleuca every month.
Yes folks, another MLM company in the nutritional niche selling astonishing super-fruit with an overall distinctly higher price tag.  What separates them from the rest? Not sure, but interestingly enough their bottom line is impressive.  The company has grown to over 44 countries around the world, and is constantly expanding!  All this after only about 10 years in business.  On top of their successful reputation, they offer a lot of sales training and decent commission rates for their company reps, which is not seen a lot these days.

The Internet has made it so easy now. In the old days you had to actually visit people, or at least call them, to pitch your fabulous new opportunity. Face-to-face marketing is still practiced, but it is not so common these days. Besides, no one really loves the idea of having someone over, so they go online where everyone can be as safe as they want. They create sites with videos, testimonials, and pictures.
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.

(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).
MLM also referred to as network marketing, utilize a system of marketing that’s based on a basic business model: you become a part of a team of distributors and work to build a team of recruited downline distributors. The top network marketing companies have a strong inventory of products that you will provide to your clients, meeting a specific need in your target market. As your team of downline distributors grows, you receive compensation benefits from their sales as well, because you are the original recruiter. Simply put, the larger your team, the better your return.
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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.
Then there’s Congress, where critics also fear the passage of legislative efforts they say would virtually legitimize many pyramid schemes. One such bill, introduced last summer by a bipartisan caucus organized by the industry lobbying group, the Direct Selling Association, was opposed by Ramirez because it contradicts the terms of the Herbalife settlement. Days after she announced her resignation, Ramirez wrote a letter to the DSA chastising it for its opposition to the FTC view, which the DSA had laid out in a press release shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The question is whether there is retail demand for the products of MLMs or whether the purchases are just a camouflage for recruitment. The DSA, and the bill, argues that purchases by participants in the scheme, called “internal consumption,” can represent true demand, which means they would count when determining commissions paid to salespeople. Ramirez and the FTC disagree. Even if MLM participants do want to buy products for their own use, they shouldn’t be compensated for doing so, Ramirez said. To ensure compensation is driven by retail sales, she noted, companies should keep track of all customer sales outside the network (as Herbalife is being forced to do).
This is an incredible easy book to read that is filled with lots of tips and tools that can help you move from a place you may be uncomfortable to a better place. The GoPro tips will help me jump start my business as well as provide the guidance on how to get to that next level. I loved that Eric shared his successes and challenges in a fairly easy to understand and sometimes amusing way. This book is definitely worth reading if you want to become a Network Marketing Professional. My Rodan+Fields business will grow as a direct result of Eric's sage advice.
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. 

Usually MLMs in the financial services niche don’t make it in business for very long (most people are not in the habit of spending money to try and save money).  But these guys figured it out.  They have been in business for over 30 years and in 2013 they had profits of $1.27 billion, so they I think they know a thing or two about what they’re doing to rake in the profits for their company.
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!
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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.
An example of a high-profile multi-level marketing company defending its practices is Herbalife Ltd., a manufacturer and distributor of weight-loss and nutritional products with more than 500,000 distributors. Although the FTC had been investigating Herbalife, it was activist investor William Ackman who shed a national spotlight on the company by shorting $1 billion of the company’s stock in 2013. Ackman accused the company of operating a pyramid scheme and backed his allegations with a bet the company’s stock price would fall under the weight of the scam.  
MLM salespeople are not employees of the MLM company. Participants do not derive a salary/wage, nor do participants receive remuneration from the MLM company for their invested labor and expenses in their MLM "independent business". The income of participants, if any income is made at all, is derived only from commissions on their personal sales or their share of the commissions on the personal sales of their downlines (the MLM compensation structure).

Great job on the top 25 MLMs. Really like what you’re doing for the industry as a whole. Your analysis is spot on. However, a closer look at retention rates for each company might give you another perspective on the value proposition of any given company. As a Doterra Wellness Advocate we are told by our corporate execs that we have a 65% retention rate with customers repurchasing the product within 3 months. And that if we based it on the industry standard of 12 months our retention would go up to 85%. I’m told that this is unprecedented in network marketing. So I’m believing that Doterra is succeeding because its selling a product that works and that users and word-of-mouth drive the business in the long run.
Then we get to compensation plans behind DS and NM. That would be SLM or MLM as in Single Level Marketing or Multi Level Marketing. In this sense, the expression Marketing is not ideal, it should be Multi Level Sales…in most cases. Depending on your activity, you can either be a selling person, or a referring person where the company, website, Fedex does the sales, payment and delivery. There are many forms of the compensation plan, about 1 for every company with a few overlaps. Some of them are by law illegal, most of them are just messed up from the beginning. Success ratio is about 1:200 for a network marketing company to become great and lasting.
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.
Some multilevel marketing companies sell protein powders to high performance athletes. Others sell multivitamin supplements to pregnant mothers. And some sell memory-boosting supplements to elderly people. The world of health and nutrition companies is vast, and there are all sorts of new niches to explore. New MLMs are springing up every year trying to best the next USANA.

I’m truly sympathetic to this desire. A lot of folks are struggling financially out there; Dad’s salary alone isn’t enough to support the family (or he’s out of work altogether), and Mom getting a job may not be a big help once the cost of childcare is factored in. Plus, a lot of moms simply don’t want to send their kids to childcare and want to be able to stay home with their children.

A good MLM will have more than a few products to sell. They will have more than market sector covered (not just nutritional supplements, water filters or essential oils). They will also have other major retailers that they market for. The money those major corporations spend on the annual marketing, will be paid out to the MLM and their distributors for their sales & marketing efforts and results. That is where those companies will get


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Herbalife is a network marketing company that specialises in meal replacement and other fitness supplements. One of their big name brand ambassadors is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a world famous footballer. Herbalife did undergo some trying time in 2011 with a few legal issues here and there; the company is however, back and better, with more of its products making its way to the grocery shelves. Herbalife offers network marketers the opportunity to resell its products for profit, although marketers will earn no compensation for recruiting new marketers.
The structure of MLMs is very similar to a pyramid scheme. This doesn’t mean that all MLMs are pyramid schemes, but some certainly are. Those interested in pursuing a career in multi-level marketing should do research before joining a particular MLM. Generally speaking, if the bulk of the money you stand to earn comes from recruitment rather than direct sales, it’s wise to be very cautious.
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.
The team-based aspect isn’t entirely clear in the compensation plan, nor are the ongoing requirements. One challenge is that there are many different bonuses. It’s not clear how these relate to one another either. But, there is still a rank structure and you earn residentials from your team. These roughly range from 5% to 15% but there’s considerable variation in place.
I know there are a few companies, like Mary Kay and Lia Sophia, who have a generally positive image, but there are many more, often built around some investment scheme, which continue to give this sector a bad image. If you scan the Internet, you will find dozens of negative articles, like "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?", but very few singing their praises.
This MLM’s motive is a great natural path to healing using Naturopathy as its guide while #cleaneating, drinking medicinal herbs, and those free-loving souls are eating it up.  Apparently, they have the “The FASTEST, healthiest, simplest weight loss program on the planet.”  Now is this just a lot of gossip…no it’s not. The company has a line of products that are certified organic.
The reality is there’s nothing special about the stuff MLM companies sell. You can find whey protein and meal replacement shakes at your local CVS or online. You can buy essential oils at Whole Foods and Amazon. Your wife can buy quality make-up and skincare products at Ulta, Walgreens, or online. You can get pretty much anything an MLM sells and often for much cheaper, even when your MLM distributor discount is factored in (see the next section). There’s nothing significantly different about MLM products besides the marketing and branding.
If they are, the company is strong, and the product or service is a winner, then you will succeed. You will have to put the effort in to learn the systems and processes that make it work, but there's a big difference between a sponsor and a recruiter. A sponsor coaches, motivates, and trains while a recruiter simply signs people up and, in most cases, abandons them once their commission is collected.
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Considering their products are botanically based with an ingredient policy that prohibits many of the chemicals and fillers Mary Kay and Avon still use in their own products, I’d say they’ve established a business for men and woman who are truly serious about the health of their skin, not just the evenness of their complexion. A little research goes a long way. 

Starting out as a casual customer, and then moving into the business side of the company, Kierston set the pace and laid the foundation for her family’s future when the unexpected happened and they were at risk of losing everything.  Two years later, Kyle joined his wife in her business and, together, they have become million-dollar earners while building a wildly successful Network Marketing business.
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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. 

That not only fosters a positive attitude and atmosphere, but also a lot of structure and activity.  Many network marketing companies offer weekly calls, local meetings, and an annual conference.  All of which get members out of the house, building knowledge and developing new skills, while offering them the opportunity to meet new people and deepen existing connections.
If you want to learn about the wonderful (and massive) world of internet marketing from the pros, Digital Altitude is where it’s at. Their products might cost up to $10k+, but you’re getting access to a toolbox of pure gold. Then there’s their commission rate…up to 60%. Just take a second to think about what a 60% commission rate on a $10k+ product looks like. Not bad, huh?

They’re sliding, though. Revenue is falling in North America and their sales force is shrinking. Revenue slid 19% in 2013 and 7% in Mexico. Skip ahead to July 2015 and revenue is still spiraling downward, with a 17% drop (5). Analysts blame Avon’s failure to maintain a strong identity for its products as well as the strong dollar. Lesson: Always re-create yourself.
A: To help you understand what network marketing is, I must first explain what it isn't. First, network marketing isn't a pyramid scheme. Pyramids are programs similar to chain letters where people just invest money based on the promise that other people will put in money that will filtrate back to them and somehow, they'll get rich. A pyramid is strictly a money game and has no basis in real commerce. Normally, there's no product involved at all, just money changing hands. Modern-day pyramids may have a product, but it's clearly there just to disguise the money game.
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.”
Just hitting their 5-year anniversary in the MLM health and wellness niche, they have already gained so much popularity.  The company has won the Bravo Growth Award from the Direct Selling News Global.  Yes, they won this award about two years ago, and yes that is when they were just starting out.  They had so much potential, but eventually they came to booming halt, shattering into a bunch of tiny pieces (meaning a lot of MLM affiliates without jobs).

I know there are a few companies, like Mary Kay and Lia Sophia, who have a generally positive image, but there are many more, often built around some investment scheme, which continue to give this sector a bad image. If you scan the Internet, you will find dozens of negative articles, like "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?", but very few singing their praises.
Within that, some companies thought that their products would be better off when people with own experience did the referral and possibly trough existing personal relationships by using their social network. That would be Network Marketing. Whether they sell and make money is irrelevant. You do network marketing when you talk about a good movie to friends, only you do not get rewarded, except the random girl who goes to watch the movie with you again based on your enthusiasm :D.
While networking marketing is not actually a franchising model of business, it does work in a similar fashion. In fact some large MLM companies refer to its business plan informally as “private franchising”. In network marketing, a company distributes its products and services through independent business owners (IBO) who in turn market these products and services to customers of their own.
As noted, many MLM companies do generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profit. However, the profits of the MLM company are derived to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the company's non-salaried workforce (the MLM participants). Only some of the profit is then significantly shared with none but a few individual participants at the top of the MLM participant pyramid. The earnings of those top few participants then allows the creation of an illusion of how one can potentially become financially successful if one becomes a participant in the MLM. This is then emphasized and advertised by the MLM company to recruit more participants to participate in the MLM with a false anticipation of earning margins which are in reality merely theoretical and statistically improbable.[14] 

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. 
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