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. 

You've probably heard horror stories about people ending up with a garage full of expensive water filters or other items. This happens because only other distributors will purchase the product at that price. Your product or service must fill a real need at a fair price, and there should be a large untapped market for it. In other words, it must provide tremendous value so that the customer is the biggest winner.

Saturation is impossible because there isn't a finite number of people. Every day new people are born or turn 18, thereby adding new potential network marketers to the pool of prospects. Tim Sales, in Zig Ziglar’s book, Network Marketing for Dummies, offers the best argument against the saturation myth. He asks, “Do you know anyone who doesn’t have a refrigerator? No? That doesn’t stop GE from selling more of them.”

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.
Many people who complain about network marketing say they don't like the idea of "using" their friends and family to make money. However, network marketing doesn't reward people for using others. Success in network marketing comes from helping others reach their goals. A person cannot earn income from the efforts of their recruits without investing time in assisting them to earn income, as well. Admittedly, some network marketers see potential recruits as dollar signs, but those people are not as successful as those who are genuine in their effort to help their recruits do well.
The gist of the matter is that the courts have found that as long as an MLM can show that its primary purpose is to sell product (even to people within the MLM) and not recruitment of distributors, the company is considered a legitimate business and not a pyramid scheme. But this line is really fuzzy, and little to no effort is made by law enforcement agencies to make companies prove that they emphasize retail over recruitment.
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict.)
Okay, we have a return to network marketing roots (can you remember the days of Tupperware parties…no? Well I’m not sorry to tell you there’s a reason for that).  Products for your kitchen, cooking demos, and an abundance of mommy bloggers.  Well homemakers are still the key demographic for this MLM, because they are looking for flexibility.  It’s not surprising to anyone that this company has done so well, but what is notable is that even Warren Buffet saw this company and decided he wanted a piece of the pie.
This is FIRE!! I love Network Marketing! I am a 19 year old entreleader out of Fort Wayne, Indiana and it is a career and something that needs mastered! It is very legit and my company is rock solid! If I can do it at 19 years young, anybody can get it done! I believe this will be one of the biggest industries in the millenial generation. Lets get it!

They have the stay-at-home-mother meets women entrepreneur mixture working for them. What does that even mean? Means they have the practicality side of the company that is off the product and they have the sales, entrepreneur people them promoting it, too. Anyone who follows MLM knows its usually too “product practical” (see: Tupperware, Cutco) or too “opportunity-centric” (see: Herbalife). 

Question your recruiter. When you've found a company you're interested in, you'll likely meet with a recruiter or another representative. Be skeptical during the recruitment process. Remember that your sponsor makes more money if you sign on, so he may not be as open with you as he could be. Don't get distracted by promises of how much money you'll make and really think about what you're about to do.[4]
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.

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
Wow Collette! I’m a new Advocate with doTERRA, as is my wife. She wanted to start using oils to get our family off of medications as much as possible (and now we mostly are!) We chose doTERRA over all the other oils companies because of the process in which they farm and make their oils as well as the great culture they seem to exude. We just felt called to them.

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.

MLM and direct selling programs also offer very low barriers into entrepreneurship, often providing training, support, and ample encouragement along the way.  As retirees begin to realize they need activities that keep them busy, relevant, in good health, and connected to others, the time, energy and cost to participate in these kinds of companies make them very appealing to large segments of the population caught up in these dynamics.
Multi-level marketing is a strategy some direct-sales companies use to encourage their existing distributors to recruit new distributors by paying the existing distributors a percentage of their recruits' sales. The recruits are the distributor's "downline." All distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers. Amway is an example of a well-known direct-sales company that uses multi-level marketing.
Diets…fad diets, new diets, old diets…it’s an endless story especially in the 2000’s, and this company is one of those companies.  The FDA had a run-in with these guys and they are not in the greatest standings with the BBB either, which seem to be the norm with weight loss pills of the “magical results” variety.   Well the good news for this business is that they’ve managed to keep trending for 5 years (that’s a pretty good streak), and the company reps are earning a colossal 50% in commissions.
For example, most successful people building a network marketing business do so in an organized method. They work a few dedicated hours each week, with each hour of effort serving as a building block for their long-term business growth. Then they sponsor other people and teach those people how to sell the company product and sponsor others who duplicate the process.
Younique is a network marketing company that offers a reseller program for marketers who are willing to help distribute its rich blend of cosmetics products. The cosmetics company is known for its budget-friendly products which appeal to the female folk. One of Younique’s marketers’ strategies is the organisation of house parties where women are then introduced to various products of the company; that strategy really works, by the way.
Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.

Consultants involved in multi-level marketing usually sell products directly to consumers through relationships and word of mouth. Nearly 9 out of every 10 consultants are part-time, and work out of the home as distributors of a given line of products. Many multi-level companies also employ a “party plan” strategy, where consultants (and possibly also the consultant’s “upline”) invite friends and other interested customers in the area to a party at the consultant’s home (or other available location). Many products are demonstrated, everyone has a good time, and by the end of the party the consultant has hopefully made several sales—and possibly even recruited a new consultant (who in turn become that salesperson’s downline).
The main sales pitch of MLM companies to their participants and prospective participants is not the MLM company's products or services. The products/services are largely peripheral to the MLM model. Rather, the true sales pitch and emphasis is on a confidence given to participants of potential financial independence through participation in the MLM, luring with phrases like "the lifestyle you deserve" or "independent distributor."[16] Erik German's memoir My Father's Dream documents the real life failures of German's father as he is lured into "get-rich-quick" schemes such as Amway.[17] The memoir illustrates the multi-level marketing sales principle known as "selling the dream".[18]
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.

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.
Odds are, somebody in your life works or has worked for a multi-level marking company, called MLM companies for short. If you’ve ever had a friend on social media invite you to join their sales team or attend an online shopping party, it probably had connections to an MLM company. Some people think of MLM companies as some opportunistic scam, but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning a little bit about how these companies can help you understand why they provide a wealth of opportunity for income and professional growth. In fact, you’re probably very familiar with many of the best MLM companies in the business without even knowing it.
What makes a pyramid scheme a pyramid scheme isn’t its pyramid shape, however, but how its pyramidal structure works. If you apply for a job at Walmart, Walmart doesn’t require you to buy $50 worth of product from them before they’ll give you a job. And once you start working for them, they don’t require that you make $100 worth of purchases from them each month to keep your job. But an MLM does.
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comes down to leadership and the individual. I even changed teams to find the right mentor and coaching when I knew I was struggling. I found a team that trains people to be some network marketing professionals, and really the math is simple and anyone can make residual income if they do it correctly. The problem is people sign everyone up they can and then most drop out. You only want to work with those that are committed to do the work and be able to work closely with them until they are a developed leader. In all actuality ssigning everyone up as an associate is against the rules and a big no no. Having customers benefits everyone and in most business models like the one I’m with I make more commission off customers than associates that aren’t working.
If your wife needs to make money for your family, what then could she do instead? Work nights or weekends? Find a paid job that can be done from home (there are legitimate companies out there that hire stay-at-home moms as customer support reps, transcriptionists, etc., though there are also plenty of scams that advertise as such, so look with a skeptical eye)? Start a freelance side hustle?

Determine if the company is handling advertising and publicity on its own to help create demand for the product. Find out what restrictions are there on where and how you can promote it, such as advertising and websites. There's not a right or wrong answer to that question. A wide-open policy is more flexible for you, and for everyone else, too. If you're prepared to be highly competitive, that's fine, but if not, you may prefer to work with a company whose policy is more restrictive.
World Global Network is a publicly traded company that recently released a wearable health monitor similar to a Fitbit but with more features. The HELO currently measures blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, sleep, EKG, mood and steps. It also has a panic button that if pressed twice it will alert you loved ones of your location using GPS. In the near future it will measure blood glucose and blood alcohol without using a blood sample. It will also have a mosquito shield.

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.

Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985),[51] pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997),[52] or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999),[53] such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996),[54] and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)".[52][55] In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.[56]
Using this expertise gained developing the intersection between business and media, he went on to not only invest in new businesses, but also help successfully amplify their brand. With his extensive knowledge, experience and insight gained over two decades of building his own intellectual properties and working with top brands around the world, he started developing the groundwork for his full-service venture studio, Dyrdek Machine.
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.

Using this expertise gained developing the intersection between business and media, he went on to not only invest in new businesses, but also help successfully amplify their brand. With his extensive knowledge, experience and insight gained over two decades of building his own intellectual properties and working with top brands around the world, he started developing the groundwork for his full-service venture studio, Dyrdek Machine.


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.
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.

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (after WWII) the concept of a franchise business gained traction. In a franchise, you rent the business model that someone else (Franchisor) has perfected. One of the very first franchises was started by John Pemberton in 1886 when he created a beverage with a secret recipe and licensed bottling territories to others. This became Coca Cola. Rexall Drug Stores and even General Motors started out as Franchises. As in any new industry or business model there are abuses by unethical promoters and business persons (think of the robber barons and anti-trust regulations). By the 1960’s franchising was getting a black eye. Deceptive sales practices, double selling the same franchise territories to different persons and financial insolvency of the Franchisor were rampant. Eventually, in 1979 federal regulation came into play. The unscrupulous and under-funded Franchisors went away and the legitimate players who complied with the FTC regulations changed and became giants. (Think Subway, McDonalds and others.)


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

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.
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.

I’m very surprised at the rankings. In full disclosure I am partnered with Isagenix International and we happen to be ranked #22 globally by DSN in only our 15th year. We do $1B/year in sales and are breaking records every day with an annual growth rate of 30%+ annually. Some of the “top 10” are nowhere near these stats. We have also won 45 Stevie Awards, 10 years straight on the Inc. 5000 list, and more. I think all of these companies are great and doing great things but I question the criteria for what makes them tops!
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.
With network marketing, there are no big capital requirements, no geographical limitations, no minimum quotas required and no special education or skills needed. Network marketing is a low-overhead, homebased business that can actually offer many of the tax advantages associated with owning your own business. Network marketing is a people-to-people business that can significantly expand your circle of friends. It's a business that enables you to travel and have fun as well as enjoy the lifestyle that extra income can provide.
This might not look great on a resume. If you think working for an MLM company is a way to build your resume or patch a hole in your work experience, think twice about that idea, experts say. Does direct selling look good on a resume? "Probably not," Mariano says. "And the reason I say that is the reputation of direct selling in the marketplace is not typically that great."
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]
Wellness based MLM’s in particular are well positioned to help people retire with greater ease and success for two reasons. First, they create positive momentum.  When people start to lose weight, have more energy, or receive compliments on the way the look, it builds momentum.  They see, feel, and hear the benefits of their work paying off which encourages them to stick with the changes they are making. Second, there is a group effect. Many people struggle to develop and stick with a new health, diet, and exercise program on their own.  But when they do it in a supportive community with others, it’s much easier to get through the tough days and stay on track.  Furthermore, by taking better care of yourself, you are in a position to leave a better legacy than money could ever provide.
How MLM companies are NOT considered Pyramid organizations is beyond me! They are all scams by the very nature of their organization structure. Those who start or get in early benefit directly from the efforts of those beneath them, forever. Not to mention the fact that most product sold through any of these MLM organization’s is to the dealer network itself. The top dogs are making money regardless as long as there is new blood coming in. And the best way to keep new blood coming in is to incentivize those at the lower middle and below to continue recruiting to build “a network of their own”. And those on the verge of “breaking through” who have already invested a small fortune in products along the way that are sitting on their pantry shelves NEED to keep recruiting. The very thing that differentiates a Pyramid scheme from an MLM is that an MLM sells an actual product. That is it. It doesn’t determine who that product is sold to as it should since we know that most product is sold to the worker bees and not to the general public for long.

Network marketing can be lucrative, but only a small percentage of people make serious money. Often referred to as multilevel marketing (MLM) or direct marketing, the idea of making money without any special skills or major investment with immediacy is appealing. And the promise of residual income fuels the desire to never wind up in your current financial position again if you've found yourself in a somewhat tough spot.
If the company is solvent, meaning it has the capital required to grow, maintain a solid infrastructure, attract talented management, keep pace with technology, and pay your commissions, then you may proceed. Publicly traded companies are required to disclose their financial condition in great detail every 90 days to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other governmental agencies. Unfortunately, private company financials are not available to the public, so you may have to take a risk in working for one.
Both the Amway and Herbalife cases underscore one of the problems of prosecuting alleged pyramid schemes: There is no federal law defining the crime, leaving it to the courts to interpret and pricey lawyers to find wiggle room. The debate is also clouded by the rhetoric of free markets. At the far right end of that debate is the DeVos family, which has donated $200 million to Republicans over the years, and owns a company that combines Christian fundamentalism with extremist free-market ideology and maintains such a grip on many of those who join it that some, fearful for their lives and harassed mercilessly, went into hiding after they sought to expose it.
The company has a long, well-documented history of legal troubles. In recent years, Amway or its executives have tangled with law enforcement around the globe, most notably in India, where its CEO for the country was arrested and accused of running a pyramid scheme in 2013, let go, and then rearrested in 2014. Amway denied any wrongdoing. In the U.S., it paid $56 million in 2010 to settle a class action suit alleging it was running a pyramid scheme but did not admit wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Amway’s donations to Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government program have funded the training of more than 500 Chinese bureaucrats, who led that country to legalize direct selling, opening a new boom market that MLMs are now exploiting.
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