The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%. By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales. Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware, and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs. The DSA has approximately 200 members while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.
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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.
I agree with you that much of the industry is flawed, but what about an MLM that has a service rather than a product such as electricity. It’s not like that could go out of style or that once you buy it you don’t need it again or that your monthly supply is too much and you’re going to stop the monthly subscriptions. I can honestly say that I cannot stand most MLM companies because regardless what you believe or how much you like the product, if you have to try to convince someone else to use it then inevitably the system is flawed and eventually your residuals will dry up. Electricity though, that’s different in my opinion, no one has to convince me to use it, it just comes by default. Find me an MLM that is not selling so much as showing someone an alternative to what they already have to pay and I’d be interested.
Products that work on anti-ageing are usually not cheap and but the major downside is that they rarely ever do anything meaningful. But the case of Jeunesse is quite different since reviews have been good. Network marketers are given the opportunity to sell the products of this company for a commission. Now, who wouldn’t be interested in buying a body cream that makes them look just a little younger?
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.
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(Update: In June 2017, the co-founder, Dave Wood, has for the time being stepped down following his check-in into drug rehabilitation and the company no longer exists). I wonder if the buzz of Empower Network will ever die down? This is one of those rare gems of the MLM industry that exploded onto the scene and did not hit a bump in the road by dying out only after a year of being out there. Although now the company is on decline, and its highly doubtful they’ll make it on any lists in the years to come.
“Fast forward 10 years or so from the home equity line of credit losing, after we had paid off our home mortgage, we were in the process selling our home and purchasing another home,” he wrote. “We had to close the unused line of credit. We had to get a satisfaction letter to move forward with the new home purchase. We were fortunate that we never had a need to tap into the line of credit for any purpose, including educating our children. While a home equity line of credit may be beneficial and perhaps needed by some we simply decided to live within budget and never had to use [it] for any purpose.”
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.
Consultants for It Works! frequently employ before and after photos highlighting unbelievable results. They claim that customers can minimize the appearance of cellulite, tighten loose skin, and achieve lasting weight loss results in as little as 45 minutes. The one thing they don’t mention? The fact that dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. So even if they don’t work, customers wouldn’t know about it.
Before launching Omnilife and becoming a billionaire, Jorge Vergara sold street tacos in Mexico, smuggled Herbalife supplements into Mexico, and sweet talked the Mexican government into changing their regulations in the nutritional products sector. This guy could make a movie about his life and it would probably win an Academy Award (he’s actually a major film producer on the side, casual).
Jim is approached by a friend who is already a distributor for Company A to become a distributor as well. Jim’s friend tells him it’s an “amazing business opportunity” and that he’s only telling Jim about this because he’s the kind of entrepreneurial guy who could succeed with it. The friend shares how other distributors have been able to make enough money selling shakes that they’ve paid off student debt and bought a second car. He says very little about the product itself except that it’s fantastic and practically sells itself.
This eco-friendly MLM is seriously committed: their headquarters are operated with wind power. They’re pretty future-facing in general, having implemented an innovative social marketing strategy amongst their reps. No one likes to be harassed on Facebook, but Modere’s social media plan is still 10 times more effective than holding home parties (kill me).
The products produced by the California Vitamin Company were in such high demand that founder Carl Rehnborg began recruiting independent distributors to increase the number of salespeople. These independent distributors were instructed to find new distributors in their circles of friends, acquaintances, and customers. The representatives were paid on the sales of the distributors they personally recruited.
This company unbelievably made it on this list…they should not be here. In reality, they probably should not even be operating a business following the beating they took by the SEC and the FBI in the year 2007. Still the comeback they made was huge! The evidence is in the income disclosure statement, where it can be seen that $76k yearly was made for full-time, proven representatives.
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.
(Update: In April of 2017 there was an article posted about this company, so as of May 2017 it is unsure if this company has gone under.) First off, to sign up and become an affiliate of the company you might do a double or triple or quadruple take at the startup cost (which is almost 4 figures). However, you do get to truly set up your own business, because you can set the price on all the products you sell. If you have that business talent to make consumers buy the products (which are legit btw) you can certainly make that start-up cost back in no time. This company has also been achieving some high praise by being the recipient of many awards (including a growth award from the Direct Selling Association).
If you don’t understand something, ask for more information until it is absolutely clear to you. Your sponsor and other distributors should be willing to answer your questions. Remember that your sponsor (and others above your sponsor's level) will make money if you join the program. So take your time, and resist pressure to join. Be aware of shills — fake references paid by the company or distributor to pretend they were successful earning money through the plan.
Now this company is one of the more infamous networking marketing companies out there, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. They have been in a never-ending battle with the FTC for a number of years. So, currently they have made an agreement to pay out $200 million dollars to former associates and have sworn to reorganize their organization.