With its anti-wrinkle cream and other products, Jeunesse promises to reverse the signs of aging, if temporarily. Jeunesse also sells products to reduce mental distraction, provide nutrition on the go, and help people lose weight. The company’s impressive live demos and message of remaining forever young have placed them on Inc.’s list of fastest-growing American companies.
A long time friend that you lost touch with for the last 10 years gives you a call and asks to meet up. After meeting up and breaking the ice, he/she then introduces a new revolutionary product and how you stand to get rich by selling it. Throw in jargons like passive income and downlines, you suddenly realise you’re beginning to be sucked into the dream they are selling.
Network marketing companies, MLMs, and referral marketing companies that have been around longer are more trustworthy. Why is that? Government regulations on MLMS have increased in severity and frequency over the years. Companies that have survived such regulations will also have to have survived the threat of lawsuits, bad publicity, and negative feedback from unsatisfied distributors — not many companies would be able to survive this. A bad MLM company that is still around and has been sued, reviewed, and regulated will have extremely negative reviews and publicity surrounding it.
Amway stresses that the main difference between a legitimate MLM business model and a pyramid scheme is that a legitimate MLM is focused on selling products, not recruiting more salespeople. In a legitimate MLM, it should be possible to make money by simply selling products directly to customers. With that main criterion in mind, here are some other ways to identify product-based pyramid schemes:
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.

I don’t care where doTERRA in ranked. The oils are good, but the company SUCKS. It is all built on big bloggers. Don’t have a big blog – you’re going to make pennies while others demand you make a minimum $100 a month order. The company itself has great customer service, but try to reach compliance or tell them that your uplines are making fake accounts or ordering off multiple people in the downline just to ensure they make bonuses and NO ONE listens. It’s supposedly geared to help the underdog succeed – this is a gimmick.


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What is a network marketing professional? Tell me what that is. A person who can approach well-dressed people in Wal-mart and hand them their MLM business card? Someone who writes a list of their family and friends and then 3-way call them with their “higher-up” sponsor? Really, if someone can tell me what being a network marketing professional entails, I’m listening.
Kathleen, you are right about the “direct sales” thing. They use it because MLM has the well-deserved bad connotation with pyramid schemes. I try to explain to people that true direct selling would be something like Ebay… there’s no inherent multi-level commissions implied by the term “direct sales.” It almost reminds of calling an illegal dog fight a “recreational gaming event.” It may be true, but is far from an accurate description.

Wild claims is seen most in health and wellness companies in which reps boast that their products cure ailments or work miracles. Outlandish hype is a red flag in any industry, including direct sales. A successful business is founded on quality products. If the company you're considering joining has bizarre products or products that seem too good to be true, use caution. The last thing you want your name tied to is a faulty product or a product which is the focus of litigation.


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I’m torn. I use Rodan+Fields but never considered being a distributor. Then a friend of mine introduced me to Jeunesse and got me fired up to be part of his team. I said “yes”. But now I’m wondering if the company is right for me because a) I read some negative stuff online about the company, the products, lawsuits, however the team is amazing! b) I actually really like what R+F has done for my skin therefore I feel I connect with the company more.
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).
* Why 10 years? Because that amount of time really seems to matter. For example, according to research, since 1956 thousands of different MLM, Multi Level, or Network Marketing companies have opened their doors; and to date only +/- 50 MLM companies have found a way to celebrate their 10th anniversary and still remain in business today. Now, to be completely fair, we should also point out that each and every company on our list was at one time a start-up company too.
However, as aforementioned, you may know people that sell products from Mary Kay, Avon, Advocare, Tupperware and the like (see more companies in our Featured Home Businesses section). You know people who sell these types of products because they believe in the products and the companies that stand behind them. These companies empower those who sell their products to actually establish their own businesses, selling the products. This is very attractive to many entrepreneurial-minded people who do not want to have a boss watching over them but also want some pre-established structure and support. Most MLM organizations provide a very robust infrastructure and great training as well as impeccable rewards (hello free cars and trips!).
Getting leads is just one step in the sales cycle. Next, you need to qualify them to determine if they're a good fit, then make your pitch, and finally, follow up. Many network marketers don't like the sales process, but it doesn't have to be hard or scary, especially if you start with leads who've come to you specifically to know about what you offer. 

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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 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!
I think when you made comments about a company you should have kept them neutral or not only commented part of a story. Ambit did have a lawsuit, but it also has several JD Power awards, A+BBB, and many other accolades. I don’t know details of the suit, it may have been 100% justified, but I do know lawsuits are not always justified. Sometimes people are looking to make a buck
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I think when you made comments about a company you should have kept them neutral or not only commented part of a story. Ambit did have a lawsuit, but it also has several JD Power awards, A+BBB, and many other accolades. I don’t know details of the suit, it may have been 100% justified, but I do know lawsuits are not always justified. Sometimes people are looking to make a buck
Each company will have a different startup cost, which is a fee that new distributors must pay to begin distributing. Companies with high startup costs are more likely to be recruitment-centric MLMs. MLMs that focus on recruitment are generally called pyramid schemes, or schemes designed only to tie down new recruits instead of selling quality products to interested customers.
Although an MLM company holds out those few top individual participants as evidence of how participation in the MLM could lead to success, the reality is that the MLM business model depends on the failure of the overwhelming majority of all other participants, through the injecting of money from their own pockets, so that it can become the revenue and profit of the MLM company, of which the MLM company shares only a small proportion of it to a few individuals at the very top of the MLM participant pyramid. Participants, other than the few individuals at the top, provide nothing more than their own financial loss for the company's own profit and the profit of the top few individual participants.[15]

Write articles or blogs. Writing is an effective way to get in front of your market through other people's websites, and your only cost is that of your time in writing. The key to writing an article or blog that another site will run is to make it useful and informative, but not advertorial. As a network marketer, you have two types of articles and markets: The first is related to your product or service. If you sell candles, for example, then write a Valentine's Day post on creating romance with candles or something about how candles can improve mood. The second option is related to direct sales and the MLM business. For example, you can write articles about how your MLM career changed your life or how to be successful in direct sales for lifestyle and business websites. Just know that most places won't want you to directly promote your business within the article, but they may allow you to include a link to your website in your bio.


Thanks for this post. Very helpful. I do like direct sales; one reason for this is that it helps keep alive that age-old tradition of people interacting face-to-face (rather than mainly through texting and social media). For that reason, I think MLMs should target the lonely Millennials. Anyway, I was a member/distributor of Advocare for over 10 years and still miss the products and the activities in the company, now that I am temporarily out. I still plan to sign up again when I can afford it (long story–I’ll spare you). I am now involved in Melaleuca, and I must say in their defense that Melaleuca’s products are actually not overpriced. Because Preferred Customers are not only not expected, but also NOT ALLOWED to turn around and sell the products at the retail price, everyone pays the same low prices. (Granted, one can indeed go to the website and buy directly from the company if they do not want to become a Preferred Customer. Why would someone do that when the annual membership is only $19? Only if they do not want to commit to the minimum monthly requirement for Preferred Customers.) Public, keep this in mind! Don’t be fooled by the rebels who are selling old Melaleuca products on Amazon for way above the retail price!! You’re much better off buying fresh products directly from the factory, even if you pay retail price. Just sayin. My big question: What about Tupperware? I have been a Tupperware consultant for about 6 months, and I have found it to be extremely difficult to keep business going. The directors training me have said that Tupperware is the second most widely recognized brand name in the world, second only to Coca-Cola. If that is the case, why is it so hard to find people willing to host Tupperware parties? Why does it seem so hard to sell? Also, is it just me…Or, does Tupperware’s compensation plan stink?

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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]
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In an October 15, 2010 article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month, before costs. Fortune was under investigation by the Attorneys General of Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina with Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, and Florida following up complaints against the company.[39] The FTC eventually stated that Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing was a pyramid scheme and that checks totaling more than $3.7 million were being mailed to the victims.[40]
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. 

Multi-level marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes, which use money from new recruits to pay the people at the top, often take advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multi-level marketing. You can spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.
Hi Jeimy. Fuxion is an excellent company. Fuxion is a Peruvian company that is spread in 12 countries, including the US. Randy Gage has decided to join Fuxion as a networker 2 weeks ago! Robert Kiyosaki and John Maxwell are current Fuxion’s advisors. Fuxion’s nutraceutical products are made of fruits and vegetables from the Amazon region, Andean region, Central America and Asia. The company is in its best moment. So I recommend you to join us!

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.


Not only are “home businesses” or “MLM’s” very interesting, they are successful. Many of the longest standing organizations in this country have this business model. MLM is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they recruit, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation. Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing. Sounds legit right – so why the bad press?
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).
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.

Once you’ve made your connections, presented your opportunity, validated you and your company, ask for the sale! So many opportunities are missed simply because a person was too busy connecting and chatting, instead of asking for the business. You are looking for serious people to join and become a part of your team, don’t forget to ask. The experience and hands on training you get by just getting on the phone and making calls, is priceless. The more you are calling leads, the better you will become.
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.
Multi-level marketing (simplified Chinese: 传销; traditional Chinese: 傳銷; pinyin: chuán xiāo) was first introduced to China by American, Taiwanese, and Japanese companies following the Chinese economic reform of 1978. This rise in multi-level marketing's popularity coincided with economic uncertainty and a new shift towards individual consumerism. Multi-level marketing was banned on the mainland by the government in 1998, citing social, economic, and taxation issues.[62] Further regulation "Prohibition of Chuanxiao" (where MLM is a type of Chuanxiao was enacted in 2005, clause 3 of Chapter 2 of the regulation states having downlines is illegal.[11] O'Regan wrote 'With this regulation China makes clear that while Direct Sales is permitted in the mainland, Multi-Level Marketing is not'.[10]
The real selling point for MLMs is that distributors can make money in two different ways. The first is money made from commissions from direct selling to consumers. And the second way to make money with an MLM is from the commissions made from sales of distributors below you in the pyramid (these are sometimes referred to as recruits or downline distributors).
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