It’s about time that I weigh in on all of the multi-level marketing schemes (scams) that have been blowing up my social media lately! I’ve been noticing quite a trend here as well – I keep hearing from friends and acquaintances about their exciting new business opportunity – and I, too, can earn thousands of dollars in my spare time!
So let’s back up a step. Multi-level marketing companies are the ones that don’t have retail stores – they sell their products to local consumers, who in turn, market them to their own networks of friends, family, and acquaintances. They make money selling these products, but they also make money from recruiting others to sell their products as well. I think it began with Tupperware and Amway, but with the rise of social media these companies have exploded.
Just in my own network, I’ve got friends selling: jewelry, candles, make-up, skincare products, stickers for your fingernails, vitamins, weight loss shakes, stickers for your body that will somehow make you lose weight, cooking products, essential oils, purses, cleaning products, children’s books, and of course the soft, stretchy neon leggings that everyone loves.
But the thing is, I’ve noticed a suspicious coincidence in who is buying into these businesses, and hence, who is selling their products.
It’s ALL women. #bossbabe
And in fact, among my network, it happens to be all women with children. Many of whom are either stay-at-home moms, teachers, or have some sort of job that allows them a bit of free-time. Things have been tight lately and a little extra money wouldn’t hurt, right?
These predatory companies are marketing “entrepreneurial business opportunities” to women and promising them the flexibility of a work-at-home job, with unlimited income potential. They avoid words like “pyramid scheme” and instead use happy terms like “network marketing”. They don’t give you facts about income or success – they just show you the photo of the fancy conference in Florida they just attended! And many of them require minimum purchases each month, where you just go deeper and deeper and never make a profit.
But leaving aside for a moment the super misleading money side of the equation – I’m equally interested in the emotional side. Specifically, the fears and insecurities these companies are exploiting, to get women to buy from, and into, these schemes.
Look at that list up above again – they ALL play to women’s fears of not looking traditionally beautiful or thin enough, not being a good enough mother or wife, or not having a perfectly clean, decorated home. All under the guise of feminism, and empowerment, and “living your best life”. Be your own boss!
The products are insanely overpriced, and the pressure at “purchasing parties” is usually awful. I have walked in the door to a skincare party and been given a quiz to tell me all the things that were wrong with my face – and of course the corresponding products that would fix me.
The underlying theme is that you are not enough. Not the way you are today, at least. If you would just buy this product – and it’s expensive because it WORKS – then your life will change. I’ve been asked if I don’t care about my health? I’ve been asked if I don’t want the best for my family? This is an INVESTMENT IN YOUR FUTURE. #girlboss
You should do this for your family. Hubby not on board? Do it anyway! He’ll stop complaining when you’re making more money than he is! WINK.
Outside of the truth that you are already enough, these companies are not going to make your life better. In fact, statistically speaking, they are very, very much more likely to leave you worse off than you were before you bought in. Hopefully you’ll escape the party with a $200 eye cream and feel guilty for a week. (probably you’ll also get another eye cream next month and not realize it was a subscription – oops) But worst case scenario you buy into the hype and leave with a “starter kit” for this “new lifestyle” – which will set you back hundreds if not thousands of your hard-earned dollars – and many women actually go into debt for this! (Because the bigger your investment, the bigger your commitment to success!)
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s an independent report I found that was created for the Federal Trade Commission: “As a general rule, the more a new recruit invests in an MLM program, the more he or she loses. This, of course, is true of most any scam.”
Here’s my favorite line in the report: “One can do much better at the gaming tables in Las Vegas. And a person need not risk his or her social capital – treasured relationships with friends and family one has spent a lifetime cultivating.”
According to this report and others, 99.6% of multilevel marketing “businesses” lose money! If you are lucky enough to beat those odds, maybe just buy a lottery ticket! (ok but don’t do that either) But seriously – all my friends that have bought into these scams, have lost money and cut their losses within a year or two. But here’s the real issue: they make you feel like this is your fault. You didn’t work hard enough, you didn’t “turn off the tv”. You just feel guilty and embarrassed for failing, and you quietly slink off. That’s what I did after I bought into a makeup scam back in college. I had a party or two, lost my $500, and quit. But I was lucky. I wasn’t stuck with a garage full of last year’s leggings and $10k in debt.
Bottom line: multilevel marketing companies are viral and predatory. Please, girlfriend – don’t fall for it.
(The statistics in this article were taken from this report created for the Federal Trade Commission.)