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For Regulators Only

The Ten Big Lies of Multi-Level Marketing (cont'd)

Lie #2: Network marketing is the most popular and effective new way to bring products to market. Consumers like to buy products on a one-to-one basis in the MLM model.

Truth: If you strip MLM of its hallmark activity of continuously reselling distributorships and examine its foundation, the one-to-one retailing of products to customers, you encounter an unproductive and impractical system of sales upon which the entire structure is supposed to rest. Personal retailing is a thing of the past, not the wave of the future. Retailing directly to friends on a one-to-one basis requires people to drastically change their buying habits. They must restrict their choices, often pay more for goods, buy inconveniently, and awkwardly engage in business transactions with close friends and relatives. The unfeasibility of door-to-door retailing is why MLM is, in reality, a business that just keeps reselling the opportunity to sign up more distributors.

Lie #3: Eventually all products will be sold by MLM, a new form of marketing. Retail stores, shopping malls, catalogues and most forms of advertising will soon be rendered obsolete by MLM.

Truth: MLM is not new. It has been around since the late 1960's. Yet, today it still represents less than one percent of US retail sales. In year 2000, total US retail sales were $3.232 trillion, according to the Dept. of Commerce. MLM's total sales are about $10 billion. That is about 1/3rd of one percent and most of this sales volume is accounted for by the purchases of hopeful new distributors who are actually paying the price of admission to a business they will soon abandon. Not only are MLM sales insignificant in the marketplace, but MLM fails as a sales model also on the other key factor - maintaining customers. Most MLM customers quit buying the goods as soon as they quit seeking the business opportunity. There is no brand loyalty.

These basic facts show that, as a marketing model, MLM is not replacing existing forms of marketing. It does not legitimately compete with other marketing approaches at all. Rather, MLM represents a new investment scheme that uses the language of marketing and sales of products. Its real products are distributorships which are sold with misrepresentation and exaggerated promises of income. People are buying products in order to secure positions on the sales pyramid. The possibility is always held out that you may become rich if not from your own efforts then from some unknown person who might join your downline, the big fish as they are called.

MLM's growth is a manifestation not of its value to the economy, customers or distributors but of the recently high levels of economic fear and insecurity and rising expectations of quick and easy wealth. It is growing in the same way day trading on the stock market, legalized gambling and lotteries are.

Lie #4: MLM is a new way of life that offers happiness and fulfillment. It is a means to attain all the good things in life.

Truth: The most prominent motivating appeal of the MLM industry as shown in industry literature and presented at recruitment meetings is the crassest form of materialism. Fortune 100 companies would blush at the excess of promises of wealth and luxury put forth by MLM solicitors. These promises are presented as the ticket to personal fulfillment. MLM's overreaching appeal to wealth and luxury conflicts with most people's true desire for meaningful and fulfilling work in something in which they have special talent or interest. In short, the culture of this business side tracks many people from their personal values and desires to express their unique talents and aspirations.

Lie #5: MLM is a spiritual movement.

Truth: The use of spiritual concepts like prosperity consciousness and creative visualization to promote MLM enrollment, the use of words like communion to describe a sales organization, and claims that MLM is a fulfillment of Christian principles or Scriptural prophecies are great distortions of these spiritual practices. Those who focus their hopes and dreams upon wealth as the answer to their prayers lose sight of genuine spirituality as taught by all the great religions and faiths of humankind. The misuse of these spiritual principles should be a signal that the investment opportunity is deceptive. When a product is wrapped in the flag or in religion, buyer beware! The community and support offered by MLM organizations to new recruits are based entirely upon their purchases. If the purchases and enrollment decline, so does the communion.


Last updated 3/29/2004

Introduction
Lie #1
Lie #2
Lie #3
Lie #4
Lie #5
Lie #6
Lie #7
Lie #8
Lie #9
Lie #10
This page last updated on 3/29/2004