What is Multilevel Marketing (MLM)? Scheme and Business Model

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Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors who are paid a percentage of their recruits’ sales. The recruits are the distributor’s “downline.” Distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers. Amway, which sells health, beauty, and home care products, is an example of a well-known direct sales company that uses multilevel marketing.

What is Multilevel Marketing (MLM)? Scheme and Business Model

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors.
  • In MLM schemes, there can be hundreds or thousands of members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts, indicating a possible pyramid scheme.
  • While many MLM practices are legal, the FTC has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for decades and has found many with questionable legitimate practices such as running pyramid schemes.

Understanding Multilevel Marketing

Multilevel marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes that use money from new recruits to pay people at the top rather than those who perform the work. These schemes involve taking advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multilevel or network marketing. You can spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.

The Legitimacy of Multilevel Marketing

An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multilevel 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 likely a legitimate multilevel marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating multilevel marketing companies for several decades and has found many with practices that are difficult to determine as legitimate. According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associates, there were at least 116 million independent representatives among its members worldwide as of 2017. Relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts. To some observers, this reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.

BUSINESS MARKETING ESSENTIALS

multilevel marketing @tarunmitra.in

Multilevel Marketing (MLM)

What Is Multilevel Marketing (MLM)?

Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors who are paid a percentage of their recruits’ sales. The recruits are the distributor’s “downline.” Distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers. Amway, which sells health, beauty, and home care products, is an example of a well-known direct sales company that uses multilevel marketing.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors.
  • In MLM schemes, there can be hundreds or thousands of members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts, indicating a possible pyramid scheme.
  • While many MLM practices are legal, the FTC has been investigating multi-level marketing companies for decades and has found many with questionable legitimate practices such as running pyramid schemes.
multilevel marketing @tarunmitra.com

Multi-Level Marketing

Understanding Multilevel Marketing

Multilevel marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes that use money from new recruits to pay people at the top rather than those who perform the work. These schemes involve taking advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multilevel or network marketing. You can spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.

The Legitimacy of Multilevel Marketing

An issue in determining the legitimacy of a multilevel 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 likely a legitimate multilevel marketer. If it is the latter, it could be an illegal pyramid scheme.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating multilevel marketing companies for several decades and has found many with practices that are difficult to determine as legitimate. According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associates, there were at least 116 million independent representatives among its members worldwide as of 2017. Relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts. To some observers, this reflects the characteristics of a pyramid scheme.

Multi level Marketing

 

You can often spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.

Example of a Multilevel Marketing Company

Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. is a high-profile, multilevel marketing company that manufactures and distributes weight-loss and nutritional products, with more than 500,000 distributors. Although the FTC has investigated Herbalife, it was activist investor William Ackman, who shed a national spotlight on the company by shorting $1 billion of the company’s stock in 2012. Ackman accused the company of operating a pyramid scheme and backed his allegations with a bet the company’s stock price would fall under the weight of the scam.

In 2018, Ackman gave up on his bet. As of Oct. 27, 2019, the company’s stock price traded at $40 a share.

There have been multiple lawsuits against Herbalife, accusing it of misrepresenting its sales practices. This included a settlement it reached with the FTC in 2016, under which it had to restructure its business. Herbalife argues that most of its revenue is from product sales, not recruitment, and it offers members many protections, such as a money-back guarantee, so they will not be stuck with products they could not sell.

multilevel marketing @investopedia.com

Frequently Asked Questions

What is multilevel marketing?

Broadly speaking, multilevel marketing is a sales structure where members of a company are encouraged to recruit new members. After recruiting a new member, this salesperson will receive a cut of their recruiters sale. At the same time, each salesperson will profit from the sale of a given product.

Is multilevel marketing a pyramid scheme?

Regularly faced with controversy, multilevel marketing is often compared to pyramid schemes. While some multilevel marketing operations are legal, others have come under investigation. Typically, this will occur when the majority of the operation’s profits funnell up to the top, leaving little for the rest of its members. When an organization focuses primarily on recruitment, rather than selling products, this too may signal that it is operating under a pyramid scheme. Sometimes, members of these schemes will number in the hundreds or even thousands. 

What is an example of multilevel marketing?

One example of multilevel marketing is Avon. The company operates under a model where sales are driven through a network of salespeople, through presentations or one-on-one settings in homes or businesses. Like a number of other multilevel marketing businesses, Avon typically does not operate a fixed retail location. The parent company, instead, provides the tools and resources to entrepreneurs to conduct their business at various locations. This type of business model is also referred to as a direct sales model. 

Definition & Examples of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) :

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a form of direct sales in which independent representatives sell products or services from a company to an end consumer.

multilevel marketing @indiatoday

Learn more about MLMs and how they work.

What Is Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)?

Multi-level marketing is a distribution model companies use to get their product to consumers. Instead of directly offering their products to consumers online or in brick-and-mortar stores, they use sales representatives to distribute and sell their products.

Sales representatives typically work from home and buy inventory to sell at in-person or online parties. They aren’t considered employees; instead, each sales representative owns their business. The multi-level aspect refers to each representative’s ability to recruit and train other representatives to start their own business. As recruits make sales and recruit their own representatives, each person above them earns a commission.

Income earned in MLM comes from the commission earned on personal sales and a percentage of the sales earned by other reps recruited by you.

  • Acronym: MLM

How Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Works

With an MLM, you typically are recruited by someone who’s already in the business. You may have attended one of their sales events and enjoyed the products.

Once you show interest, you may attend a meeting to learn more about the business. You’ll be asked to sign a contract and buy inventory. Once those steps are done, you can get started.

To understand how MLMs work, it also helps to be familiar with industry jargon, including:

  • The plan: This is the overall program, including the company’s marketing and compensation plans.
  • Sponsor:This refers to the representative who directly recruits another person into the business. For example, MLM member A recruits member B into the business. Member A is the sponsor and is responsible for training member B.
  • Recruit: Also referred to as a team member, this is a person brought into the business by a sponsor as a new member. Recruits are trained by their sponsor or other more experienced representatives.
  • Downline:These are the recruits brought in below you. This can include members you’ve recruited as well as those your recruits have brought into the business.
  • Upline: This consists of the sponsors who came in before you. For example, if rep A recruited rep B, who recruited rep C, who recruited you, your upline is C, B, and A. 
  • Compensation plan: This outlines all the ways reps earn money. Along with commissions on sales made by you and your team, many companies pay bonuses and increase commission splits based on sales volume.


Is Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Worth It?

Whether an MLM is right for you depends on factors like whether you have the money to invest, your passion for the products being sold, and if the specific MLM you’re considering is legitimate.

You may have heard MLMs referred to as pyramid schemes, which are illegal. For an MLM to be legal, it needs three things:

  1. A quality product or service
  2. Income earned from sales of products or services
  3. A focus on sales, not recruitment

To be legal and not a scam, money needs to be primarily earned from the sales of products and services rather than the recruitment of new members. MLM programs with no or a low-quality product or a focus on getting paid per recruit could be an illegal pyramid scheme.

Legitimate MLM businesses are like any other business. If you’re interested in pursuing one, consider the following before you get started:

  1. Find a company that’s a member of the Direct Selling Association, which requires members to uphold a code of ethics. 
  2. Study the company’s history and compensation plan. Understand how money is made and their recommendations and support for marketing your business. 
  3. Treat your MLM business like a business, not a hobby, even if it’s a side hustle. MLMs aren’t get-rich-quick schemes. Like any business, they require you to define your target market, reach out to your market, and make sales.

Key Takeaways

  • Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a form of direct sales in which independent representatives sell products or services from a company to an end consumer.
  • Sales representatives typically work from home and buy inventory to sell at in-person or online parties. 
  • Getting started with an MLM is relatively simple. You sign a contract, buy inventory, then start selling. 
  • Whether an MLM is right for you depends on your finances, your enthusiasm for the product, and whether the company is reputable. 
Multilevel Marketing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) | Multilevel marketing companies claim to be legitimate businesses, but some seem awfully…pyramid shaped. John Oliver and Jaime Camil demonstrate how they work.

FAQ:

are multi level marketing halal?

Network marketing if used to promote products and sell, then it is halal. However most of the network marketing systems are based on multi-level referral bonuses which are dubious and at the end are bound to collapse. it is haram to involve in such kind of network marketing.

is multilevel marketing a pyramid scheme?

Pyramid Scheme. A pyramid scheme looks very similar to multilevel marketing. … However, pyramid schemes are illegal scams, while multilevel marketing is legitimate. The major difference is that the primary goal of a multilevel marketing company is to sell actual products or services to its customers.

is multilevel marketing a legitimate business?

It also expands the business by recruiting several layers of members, which form a pyramid system. However, pyramid schemes are illegal scams, while multilevel marketing is legitimate.

is multilevel marketing legal in india?

These network marketing schemes are not legal in India under the Direct Selling Guidelines 2016 and Prize Chits & Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978 (pdf). The RBI stated that MLM, chain marketing or pyramid structure schemes, promise easy or quick money upon enrolment of members.

why is multi level marketing bad?

Most people who join legitimate MLMs make little or no money. Some of them lose money. People who become involved in an illegal pyramid scheme may not realize they’ve joined a fraudulent venture, and typically lose everything they invest. Some also end up deeply in debt.

is multi level marketing good?

They are extremely predatory because the only way to make any money is to sign up more and more people under you which will just ruin your social relationships and make you a pariah where it matters most: your friends and family members.

is multi level marketing haram?

Network marketing if used to promote products and sell, then it is halal. However most of the network marketing systems are based on multi-level referral bonuses which are dubious and at the end are bound to collapse. it is haram to involve in such kind of network marketing.

is multi level marketing legal?

Multi-Level Marketing or MLM is a legal form of business in India. However, there are numerous illegal and fraud MLM companies that operate in India that run a pyramid scheme to lure more people to buy their products and scam them for their money.

is multi level marketing ethical?

Although MLM is legal, it is unethical: You earn commissions from the sales of agents in your downline who are risking a financial loss. … If the shareholders receive dividends, they do so by risking a financial loss. With MLM, you take a financial risk: You buy sample product, so that you can promote it and sell it.

how multi level marketing works?

Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy that sells products and services through a non-salaried workforce in a pyramid-shaped commission system. … Companies that implement multilevel marketing encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors, known as the “downline” of the existing distributors.

how multi level marketing earn money?

yes, but in reality, only a tiny percentage of representatives actually realize the high earnings advertised in MLM promotional materials and at meetings. Some people don’t make any money at all, and some people actually lose money.

what is meant by multi level marketing?

Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors. In MLM schemes, there can be hundreds or thousands of members worldwide, but relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts, indicating a possible pyramid scheme.

how to stop multi level marketing?

Don’t try to save them from their situation.You may be tempted to steer the conversation into an intervention and try to persuade your loved one to leave the MLM. After all, you don’t want to see them waste money or push people away. However, you should avoid going down that road.

explain multi level marketing?

Read the article

how to start a multi level marketing company?

How to start new mlm company?
Decide a suitable Product for your target market.
Consult an industry expert & register the company.
Get all the legal procedures done.Design your Plan & Calculations from an MLM expert.
Start Compliance process with MLM Guidelines.
Start Development of your MLM Software.
More A Step by Step guide on How to Start your own MLM Company – MLM World

is multilevel marketing a scam?

The police have cautioned the public not to fall prey to such money circulation schemes that are being promoted under the garb of multi-level marketing, network marketing, referral marketing, chain marketing and direct selling.


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