Is Arbonne a Scam or Legit? A Pyramind Scheme or MLM?

Arbonne is an MLM company that sells nutritional supplements and personal care products. It is not a pyramid scheme, and it is one of the legit MLM companies.

There is a good chance that you heard about Arbonne through someone – a friend or family member.

Many people these days are looking for additional income, and you are most likely one of them. There was then an opportunity to work from home by joining Arbonne as one of their independent consultants.

However, as I’ll discuss in this review, there are some reasons why success with Arbonne is unlikely. Experienced salespeople and well-funded recruiters are the only ones I can think of to have real success with this MLM program.

As a disclaimer, I’m not affiliated with Arbonne. It means I’m not paid to write this review. So you can rest assured that you will get an honest and unbiased review from me.

At the end of this review, I’ll also tell you the best alternative to the Arbonne MLM program that has enabled me to make a full-time passive income online.

What is Arbonne?

Arbonne International, LLC, known as Arbonne, is an international multi-level marketing company founded in the United States in 1980 by Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Mørck. The company was acquired in 2018 by Yves Rocher, a global health and beauty brand.

Arbonne sells vegan alternatives to conventional skincare, makeup, and nutrition. Sales are projected to reach $847 million in 2020, ranking the company 22nd on the DSN Global 100 list of the world’s most successful direct selling companies.

When Jean-David Schwartz stepped down as Arbonne’s CEO in April 2021, Tyler Whitehead was named his successor. The Better Business Bureau gave Arbonne the highest possible rating. Because the company allegedly focuses too much on recruiting members, it has been called a pyramid scheme and a scam.

Arbonne is headquartered in Irvine, California, U.S., with additional locations in Chatsworth, Greenwood, and Addison in the United States and in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, and the United Kingdom abroad.

As a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, Arbonne wants you to sign up, buy a product kit, and then recruit your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.

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What Products Does Arbonne Offer?

Arbonne has created a massive line of products that the company claims to be free of animal-derived ingredients and gluten-free.

Here are the products that Arbonne offers:

  • Plant-Based Nutrition Supplements
  • Bath & Body Spa Products
  • Botanically-based anti-aging skin care for women & men
  • Botanically-based cosmetics & hair products
  • Sports Nutrition Products
  • Baby Care Products

The Arbonne Institute for Research and Development (AIRD) in Switzerland is responsible for Arbonne product formulation, while manufacturing is done in the United States.

However, according to a 2006 article published in The Virginian-Pilot, AIRD operates without its own facilities. Bloomberg.com lists no address for the AIRD.

Is Arbonne An MLM? 

Arbonne is a legit MLM (multi-level marketing) company. It is a member of the Direct Selling Association. Companies that engage in multilevel marketing are also sometimes referred to as network or direct sales businesses.

As a multi-level marketing firm, Arbonne products are sold through home-based businesses operated by independent consultants. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service doesn’t consider independent consultants to be employees. Arbonne participates in the DSA as an official member.

In 2005 there were 434,000 independent consultants, increasing to 612,000 in 2006. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of Arbonne consultants dropped from more than a million to less than 800,000.

After joining Arbonne’s MLM program and becoming one of the members, you’ll run your own business as an independent distributor of Arbonne products.

However, it is unlikely that you can make a good income selling their products. As in the case of most MLM programs, your business relies on recruiting new members to work under you. You will earn a commission on the sales and new recruits generated by the people you hire once they begin producing results.

This is complex on a number of levels (hence multi-level).

Let’s imagine a triangle. Because everyone in the triangle is in your direct downline (in an MLM, the people beneath you are known as your “downline,” and you are their “upline”), you will earn commissions from everyone in the triangle if the person at the top recruits ten people, and each of these ten recruits ten more.

If you can bring in just 10 people, you’ll make $1100.

Most people in your MLM would rather earn a lifetime passive income from recruiting others than a one-time commission from selling products, even if your MLM offers a wide range of products.

Due to the way the money flows, those at the top of the triangle have the most financial success, while those at the base have the least.

Having a large number of people in one’s “downline” is essential for success in a multi-level marketing company like Arbonne.

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Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme?

Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme. It is a legit MLM company that allows members to make money by selling their products. 

In May 2017, Cynthia and Michael Dagnall filed a lawsuit against Arbonne in Orange County Superior Court. They alleged that the company was an illegal pyramid scheme. However, the Arbonne Pyramid Scheme Class Action Lawsuit was dismissed on March 20, 2018.

As an Arbonne consultant, you don’t have to make money solely through recruitment. In contrast, a pyramid scheme recruits members by promising them money or services in return for recruiting others. It is unsustainable and often a scam because members at the bottom end are doomed to lose money.

Those who want to join must pay a membership fee to the company that runs the pyramid scheme. The company would share a portion of the funds raised from each additional member they recruit as a reward.

However, the scam is profitable only for the directors of the company, i.e., those at the top of the pyramid, since they can receive a portion of the payments from every newly recruited member. The scheme continues as long as members recruit and funnel money to the top of the pyramid.

Such companies almost never sell valuable goods or services. The scam’s only source of revenue is from recruiting new members and soliciting more money from current members.

A pyramid scheme would have to grow infinitely to make money for everyone who participates. This is impossible due to the finite population of the planet.

The scam will fail if there are no new recruits and other sources of income. Since the majority of members are at the lowest level of the pyramid, most of them will lose their money.

A good example of pyramid schemes is Vemma, a producer of energy and weight loss drinks. The FTC accused Vemma of operating a pyramid scheme in August 2015 that paid more to recruit new members than to sell products.

New members, who were typically college students and other young people promised high compensation, were required to pay $600 for starter packages and hundreds more for monthly products. According to the FTC, the majority of participants lost money.

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Arbonne Compensation Plan

Arbonne is a multi-level marketing company (MLM). Arbonne, like other MLM companies, allows you to make money by selling products and bringing in new customers.

Arbonne offers four different ways to earn money.

Retails Commissions

You can earn 15% to 35% of the price of each product you sell as an Arbonne Independent Consultant. This commission is paid every week.

Override Commissions

This commission is paid every month. With Arbonne Override Commissions, you can earn a percentage of all products sold by your team.

Mercedes Benz Cash Program

The company may pay qualified independent consultants to drive a white Mercedes Benz.

Arbonne Cash Bonus Programs

Arbonne allows you to advance through the ranks based on how well you sell.

You can get a $100-$600 cash bonus if you meet the requirements for each position and unlock it.

You can advance in rank by hiring people and assembling a sales team that will assist you in selling Arbonne products much more quickly.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Not Join Arbonne MLM Program

1. Arbonne Has Received Many Customer Complaints

Arbonne has received nearly a lot of customer complaints over the years. A large proportion of these complaints relate to the products and services offered.

According to customer reviews on Trustpilot, Arbonne’s products do not deliver what they promise. One customer said she tried Arbonne’s cream to help heal her scar, but had a reaction afterward. She had sent numerous emails requesting a refund, but Arbonne ignored her.

Arbonne complaints

As an Arbonne consultant, it’ll be difficult for you to sell Arbonne products because many customers have had dissatisfactory experiences.

2. Very Few People Can Make Money With Arbonne

Success is difficult to achieve with an MLM company like Arbonne.

You can look at the statistic that says 72.5 percent to 99.9 percent of MLM members lose money.

The reason for this is that MLMs have sales quotas that require members to continue selling products in order to remain active and eligible for commissions.

They will not be paid if they do not meet the quota.

As a result, many MLM members lose a significant amount of money before even recruiting one person into the company.

3. Losses From Arbonne MLM Program Are Reframed As Investments

Arbonne MLM uplines often reframe their financial losses as ‘investments’ in their business so as to keep their reps in an MLM scheme, dangling the carrot of future financial freedom. 

But the reality is that these are not investments. You are unlikely to get the money back. And the return on “investment” is negative in most cases. So saying that it’s an investment is cheating.

4. Arbonne is a Cult

Why do people continue to work for Arbonne if it appears to be so bad? Our investigation of MLMs revealed that they all have cult-like company cultures.

Critical thinking is actively discouraged among MLM representatives. They are chastised and even isolated when they ask questions that deviate from the ‘this company is a-mazing’ mindset.

MLMs, like abusive partners, encourage you to isolate yourself from anyone who questions your involvement.

Those who leave an MLM are labeled as failures or bad people/influences, and reps are not allowed to contact them.

Rejection from people they once considered practically family is one of the most devastating losses experienced by former MLM representatives.

MLMs frequently expect their representatives to prioritize their events and business over their personal lives in order to further embed them in the business while separating them from their family and friends.

5. You May Need to Purchase Arbonne Products Yourself

If you don’t have a large network of friends, family, neighbors, and so on, you may have to buy products yourself each month. It’s a losing proposition all around.

I think it’s quite ridiculous when you have to buy the products you are trying to sell. But this is very common for people who join MLMs like Arbonne. That’s why in the long term, you are going to lose a lot of money, not to mention making money.

6. Arbonne Products are Overpriced

As with other MLMs, Arbonne offers overpriced products. There are many other brands that offer similar products but at lower prices.

Therefore, you may find it difficult to sell Arbonne products because your prospects can buy the same product elsewhere at a much cheaper price. This explains why most people who join MLMs only focus on recruitment instead of selling actual products.

In fact, Arbonne has a customer rating of only 2.56 stars based on 56 reviews, indicating that the majority of customers are dissatisfied with their purchases. Customers who complain about Arbonne most often mention problems with customer service and social media. Arbonne is ranked 87th in the skincare category.

7. Arbonne’s MLM Business Model Has a Bad Reputation

Some people have benefited financially by joining a network marketing/MLM company. Unfortunately, most people who join MLMs are left with nothing but regret and a lot of useless products that they were unable to sell.

MLM like Arbonne is fundamentally flawed. The distribution of commissions is skewed toward the top.

The majority of those in the top tier and pioneers make the most money, while those at the bottom will not even break even after a few months.

As a result, many people do not consider Arbonne to be a legitimate business opportunity.

8. Exaggerated Claims Of Income

Arbonne, like any other MLM company, makes exaggerated income claims, but in reality, very few people make a good living by promoting Arbonne.

Arbonne’s low retention rate can also be discouraging, as less than 41% of its distributors are active.

According to Arbonne’s payouts to distributors, over 99 percent of Arbonne distributors never make a profit.

9. Arbonne Is Like A Pyramid Scheme In Disguise

If you want to avoid losing money every month, the MLM will actually encourage you to recruit people.

Every system that requires you to recruit people in order to make money eventually looks like this.

Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme in the traditional sense because you can earn money by selling their products.

However, in order to make a living, you will need to hire others in reality.

10. Recruiting is Required to Succeed

I don’t recommend MLMs to people for this reason. MLMs like Arbonne put a lot of effort into recruiting. Eight out of ten ways to earn money with Arbonne require recruiting. If you don’t recruit, you are destined to lose money at the end of the day.

My #1 recommended platform is different. You can make a 4-figure, 5-figure or even 6-figure passive income by promoting and selling products you truly like. You don’t have to recruit people but recommend useful and great products. I will tell you more at the end of this Arbonne review.

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How Much Does It Cost To Join Arbonne MLM Program?

To become an Arbonne MLM Independent Consultant, you must pay a $49 registration fee and a $29 annual fee.

However, you will not receive any products, and starting a business without products is nearly impossible.

However, for between $270 and $500, you can get discounted value packs with a wide variety of products to try out and sell.

But that’s not the end of the costs, and there’s something else you should be aware of.

To stay active and earn commissions with Arbonne, each consultant must spend a certain amount of money on their products each month.

You will not receive a commission from sales if you do not invest money in the business on a monthly basis.

To keep your Arbonne account active, you must sell 150 PQV in products each month. 1 PQV point is the equivalent of 1 USD.

Personal Qualifying Value, or PQV, is a point system. In the United States, you receive one PQV for every dollar spent directly on the products.

That means you have to spend $150 on their products each month in order to stay active and get a cut of the sales you make.

You can reduce your spending by convincing people to sign up.

You earn PQV points for each person who signs up under you, and if they purchase something, you earn even more.

You’d have to spend money again if you didn’t invite someone into your downline.

Arbonne MLM Program Feedbacks By Real Users

Positive Feedbacks

  • The company has been in operation since 1980.
  • When a consultant joins, they receive their own pre-built website.

Negative Feedbacks

  • Expensive goods
  • In reality, it’s a pyramid scheme.

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Can You Make Money With Arbonne?

In 2017, “a typical Arbonne participant in Canada earned between $30 and $250 in bonuses and commissions,” according to the Arbonne Canada website. Surprisingly, only 12% of the 250,000+ advisors actually make money.

So while some people make a lot of money from the product, the vast majority just buy a lot of it. Arbonne does not care if their consultants are more interested in buying than selling. They may even keep more of the profits from selling GM oil.

Arbonne’s sales totaled nearly $600 million in 2017, so the company obviously has deep pockets.

You pay a one-time fee of $79, followed by an annual renewal fee of $30, and then you can become a consultant and receive discounts of 35% to 50% on all your purchases.

Since quotas must be met to maintain status as an Arbonne representative, the representative is often his own best customer and will take advantage of the discount offered to him. Anyone can become an Arbonne representative at any time; there is no required training.

Is Arbonne a Scam?

I cannot say Arbonne is a scam for legal reasons. A scam is defined as “a dishonest scheme; a fraud” by the Oxford Living Dictionary. As far as I know, Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme. 

Can you make money selling Arbonne products? We already know that a majority of Arbonne reps did not earn any money. A few people do make money but only if you put in a lot of effort. And usually, the way they make a lot of money from Arbonne is by recruiting aggressively.

Arbonne blatantly makes disingenuous and irresponsible marketing claims to recruit members. According to Arbonne, their products are made of premium botanically based ingredients. So as an Arbonne consultant, you’re doing a good thing by recommending Arbonne products to your friends, family and colleagues.

Is that true? It has already been revealed that many of their formulations are not living up to their own green, simple, pure, natural, healthy, forward-thinking, planet-protecting manifesto.

This explains why Arbonne has recalled many of its products over the years.

In January 2009, Arbonne voluntarily recalled some production batches of the brand’s peanut butter cups. The reason was the possible contamination of peanut-based products with Salmonella serotype Typhimurium, which originated in Georgia.

In January 2013, Arbonne voluntarily recalled a batch of a facial moisturizer for men. Arbonne’s testing detected Aerococcus viridans in the batch.

In January 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recalled samples of a branded day cream because the bacterium Enterobacter gergoviae was found in it.

In June 2016, Arbonne voluntarily recalled several batches of the brand’s liquid eyeliner. The bacteria Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Staphylococcus xylosus and Staphylococcus lentus were found in the products in unacceptable levels.

In October 2017, the ACCC recalled a batch of branded body wash products due to unacceptable levels of Staphylococcus cohnii.

With a long list of problematic products, how can you expect to make money as an Arbonne consultant and do good for customers? As with most MLMs, most Arbonne consultants have to rely on recruiting members to earn a living.

Final Verdict: Arbonne MLM Review

Here comes the conclusion of my Arbonne MLM review. Overall, I don’t recommend joining Arbonne MLM to make money.

You will have a tough time in the beginning when you are prospecting and trying to find recruiters to add to your Arbonne commission.

The worst part is that you practically have to ask your family and friends to join your Arbonne business opportunity. It’s not fun.

Your upline is constantly following up with you to encourage you to buy more Business Support Material even as you struggle to get people to join your downline.

The reality is that you’re likely to lose more money. Statistics confirm this as well. 99% of people who join an MLM break even or lose money, according to a case study on the FTC’s website.

People who join these MLM-type businesses often feel under pressure to succeed, and that is one of the main reasons they leave. 

Why not consider starting your own online business if you want to earn money and have a flexible schedule? 

Thus, you can choose what you want to promote rather than having someone tell you what you must promote.

Let me tell you how to build an online business in a legit way to make passive income online in the next section. This has allowed me to make a full-time income in a year. Most importantly, unlike MLM models, It’s 100% legit and sustainable.

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Best Alternative To Arbonne MLM Program

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