Multi-level marketing, also known as direct marketing or network marketing, is a method of selling products directly to consumers through the use of independent sales representatives.
In order to recruit new members, MLM companies often promise them wealth and independence. Some MLMs, while not illegal in themselves, have become notorious for their questionable business practices-and others have been revealed as illegal pyramid schemes.
Distributors are not employees of the company under the MLM model. Instead, they are independent business owners who build their own distribution networks to help them sell products. To generate revenue, multi-level marketing companies rely on this extensive network of independent distributors.
This article contains a list of the top companies known for their MLM campaigns. Get to know them to follow in their footsteps.
Top 20 Multi-Level Marketing Companies
These companies have successfully applied a multi-level marketing strategy. You may have even purchased some of their products from friends or co-workers.
Amway (short for “American Way”) is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company based in the United States that sells health, beauty, and home care products. The company was founded in 1959 by Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos and is headquartered in Ada, Michigan.
Amway and its sister companies under Alticor generated $8.4 billion in revenue in 2019. The company operates in more than one hundred countries and territories through a network of subsidiaries.
Amway has been investigated in several countries and by institutions such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged pyramid scheme practices. The company has never been found guilty, although it has paid tens of millions of dollars to settle these lawsuits.
Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. is a global multi-level marketing (MLM) company that develops and sells nutritional supplements. It is also known as Herbalife International, Inc (with a U.S. subsidiary called Herbalife International of America) and simply Herbalife.
The company was founded in 1980 by Mark R. Hughes and employs about 9,900 people worldwide. The company was founded in the Cayman Islands, but is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.
The company has a network of approximately 4.5 million independent dealers and members in 95 countries. John O. Agwunobi has been the company’s CEO and Executive Chairman since March 2020.
The company has been accused of operating a “sophisticated pyramid scheme” Under a 2016 settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Herbalife agreed to “fundamentally restructure” its business in the United States, but not globally, and pay a $200 million fine.
Vorwerk & Co. KG, trading as Vorwerk, is a German multinational conglomerate headquartered in Wuppertal, Germany. Vorwerk was founded in 1883.
Its main business is direct sales of various products such as household appliances like Thermomix and Kobold vacuum cleaners, built-in kitchens, and cosmetics.
In 2014, the company, which is family-owned and operated as a limited partnership, said it had 12,000 full-time employees and more than 590,000 independent sales representatives in more than 70 countries. JAFRA Cosmetics, based in the United States, employs the most sales representatives (546,000). In 2014, the company generated sales of 2.8 billion euros.
Infinitus is an Asian multi-networking company known for its herbal health products. Infinitus is the parent company of the Lee Kum Kee brand, one of the most well-known and respected cooking brands in the world.
The company currently distributes its products in over 100 countries through a large number of agents and will continue to expand globally in the future. Customers benefit from the company’s wide range of products and steady revenue. The company’s headquarters are located in Hong Kong.
The company began its journey in 1992 when Lee Kum Kee founded the LKK Health Products Group with Infinitus as its flagship brand.
Lee Kum Kee is a food company with many years of experience. Oyster sauce was invented by Lee Kum Kee Sheung, the founder of LKK. This sauce is now used to prepare many Asian dishes.
Avon is a billion-dollar direct selling company headquartered in London, England, specializing in cosmetics, personal care and household products.
Avon’s products are sold exclusively by the company’s worldwide direct sales force.
That’s currently more than 6 million people!
Most of the selling is done in person, but the company has training centers in various cities to recruit potential representatives.
Some reps open their own Avon “retail stores,” which are usually small boutiques in shopping malls.
Avon is also traded on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker: AVN), which is a significant achievement in the financial world.
Coway is a multi-level marketing company based in Korea, also known as ‘LifeCare Company’ It was founded in 1989 by ‘Yoon Seok-geum’ The company mainly manufactures household products such as water filters, air purifiers, bidets and other items.
Coway’s competitive advantage is that its high-tech products are accompanied by innovative and modern design. The design of a product has a significant impact on its sales. Therefore, the company has made extra efforts to develop modern product designs.
7. Mary Kay
Mary Kay Inc. is a privately held multi-level marketing company based in the United States. According to Direct Selling News, Mary Kay was the sixth largest network marketing company in the world in 2018, with a wholesale volume of $3.25 billion. Mary Kay is headquartered in Addison, Texas. Mary Kay Ash founded the company in 1963, and Ash Rogers’ son, Richard Rogers, serves as chairman and David Holl is president and was named CEO in 2006.
To qualify, Mary Kay distributors must purchase a $100 starter kit. Mary Kay provides little information on the average income of its saleswomen.
Mary Kay’s continued multinational expansion resulted in 2017 sales of $3.7 billion, 2.5 million consultants, 39,000 directors and 600 national directors.
8. Nu Skin
Nu Skin Enterprises is a publicly traded U.S. multilevel marketing company (NYSE: NUS) that develops and distributes personal care products and nutritional supplements.
The company distributes its products through a network of approximately 1.2 million independent distributors in 54 markets. The company develops and markets more than 200 personal care products marketed under the Nu Skin and Pharmanex brands, which are designed to help people look and feel younger.
9. Forever Living
Nu Skin Enterprises is a publicly traded U.S. multilevel marketing company (NYSE: NUS) that develops and distributes personal care products and nutritional supplements.
The company distributes its products through a network of approximately 1.2 million independent distributors in 54 markets. The company develops and distributes more than 200 personal care products marketed under the Nu Skin and Pharmanex brands, which are designed to help people look and feel younger.
Monat is a cosmetics company that manufactures and sells hair care and skin care products. It claims that its products are free of parabens, sulfates, and animal byproducts. Monat is best known for its shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks, but also for its marketing strategy.
Monat is a multilevel marketing company that makes the majority of its sales through individual sales representatives (also called market partners) who sell the product directly to consumers rather than through a retail store.
Although the product is very popular, some users have reported problems with the shampoos and conditioners, including hair loss, hair breakage, skin irritation, and scalp flaking.
11. Young Living
Young Living is a multi-level marketing company based in Lehi, Utah. Donald Gary Young founded it in 1993 to sell essential oils and other related products.
Young Living sells essential oils and other related products. The company claims to sell completely pure, naturally derived oils. Products are available online and through distributors.
In 2020, the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division advised Young Living to stop claiming that its products are “therapeutic grade” because there was no scientific support for such claims. The company disagreed and announced it would appeal. The company also agreed to stop making health and wellness claims about its products.
doTerra, based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is a multi-level marketing company that sells essential oils and other related products. doTerra was founded in 2008 by executives from Young Living and other companies.
The company and its representatives have been repeatedly rebuked for false claims that their products can prevent or cure diseases such as cancer, autism, Ebola and, most recently, COVID -19, prompting warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. The company does not support the claim that aromatherapy has healing properties in addition to relaxation.
13. eXp Realty
Glenn Sanford founded eXp Realty, LLC in 2009 after discovering that he could close millions of dollars worth of properties by focusing on online lead generation. eXp Realty has since become the fastest-growing real estate company in history.
Many real estate agents are drawn to eXp Realty for the same reason. Although many agents dream of starting their own brokerage, a traditional brokerage is not always profitable. Using an online brokerage like eXp Realty can increase your earning potential, even more, when you work as a broker.
Another advantage of eXp Realty is that it is a cloud-based broker. That means it can work almost exclusively online and does not require physical locations or regional structures.
14. PM International
PM-International AG is a Schengen-based manufacturer of food supplements and cosmetics (Luxembourg).
Rolf Sorg founded PM International in 1993 in Limburgerhof. The first foreign subsidiary was opened in Poland in the same year. PM International Holding was founded in 1994 in Schengen, Luxembourg.
PM International has over 35 offices in more than 40 countries around the world. In Germany, the company made a turnover of 205 million euros in 2019. PM-International employs more than 950 people worldwide, including 192 at its logistics center in Speyer, Germany (2020). The company’s products are sold through a network of independent distributors, the Internet and its own direct sales force.
FitLine products are developed and manufactured exclusively by the company. With its FitLine brand, PM-International is also the official supplier of numerous sports teams and associations.
Cutco Corporation, formerly Alcas Corporation, is a United States-based company that sells knives primarily through direct sales. The company includes CUTCO Cutlery Corp, Vector Marketing, Ka-Bar Knives and Schilling Forge. Cutco is the company’s primary brand.
Cutco is a brand of cutlery and kitchen accessories marketed directly to customers through in-home demonstrations by independent sales representatives, most of whom are students. Cutco sells over 100 kitchen cutlery products as well as a variety of kitchen utensils, cookware, sports and outdoor knives.
Although its products are not typically purchased in retail stores, Cutco has six company-owned stores: Indianapolis, Indiana; Okemos, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Novi, Michigan; Edina, Minnesota; and Erie, Pennsylvania. Knives are manufactured in Olean, New York, while other products are produced in Mexico and China.
Tupperware is an American housewares line that includes kitchen and household, storage and serving products. Earl Tupper created his first bell-shaped container in 1942, and the brand’s products were introduced to the public in 1946.
Tupperware is a general term that refers to plastic or glass storage containers (tubs) with snap-on lids.
Tupperware develops, manufactures and distributes its products internationally as a wholly owned subsidiary of its parent company, Tupperware Brands. The company relies on multi-level marketing and had approximately 1.9 million direct sellers under contract in 2007.
Indonesia was the largest Tupperware marketplace in 2013, displacing Germany for second place. In 2013, sales in Indonesia were more than $200 million, with 250,000 sales associates.
Primerica, Inc (NYSE: PRI) is an insurance, investment and financial services company serving middle-income families in the United States and Canada.
National Benefit Life Insurance Company, Primerica Life, Peach Re and Vidalia Re are all subsidiaries of Primerica. In July 2021, Primerica acquired e-Telequote. Primerica has been described as a multi-level marketing company. In 1981, the company that would later become Primerica was founded. Primerica’s initial public offering took place in 2010.
Primerica’s headquarters are located in Duluth, Georgia.
18. Rodan & Fields
Rodan & Fields, LLC, also known as Rodan + Fields or R+F, is a multi-level marketing company based in the United States specializing in skin care products. The Rodan + Fields brand was founded in 2002 by Katie Rodan and Kathy A. Fields, creators of Proactiv, and sold a year later. In 2007, they relaunched the brand as a multi-level marketing company.
Rodan + Fields markets its products through independent consultants. Consumer advocates have criticized the company’s business model as a pyramid scheme.
Arbonne International, LLC, or Arbonne, is a multi-level marketing company founded in the United States in 1980 by Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Mrck. The company’s product lines include vegan skin care, cosmetics and nutrition. In 2020, the company ranked 22nd on the DSN Global 100 list of the world’s largest direct selling companies with estimated annual sales of $847 million.
Tyler Whitehead is Arbonne’s CEO and will succeed Jean-David Schwartz in April 2021. The Better Business Bureau has given Arbonne an A+ rating. Because of its heavy emphasis on recruiting, Arbonne has been accused of being a scam and pyramid scheme.
Arbonne is based in Irvine, California, and has offices in Chatsworth, California, Greenwood, Indiana, and Addison, Texas, as well as international offices in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
Headquartered in El Segundo, California, The Beachbody Company is a publicly traded American fitness and media company. It is the parent company of the Beachbody On Demand, Team Beachbody, MYXfitness, and Openfit brands.
The company also sells “superfoods” and other nutritional supplements such as Shakeology and Beachbar through direct response infomercials and multi-level marketing by independent Team Beachbody “coaches” who serve as sales consultants.
Team Beachbody encourages the general public to become “coaches” Customers who become sales reps sign up online as “coaches” and sell fitness packages of Beachbody products and programs such as workout DVDs, supplements and meal plans, earning up to 25% commission on each sale.
Is There A Better Alternative To MLM?
It appears that multi-level marketing companies are a great way for individuals to become business owners and generate revenue from their passion products.
However, almost 99% of people who participate in network marketing lose money as they struggle to resell products and recruit members for companies that often cross the line into illegality and hide the true cost of participation from participants.
The tactics of some MLMs can have a psychological effect as well as a financial one on distributors.
Instead of turning to an MLM, you should consider why you find an MLM attractive and look for other ways to fulfill those values.
Many opportunities offer the exact same experiences without the psychological and financial costs of an MLM whether it’s money, the desire to work from home, or finding a sense of community.
In fact, you can start your own business by identifying your strengths and what you can offer others. For example, affiliate marketing is a low-cost way to get started, and you’ll generate an ethical and sustainable passive income.
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