OPINION: A Word (or a thousand) on MLM’s

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I recently watched a documentary about a very popular MLM and some of their more shocking business practices. This led me down a rabbit hole of looking up some of those who were interviewed, many of them now host anti-MLM podcasts or others are very outspoken about their hatred of ALL MLM companies and the business model as a whole on their various social media platforms. An MLM is also known as “Multi-Level Marketing” you have probably also heard them called Network Marketing, Social Marketing, or Direct Sales. There are hundreds if not thousands of companies here in the United States that operate under the MLM business model. And I would be willing to bet that you know at LEAST one person that is a part of one of these companies.

MLM

I too have been a marketer, consultant, distributor, independent retailer over the years. Every time I see a new compensation plan, or claim of big money, I can’t lie, I get intrigued.

As a stay-at-home mom for the last four years, it is appealing to think you could continue to support your children at home and bring in an income to your household.

When listening to the self-claimed Anti-MLM persons the main argument that I came away with is that they believe these companies prey on women, especially women in lower classes and POC with the promise of unlimited income, but that they know that promise is unachievable with the exception of a very small percentage. They also claim that no matter how you spin it they are all pyramid schemes because many of the companies require large recruitment in order to be the small percentage of people who earn a decent income. I listened to several videos and podcasts of these people crusading against MLM companies, and I felt like there was no grey area for them, and support of these companies or those who represent those companies is bad. If the said company asks you to recruit others to be on a team or downline, then it is a pyramid scheme no matter how much you love the products. They believe you should then treat this as a GIANT red flag and RUN the other way!

MLM

I also noticed that more times than not when getting push back from the women who are the marketers, consultants, distributors, independent retailers.. etc they resorted to calling them names like the “huns” (I couldn’t figure that one out) and getting into keyboard wars with the same women they claim to care so much about.

So when this starts happening, those of us like me who are probably more neutral or moderate about our feelings for these MLM companies, get confused. I want to support women, lift them up, let them know that there is room at the table for all of us. And if a company that she joined of her own free will is working for her, and she likes the products who am I to begrudge her the hustle? But on the very same hand, I do not want ANY woman to be taken advantage of or lied to.

On the flip side, the argument you will hear from those who are repping or working with an MLM, is that they are sharing a product they love and use which they would probably do anyway so why not earn some sort of commission or incentive for sharing? Aren’t we all doing that anyway when we buy from Amazon or Target and we share the things we love? I have to be honest when I say this argument makes total sense to me!

However, I will say that  I do understand that you are not going to make a full-time income with a few Instagram stories sharing those products. So if the only way to really earn an income that supports you and your family is to recruit others under you, doesn’t that play right into the argument above?

Going back to the comment section of these Anti-MLM posts and those repping the companies are not looking any kinder than those who are calling them “huns” derogatorily. Some of the comments can start to feel like blind love or even a little cult-like in their responses. Let’s face it, it takes two to have a keyboard war (Anyone remember the JLO/Shakira debacle?) 

So here is my debacle, do we support our friends even if we do not believe in what they are doing? Do we dole out the likes and shares for the #bossbabe or #becauseof[insert company name nere] posts? If the product TRULY works for them, what is the harm in trying it for ourselves? But if we do that are we helping companies continue to take advantage of women for the sake of a profit, are we perpetuating a system designed to keep women in their place?

If you came here for an answer, or for an Anti or Pro MLM statement, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m moderate, I am right smack in the middle, I can see the argument on both sides. I do take products and do have links that I share, I like to think of it as more of an affiliated relationship. Does that make me better or just delusional? I don’t know.

Maybe like me you have tried joining one of these companies (or several companies) and decided it wasn’t for you. Or maybe you have spent more money than you are willing to say out loud but never found the success you were hoping for. You may feel like you agree with the Anti-MLM groups.

Or maybe you are a current marketer, consultant, distributor, independent retailer and you do not understand the Anti-MLM stance. You don’t feel like you are being taken advantage of and you do not see the harm in the income you are making now.

Can we all agree that it is not a good look when women go after each other and tear each other down? I feel like if there is anything we have learned over the last few years is that when the two extreme sides are standing across a line just yelling at each other it not only doesn’t change anything for the better and it also doesn’t change anyone minds!

 

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Jennifer is a Coastal Bend Native, born and raised in Ingleside. She began contributing to the Corpus Christi Moms Blog in 2018 and stepped up as the Community Engagement Coordinator in 2019. She is happiest when she is crafting, writing, or doing anything artistic. She loves music, especially ANYTHING from the 90's, and is often seen dancing around the kitchen to Nsync while cooking dinner. She is married to Derik and has two kids, Connor and Keeley (pronounced Key-Lee). Jennifer still feels like a novice when it comes to parenting and enjoys letting other moms know they are not doing life alone. She also admits she watches copious amounts of Netflix, but balances that out by reading to and with her kiddos as much as possible each day.

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