[Red Corvette]: Today we have the recollections of Katharina, who was in Younique some years ago, and has noticed major changes in approach. Younique started in September 2012.
[Katharina]: Thank you Red!
I was at the Younique convention in Dallas in 2014. That’s when these questions popped up. We were a much smaller group, and maybe about 1,000 people at convention, so founders Melanie and Derek freely roamed around in the crowds.
I just watched some of the live stream from the convention in San Antonio this past weekend (August 2018). Here is what I noticed:
Derek then (2014): “If we do one at all, we won’t do a car bonus at a level that is not always attainable for the presenters. Too many of these companies have people who get their cars repossessed. If we roll this out one day, it will be when you reach a higher level.”
Derek now (2018): “Car bonuses for any level as long as you and your team sell X amount a month.”
Then: “Our mascara is not waterproof because waterproof mascara is bad for your lashes, and you can rip and tear them out while removing makeup.”
Now: They just rolled out new waterproof mascara.
Then: “We don’t need to tie people into an auto-ship option.”
Now: They are rolling out a new auto-ship “loyalty” program.
Aside from that, the “new” products rolling out are basically additional (and kind of awful) shades of new lip and eye products, and even though it’s completely underwhelming, the crowds were going wild.
The chief scientific officer, Muhktar Siddiqui, used to always come out to announce new products, but he was not present a this convention. It is apparent that Coty is running that ship, and their focus is to get these reps to sell (buy) more.
One other stat I thought was interesting: they mentioned that since Epic Mascara rolled out, they have sold 2.2 million of them. Considering there are a million reps, and that the bulk of them probably bought at least 3 or 4 for themselves in that timeframe, that number shows that Younique’s best customer is the presenter.
One thing I always look back on is that I was at one of their first leadership retreats, the fall of 2014. We had a group of about 30, and I remember co-founder Melanie sitting at the table with a few people during a break. They were all mesmerized and soaking up every word she said. I honestly couldn’t sit there and listen, and decided to go outside and walk the grounds because it was a beautiful day. My gut instinct was stopping me from sitting and listening. I should have taken that at as a sign that I just didn’t fit in!
The majority of the group that I was with that weekend, have moved on because we all noticed a stall in our business right around the time the 3D Plus mascara rolled out, and it got worse. A few of us had a running joke about hearing the black status leaders getting information ahead of us, and then they would always say “You do NOT want to be inactive when this new announcement comes out!”
And we would come to know that meant this was an attempt at bringing excitement to another shitty product rollout happening. I joined because the first mascara was great —and then they started adding way too many “average” products. When they completely switched the 3D to 3D Plus mascara — I couldn’t bring myself to sell it to my customers. I can find better stuff at the drugstore.
The car bonus
I remember that car bonus being a big thing because I had a friend in ViSalus that had her BMW repossessed, and I thought that was a horrible business model because it seemed to happen so frequently to their reps. When Derek told all of us that if they do a car bonus, it will not be something that isn’t easy to earn, because they want to avoid that scenario.
I will add that he’s smart enough to know that they should cover themselves with their “car” bonus program since Day 1 of originally rolling it out to the top, because they don’t make you select a specific type of vehicle (Cadillac, BMW…), and technically you can use it to just pay off your own current car.
So what it really is, is an added bonus that they tag as their “car bonus”, because it makes the reps feel like they’ve “made it”.
The UK market
When the UK market was opening, I had one of my reps tell me she was talking with a girl, and the girl asked her what products she was going to send her as a gift. My rep was confused and this girl told her that her friend received a bunch of products ahead of the launch from another presenter in the US, so her and her friends can start trying them and build their teams off of their knowledge of products.
There were apparently more women who were sending stuff to the UK potentials in order to entice them to join their team. I can only imagine it’s tied into how the first UK black status presenters reached that level in record time. Because how can you jump to the top with crazy sales, if you and your team don’t even have a chance to market them? It also made me think that the corporate office will turn a blind eye to anyone who may be bending the rules, as long as they are at the top.
[Red Corvette]: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Katharina. It is really interesting to see the changes that have occurred in the company within the past four years.