12 Ways MLMs Impact Society

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Multilevel marketing is often ridiculed for its exaggerated promises of income freedom. People often gasp at some of the, admittedly rare, cases where individuals have lost 100s of thousands of dollars, relative to the others that have invested in the scheme. For nearly a decade, writers like the Finance Guy, Sequence Inc, Talented Ladies Club and Ethan Vanderbuilt have offered an incredibly thorough analysis of the financial consequences of becoming a distributor in nearly every major direct selling company.

Today we want to highlight those costs that aren’t captured in this financial analysis.
This list is neither exhaustive or ordered in any particular manner.

This will be a looonnng read. It will be stitched together in one large post to illustrate just how large of an impact these companies have, and how little understanding we all have of their true COST.
If you need a tl;dr check out the tweet thread.

The 12 ways have been hyperlinked below for your convenience:
1 – Undermining Science                                                    7 –
2 – Subjecting Yourself to Online Harassment             8 –
3 –                                                                                             9 –
4 –                                                                                           10 –
5 –                                                                                            11 –
6 –                                                                                            12 –

1 – Undermining Science

Science is a constant in our life. There is a specific way to get answers from science:

                    1. You start with a question.
                    2. You examine theories that relate to the question.
                    3. You build a hypothesis that gives an answer to that question.
                    4. You test that hypothesis via a thoroughly documented procedure and recorded observations.
                    5. You discuss those results and offer a conclusion and pose new questions.
                    6. Finally there is a review process where individuals critique your approach and the conclusions derived from your analysis.

In MLM this is undermined as the scientific method, described above, is compromised in terms of profit. And yes, this is found in ordinary companies that do not use a network marketing strategy, but the problem is made worse in MLM.

Like traditional companies, MLMs must maintain a continuous cycle of new products with a seasonal launch schedule, at minimum. This speeds up the development, testing and review process for the products (a review process that companies often claim involves testing the products on the reps themselves as a pre-launch special). A story must also be crafted around these products that can be marketed by nonprofessionals in a manner that compels people to commit to the ask.

In an MLM, the ask is not just to buy the product, but adopt the lifestyle that is the repackaging of the same opportunity you are being sold. Along the way the nuance of the scientific conclusions are lost, and people carry with them simplified explanations that impact the validity of future decisions made on those results. In addition, science that forms policy is now being based on surveys conducted by MLM companies. Don’t do this!

2 – Subjecting Yourself to Online Harassment

Let me be clear here, any form of attacking an individual for the way they look is abusive. We do not support the culture that is colloquially known as “Karen-shaming” even though the intention may be to correct destructive behaviors and fragility (OK, we laugh sometimes, but regret it later – we human, you know?) it cannot be the way this community seeks to educate those most impacted by MLM, the consultants themselves.

But even beyond the Anti-MLM community that engages in certain abuses and bullying, which we can’t deny exists, there is a whole other layer of abuse taking place online. While researching this piece several posts were discovered that revealed representatives posting about their products and receiving very suggestive messaging and attention from males. Now perhaps it can be assumed that the individual in this post had wanted this attention, and that is their decision. But, beyond that individual there is a culture of duplication. MLM companies encourage reps to share practices that work and challenge others on their team to at least try it themselves.

The decision to establish an identity and brand image that involves yourself online is often made when you don’t have a true understanding of the costs. And once those costs are realized, it is very difficult to reverse the damage that has been done. If you have attracted traffic to your post, whether that is wanted or unwanted attention, in the name of branding, both add value. In the name of value, these companies don’t seek to rectify or offer support to those that experience the more harmful effects of click-driven postings. As a consultant, you’re encouraged to view these posts positively and not report these actions. The internet rewards engagement regardless of its toll.


This post will continue with Ways 3 & 4 early next week. Stay tuned!


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