If you’ve never heard of MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) like Forever Living or Juice Plus, then well done you. I presume you live in some kind of cave and that you aren’t a new mother because they REALLY push this shit at us.
As someone who practically lives on the Internet, I have joined online birth boards during both of my pregnancies.
They’re useful when you’re pregnant for asking all those stupid pregnancy related questions you don’t want to bother your actual real life friends with (pro tip, never click on something that says ‘Is this normal? Pics in comments’), and then for passing the time during night feeds, and checking that your child is developing fairly normally compared to the others as long as you account for the fact that what mums say about their little darlings isn’t always 100% accurate. Birth boards are even good places for making new ‘mummy friends’, a phrase I absolutely cannot stand.
However, there is a dark side.
Sooner or later, it will happen.
If you’re on Facebook, you might get friend requests from people you only vaguely know.
Be wary, dear reader. For as soon as you accept, you’ll be added to groups against your will. There, before you’ve had time to get your bearings, you’ll be flooded with crappy memes and positive life affirmations about seizing the day and being a ‘girl boss’, whatever the hell that is, from the catalogue of shit memes regurgitated over and over again by every ‘bossbabe’.
You’ll be subjected to videos of badly made up women wearing indescribably shit mascara or pictures of them in their pants showing you how well they have done on the recent fad diet which simply involves taking twelve aloe supplements a day. Oh, and working out religiously, cutting carbs and strict calorie counting and better fitting underwear, a more flattering angle and not breathing out in your ‘after’ photo.
Alternatively, you could be invited to an online party.
And one you don’t even have to get dressed or leave your bed to attend. Sounds fun, no? Well yes, if your idea of fun is someone posting memes and spending the housekeeping on complete shit. Skinny coffee anyone? Will make you shit yourself, only £30 a sachet? Some magic beans, or a tube of weird jelly, a steal at £45.50? Your wrinkles will be gone and you’ll be 27 stone lighter in a week! A £50 candle perhaps? Surely that’s a ‘Must Have’ item for every mum living off maternity pay.
It’s not all about the selling though.
Oh no… That’s in fact a very small part of the MLM whole shebang. If you show even the slightest glimmer of interest in a Forever Living or Juice Plus bot’s status, or even if you don’t, you may start getting strange messages with excessive use of exclamation marks and the word ‘hun’. Probably a bit like this, but maybe with more grammatical errors;
‘Hi hun! Hope you’re ok and the kiddies are well!! I know a lot of us mummies are due back to work from maternity leave soon! I wondered whether you would be interested in a brilliant opportunity working from home which can be flexible around the kids! Let me know if you’re interested hun and I can send you some information!’
I know what you’re thinking; wow.
How does one say no to that? Tempting huh? You could earn money, in your pyjamas, whilst your toddler watches Bing and decorates the floor with toast crumbs.
All you have to do to make the most of this wonderful opportunity is pay a few hundred quid for your starter kit and then sell the products (and your soul) to your friends and family who will hide your posts, block your profile or maybe disown you entirely. And obviously and even more importantly, recruit a team of your own to do the same.
‘Sounds like a classic pyramid scheme!’ I hear you say.
Nay, don’t be so foolish. This is a Multi Level Marketing scheme. Completely and utterly different to the illegal and ridiculously unsustainable Pyramid, because there are PRODUCTS to sell (a more cynical person than I might call this a ‘legal loophole’), the Multi Level Marketing (or MLM) scheme is making millionaires around the world out of ordinary women like you or I.
Sounds ridiculous and too good to be true?
Well of course, it is exactly that.
I am not sure how many overpriced handcreams you’d actually have to flog to buy a Range Rover, but I’m guessing it’s probably more than your mum and that one old gullible schoolfriend really want to purchase from you.
Of course the real incentives are for luring other unsuspecting mummies into your ‘team’ (here is the ‘multi level’ in the ‘multi level marketing’), and just like that, once again we are back to the pyramid scheme comparison. I would go and find some statistics about the numbers of people needed to sustain such a scheme past the very top levels, but this isn’t a maths blog and it’s probably only me that finds that kind of stuff interesting. You can just take my word for it.
Considering most of these schemes have been knocking about for a few years now, saturation point is not far away. If If you already know someone flogging Forever Living/Juice Plus/Whatever the newest exciting but ultimately useless advancement in hair, nail, skin care or weight loss is, then the local market is catered to. Why would you think you could make any money setting up an identical “business”? It makes not one iota of sense.
MLM DOES NOT WORK.
99.9% of those who start never make much, if anything at all; in fact most people won’t even get back what they put in and some will be left riddled with debt.
“But it works so well for my friend Betty! I’ve seen the pictures of her house and her car!”
Given that the company statements themselves show that after the first tier or so, the vast majority of participants in these schemes are making a loss, I’d wager that the people who claim they’ve made loads on these scheme:
a) don’t know how net profit works and have conveniently forgotten the garage full of magic beans they are currently sitting on, or
b) are blatantly lying to get you onto their team because that’s the only way they’ll make anything back and they’re afraid to cut their losses and walk away like a sane person.
After all, why not pass your bad judgement onto your family, friends, and strangers on Facebook pages?
You will not make your fortune this way, whatever the inspirational memes say.
Why does Forever Living and its ilk always crop up on birthboards?
Well mainly because there are a lot of women who really don’t want to have to go back to working away from their babies full time and whose workplaces won’t accommodate them. They desperately reach out for something that might mean they don’t have to miss out on their child or children growing up.
It is a sad indictment of modern society that a mother (or indeed, father) who wants to be a stay at home parent cannot do so, that an average household can no longer exist on one wage, and we have somehow been persuaded that this is A Good Thing. If I had the answer to this conundrum it would make an excellent ending to this blog post.
But whatever the answer is, it isn’t Forever bloody Living.