As students attending Meredith, we have been solicited by so called #girlbosses encouraging us to get involved in starting our own business on more than one occasion. In theory, this concept of self empowerment, working on your own schedule and being able to work from anywhere sounds thrilling. However, there is a true predatory nature behind multi-level marketing (MLM) scams.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, MLMs are defined as “a business structure or practice in which an individual seller earns commissions both from direct sales and from the sales of the seller's recruits, of those recruited by the seller's recruits, and so on.” These companies often target women. But why?
MLM companies are looking for individuals who desire a lifestyle that would be otherwise unattainable. They often use rags-to-riches success stories and deceitful marketing ploys to convince unsuspecting individuals to buy into their business model.
Another issue with MLMs is their business structure. The pressures individuals feel to sell and make a return on their investment often means they have to turn to friends and family members for sales. Is it really appropriate to solicit sales over social media or invite a friend out to lunch only to convince them to buy from you or join the ranks? At no other business would this be appropriate.
MLMs are a scam that specifically targets women. They target women not only with whom they actively attempt to recruit, but also because the products that are usually a part of MLMs are generally products that women would purchase. That means that a lot of women might want to become a part of an MLM because they will get discounts on their products.
Another reason MLMs are popular with women is because they sell women on the idea of “being their own boss” and they supposedly make a lot of money; however, that is far from the truth. They sell people on lies because most people who have been involved with MLMs say that they ended up losing more money than they gained. As for being their own boss, it seems to be true, but that isn’t the full reality of what being your own boss entails. These people must learn about the products and how to best market them without any preparation or training, which leads to the loss of money from not selling products or recruiting people.
MLMs often set people up to manipulate those who are recruited—leading them in with false expectations—and then completely blindside them with the reality. They even have the people who recruit the women act as friends, but that doesn’t last for long. Soon enough, the recruiters start to get aggressive in pushing the women into recruiting more people and telling them the numbers aren’t high enough.
MLMs are just another way to manipulate and use women, trying to appeal to what they want in a job without ever actually providing it. Therefore, MLMs should be controlled and managed. Their tendency to lure people in by being nice and offering benefits, showing people how great it would be to be a part of it and then not delivering is disappointing. The sad reality is that it’s nothing like what they advertise: no one is really your friend and most people don’t earn enough money to live a sustainable life.
By Jayce Perry, Staff Writer, and Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor