My Thoughts on MLM (Multi-Level Marketing Schemes)

health and food supplements
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) and other networking business schemes have been the trend for decades now. I have been spurred to write on this because of a long thread on it that I read in one of the Facebook groups I joined.
First off, I am not anti-MLM. I joined Human Heart Nature, for example, which is both an MLM and a direct-selling company. However, I join in order to get discounts on products I use, not to sell or do networking.
Here are my practical thoughts on MLMs.

If the product will bust your budget, better not buy it.

If, like me, you have a ceiling or a budget for your expenses, you can easily compute if using a certain product will be within or beyond your budget. I follow a very pragmatic and mathematical system in family budgeting. Income – Expenses = Balance. And I am OC in keeping the balance in the black, because we do not want to go into debt.
The reason why I do not easily buy into MLM products is because generally, their products are expensive. A cup of coffee for 40 pesos?  C’mon, my ceiling for coffee is only 8 pesos.
If you are desperate enough to try a product because of a health problem you have, I would understand your willingness to take the risk, but do proceed with extreme caution. Take note of the following:
Are they using healthful sweeteners? If they are using artificial sweeteners like aspartame, or refined sugars like white sugar, then they do not know science. Healthful sweeteners include unrefined and low-glycemic index sugars like coco sap sugar and the zero-cal stevia.
Do not go for products which contain acidulants, anti-caking agents, emulsifiers, artificial colors and artificial flavors. Be wary of nature-identical flavors and colors — these are harmful chemicals.

If the membership  package is too costly for you, then don’t go for it.

Some membership packages cost P4,000, some P8,000 and some even go as high as P12,000. Ask yourself, would you be willing to take the risk of not being able to recoup this amount?  If you are, then go ahead and don’t blame anyone if you and your investment part ways forever. If you are so convinced of the products and the membership package will give you a bundle of products equal or at least nearly equal to the value of the membership package, that would be practical I suppose.
However, if you join the MLM scheme solely for the profits you expect to reap, realize that it is not easy. You have to recruit at least two people who, like you, have to weigh so many considerations before they shell out thousands of pesos.

If the products are marketed as panaceas, then you can be sure they are not.

Panaceas do not exist. God designed us to eat a variety of vegetables and herbs, a moderate amount of lean meat and quality fats. Furthermore, health is multi-factorial. You need exercise, rest, stress management and faith. You need a clean, restful and toxin-free environment and lots of emotional and social support. It takes a balance of many factors in order to attain health and it is foolhardy to stake all your hopes for good health on only one supplement.
Oh yes, I like trying food supplements now and then but I do not put them on a pedestal. They are only supplements to an overall healthy lifestyle. The reason why I could not join some MLMs is because they brainwash their members into believing that their products can cure anything and I could not possibly own and parrot on that line of recruitment.

If they employ annoyingly pushy, psycho-laden recruitment tactics, be wary.

Effective, authentic products speak for themselves and do not have to be marketed with hype. I have been put off, not a few times, by MLM recruiters who employ fear, shame, peer pressure and worse, lies, to get me into their group.
  • Fear – “You are sick enough, fat enough and unhealthy enough not to try this.”
  • Shame –“ Your skin doesn’t look good, you have to try this. You don’t have much money, you’ll get rich by this.”
  • Peer pressure – “Mr. A joined. Dr. B joined. Engr. C joined. The manager of _ joined. Your neighbor joined.”
  • Lies – “I got off my meds for hypertension.” (So, where’s your latest BP journal? Your latest lipid panel results?)

I say we’re far too old to be pressured into anything for any of the above reasons. I am not a very confrontational person and many times I really do not know how to shoo off these pushy people. Sometimes I just buy a pack or two to satisfy the agent but that’s all.

If you join just to get rich quick, you have the wrong motive.

I don’t know. I have always believed that the Biblical way to earn money is to work hard for it, to sweat it out, either by physical or mental labor. There is something quite wrong with passively receiving thousands of money just by recruiting people to buy products that are exaggeratedly marketed, some even blatantly glossed over as panaceas.
There is also something awkward about using your own family, relatives, officemates, classmates and worse, church mates to push you up the marketing ladder. If I use my position and influence as a pastor’s wife to pressure the church members to join my network, I wouldn’t feel better should they be unable to recruit anybody. I would feel uncomfortable if they are not able to get back their investment.
What are your thoughts on MLMs and other networking schemes? Do share.

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