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10-20-09 | Posted by


Avon representatives Grace Campbell, Rosemarie Kahn and Dawn Parrino

Photo Credit: Avon


Multi Level Marketing and the New Economy

By Guest Bag Lady Dorene Kaplan

With runaway unemployment rates of nearly10% derailing our much needed economic recovery, it’s no wonder we are seeing a resurgence of entrepreneurship among direct sales in beauty brands! Take Avon, for example. Its number of U.S. representatives grew by 4% in the second quarter of 2009 and globally, the number increased an astonishing11%. At Nu Skin, the number of executive distributors increased 9% for the same period. Rodan + Fields’ new direct-selling operation started with 2,000 reps in 2008 and added 2,500 in the first half of 2009.

And don’t even ask about Twitter and Facebook; online pages are exploding with reps selling skincare and makeup from old standards such as Avon and NuSkin, as well as new upstarts like Apriori and Become.

It all makes a lot of sense. Whether downsized or pushed out of business, women, and on occasion men, have turned to multi-level beauty marketing as a money-making alternative that offers independence and flexibility with minimal investment.

“Women are saying to themselves, ‘I need to become an entrepreneur and be the master of my own financial destiny,’” explained Suze Orman, television host, author, editor and special personal finance advisor for Avon representatives, at a recent press breakfast.

“I don’t ever have to be scared again, because I already have an established business,” said Rosemarie Kahn, an Avon senior executive unit leader, who now earns more money than she did at her corporate publishing job working only approximately 25 hours per week.

In the United Kingdom, Mia Brodie Coles, an independent consultant for Arbonne, previously worked as a PR director for prestige brands including Clinique and Lancôme. The mother of two now sells Arbonne as her primary income, working one to two hours a day, and holding evening seminars twice a month. “I’ve the freedom to make a lot of money, but on my own terms, with no-one telling me what to do. The products sell themselves, so my job is simple,” she said.

Grace Campbell, another Avon rep, joined up one year ago when her husband’s plumbing business slowed because of the troubled economy. “I realized I needed to take control of the situation….I needed to do something,” said the young mother, who earned $250.00 during her first campaign, merely by distributing brochures.

While some reps earn 10X that amount per year, direct selling is not a natural fit for all and companies report high turnover. High earners develop tiers of team members and receive commissions directly from the company for sales completed by their enlisted reps.

Jenna Lloyd, who became a Rodan + Fields independent consultant last July, reported, “I have already made back all starting cost, received commissions and added to my leadership team…I also love that I don’t have to keep inventory or deliver products because my clients order from my website.”

So, what makes a successful direct selling partnership? Belief in the product, a good compensation structure and a well-funded corporation are a few basics. A key consideration is the initial investment required by the rep, which can range from $10.00 to $300.00 and more.
For Diane Guercio, a Nu Skin representative, it’s all about research and technology. She is particularly excited about the soon to be released AgeLOC Transformation System, which is said to work at the genetic level. In general, prestige skincare is considered a growth opportunity in the MLM market.

Interestingly, time is not a major issue. Many successful reps say they integrate sales into their daily life, such as distributing brochures at their children’s school, their personal church or at doors throughout their neighborhood. Become field business director, Lori Wheeler, earns an average monthly commission of $3,100 working 25 hours a week. “Within my personal business, I don’t even feel the recession,” she said.

Price accessibility and entrepreneurship are driving MLM growth. If you want to join this new wave of MLM either as a buyer or representative, here are a few companies to check out.

Apriori Beauty: an anti-aging skincare brand that just launched in June 2009 with over 200 consultants. Headquartered in Laguna Hills, California, the products range roughly from $30.00 to $80.00.

Arbonne: another Southern California-based company, which has been operating since 1980. Skin care, color and nutritional supplements are priced approximately from $15.00 to $70.00. Consultants are charged a $109.00 sign up fee.

Avon: the grand mere of beauty direct selling founded in 1886 has reinvented itself as the company for women. It counts 5.8 million independent representatives in more than 100 countries. Start up investment is only $10.00. Most skincare, makeup and fragrance products fall in the $3.00 to $68.00 range.

BeautiControl: spa, skin care and advanced aging products with more than 140,000 independent consultants in the U.S. Canada, and Puerto Rico. Part of the Tupperware company and headquartered in Carrollton, Texas, consultants can start selling BeautiControl with an investment of $100.00.

Become: Australian transplant Stephanie White launched Become in the U.S. two years ago with products developed in her homeland. The company has grown 150% since January 2009. It offers skin, bath, body, nail, sun and a weight loss regimen, all priced between $14.00 and $85.00.

Mark: Avon’s youthful sister brand is sold by dedicated Mark independent representatives as well as Avon reps. Spokesperson Lauren Conrad helps spread the word to young women about the opportunity to run their own online e-boutiques.

Mary Kay: famous for its pink Cadillac bonuses, the company, founded in 1963 today has more than two million independent sales representatives across 35 worldwide markets. Sales in 2008 reached $2.6 billion for its skin care and color cosmetics. Consultants can begin selling with a $50.00 investment.

Nu skin: founded in 1984 with a commitment to providing quality skin care that features only premium, wholesome ingredients, NuSkin has 750,000 independent sales representatives in 48 global markets. Products run the gamut from skin care, body care, oral care to a men’s line.

Rodan + Fields: the dermatologists that tackled acne with the successful Proactiv, have exited the department store arena to focus on direct selling as of March 2008. The newcomer to MLM has experienced double digit month-over-month growth throughout 2009. Most prouducts are OTC or contain cosmeceutical ingredients.

Votre Vu: launched in September 2008 to sell prestige skin-care products from a privately-owned French laboratory in the U.S. Approximately 2,000 consultants in the U.S. distribute products ranging in price from $30.00 to $165.00. The consultant starter kit costs $99.00.


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