Search the Direct Selling Association’s member database for sellers of skincare and cosmetics, and you’ll find 55 members. Multi-level marketing companies selling beauty products are a dime a dozen.
Arbonne International is one of the better known beauty MLMs, right along with Mary Kay and Avon. But it’s very typical of the MLMs – fancy sounding products that really aren’t much better than drugstore brands.
The company’s most-hyped product is the RE-9 anti-aging system. But even more interesting than the product itself, is the approach to selling it. The company representatives promote “pups,” something referred to in many sales businesses as “the puppy dog approach.”
It goes something like this. If you give a family a puppy to keep for several days, they won’t want to give it back. Same with Arbonne products. Give a potential customer the RE-9 set to use for a week, and chances are that she will buy it from you. Here’s an Arbot’s description of the puppy dog approach from one forum:
My team uses the puppy dog approach. What we have done is invested in however many pups you feel comfortable with. It is the entire RE9 skincare line (wash,toner,lift,serum,eye creme,day creme,night creme). I pass these out (along w/a curiosity pack that talks about the business) and let them try it for a few days. Then I meet back up w/them and discuss the product and the biz op. I only take 30 mins of their time. It is important to do this so they can see that I value their time and that they too would be able to do this with just a little time with a customer.
The reason we invest in the full size line is so that 1-the person sees exactly what they will be getting. It’s prettier than a sample pack and makes a great impression. If I’m going to spend that kind of money on something, I want to see it in full, not a sample size. 2-when you invest in the full size pup, it counts toward your volume. I initially signed up and did the 5 pup. That meant I had 1 to use for me and 4 to pup out. That gave me $1064 right off the bat towards my volume.
That’s great, but if she buys it, is it really because it’s a great product? Or could it be for some other reason like she’s too embarrassed to tell you to come pick it up? Or she feels guilty for using up some of the product and can’t bear the thought of returning “used” products to the Arbot?
The scam gets even better. It goes beyond getting the person to just keep and pay for her pup. You’ve got to get her to commit to giving out X number of pups herself and hoping that people buy them. Ah…. so it’s not really about getting a skincare customer? Of course not! It’s about recruiting someone who is willing to recruit others. The product itself is just the tool to recruit.
How does Arbonne compare to Mary Kay on other issues:
- Arbonne also seems to have overly restrictive rules about advertising and promoting your business.
- Arbonne reps use scare tactics about other companies’ products to sell their own. Mary Kay discourages direct criticism of products, but it often happens anyway.
- Both are product-based pyramid schemes. The focus of the company is recruiting. The product is just the tool to get the recruits. It’s next to impossible to make a living wage just selling the products. If you want to make real money, you’ve got to recruit.
- Both emphasize helping women, yet the fact is that 99% of women lose money in MLMs, so it’s not really helping at all.
And it appears that Arbots are just as overzealous about their “businesses” as Mary Kay women. This woman won $135,000 in a contest , and is planning on wasting a chunk of it on Arbonne:
The contest money will be invested in her teaching job as well as her second venture with a skin-care company called Arbonne. Amy said she plans to use some of the money to travel to the United Kingdom with her aunt to find more Arbonne consultants.
It seems as though Arbonne products “fly right off the shelf” just like Mary Kay products, according to this woman :
She started doing the recommended six to eight presentations or house parties a month promoting the product, finding new customers and recruiting more people into the company.
Even though she didn’t know many people in Tulsa, she asked neighbors and acquaintances to help her host presentations.
“It’s about getting into other people’s circles of influence because your circle of influence is so small, but if you get into other people’s circle of influence, then you can touch people all over the world,” she said.
She is also quoted:
You can learn to be friendly. You can learn to sell anything. If your life depended on it, you could sell anything.
Well then. It seems that selling Arbonne is just as “easy” as selling Mary Kay, and anyone who doesn’t succeed is a lazy loser who didn’t try hard enough. Whatever.