We discuss this topic from time to time, because it’s important to debunk one of the common myths Mary Kay directors and recruiters use to suck people into the pink cult. In their world, anyone with skin is a potential customer.
In the real world, economics, marketing, and customer preferences win out to make the real market for Mary Kay products very small. But will your recruiter ever tell you that? No! If you understand that your chances of success with Mary Kay are almost non-existent, you won’t sign up for MK and you won’t stay in (and continue to purchase inventory).
The truth is that the market for Mary Kay is saturated, and I’m going to explain why and how we can tell. Market saturation occurs when a product is fully distributed within a market, meaning that almost all those who want to buy a product have bought it.
Mary Kay obviously competes with tons of brands around the world, ones available at cosmetic counters, drugstores, beauty stores, and the like. Mary Kay representatives have been known to claim that the company has 8% to 10% of the “market share” in the U.S., which would mean that 8% to 10% of all skin care and cosmetic sales are of Mary Kay products. That’s total fiction, so we should throw out that number and completely ignore it.
So Mary Kay is competing for business…. Whose business do they want and how many buyers are available? From the U.S. Census Bureau:
- There are about 323 million people in the U.S.
- About 51% are women = 165 million
- About 44 million people are in poverty = subtract 22 million women
We have a starting point of 143 million women in the U.S.
- About 24% of women are under age 18 = subtract 34 million
- About 5% of the women are age 80 or over = subtract 7 million
We now have 102 million women who MIGHT consider buying Mary Kay. From those 102 million women, you also have to subtract out those who have no interest in purchasing skin care and cosmetics. I think it’s fair to say that we could also cross off the bulk of women who are former Mary Kay consultants. I think most of them use MK until they have gotten rid of all their inventory, but the likelihood of them continuing to buy products from the pink cult afterward is low. Mary Kay has told us that they burn through 40,000 consultants a month. If you just take the consultants from the last 5 years, you’ve got 2.4 million that have to be subtracted off the potential customer base.
There are about 700,000 beauty consultants in the United States. You’ve got to subtract them out of the pool of women who are potential customers, because we’re just looking at women who could be 3rd party customers for a Mary Kay consultant.
We’re now sitting with 99 million American women who might use Mary Kay, if given the chance. That’s about 141 customers per consultant who are available to buy Mary Kay products. But many of them will buy other brands, of course. Even if you are lucky, you’ll capture about 10% of those, or 14 customers per consultant. I know the numbers for Mary Kay are even lower than that… but let’s be generous.
What can you do with 14 customers? And what happens once you try to recruit them because you want to move up? Can you make a living on 14 customers? Could you even make a living if you got all 141 of your potential customers? (Sadly, even with 141 retail customers you couldn’t make a full time living.)
If you knew these figures before you signed up with Mary Kay, would you still have signed up? Probably not. This is a different age than when Mary Kay started, and customers have many more options available. Not only are there tons of product lines to try, we are more mobile and have additional avenues to purchase products (like the internet).
So is the market for Mary Kay saturated? I say yes. There simply aren’t enough customers wanting to buy Mary Kay to give you an opportunity to build a viable retail business. Oh… I know…. some of those 700,000 consultants don’t really want to sell anything so their potential customers are available to you blah blah. Right. But just ask the women who were in Mary Kay for 10 or 20 years. How many customers were they able to build and keep? And were they able to make a living from a retail business? No.