Is the Market for Mary Kay Saturated?

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.


  1. Lazy Gardens

    Exactly … And it does not EVER mean “as long as there is one unrecruited woman out there somewhere”.
    “From a micro perspective, market saturation is the point when a specific market is no longer providing new demand for an individual firm. This is most often the case when a company faces fierce competition or has a reduction in the market’s need for its product or service.

    From a macro perspective, market saturation occurs when an entire customer base has been serviced, and there are no new customer acquisition opportunities for any firm operating in the industry.

    When makeup and skin care is available to any woman who wants it, you have to make people switch brands to gain market share.

    “1. Point at which a market is no longer generating new demand for a firm’s products, due to competition, decreased need, obsolescence, or some other factor.”

  2. Formykids

    One of my MKbot wife’s recent DIQs(she is long gone now) had 8-10 recruits in her unit, 5 of which lived at the same address as she did. It was a 2 or 3 family home. I believe they were all related to her. That is like having one retail business on your living room, another of the same in your dining room, and so on in three other rooms in your house……laughable. I’m pretty sure they little to no foot traffic to sustain one store at said address, let alone 5 of the same stores at that address. Clearly it is a recruiting game and not a retail game.

  3. BestDecision

    The attrition is horrible. When I resigned, I still had a couple of original team members, but the majority in come and go. I kept a printed copy of every agreement that ever came through my unit, and the majority were long gone. That’s one of the exhausting pieces of it: Investing your time and energy into people on weekends and nights to help them with their debut or trainings, and then they quit.

    And here’s the piece no one in MK wants to face: If it were such a viable business, hardly anyone would ever leave because THEY’D BE MAKING MONEY! You wouldn’t have to work so hard to convince or motivate people. Sephora and Ulta would be struggling. And those vitamin C squares would be on everyone’s lips as a “must have” product.

    1. pinkpeace

      Oh, but the reason they’re not making money is that their deserve level is too low. Or they’re not planning their work and working their plan. Or they’re not working the 3 + 3 + 3.

      Of course, the fact is that making ANY kind of money at all in Mary Kay is spectacularly difficult and uses much more energy than any kind of real job that pays real wages.

  4. enorth

    Thankfully, no one here has used the term “over-saturated” when describing the
    LuLaRoe people love to say over-saturated. As if market “saturation” is not a problem.

  5. enorth

    “You wouldn’t have to work so hard to motivate people.”

    Just saw a SSD’s page with pics of how she rewarded her two “Top Divas.”

    A trip to a corn maze.

    That sure would motivate me. To leave MK.

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