The Market for Mary Kay

mary-kay-product-repurchaseAt Pink Truth, we know that 99% of all participants in multi-level marketing lose money. Nonetheless, recruiters for Mary Kay and other MLMs tell recruits that they can make money just selling the product! They will tell you this while knowing that they have lost money, with hundreds or thousands of dollars of inventory sitting in their basements or garages.

But the story sounds good! Buy a product for $1 and sell it for $2! You have doubled your money!

Here’s the dirty truth: Sales of multi-level marketing products to actual customers are very low. This is primarily because the products are overpriced in order to pay many levels of commissions. While Mary Kay’s products might work just fine, they are comparable in quality to brands found at Walgreen’s or Target, and they generally cost more than those brands.

How do I know that relatively little of the products purchased by Mary Kay consultants are ever sold to real customers? First, I have my own personal experience. I was an active Mary Kay consultant for about 18 months, working very diligently to develop a customer base. My goal was to hold 3 to 4 skin care classes a week, and I worked the way I was instructed…. daily calling of leads, warm chatting, trying to book follow-up appointments, etc… but found it was incredibly difficult to book those classes and then ensure that the classes were held.

After that, I spent another year or two trying to unload the inventory I had. I found that the claims about women spending $100 or $150 on average at a class were lies. I found that the claims about the amount women will spend each year on reorders were lies. The products were difficult to move, and I was constantly discounting, giving hostess gifts, and offering other incentives to get people to buy.

I was consistently the top seller in our unit, yet I could never achieve the sales I was told were “average” before I signed up and bought my inventory package. I watched my recruits and fellow unit members, and found that they weren’t having success with moving much product either.

We also have the stories of thousands of consultants who have visited this site and discussed their experiences. These stories make it clear that selling Mary Kay products is very difficult, and almost impossible to do consistently. The vast majority of women who are on the Court of Sales at Seminar (ordering $40,000 retail value / $20,000 wholesale value of products per year) do NOT sell all of those products. Much of it goes unsold as stockpiles of inventory in consultants’ homes grow.

But maybe we’re all just lazy losers and that’s why we’re a part of Pink Truth? Maybe everyone else is sooooooo successful and that’s why they’re not lending their stories to us? No, I’ve ruled that out as a possibility. Each week we have a few Mary Kay consultants who visit Pink Truth to bash us and tell us how much money they’re making selling the products. But any time we ask for proof of their income claims, they inevitably run away, screaming how mean we are.

When it comes time to put the money where the mouth is, consultants and directors claiming to retail lots of Mary Kay products won’t provide proof of those alleged sales. (And of course, Mary Kay doesn’t track retail sales…. likely because they know how pitiful the actual sales are, and they don’t want to have any hard evidence in their hands that might suggest MK is a pyramid scheme.)

Look no further than information freely available on the internet to see that women are desperate to unload their Mary Kay products at any price. If Mary Kay products were so easy to sell, people wouldn’t be offering them at a deep discount (and in large quantities) on sites like:

  • eBay – More than 46,000 listings when this article was written, with plenty of the listings for groups of products
  • Amazon – More than 5,000 listings in the beauty category when this article was written
  • Etsy – Over 2,200 listings that include plenty of MK products
  • Websites like pinkchoices.com selling heavily discounted MK products

In addition, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are overrun with Mary Kay consultants peddling their products. Almost all are offering some sort of incentive or discount to attract customers (with little success, of course) and there are plenty of stories and pleas for help on these sites from frustrated consultants who can’t find customers or sell the products. (“We’re going for a big goal this month and just need to sell ___ more products!”) This is in addition to the “lifestyle” posts which suggest that MK is the reason behind certain material goods or opportunities.

Is there a market for Mary Kay products? Yes. There are consultants and sales directors who sell the products. But the vast majority cannot sell enough products to turn a profit (much less support themselves), and women are left with inventory they can’t sell and debt they can’t pay off. This, my friends, is the reality of multi-level marketing.

12 Comments

  1. Char

    (For the few actual customers who happen to be passing by)

    With the MLM method, no one ever need pay “retail” for the product. In fact, you’re throwing away money if you do. If you want the product, say this to the affiliate:

    – I’ll help you clear your inventory and only pay your cost.
    – I’ll help you qualify for your level, but I’ll only pay your cost.
    – If you won’t sell at cost, I’ll find someone who will that is pushing to make a qualification level.
    – Since I’m a good customer, I’ll just sign up myself and get the 50% off. (Lololol)

    This actually exposes one of the inherent flaws about MLM regarding retail sales vs. recruiting direct buyers, but that’s another post.

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  2. AnonyMouse

    Another problem is out-of-date product. MK gives their reps very little notice of product updates, so if you’re someone with a “full store” you’re going to have a lot of now out-of-date product to offload while simultaneously trying to pump up your team and customers about the new updated product. You end up A, selling the out of date product at a deep discount so you make no profit on it or B, throwing the product in the garbage after it collects dust on your shelf for over a year, or C, you have a massive “product graveyard” of out-of-date products (which is the opposite of the “no product graveyard because of our amaaaaazing return policy” sales pitch). As far as I know Mary Kay doesn’t have any kind of buy-back policy for out-of-date product. You’re just stuck with it and it’s all on you to try to sell it. While you’re hyping up a new version of that product. Explain to me how that makes sense. 🤔 Exactly! It doesn’t! There either needs to be a much longer lead time for updated products or a buy-back program. But there won’t be. Because that would cut into Richard Roger’s profits.

    1. Ruby Slippers

      Yes this picture looks like my closet. I told my customers I was quitting MK this year and would let them know what I want to liquidate. The whole experience is such a pain in my ass (especially working a real job) that I haven’t gotten back to them since February. I’m considering not bothering as I would have to deliver or mail heavily discounted product . Maybe only sell 300-400 at cost of what they actually want to buy. It’s really not even worth my time or effort . The rest is junk nobody wants… not even me. So it goes in my garbage a little each week. So much for zero landfill that Corp promotes. I hate MK. 20 years of my life wasted. Not to mention tens of thousands spent over that span. Also no profit sharing 401k as I lived the “dream” aka MK nightmare of full time for 8 years.

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      1. Enorth

        “The rest is junk nobody wants… not even me.”

        I was never in MK and am not really familiar with the products. Which ones are “junk” and why? (I, too, am sorry you are going through this.)

      2. NayMKWay

        Wow, Ruby, that sucks. I’m so sorry for what MK put you through. Maybe pinkchoices (a site I had never heard of before today–thanks, Tracy) will buy some of your leftovers and you can unload most of it all at once, then toss the rest. Just a thought. I notice they have stuff on their site that’s discontinued by MK, so they may even be interested in older items. I remember when MK came out with all new skin-care formulas awhile back, there were a lot of unhappy customers lamenting the loss of the older formulations. I’m guessing pinkchoices successfully sells to customers who prefer the older items. Newer isn’t always better.

        I know this is painful, but trust me when I say once the last remnant of that crap is out of your life, you’re going to feel a lot better.

        1. Ruby Slippers

          I did it to myself. I was in the pink fog for way too long. Brainwashing myself daily with million dollar message calls, affirmations, and listening to training. I believed the lies of omission. Like when I earned my car with the 85% insurance paid my MK . What a lie!! $95 a month for insurance on a Chevy Cruze. So real not paid for by MK would cost almost a 900 a month . There you go with the MK math again . SMH

          1. BestDecision

            Same here! Cadillacs are $900/month, even if you do over 50% of the maintenance production. They make a fortune off the car program!

            I was in exact situation with my inventory as you are, but I found sending it back and getting a refund was far easier and more profitable. No more deliveries all over the county, and no more hoping I still have something in stock.

            I vote: Product Repurchase Department.

  3. cindylu

    MK an environmental nightmare. All that plastic and all that make up. Mascaras, eye shadows, perfumes, perfumed lotions, nail polish, make up remover etc. Since there are no real customers those cosmetics end up rotting in land fils.

  4. Mountaineer95

    Great post! It’s hard to argue against facts…but we know how that will go over with the diehard Kaybots.

    I particularly liked the part where you shared that you “consistently the top seller in (y)our unit”

    The PT haters who love to tell you what a lazy looser you must be should be required to prove that they are the top sellers in their own units (and consistently!) before they make those accusations.

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