Mary Kay is Not “Dual Marketing”

Long ago, someone at Mary Kay Inc. came up with this silly idea of calling Mary Kay a “dual-level marketing” program. Apparently, they didn’t like the fact that the system the company uses is multi-level marketing (MLM) so they made up a new name that they try to differentiate from MLM.

What, you ask, is dual-level marketing?

From an older version of Mary Kay’s Legalease:

“There is one wholesale sale (Company to Independent Beauty Consultant) and one retail sale (from Beauty Consultant to customer) of Mary Kay products. Thus everyone, whether Independent Beauty Consultant or Independent Sales Director purchases all products directly from the Company at the same published wholesale prices specifically for resale to retail customers. Each member of the independent sales force has the opportunity to buy at the same discount irrespective of their place within the independent sales force career path.”

So this idea that there are 2 sales of the product (company to consultant and consultant to customer) somehow means it’s this made-up term of “dual level.” Whatever. Dual. Multi. It’s all the same thing to me. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

What I find really interesting is that the company always mentions that everyone buys from the company at the same wholesale price. There are no different discounts for people at different levels of the pyramid. THAT’S NOT TRUE!

Horrors, you say? Yes, horrors! Sales directors DO buy at a different discount from everyone else. Each and every sales director receives a commission of 9% to 13% on HER OWN PURCHASES of product from Mary Kay. That means she, in effect, buys at a greater discount than consultants.

I’m sure the Kaybots have a logical excuse for this, but I say if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!

Oh, and one more thing. If we’re looking at the majority of the sales in the company to determine whether it’s “dual-level”, then we really ought to call Mary Kay SINGLE LEVEL. We all know that most products are sold from the company to the consultant and then they never sell it to a customer. Single sale. Single level.

It’s all smoke and mirrors. I don’t know if any of Mary Kay’s official documents still provide this definition of dual level. But consultants and directors still use the  phrase and parrot the words above. When they’re trying really, really hard to get you to believe MK is not multi-level marketing, and using all sorts of silly ideas to do so… ask yourself why.


  1. How many “levels” get paid commissions in Mary Kay? What value does the up-line bring to the end customer for their cut of the purchase price?

    In real companies, the person responsible for the sale gets all the commission. The days of countless, faceless middlemen are gone. The world has moved to flatter, more direct, more efficient distribution models.

    Meanwhile, MLM’s costly, inefficient door-to-door sales model, with layer upon layer of folks taking a cut, is stuck firmly in the 20th century. MLM products will never be competitive today with their antiquated, high cost distribution model. Few folks outside the sales force are actually buying these products…the high overhead cost is simply not worth it.

    • -Can you endless-chain recruit? (Yes) It’s important not to confuse “can you” with “do you”.

      -Does the company and upline encourage you to endless-chain recruit? (Yes) This is also known as “building a team or unit”.

      -Can you advance your level without recruiting? (No) You must recruit.

      -Can you make money without ever selling a product to a non-affiliate? (Yes)

      Synonyms for MLM: direct sales, affiliate marketing, network marketing, dual marketing, social selling……and product-based pyramid scheming.

      • “Can you make money without ever selling a product to a non-affiliate?”

        Not only can you, but internal sales are the bulk of the total. I wish MLMs were required to publish stats on the (small) percentage of purchases that are made by outside customers.

  2. There’s a riddle that goes: “If you call a cat a bird, how many legs does it have?” Answer: “Four. You can call it whatever you want, but it still ain’t gonna fly.”

  3. It is only “duel” marketing if you never, ever recruit another person under you and all you do is sell product( good luck withy that). This is highly unlikely because once you sign that agreement the pressure is on to recruit (Pearls of Sharing, business is more fun with a friend etc.) . Once that is done, even if it is only one person, your business just became multi-level, yet the “dual” marketing plan is still part of “the talk”. I wouldn’t necessarily call Mary Kay a SCAM because you do receive products for you money. However, I would call it a SHAM – a trick, hoax, fraud, imposture, a person who pretends or is falsely represented to be something he/she is not.


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