Mary Kay Opens in Denmark

Written by Frosty Rose

On May 3, with very little fanfare and not much news, Mary Kay opened a new market in Denmark.

This is notable not so much in the fact that they’re opening new countries—MK has expanded into several new countries in the past years—but rather in how they did it. You can check out this article for more details, but allow me to draw your attention to the following quote: “With this strategic move, Mary Kay products will now be available in all Scandinavian and Nordic markets through a partnership with Lesley Cosmetics, the brand’s authorized distributor in Scandinavia.” (Emphasis mine.) Here’s a promotional video for Denmark from MK and Lesley, featuring the pink Mercedes!

Lesley Cosmetics promoted the Denmark opening on social media and said that you should find a Mary Kay consultant. A look at the profile on Facebook gives us a little more information:

 

Details are scarce about this partnership, but the website says (via Google Translate): Lesley Cosmetics AS is the Nordic wholesaler for Mary Kay® – one of the world’s largest companies in direct sales of skin care and make-up. The brand came to the Nordics in 1992, and we offer both trendy products and a unique career opportunity for those who love skin care and make-up.

It is clear that this is a longstanding business relationship.

 

Mary Kay obviously plans to continue its MLM structure, as it “reaffirms (Mary Kay’s) commitment to providing women with unparalleled opportunities for empowerment and entrepreneurship.” (barf!) Is Lesley Cosmetics its own company with its own beauty products? Is it simply a distribution center/warehouse? Is it Mary Kay Inc. under another name to follow the letter of the law? Is it a way to sidestep strict Danish laws regarding MLM activity? (See page 5 of this document.) Will Lesley be in charge of recruiting new consultants, and in on the “ground floor” instead of existing consultants and directors?

Mary Kay already lists a handful of active consultants in Denmark on their website, but all seem to be located in Denmark itself.

PT novices may be asking yourselves, why is this important? Here’s why.

One of the perks of being a sales director at a certain level, or a national sales director with MK, is the ability to work in some international markets. When Mary Kay opened Peru in 2017, US directors were tripping over themselves to be the first in the door.

Why? Well, dear reader, because US markets are saturated. I know it, you know it, and you can bet your socks the sales directors know it. Opening a new international market provides a completely untouched landscape. Corporate usually pours massive amounts of money into advertising and “softening up” the market before launch. Recruiting burns like wildfire. Units are built nearly overnight, national areas within a few short years. NSD Emeritus Anne Newberry credits her “development” of Canada, Mexico and Brazil to her “more than $11 million” in commissions. (That’s a whole lot of swindled women, folks!)

Tellingly, the MK “directors only” Facebook page was crickets about the Denmark launch until it happened. After the launch, the only chatter was gushing over this new “proof” of how successful the company was, to still be expanding!


If US sales directors are being cut out of these new expansion opportunities, it spells doom for the sales force. Consultant numbers are dwindling to the point that Corporate has discontinued the consultant car program. Directors are floundering now more than ever. Anti-MLM sentiment has never been higher. Career Conference shrank from dozens of cities a few years ago to just six in 2024. Corporate is making the sales force pay for their own social media advertising.

And if Mary Kay Inc. is blocking director expansion into international markets, it means they recognize that the US sales force is a bad bet on a dying horse. They’re going to continue to kick that horse till it draws its last breaths, amp up manipulation tactics and “prizes” offered until they’ve drained the last few pennies from consultants’ maxed out credit cards.

But they see it as clearly as we do—Mary Kay’s time is done. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier about it.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I certainly hope they will be as successful in Scandinavia as they were in Australia and New Zealand 🙃

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    • I’m guessing that they’ll have less luck recruiting in places where the social safety net is better…

  2. Now that the snark is out of my system for a moment… it seems like Lesley Cosmetics doesn’t exist as its own entity apart from MK. The only search hits for it are for MK social media and its intranet, which of course no one outside the company can access.

    MK never does anything quietly so why the opacity now?

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    0
    • That’s what’s tripping me up! Why was it so quiet?? I was on the verge of hitting qualifications to be able to work in Peru when MK opened there. They blasted that news everywhere for MONTHS! You can see why—push struggling directors to qualify (like every other qualification nonsense), push more ordering, soften the market so women are lined up to join the minute they can…

      WHY was this so under the radar??

  3. I read through some of the guidance from the Danish consumer Ombudsman, and it seems obvious that the reason MLMs are able to operate in Denmark despite the strict rules is that so much of the deception is verbal and not in writing. This is how so many MLMs get away with the snake-oil product marketing and ridiculous income claims…the corporation assert that the claims come from rogue reps, and their “official” rules around product efficacy and financial opportunity claims forbid such exaggeration, but are widely ignored during the sales pitch. The deceptive sales pitch is taught by word of mouth…nothing official to back up those claims.

    Amway mastered this long ago…encouraging questionable product efficacy claims to be spread far and wide…none of it written down. That’s the thing with MLM…none of it is real, but it is promoted as the greatest “new” opportunity in human history, in spite of decades of near complete sales force failure.

    These Danish officials also call out selling to family and friends, and consumer cold-calling. But all you have to do is get permission to do a product demonstration and you remain within the law.

    MLM is one of the most clever scams of all time. The most insidious part is getting tens of thousands of unpaid sales reps to unwittingly promote a substantial lie…at their own expense!

    MLM is the Tom Sawyer of marketing!

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  4. “Is Lesley Cosmetics its own company with its own beauty products? Is it simply a distribution center/warehouse? Is it Mary Kay Inc. under another name to follow the letter of the law? Is it a way to sidestep strict Danish laws regarding MLM activity?”

    I think you hit the nail on the head later in your article: MK is “oversaturated” in US. Like a vampire searching for new blood/host. Drain the Nordic market of gullible hopefuls, then exit in 5 years… Lesley Cosmetics does appear to be a front.

    Just this past Mother’s Day – at the restaurant that we ate it – the Mother’s Day “gift” was a packet of “Time Wise,” a face mask and of course the “Future National Independant Senior Executive Sales Director” card – with “call me for a free makeover written on it.”

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    • “Future National Independant Senior Executive Sales Director”

      Got to love all these meaningless titles they are happy to bestow upon themselves.

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