Is Avon really a ‘better’ MLM? Or is it a pyramid scheme?

Avon is sometimes considered a ‘better’ MLM – a more traditional, nicer direct selling company. But is this really true? Or is it a pyramid scheme? Let’s find out.

Remember the classic Avon Lady? Or the old ads ‘Ding Dong Avon calling’? Avon’s 130-year heritage means that despite its MLM business model, it’s often considered to be at the more ethical end of the direct selling market. In its own marketing it even describes itself as a “responsible business” and says:

“We believe in the beauty of doing good, in addressing the challenges of rapid climate change, ensuring equality and inclusion, and ending animal testing. And we’re not doing this alone. Across the world, we’re striving to be the company that does things differently to make a difference.”

It’s also held up as a shining example by the MLM industry. In a recent interview, Susannah Schofield, the current Director General of the UK Direct Selling Association (DSA) said:

“As Director General of the Direct Selling Association, one of my key areas of work is updating the narrative and modernising perceptions around direct selling. One of the best-known brands in the sector, Avon – established in the United States in 1886 – enabled women to earn independently 34 years before they had the right to vote, and today the industry continues to be powered predominantly by women.

“I want to move the debate on from some of the outdated, and often inaccurate, narratives about the industry, and focus on the many thousands of female entrepreneurs all over the UK running successful – and all too often overlooked – businesses this way.”

In our experience debating with Susannah on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, she is clearly very ignorant about the industry she recently joined (or happy to misrepresent it). But she’s not alone in thinking that Avon is a positive industry example, or at least better than some of its peers.

So what’s the truth? Is Avon really as empowering and responsible as it claims? Or behind all the shiny PR is it just as bad as we’ve found other MLMs to be?

We’ve already bust the myth that another so-called ‘good’ MLM is different from the rest – you can read our investigation into Usborne Books at Home here. Now let’s see if Avon is any different.

Avon appeared to change its focus to recruitment in 2005

Before we examine the ethics and business practices of Avon today, and consider whether it may or may not be a pyramid scheme, let’s quickly look at its place in the industry. As the website Pyramid Scheme Alert notes, “Avon has long been, and is today, the pillar that holds up the credibility of the direct selling industry.”

But, according to Pyramid Scheme Alert, Avon changed their focus in 2005 when it planned a shift toward recruiting as part of a large restructuring program to boost sales and cut costs.

Pyramid Scheme Alert also points out that despite Avon promoting its ‘income opportunity’, at no point did it disclose income averages, dropout rates, sales costs, or annual recruitment rates for salespeople that would need to be known to verify whether in fact it was an opportunity to genuinely earn money.

With the information that is publicly available (from the Q-2’11 10Q filing to the SEC) Pyramid Scheme Alert calculates:

“…an average of just $144 a month of purchases per salesperson. Average net profit on such a small base of inventory purchases would be negligible. Avon does not reveal the amount of income based on position on the sales chain. It is reasonable to deduce that most salespeople must be in the lower ranks and therefore earned considerably less than the “average” and that average is only a few bucks a week. Also, Avon does not reveal what the average costs are for the salespeople it recruits. So, even a calculation of  some tiny “income” does not indicate any profit.”

The website also notes that:

“Avon’s sales in the USA have been declining for more than five years, down about 10% from 2005 levels. The average order per sales representative also is declining. Yet the number of sales representative keeps increasing. In 2009, the number of active representatives at the end of 2009 was 3% more than the year before while revenue for the region was down 9%.”

To sum up the above in brief, in 2005 Avon appeared to shift their focus to recruitment, rather than sales. And despite promoting an ‘income opportunity’, offer no data to prove this. What data is available appears to show that most people are likely to make no profit. And while, at the time of writing, the number of Avon representatives had been increasing, the revenue was decreasing, which meant there was even less to go around.

All in all, not a very pretty picture and very similar to what we’d expect to see in a typical MLM.

How much can you earn with Avon?

According to the calculations by Pyramid Scheme Alert (and as we’ll see later, this is backed up by the reviews of the company on Trustpilot), you aren’t likely to earn much, if any, money with Avon once business expenses have been deducted.

But let’s see what we can learn about the business opportunity. To start with, let’s look at Avon’s commission plan:

This is not taken from the Avon website, as they don’t appear to publicly share any real information about their ‘income opportunity’ – which in itself is a red flag for us. If it was genuinely a great opportunity, why not share details? Instead, it looks like Avon controls how information is shared with you by ensuring you can only learn about it as part of a recruitment pitch by one of their reps.

But what we can see from the table above is that it is as indecipherable as plans from any other MLM.

The first thing we notice about Avon’s compensation plan is a requirement at each level for MOV. This stands for ‘minimum order value’ and is a compensation plan component you’ll see in pretty much every MLM. Sometimes it’s called PV (personal volume) and other times is known as an ‘active requirement’.

But whatever the name, the meaning is the same. It’s the amount of product you need to sell (or buy) in order to receive commission and/or remain within the business.

The Avon MOV was apparently £90. And when you achieved this you earn 20% commission on your sales. They also have a higher order value (HOV) of £170, on which you earn 25% commission. In lockdown Avon changed the minimum sales amount to qualify for commission to £1. However Sales Leaders and above still need to sell (or buy) £250 in a campaign to qualify for coaching commission and bonuses.

Here’s what happens if you don’t achieve your targets:

It’s minimum order values that are one of the most problematic aspects of MLMs for us. Because if you don’t hit them every month, in Avon’s case you won’t earn any commission. So all your sales, all your work would be in vain. It also means you will need to pay full price for any products you have bought:

As a result, what frequently happens in MLMs is that representatives personally purchase to reach their minimum order value, acquiring product they don’t need and sometimes debt. Of course they tell themselves they’ll sell it later and recoup their money. But that just as often doesn’t happen. Instead they simply acquire more product, more debt and sunk cost fallacy kicks in, trapping them further into the same vicious cycle.

So it is worrying for us to see that Avon has a minimum order value. And it’s a sign for us that the company isn’t as forward-thinking and empowering as Susannah Schofield implies. Nor is it championing women, given the predominance of women in the industry (according to Susannah, over 90% of people in direct sales are women).

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Avon only pay commission on sales over $40

We recently saw this post in a Facebook group:

“Now [Avon] changed rules that you won’t get paid any commission unless you get $40 in sales each campaign and I’ve now gone over one month of not getting any money cause I didn’t reach that in sales for campaigns, I was tired of promoting their stuff and not getting paid for it.”

We checked, and indeed Avon’s US website indeed states this:

As you can see on the banner on the screenshot above, Avon state that you can, “Join for $0, earn 25% commission on $40+ beauty orders & save when you buy for yourself”. So if you work hard one month and only make $39 of sales, you will earn nothing.

According to Avon you can have “unlimited earnings”

While you can’t find an income disclosure statement nor their compensation plan on their website, Avon do provide some financial information. And that is the claim of ‘unlimited earnings’:

However, this bold claim is not substantiated anywhere with actual income earned by real people – another MLM red flag for us. Especially as Avon is a member of the UK DSA, and their Code of Business Conduct says:

“Any earnings claims must relate to actual earnings from the opportunity by an identifiable person and be capable of verification.”

We don’t about you, but ‘unlimited earnings’ sounds like an earnings claim to us.

What’s good about joining Avon?

There is one positive about Avon that we can find: unlike many other MLMs, there’s no expensive starter kit to buy. Instead you can pay £10 for a welcome kit, which includes Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Perfectly Nude, 10 brochures, 50 brochure bags and 100 order forms.

Or you can pay £30 for an ultimate welcome kit, which includes 10 of Avon’s bestselling products, from perfumes to skincare, 20 brochures, 50 brochure bags and 100 order forms:

As you can see, they also promise to refund you the cost of the kit if you sell either £100 or £250 of products. However you would need to make these sales with the month you signed up, according to their T&Cs:

The low priced entry point does means that you don’t need to pay out a significant sum of money to start, nor potentially borrow money.

As we can’t find much out about joining Avon, we don’t know what pressure is placed on you to buy samples or invest in any training, so we can’t say for sure there are further costs involved in joining. However, on face value, we think it’s good that Avon has a low cost starter kit.

What’s not so good about joining Avon?

The reason why it’s so much cheaper than most companies to join Avon is because we assume that you don’t usually need samples in order to to sell. Instead you hand out brochures. And that’s where the downside comes in. Because you need to buy brochures from Avon to sell… and they change them every three weeks.

So while your start up cost is lower, your ongoing fees are higher. And remember: if you don’t sell the minimum order value in any given month, you won’t earn commission. So if you’ve bought brochures that month, you’ve made a loss. (Not to mention the time you’ll have wasted working for nothing.)

How much does it cost to be an Avon rep?

So how much do Avon brochures cost? It’s hard to find out this information. But we did find some prices on a BBC story about Avon from 2016. According to the BBC at this time (the prices may have increased since) brochures were priced on a sliding scale from about £3 for five to £8 for 50. You also need to buy order forms, paper bags and other stationery.

This means that if you are actively working the business, and want to hand out brochures to encourage people to order from you, you’ll need to buy new Avon brochures every three weeks, at a minimum cost of at least £3.

You no longer ‘own’ a territory in Avon

In the past, Avon reps would have their own territories, presumably giving them some protection from the problem of saturation you commonly see in MLMs. Here are excerpts from an old Avon representative agreement:

  • 2.4 You agree to undertake Your Activities in any territory allocated to You in accordance with Avon guidelines, and as varied by Avon from time to time.
  • 9.3 You are required to give Avon one campaign’s written notice in advance of ceasing to serve Your allocated territory or customer list or any part thereof.

However, in the latest version of their employment agreement, there is no mention of territories. This means that you can be competing with any number of Avon reps for business in your area, or among your social groups. Indeed, with their new online brochure available for anyone to browse there’s no need for customers to stay loyal to any local Avon rep – they can order from anyone, anywhere.

This is another red flag for us, and a sign that while Avon may have started out as a more traditional direct sales business, where retail sales are important (and feasible), it has appears to have moved towards a more die-hard MLM model in which recruitment is prioritised.

Again this tallies with their stated change in approach in 2005, as reported on by Pyramid Scheme Alert, and mentioned above.

Is Avon really cruelty-free?

One big issue with many MLMs is their deception. It’s not just their reps who lie to recruit and sell – often the companies themselves are built on misrepresentation and out and out lies. We’ve even caught the Direct Selling Association in both the UK and the USA telling mistruths!

And when MLMs are caught potentially deceiving people, what do they do? They try to cover up the evidence, as we discovered here.

So, if Avon really was a ‘better’ MLM, one sign of this for us would be far more transparency and honesty. Like, for example, the issue of testing on animals which Avon makes a big fuss about, and is often touted by their reps as a reason to trust and buy from the brand.

And indeed according to Avon, it is a cruelty-free brand that never tests on animals:

But is this REALLY the case? According to Cruelty-free Kitty, no it is not:

So why would Avon lie? And how can they get away with it? Ethics & Aesthetics explain further:

“Unfortunately, Avon is NOT a cruelty free brand. They are also deceptive on their website, where they claim to be “the first global beauty company selling in China to stop all animal testing of ingredients and across all its brands”.

“…Avon are deliberately deceptive about their animal testing policies. Although this statement on their website makes them appear cruelty free, the key is in the word ‘ingredients’. Although their raw ingredients may not be tested on animals anywhere in the world, it doesn’t mean their formulas or finished products are not tested on animals.”

We decided to look deeper into this alleged deception, to see if it was true. On their website, Avon mention PETA with the following statement from them:

“PETA celebrates Avon’s long-term commitment to ending all cosmetic testing on animals everywhere in the world, and we know millions of consumers will too. Avon’s support for non-animal testing methods has made a meaningful difference to the development, utilisation and acceptance of alternatives to animal testing.” 

It’s an impressive-sounding statement and certainly seems to confirm that Avon is cruelty free. But when you read the wording more carefully, things start to unravel for Avon. PETA are merely congratulating Avon on their commitment to ending testing on animals, and their support for non-animal testing methods – they do not state that Avon is actually cruelty-free.

As Ethics & Aesthetics point out, Avon aren’t on PETA’s list for companies who don’t test on animals. Instead, they have simply earned this mention on the PETA website:

PETA categorically does not state that Avon does not test on animals. Instead, as you can see it simply acknowledges that they are ‘working toward regulatory change’. For further proof, here’s where Avon should sit on PETA’s list if they really were cruelty-free:

Avon is also not on the Leaping Bunny Compassionate Shopping Guide for cruelty-free products. Nor the Ethical Elephant Cruelty-Free Brand Directory. In fact, we couldn’t find Avon listed on a single cruelty-free list.

So, despite Avon having an entire page devoted to bragging about their animal welfare stance, and despite making claims like this, they are very far from cruelty-free it seems:

As Ethics & Aesthetics say:

“[Avon] state on their website that they’re working with Peta, Humane Society International and other major regulators. This is particularly misleading, because although they’re working with these companies, it again does not make Avon a cruelty free brand.

This deception – as we also believe it is – is further proof for us that Avon is not a ‘better’ MLM. It is as duplicitous and manipulative (in our opinion) as the rest of the industry.

What do people say about Avon on Trustpilot?

Here’s what people are saying about Avon on review site Trustpilot. Overall Avon has a rating of 1.6 stars out of a possible five. 75% of their reviews are one star, with many of these people saying they would give zero or even minus stars if they could.

Most reviews seem to be for the company’s appalling customer service, including money taken for items not delivered (and a refusal by Avon to refund people), discounts not being processed at checkout (and a refusal by Avon to refund people… there’s quite a pattern of this it seems), and even harassing grieving relatives over money owed by the deceased family member.

But for this article we’ve focused on the reviews of Avon as a business opportunity. Here’s a selection from the last few months:

Crazy pyramid scheme. If anyone is reading this because you’re thinking of joining and have been promised the earth by the reps don’t! I did it for a month worked really hard run all over with orders and earned a fiver. Shocking. It’s a cult and a pyramid scheme just like Younique etc. Don’t believe the reps.”

Unprofessional and badly run. Very bad company. If you work as a rep they enable team managers to make orders on your account. This can lead to false payment requests and a bad mark on your credit file. You can’t even speak to a person to try and resolve this.”

When I was 15 they allowed me to sign up and we told some “white lies” about my age. Never made any money. Ended up owing each month. Spent every day out handing out booklets and getting them back in. Then trying to do orders with no one teaching me how. No support from anyone. Worst thing I’ve ever done and would never go back to another MLM company.”

Dreadful, horrendous, awful company! Don’t become an Avon rep/seller beause you are going to lose money. Orders will come incomplete and its impossible to get your products or credit into your account. Avon people dont care. I think its because too many people joined avon during this pandemic time and when issues show up they ignore them. So be careful don’t waste your money and don’t lose your money.”

I wish I saw the reviews before I decided to become a representative! Such bad communication, a parcel I returned never turned up their end so I had to pay for it! It’s such a shame as I do like their products, but it’s not worth the Hassel!”

Based on the reviews on Trustpilot we’d certainly never order any products from Avon. It also seems, from the experiences of people who joined the company as Avon representatives, to be very much like every other MLM, with poor communication and very little earning potential for the reps at the bottom of the business.

How does Avon treat its employees and investors?

It’s very common for MLMs to end up in court. And Avon is no different. Here are a selection of lawsuits that have been taken out against Avon over the past few years.

In 2018, an Avon employee, Caroline Ruiz filed a lawsuit against Avon in North America for firing her from an executive job in their Manhattan headquarters after she told them about her pregnancy and asked to work remotely for a week. The complaint called Avon a company “run by men,” and pointed out that the leadership team was mostly white and male. The judge ruled in Ruiz’s favour.

In another lawsuit, former Avon employee Olivera Krstanoska says she was discriminated against both after she became pregnant and when she started pumping breast milk at work. Again, the judge ruled in favour or Krstanoska, saying she, “plausibly alleges a hostile working environment,” in which she was “repeatedly ‘harassed,’ ‘belittled’ and ‘demeaned’ because she refused to work with hazardous chemicals known to pose significant health risks to pregnant women.”

In 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Avon for alleged failure to warn their employees of a mass layoff at Avon’s Orlando location and other sites. And in 2016, Avon paid $6.25 million to settle a pension management class-action suit after they were accused of mismanaging funds in pension accounts during a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation.

In 2020, Avon and its investors asked a New York federal judge for approval of a $14.5 million settlement to resolve allegations the company misled investors about its Brazilian operations. Avon was accused of not telling its investors that it had “loosened credit terms for its representatives in Brazil and wasn’t training them appropriately, leading to a stock drop”.

And in 2013, Avon escaped a $100 million lawsuit against them for “deceiving customers by falsely advertising its products as cruelty-free, even though the cosmetics company engages in animal testing in China and other countries.”

Avon’s pattern of lawsuits taken out against them for deception and discrimination against women doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of the brand. We certainly would not describe it as “Putting Women First”, as they claim on their website. Nor do they seem to be “changing people’s lives for the better”, in our opinion.

How does Avon treat its people?

How a company treats the people who work for it (in Avon’s case its employees and its reps) is a big clue as to their real, lived ethics, as opposed to their PR. We can see from their court cases that Avon don’t appear to have a great track record in this area. And here are two more examples that gives us some insight into the brand’s behaviour.

According to Wikipedia, Avon haven’t had the best decade. In 2014, its global sales had fallen for five straight years, and its North American revenues fell 18% that year. So it’s not surprising that it started closing down some of its operations.

In October 2013, Avon announced that it was closing its French brand later that month. But it doesn’t appear to have handled the closure well, as the company’s French employees accused Avon of keeping them in the dark for months and not acting in line with the company’s publicly stated values of being a socially responsible company that upholds values of trust, respect and integrity and a culture of “open and candid communication.”

Then, in 2018 Avon decided to close down their business in Australia and New Zealand too, after failing to move with the times. At that time they are said to have had more than 200 staff and 21,000 representatives across both countries. And despite Avon claiming that they’d informed their reps of their decision before it was announced publicly, many claimed otherwise.

One Avon representative apparently complained on Facebook: “I have been a rep for over 30 years and to find this out on FB is disgusting… So much for loyalty. I’m sure they could have sent us all a letter.”

Another Avon representative of 10 years, Narelle Tweedy, said: “I didn’t see that one coming. All those representatives have to find something else to do now, along with 200 employees who have to find some other income now.”

Another Sydney Avon representative Melissah Trenfield said she was “disgusted” by the company, as she only received the email at 1:17pm and hadn’t had time to read it before hearing news on the radio. She said:

“Soon after news broke out I was contacted by many customers and most knew more than me. There was no warning or indication that this was going to happen. I have 100 customers that are very sad and disappointed.

“Campaigns go for three weeks. We are currently in Campaign 4, Avon finishes after Campaign 6. That is not a lot of time for people to stock up on their favourite products before they sell out for good.

“…This has come as a shock to all involved and I am personally disgusted at the way Avon has handled it. So much for ‘a company for women’. So much for loyalty.”

Jenny Gallagher had been an ‘Avon lady for more than 30 years, and she cried when she heard the news:

“I got an email at virtually the same time as it was posted on Facebook and I actually thought it was a prank. There was no warning, nothing.

“We keep stock that could be hundreds of dollars worth, which we now have to sell before the end of this financial year. I can understand it from the company’s point of view but the fact that we’re just given nine weeks [to sell stock] is just craziness.

“They should have communicated with us and given people more of a chance to get themselves sorted. For some people, this is everything and to not give them the chance to absorb it and to let them find out on social media is really poor form.”

Does this really sound like a company who acts with the best interests of their representatives in mind? To us, it doesn’t seem like a business that particularly cares about the people who work for it.

There’s also another telltale sign of a typical MLM in Jenny Gallagher’s quote: “We keep stock that could be hundreds of dollars worth…” Inventory loading, or stock holding, is a significant problem in less ethical MLMs, and often leads to reps getting into debt. It’s worrying to us to see this apparently happening in Avon.

Avon ‘push reps to breaking point’ by selling on the high street in the UK

Australian Avon reps aren’t the only ones apparently blindsided by Avon. In September 2023, the company announced that it was selling it products across 100 Superdrug stores in the UK.

Reading between the lines, this decision has probably been made because network marketing sales are down across the board, and Avon are desperately trying to keep their brand alive.

Where this leaves reps, no one seems to know, not least the reps themselves. Here are just some of the posts on Facebook from them:

Yet again, this appears to be an unpopular move made by the company at the expense of the people who sell for them. And once more is evidence that, despite what they tell themselves and others, MLM reps are not small business owners.

Is Avon a pyramid scheme?

So is Avon a pyramid scheme? This is a question we’ve asked of many MLMs we have investigated over the years. And as we explore in our investigation into Amway, the definition of what defines a ‘pyramid scheme’ is often misconstrued by people defending companies like Avon.

To be clear, simply having a product does NOT stop a business being a pyramid scheme. So the fact that Avon reps sell physical Avon products does not protect them from having joined a pyramid scheme.

For us, the key giveaway signs that a company is operating like a pyramid scheme are whether sales in the business come from genuine retail customers, rather than the reps themselves, and whether the money in the company flows from the bottom to the top. In other words, do the earnings of the top reps come from the people at the bottom of the business?

We’ve already found evidence of stock holding in Avon in the news report quoted above. This is a clue that reps are maybe buying stock to qualify for ranks or bonuses. Let’s look for more clues as to why this might be happening in Avon.

Like many MLMs, Avon make it difficult to learn about how their company works, which is to us a big red flag in itself. But there are some clues we can find online. There are some details allegedly from Avon’s 2008 income disclosure statement here.

As you can see, it only counts the earnings of Avon reps who have at least made the rank of ‘Unit leader’, with at least five new representatives under them. But even the earnings of their top Unit leaders aren’t that impressive: between $500 and $1,300 a year – or $42 and $108 a month.

This indicates that the reps underneath them would earn a LOT less than this (as we see in every MLM income disclosure statement). And at that level, if reps are investing in brochures and order forms, we can’t see that they’d make much, if any profit. Again this ties in with the typical losses of 99.6% of MLM participants on average.

Unit leaders are also apparently under pressure to achieve not just their own quota of sales a month in order to qualify for their commission, but they also need to achieve a minimum of $8,500 in total team sales per campaign:

And if they don’t hit these targets for six consecutive campaigns, they are demoted and they lose their team:

This is typical of the structure of MLM businesses, and creates the exact opportunities for the kind of behaviour we see in pyramid schemes. How? Because the company places pressure on leaders to not just meet their own sales targets, but for their downline collectively to meet sales targets.

And as we’ve seen in companies like It Works, and from screenshots from alleged team chats in MONAT and anecdotal experiences of Forever Living, it seems to be commonplace for leaders to ask downlines to place personal orders to help people achieve and maintain ranks.

This leads to personal purchases from people within the company (inventory loading), rather than genuine retail sales to members of the public. It also means that it’s the money from people at the bottom of the pyramid that flows up to the top. Both signs of a pyramid scheme.

We’ve already seen in the news report above, potential evidence of inventory loading. There’s also more anecdotal evidence of it here:

“I have never sold Avon, but my mother-in-law has sold it for 20 plus years. Since she did it for so long, I thought about starting myself. However, the boxes and boxes of unsold merchandise in her house scared me away. Are Avon reps required to keep a lot of inventory on hand? I just wonder how she ended up with so much.”

“Some of the reps. get suckered into buying the stockups that are offered because they get a nifty free gift or have one customer who will try it. Some just want the noteriety of saying they’re Honor Society, McConnell, etc. and instead of actually earning it, they load up with product and convince themselves they’ll sell it. Obviously, some don’t.”

“I’m always blown away, though, by what some people do. I was at a yard sale recently…..this lady must have had 4 tables fully LOADED and crammed with in baskets all for prices like 50 cents for hand creams and foot creams, $1.00 for bubble baths and mascara’s …..all WAY below cost (even at 55% earnings) and then she says to me ” I’m Honor Society” and I’m thinking, “well, of course..with that amount of product on hand, who wouldn’t be?” That is ridiculous IMO!”

We also found evidence of former Avon reps selling their accumulated stock online:

And as you can see, this seller has already sold 31 packs of five body lotions and still has more to offload:

The retail cost for some of the body lotions this rep is selling is £4.00 individually, making the retail cost of her bundles £20. And bearing in mind the discounts reps get range between 15% and 30% (you’d need to sell £3,000 of products a month to qualify for the 30%), it looks like this former rep (as we assume they are) is making a considerable loss.

This seems to indicate that it is commonplace for some Avon representatives to personally purchase to achieve and maintain rank, potentially making a loss in doing so. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is a sign Avon could have pyramid-scheme elements to their business model.

Is Avon a ‘better’ MLM?

So let’s examine the evidence we’ve been able to gather and see whether Avon is really a ‘better’ MLM.

On the single plus side for Avon, in our opinion, you don’t need to invest in an expensive starter kit to launch your ‘business’ as an Avon rep. But that’s where the pluses end. There are far more red flags for Avon in our eyes – red flags that signify Avon is just as bad as any MLM. These are:

  • You cannot easily find information about working as an Avon rep. You need to contact Avon and probably speak to a rep to be ‘sold’ the opportunity.
  • They do not publish income disclosure statements so you have no idea of the true earning potential before joining. This leaves the risk of being lied to with false income claims by reps desperate to grow their downline.
  • Avon make vague, unsubstantiated income claims such as “unlimited earnings” and talk about “several ways to earn money as an Avon Representative”. This is typical language of the less ethical MLMs.
  • They claim that they do not test on animals, and name drop organisations like PETA to back up their ethical position but this is smoke and mirrors in our opinion. They are not a cruelty-free brand.
  • They have been subject to many lawsuits against them for deception and discrimination against female employees.
  • Their employees and reps complained that Avon treated them poorly when closing down operations in France, Australia and New Zealand.
  • There is evidence that Avon reps make personal purchases to achieve or maintain their ranks, leaving them with unsold stock and potential financial losses.

In our opinion, behind the legacy of the Avon Lady lies a very modern MLM – Susannah Schofield was right about that, at least. But that’s not a good thing. Because at its heart today, we believe Avon is every bit as deceptive and unethical as any other ‘bad’ MLM.

And we would absolutely recommend – just based on their online reviews alone! – avoiding joining or buying products from Avon.

As always, all information is shared in good faith. However, we welcome correspondence from Avon if they believe this article is factually inaccurate and will duly amend any errors.

Photo by Nakota Wagner