Shame on L’Occitane as it launches MLM MyL’Occitane

If you’re a fan of L’Occitane, we’ve got bad news: it’s launched MyL’Occitane, a new multi-level marketing (MLM) sales platform. Find out people who join could be in store for.

A few weeks ago, L’Occitane en Provence disappointingly announced the creation of MyL’Occitane, a new direct selling platform. MyL’Occitane will be led by the company’s new Head of Social Selling Jesse Stamm. (‘Social selling’ is just another term for multi-level marketing, aka MLM.)

We have to say it seems like a very strange decision to adopt an MLM model now, when the industry has an increasingly poor reputation thanks to a growing #antiMLM community, a global MLM Conference, and when all the signs appear to be that the MLM industry is dying out.

Trethowans
Trethowans

But maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise when you realise that another of the L’Occitane Group’s brands is the MLM LimeLife by Alcone, which was one of the MLMs featured in season one of the podcast The Dream. L’Occitane also launched DUOLAB, a direct selling-based skincare startup in 2020.

So what can L’Occitane fans expect from MyL’Occitane? To find out, we looked at people’s experience with Pampered Chef – the MLM that Jesse Stamm worked for three years as National Field Development Director. We also examined an income disclosure statement for L’Occitane’s other MLM, LimeLife by Alcone, to find out how many people lose money.

And finally, we looked at the MyL’Occitane onboarding process and compensation plan to see if it appears to be any different to other MLMs.

How much can you earn at MLM Pampered Chef?

So let’s start with Jesse Stamm’s former company, the MLM Pampered Chef. According to research published on the FTC website, an average of 99.6% of people who join an MLM like Pampered Chef and MyL’Occitane will lose money once business expenses are taken into account.

To join Pampered Chef you need to invest in a starter kit. These range in price from $79 to $279. And to remain ‘active’ and participate in their compensation plan you need to sell (or buy) at least $150 of products every month. If you want customers to be able to shop online you’ll also need to pay for your website, at a cost of $11 a month for a 6 month subscription, and $10 a month for a 12 month subscription.

Like many MLMs, Pampered Chef doesn’t publicly share an income disclosure statement, but according to the Finance Guy, “less than 1% of Pampered Chef consultants will turn a profit.” This seems to agree with the experiences of former Pampered Chef consultants in this AMA (ask me anything) thread from a Facebook group. Here’s what they say:

How much do you need to sell (or buy) every month with Pampered Chef?

One of the reasons so many MLM reps get into debt is the requirement to sell a certain quantity of products, either monthly or every three months. They’re also often pressured by their upline to sell so they can hit their hit sales targets or a bonus. Many reps find it near impossible to meet their target so end up personally buying in order to remain with the company.

And Pampered Chef appears to be no different with a $150 monthly sales requirement to remain active. Here’s one ex-Pampered Chef distributor talking about the pressure to sell:

And here are other former distributors talking about the sales quota:

Do Pampered Chef distributors end up with unsold inventory?

As a result of the pressure to sell, it’s not uncommon to see ex-MLM reps with garages and spare rooms full of inventory when they leave – which they are forced to sell at a loss. Here’s a shocking example of unsold inventory belonging to an ex-Pampered Chef distributor:

Are Pampered Chef distributors under pressure to sell?

Another result of the pressure to sell in MLMs is the often desperate sales pitches and lies they resort to. This is due to needing to meet not just your own monthly sales requirements, but also from people above you who need to achieve team sales goals to meet their own targets – including the car allowance. (As you climb up the ranks at Pampered Chef you need to achieve high monthly team sales targets to keep your rank and car allowance.)

Here are ex-Pampered Chef consultants talking about the pressure they were under to recruit and sell:

And here’s an example of how the desperation to sell can lead MLM reps to morally dubious behaviour:

All in all, Pampered Chef seems typical for an MLM, and we wouldn’t be surprised if, as we see with other MLMs, most distributors lose money working for them. Which doesn’t bode well for people who join MyL’Occitane, considering their new Head of Social Selling has come from Pampered Chef.

At least 71% of LimeLife by Alcone distributors apparently lose money

But what about people who join L’Occitane’s MLM LimeLife by Alcone? How much do they earn? Unlike Pampered Chef, LimeLife by Alcone have produced an income disclosure statement. Here’s what their distributors earned monthly per rank in the US in 2020:

However, like most income disclosure statements, this table doesn’t tell the whole story. Here’s what their small print says:

As you can see the earnings shown only take into account people who qualified as ‘active’ by selling (or buying) over $300 of products that month. It’s also interesting to note the month they chose to share earnings from: December – when people are Christmas shopping, so sales are likely to be higher than other months.

So how many people are earning at each rank? Here’s what LimeLife by Alcone say:

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a waitress in in 2019 was $26,800 a year – or $2,233.33 a month. So of the 7,386 LimeLife by Alcone distributors who earned anything in December 2020, only 150 earned as much or more than a waitress. That’s just 2%. And not just 2% of ALL LimeLife by Alcone distributors, but 2% of those who made ANY money.

Apparently there are over 25,000 LimeLife by Alcone Beauty Guides (their term for distributors). This means that of those 25,000, only 29% made ANY money, and just 0.6% made as much or more than a waitress.

It also COSTS you money to sell LimeLife by Alcone products. According to this review, you need to buy a starter kit to join (costing $99 or $169), pay $75 a year to keep your membership active, and pay a monthly website fee of $9.95. (In the UK, it costs you £89 or £159 to join LimeLife by Alcone, plus £9 a month for your website and £65 a year to “continue as an active Beauty Guide”.)

This means that, according to LimeLife by Alcone’s income disclosure statement, at least 71% of their Beauty Guides in the USA lost money in 2020.

What does it cost to join MyL’Occitane?

If you want to join MyL’Occitane and become a L’Occi Consultant, you need to invest $49 in a business kit. Here’s what you get:

  • Your personal MyL’OCCITANE Website
  • Access to your personal MyL’OCCITANE Back Office
  • Skincare Education and Business On-Boarding
  • Business Support Center
  • Exclusive Pouch with 5×5 sachet samples of their Best-Selling products

As you can see, other than 25 sachets (the kind you get free in magazines) you don’t get any actual products for your $49. But that’s okay, because as you continue the onboarding process you are offered a ‘one and only’ chance to spend $200 on a New Consultant Product Experience Set. That means, in order to join and get actual products you can use and promote with, you need to spend $249.

According to the MyL’Occitane compensation plan you also need to pay an annual renewal fee to remain an active L’Occi Consultant:

You also need to meet weekly and/or monthly sales targets in order to stay active (which won’t be easy considering the cost of L’Occitane products):

Rather worryingly, while making it clear that there is a sales requirement, at no point in their compensation plan nor in their terms and policies do they inform you exactly how much you need to sell to remain active, nor what the annual renewal fee is. So when you join you are agreeing to a ‘binding electronic contract’ without this information.

And to even see the compensation plan and terms and policies you need to be on step five – the final step – of the onboarding process. This information is not available on their website before you start onboarding.

We also can’t see any information about shipping details and costs, other than the $4.95 shipping fee they deduct from all refunds, on the MyL’Occitane website, compensation plan or on their terms and policies. These are important details (and business costs) that we’d absolutely want to know before we paid to join a business.

Having reviewed the MyL’Occitane compensation plan, we see nothing that marks it out as any different or better than any other MLM. In fact it’s depressingly familiar. So we’d expect to see similar results to the examples we shared above for anyone who decides to join.

Why we recommend avoiding MyL’Occitane

So if you’re a fan of L’Occitane, we don’t recommend joining MyL’Occitane, their new MLM business. As you can see from Pampered Chef and LimeLife by Alcone, it’s not easy making money in an MLM. In fact, you’re far more likely to lose money than earn it.

And if, like us, you believe the MLM industry is toxic and exploitative, we’d also recommend finding new skincare products to buy in future, and avoid lining the pockets of a company who is happy to embrace a business model that has been shown to damage relationships, destroy self-esteem and get people into debt.

Read more about MLMs

If you’d like to learn more about the MLM industry, you can read the experiences of some of the former MLM reps we have interviewed here:

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Photo by Audrey Fretz