The recruiting lies MLMs tell you

Tempted to join an MLM after a convincing sales pitch? Find out why it’s possible you’ve been lied to – and the reality of what you can possibly earn.

When MLM reps attempt to recruit, they often make promises of easy income – money you can earn in ‘pockets of time’ around your busy life. It all looks so easy, and so doable.

What they don’t tell you is that many MLMs have a high churn rate (Herbalife admitted in 2005 that it had a turnover rate of 90% of distributors who were not supervisors, and 60% of supervisors.)

Nor do they tell you that, according to research published on the FTC’s website, an average of 99.6% of MLM reps will lose money once business expenses are taken into account.

So it’s no surprise that the MLM industry in general appears to be in a possible terminal decline. As an example, here are figures for Forever Living UK. As you can see, the company’s turnover in 2022 was its lowest in 20 years:

So while we don’t believe there was ever a good time to join an MLM like Forever Living, it absolutely does not look like a wise financial decision now.

Ironically, the fact that the business is struggling just places MORE pressure on the business to recruit. They need more people coming in at the bottom (and spending money) to keep the cash coming in for the people at the top.

So the recruitment drive (and lies) continue apace. And to highlight just how far the gap between promised potential income and genuine potential income is, we thought we’d contrast the numbers shared in a recruitment pitch by a Forever Living rep with the company’s latest income disclosure statement.

Forever Living reps claim you can earn up to £2,000 a month

So what are Forever Living reps claiming you can achieve with the company? Here’s a slide from from a recruitment pitch shared by this Forever Living rep:

As you can see, the message appears to be that it’s possible (if not easy) to earn “anything from £100-£2000 a month over the summer” around what people already do. So a part-time income.

The potential earnings per rank shared in the screenshot are as follows:

  • Assistant supervisor: Typical earnings £100-£400 a month
  • Supervisor: Typical earnings £500-£700 a month
  • Assistant manager: Typical earnings £700-£1,000 a month

These figures are taken from the company’s First Steps to Manager guide, so are clearly approved.

But how accurate are they? Let’s look at the latest Forever Living income disclosure statement to find out what the ‘typical earnings’ really are.

Less than 5% of people who join Forever Living earn more than £100 a month

According to Forever Living’s latest income disclosure statement, here’s what people who joined the company have earned:

  • 89.8% earned nothing
  • 1.76% earned less than $42 a month
  • 4.22% earned more than $42 a month
  • 2.91% earned an average of $111 a month
  • 1.26% earned an average of $1,670 a month
  • Less than 0.04% earned $31,235 a month

So, according to these numbers, only 4.21% of people who have joined Forever Living earn over £100 a month. And if you want to earn the promised potential £2,000 a month you need to be in the top 1%.

This contrasts VERY dramatically with the recruitment claims above.

Is it possible to make money selling Forever Living products?

The numbers above don’t tell the full story though. They are just the amount people earned from the compensation plan. There is also the potential to make money from selling the products to customers.

So how feasible is this?

The first thing you need to understand is that all MLMs have what is known as an ‘active requirement’. This is a sales target you need to meet to remain with the business.

Forever Living go one step further and require you to personally use their products: “To be considered active for the month in his/her home operating company, an FBO must have a total of four active case credits in the home operating company during that month, at least one of which is a personal case credit.”

Given a case credit (CC) is worth around £166 wholesale (around £237 retail) that means you’re out of pocket before you have even sold a product. And selling isn’t easy.

We’ve examined the possibility of earning a living from retail sales in an MLM before, and calculated that it is just not realistic. This is confirmed when we’ve interviewed people from MLMs, all of whom failed to earn enough from retail sales to even meet their monthly active requirement, let alone earn an income from them.

Even a former Younique Black Presenter – the highest rank in the company – admitted that she had to personally buy stock to meet her monthly sales requirement.

Top Forever Living reps have also claimed to only have as few as “nine regular customers”. And given the cost of Forever Living products, this isn’t a surprise. When we price matched them against equivalent or superior high street products, we found they were consistently significantly more expensive.

To earn £400 you need to sell £1,000 of products

So how much do you need to sell with Forever Living to earn an income? This text exchange, shared by a Forever Living rep demonstrates just how tough it is to earn money from retail sales:

To recap, a woman in the rep’s downline says she’s sold 5.2 CCs of products. CCs, or case credits are the units Forever Living uses to measure sales. And according to this text exchange, a CC in this instance is worth £272, and gives this woman £81.60 in commission.

The woman is celebrating earning £424.32 in commission. But in order to achieve that, she’s had to sell an eye-watering £1,114.40 of products in a month.

It is clear from the wider text exchange that this woman is going for a promotion in the company, as this volume of sales does not appear normal for her (she’s been with the company for around 10 years and is still at the bottom rank, from what we can see).

From experience, some of these sales will be personal purchases, or guilt-buys from friends and family to help her reach the promotion. But once the promotion is reached, that volume of sales won’t be maintained.

The Forever Living ‘success’ who earned just £87 a month

Here’s another example of how hard it is to earn money with Forever Living – even when you are trying hard and being mentored. This social media post was written by the same woman who shared the texts above:

Incidentally – another lie – the aspiring manager she mentions here was not “working up to Head Teacher”, but was in fact a school assistant.

Here’s another post from the same woman (again, lying that the aspiring manager is a teacher):

Here’s a photo showing this same aspiring manager sharing the secrets of her ‘success’ a talk at a Forever Living Success Day:

And here’s the reality – a Facebook comment by the aspiring manager:

As you can see, despite all her hard work, and the mentoring from her upline, she only earned £87 that month. Sadly, this woman also posted on social media that she was forced to catch the bus with her children because her car “broke down and is gone”, and she couldn’t afford to replace it.

So clearly, even with her determination, hard work and mentoring, she struggled to make money with Forever Living.

Don’t buy MLM recruitment lies

Right now, MLMs like Forever Living are putting an increasing amount of pressure on their reps to recruit, in an attempt to stop the downward industry trend and save their profits. This means that more people are being subjected to potential recruitment lies and whitewashing.

Unfortunately, the people who fall for these lies are more likely to LOSE money than make it, according to date from both Forever Living themselves and research into the industry as a whole. So please be wary about falling for an MLM sales pitch.

Read more about MLM Forever Living

You can read more about MLM Forever Living in these articles:

Hannah Martin is a media expert on multi-level marketing (MLM). She’s been investigating MLMs since 2016 and has appeared on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour speaking about MLMs. 

She was on the steering committee for the world’s first global MLM conference and has helped journalists and TV producers create investigative content into the MLM industry, including the BBC documentary Secrets of the Multi-Level Millionaires: Ellie Undercover