How Do You Navigate Changes in Direct Sales and Network Marketing?

July 8, 2024

Well, another 1 bites the dust. Today, it was announced that as of October 1, 2024, the network marketing company, Saint, which which is a makeup company, will be discontinuing its direct selling model and restructuring to an affiliate commission program.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, and I don’t know how many more times I need to say it, over and over again before people listen, but the direct sales model is crumbling. Literally, this Roman Empire, if you will, is crumbling before our eyes.

And it’s hard for people to see that, especially, you know, that saying it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, right? If you’re in it. And especially because new ones keep popping up like a cockroach. Or if you live in South Florida, we prefer the to call them Palmetto bugs. Okay?

But before we dive into this topic, I want to share with you a question I was asked this week by one of my friends on social media.

As you probably know and have gathered by now, I’m a cesspool of knowledge. And I swear, every week, I’m getting asked my personal opinion or for information on any given topic. Seriously, there are no limits. I’m like your virtual millennial, dear Abby.

And I have no problems taking the time to answer these questions, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram. I truly love to chatting with you and connecting with you.

But I also understand that sometimes these questions that you may wanna ask or get advice on can be a bit heavy.

So if you wanna remain anonymous, please fill out the short questionnaire. And while you’re there, you can also check out some of the responses I’ve given to other people about questions that they have.

But this week, I was chatting with my friend about my wearable device, the WHOOP, and how helpful, honestly, it has been to me, especially during pregnancy, to track my recovery.

I’ve been wearing the WHOOP now for 3 years, so through both pregnancies.

And as I’m entering my final weeks of pregnancy, I’ve been pen been paying extra attention to the 2 data points regarding sleep, REM, and then the deep sleep. So that way, I can be fully rested whenever this baby decides to make its earth side appearance.

I have a full podcast episode on the importance of sleep and more details on the Whoop that you can check out. I will be sure to put that link in the show notes.

Underrated: The Magical Power of Sleep

Underrated: The Magical Power of Sleep

Introduction to the importance of rest and recovery Well, it's been a hot minute since I've done a solo episode because I've been trying to make the most of my summer, and I had pre recorded ...

But I was asked about the EMF frequencies on the Whoop versus the Apple Watch. And I laugh when my friend asked me this because I said, do you even know me? And, of course, she replied with a yes. I know you wouldn’t wear something if it was majorly adding to your current toxic load.

So, first, let’s talk about what EMFs are.

Understanding Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and Their Spectrum

EMFs are electromagnetic fields that are produced by charged particles, such as atoms, with a surplus or deficit of electrons. This can run the spectrum from things that are considered low, air quotes.

Like power lines and your computer. So those frequencies fall between 0 and 10 to the 3rd power, all the way up to the highest of high, like tanning beds, which doesn’t bode well for me and my college years.

X rays and gamma rays. So that spectrum that I just gave you is 10 to 16th power, 10 to 18th, and 10 to 19th power, respectively. To also put in perspective, because the sun itself does emit its own EMS, that would be fall like, I’ll fall on the scale of 10 to the 14 and a half power.

Now, we know that there are some natural EMS, like I just mentioned, the sun. In fact, our body is constantly creating low frequency electromagnetic fields as part of the inner workings of cells, which is what makes practicing things like grounding or exposing yourself to the ocean.

Those are very powerful ways to get those low frequency fields pumping in your body. But, obviously, there are dangers too, specifically with man made EMFs.

It can damage cells. It can break up the actual DNA itself, as well as messing with the DNA’s ability to repair itself. So we know we’re exposed to these EMFs all day. I mean, if you’re listening to this, you have a cell phone.

Chances are you are using your Bluetooth to plug it into your car or you’re listening it straight up on your phone. Many people, most, I would say, do have a microwave. I do know some people that don’t. You have Wi Fi in your home.

EMF Exposure and the need for wearable device features

I mean, think about I know this is wild, but, like, if you have a baby monitor, you know, that is connected as well. So you’re exposed to these things all day every day. If you’re not outside of the home, you are when you go into your workplace.

They have Wi Fi everywhere. You have computers everywhere. Everyone’s got a cell phone. People are charging their computers and their cell phones. So, yes, you do have exposure.

Now I will be the first to say, I do wish that the WHOOP had the feature of airplane mode. So you could turn that on at night. There are other wearable devices that do have that, but I’m pretty confident that it is something that they will come out with soon.

They are on their 3rd version of this, and and the WHOOP just keeps getting better. And, obviously, its competitors, like the Apple Watch, are nipping at their heels. So they have to do something to remain ahead of the crowd, if you will.

But, to me, despite the fact that that’s not a current feature of the WHOOP,

the juice is worth the squeeze for me when it comes to choosing the WHOOP as a wearable device. It’s helped my family detect illnesses before they’ve become full blown, including COVID.

And that way, we can treat them at home holistically before it gets out of hand. And when I wore the Apple Watch, because I that’s the thing. Like, I’m I’m not someone who’s gonna preach you 1 thing without ever being on the other side of the coin.

I did wear an Apple Watch for a long time, and I actually had to stop wearing it because it was giving me migraines. It actually led to these weird red bird marks on my wrist when I would take it off.

Like, I could feel the Apple Watch just overheating, and I would take it off at the end of the night to charge it, and my whole wrist would be red.

And overall, to be real, the the mental side of it, it just left me drained and distracted because I had mine set up to be a wearable device with the phone.

So I was constantly getting notifications whether it was social media, my phone ringing, text messages, etcetera.

Issues I experienced while wearing the Apple Watch

I did wear an Apple Watch for a long time, and I actually had to stop wearing it because it was giving me migraines. It actually led to these weird red bird marks on my wrist when I would take it off.

Like, I could feel the Apple Watch just overheating, and I would take it off at the end of the night to charge it, and my whole wrist would be red. And overall, to be real, the mental side of it, it just left me drained and distracted because I had mine set up to be a wearable device with the phone.

So I was constantly getting notifications whether it was social media, my phone ringing, text messages, etcetera.

And in the 3 years I’ve been wearing the WHOOP, I’ve never had these issues. And I do believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the WHOOP is not receiving that line of communication. It doesn’t act as a cell phone.

It’s strictly a wearable device that you’re doing to track your metrics for your health. I also wanna add that the WHOOP uses red and green LEDs and sensors to determine how saturated your blood is with oxygen and the movement of your blood.

Hence, the reason it’s able to check HRV, which is your heart rate variability, so well and can tell you if it’s very low.

For example, you are most likely dehydrated or you have slow moving blood, which could have been due to whatever your nutrition choices were the night before. And this part of the tracking does not use radiation at all.

Maren [00:08:53]: But, as with anything, I believe in informed consent, so I encourage you to do your own research. A

nd if you wanna try it out, like, risk free, you have the ability to use my link and you can try it out for a month for free, and you get a free band with it before you make any kind of sign up that you wanna do it monthly or 6 months or an annual membership.

So that’s a risk free trial right there.

Now onto this week’s episode.

Pitfalls of The Direct Sales Model

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that no direct sales, MLM, network marketing company, whatever you wanna call it, the name has evolved over time.

It’s all the same… Is immune to changing their compensation plan and pulling the rug out from underneath their partners, associates, or whatever the heck they wanna call their people.

We are literally seeing this happen in real time right now.

Beautycounter, Monet, and now Saint. That’s literally just been within the last quarter. So my question is, who’s next? And when this happens, women are hopping from one company to the next.

Like, they are on the new company’s bandwagon with this delusion, in my opinion, that it’s not gonna happen again.

But, homie, it will. It will.

Performance of public multilevel marketing companies

And I saw this chart from the Direct Selling Association, so that’s the DSA. And it showed that from 2003, which is like eons ago.

Two decades ago. It’s wild. That is when most of these, like, OG network marketing companies started to emerge. Think Beachbody, Herbalife, etcetera. Amway.

They started to emerge and that equated to approximately .09% of the US’s total sales in retail.

And then, if you fast forward almost 20 years, so in 2022, that number dropped to .007 percent of retail sales. Now you did have a brief spike in 2020, and I believe that was due largely to everyone being locked in their homes…

…which meant that companies like Beachbody were selling their at home fitness programs left and right because people couldn’t go out to the physical gyms, but they they still wanted to be active.

Or people were looking for ways to shop because they couldn’t leave the house. You know, just because you had quote unquote nowhere to go, people still like to buy things and and people like to buy things when they’re bored, quite frankly.

Ask any breastfeeding mom who’s up in the middle of the night what their credit card bill looks like.

And, yes, there was a certain group of people that, you know, they were very unsure about their job status. Was their job gonna exist? Like, how long were they gonna be furloughed for?

So they were looking for new financial opportunities. And that is truly why there was such a spike in that 2020 period.

So based on that chart, the DSA, they the results that they have from that, they pulled it from the performance of 9 public multilevel marketing companies. With 7 out of the 9 experiencing share declines relative to 2018.

Expansion and impact on direct sales companies

And I know this from my own direct sales company, you know, we expanded to other countries. The UK, France. I know many other direct sales companies did this as well. I know Monet. They were in Australia, you know, Canada, yadayada yada.

And what I will tell you and I can say this just for my own knowledge of my direct sales company, which, like I said, is an OG one.

So if it’s affecting an OG one, I don’t care what anyone says. It’s affecting the new ones too.

And inevitably, they’re gonna follow the same path. But those markets that we have are minimal. I mean, France is is almost obsolete compared to our US.

And inevitably, they’re gonna follow the same path. But those markets that we have are minimal. I mean, France is is almost obsolete compared to our US.

Challenges Facing the MLM Industry Globally

And according to this data, which is not just, you know I don’t even know if mine is 1 of the 9 they studied, but 5 will get you 10. It probably is.

Despite the fact that there was an increase in UK direct sellers, the industry’s economic contribution was halved from 2018 to 2022. So that’s suggesting that this whole model of MLMs is facing a challenge globally. Like, this isn’t just a US problem.

It’s global. And like I said, the US is the largest market. So these other countries, it’s it’s almost becoming an obsolete career path, if you will. So what do I think is going to happen?

Well, first of all, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when there needs to be cuts, the first ones to feel it are gonna be the distributors who aren’t making as many sales as they once did. You know, I do blame a a lot of that on the economy.

I believe that a lot of that has to do with burnout, both on the promoting end as well as the purchasing end. I think people are just sick of seeing everything on social media. They open up their socials, and it’s just 1 ad after another or 1 influencer after another.

So I think there’s a lot of burnout there. I also believe that at the end of the day, there’s so many options now, whether, like I said, there used to be only a few direct sale companies. Now there’s one popping up every minute. There’s so many affiliate opportunities.

So there’s just so many more choices for people to make. And you have these people who, because of that, they aren’t making as many sales as they once did, but yet, because they built for so long, because they, you know, hit certain ranks, whatever it may be, they may not necessarily be making the same amount of sales, but yet they’re collecting large checks weekly, sometimes even quarterly.

You know, they have these certain bonuses. And so the company is paying them, but they almost they they can’t afford to at this point.

It’s like they have more money going out than they have coming in. And I saw this happening a year ago with my own business with Beachbody.

And I, quite frankly, I planned accordingly. I started diving more into the companies that I do have affiliate partnerships with. I started diving more into my affiliate partnerships.

I hit the ground running with my own offer of coaching and mentorship, taking my to age myself here, 16 years of coaching and mentorship experience.

And I went back to teaching golf full time because, quite frankly, I’ve been doing that my whole life, and I’d be lying to you if I said that wasn’t profitable either. I just I saw the writing on the wall.

And in the next 6 months, I think there are gonna be a lot more of these wow moments. And I hope people listen to messages like this and and prepare for it.

Because I truly believe you’re gonna see more companies follow suit with what Saint did, which is going from the direct sales model to an affiliate model.

And I personally believe that Beachbody will be one of those companies that does it as well. You know, you can only stay in the red for so long, especially as a publicly traded company before people start asking the hard questions. Okay?

FTC scrutiny on MLMs due to medical claims

Plus, the FTC, which is the Federal Trade Commission, they’ve been all over MLMs, like white on rice, ever since COVID. Because so many distributors from a multitude of companies, they were making medical claims.

So whether it was the, you know, people who promote essential oils or supplements, yada, yada, yada.

Now I’ll be the first to tell you, I do believe several products, including the ones that I personally use and promote, help keep the virus away. Oh, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty dang knowledgeable, and I do my own research.

Several of the products that I use and promote, they have quercetin in it, which is known to help combat the virus. And we all know that no one in the government wants you to truly be healthy in a holistic matter.

They want you to be reliant on them. But, anyway, we’ll save that discussion for another time.

FTC compliance and the issue of distributors as primary customers

So between that and the fact that these companies need to remain compliant with FTC, so they can’t they can’t have when they when you’re looking at their numbers, you can’t have 95%, which yes, that’s what a lot of these companies are.

95% of their customer base using air quotes are actually the distributors. Like, that’s that can’t happen. They don’t they don’t like to see that.

Because basically, it just shows, okay, the only people who are buying what you’re selling are those who are hooked into the business and have to meet certain, you know, quotas to maintain rank, you know, sales goals, etcetera.

It’s not necessarily because they truly I mean, you would hope that they truly love the product. But to be honest with you, a lot of people, once they stop working for a particular company, or promoting it, whatever, they don’t stay on the monthly products anymore.

It is very rare that you find someone that leaves a network marketing company… I don’t care who it is.

Young Living, Beachbody, Monet, what whatever. Arbonne….

Where they leave, and then they still keep their products on auto ship. They just don’t. And a lot of times that’s because they’re switching what… to a new company, so they gotta start talking about those products.

But that is a major red flag to the FTC is they they wanna know, hey, people outside of your distributor network, they like your product. It can’t just be those people. You have to have a strong loyal customer base.

Unfortunately, a lot of these MLMs don’t, and the FTC knows it.

You know, there are a lot of women this week posting from Saint who were like the first ones in the door.

So they obviously have massive downlines. So, yes, these changes definitely impact leaders with massive downlines. And the reason for that is because most of their income, which, you know, they they’ve been with the company, say myself, for over a decade.

Most of the income comes from team bonuses. Who’s gonna benefit from these changes? Well, those who don’t really have a ton of skin in the game, so to speak. I’m talking, like, you know, 10 years experience.

But yet, they do a great job selling the actual product. So the ones that haven’t been focused on team building and just straight up promoting whatever the product is, it will benefit them because this model is closer to the affiliate model.

You share a link, a code, whatever, and then you earn those personal sales. It’s not like when you build a team where you’re earning income, not just of your sales, but those sales of the people you’ve recruited to be on your team as well.

And full transparency, I definitely fall into the category of it significantly impacting me because, yes, I have been doing this for a long time, like I said, over a decade, and I have a very deep downline of partners.

Why I will never join another network marketing company

But, you know, this is a PSA to anyone who is in direct sales because I get these messages too. Hey. So when you gonna come over to blah blah blah? Whatever name the company.

I would never join another network marketing company. I will ride the wave as long as I can, and I do use the products every single day. I actually just had my shake before I started recording this, but I would never do it again.

And I encourage you to follow that same path and mindset because imagine spending so much time building a team. And when I tell you that I spent years, years building a team, I mean, that time alone, who the heck wants to do that ish again?

Seriously. I mean, the calls, the trips to conventions, building marketing tools for whatever product or program was being released that quarter, trainings, rebranding your team logo, making sure everyone had the matching t shirts, I mean, it was endless.

But it was worth it because I was in the top .001% of the company. You know, you gotta work hard to earn it.

The myth of time freedom in network marketing and the reality of sacrifices

But that’s why I get so frustrated when these people are preaching things like time freedom. That’s, that’s a lie. It’s a lie. And it’s a red flag. If anyone’s telling you that, because you will make sacrifices, specifically with your time.

And now that I’m gonna be a mom of 2, I know for sure for sure that I would never do it again. Because I did it in my late twenties into my, like, my, like, big building years were my late twenties, specifically into, like, my early thirties. But now at 38, heck no.

Because I will never sacrifice that time away from my kids. And I, to these women who are doing that, I say, really? You’re gonna do that ish again? I really hope your kids are, like, in college. Right? Because the same thing’s gonna happen.

You’re delaying the inevitable, and you’re making more work for yourself versus staying where you’re at. These short term wins that you have in your new company, they’re not gonna equate to long term success. And call me a Debbie Downer. I’m not a Debbie Downer.

Sustaining Success: Adapting to Beachbody’s New Direction

Sustaining Success: Adapting to Beachbody’s New Direction

So I've gotten this question from a couple of people lately and I thought I would address it, because if I'm hearing it from multiple people in the DMs, on social media, that usually means that ...

I’m a realist, and I understand business. And I wanna note too, because I’ve seen a lot of this on social, and it’s gross. It’s ugly. And I really can’t stand women who don’t support women. Not that I’m, like, the ultra feminist. You know, I shave my armpits and I don’t burn my brow.

But I do feel for these women whose income has been greatly impacted by these changes because I too have been in the thick of it in the past year. I’ve shared this before.

I you know, at the height of my career in direct sales, I was making multiple, multiple 6 figures, and then it started to downward trend. And then going from 2023 to 2024, my 6 figure income was cut in half.

And I know that there are leaders in my company who were making 7 figures, like the highest of high. They were making 7 figure salaries and multiple 7 figure salaries. And within a couple years, that dropped a $1,000,000 dollars. That’s a lot of freaking money. It’s a lot of money.

And I know with all of these announcements that there are anti MLM haters who are just salivating out there with this news, salivating.

Maren [00:27:22]: They love it. They’re on the YouTube. They’ve got it all. They’re creating all the videos and being like, I told you so. Right? And they’re making fun of those women who right now are being vulnerable and sharing their emotions on social media. And let’s be real. That’s unkind. It’s rude.

Maren [00:27:42]: It’s ugly. I also believe that part of that ugliness comes from being jealous that they never hit those high achievements in the first place. It takes a very honorable person to create a network marketing business with integrity.

And even this is what people don’t understand. Even the most honorable people at 1 point in time have screwed up. Right? They might’ve sent the, hey, girl message. They might’ve said something that they shouldn’t have and they regret or whatever it may be. A relationship could have been ruined because of business.

Right? But I think we’ve put people in this bubble where, like, we kinda forget that we’re human. Right? Like, oh, you have to act and behave a certain way. And if if you’re an MLM, you’re automatically bad. No. Most people are not.

Are there some bad eggs? For sure. But that’s in anything. Okay? But even, like I said, those who keep their head high and and run their business with the utmost integrity, they’ve made mistakes.

I know I have, and I consider myself to be a really authentic person. I want to be able to keep my head, you know, nice and calm and put it down on that pillow at the end of the night and know that I am taking care of people, but we’ve all screwed up from time to time and we’ve made mistakes. We’re human.

That’s such as life and to all those people who are, like I said, just looking at chops at this downfall of some people that’s you better watch out homey.

Cause karma is a big B. So I’d watch what you say, watch what you post on the internet, watch what stuff you’re, you know, trying to make go viral because it’s gonna come back to you in some way, shape, or form.

This whole thing sucks, period. I truly believe, though, that when these women started, initially… When they signed up, they were just trying to better their family and their lives.

And, yes, it is true. Sometimes money does change people. But do me a favor.

Number 1, give these ladies a little grace because you would want the same in return. And 2, do not be gaslit by those who are trying to entice you to join another shiny object opportunity that they’re projecting onto you.

Because the fact of the matter is, yes, their income has been impacted and they’re looking for the easiest route to supplement it.

I’m seeing mess like so many messages, whether it’s Facebook posts, reels, whatever of these women who left their business in one direct sales company.

And then they move over to a new network marketing business. And they say things like, this new company has even better products. Or all of a sudden they’re saying stuff like, I feel invigorated for the first time in years. I’m excited to do this, and I feel aligned with this new opportunity.

I can’t like, I don’t, I don’t know how people buy into that. But I guess they do. You know? What can I say?

Diversify Your Income and Build Your Own Brand

And what I want you to do instead of all of that is I want you to diversify your income with affiliate opportunities. And most importantly, you need to create your own offer.

One that you can control. One that no one can take away from you. You need to build your own page and your own influential brand because when these companies make their inevitable decisions, because they will, they look out for themselves first.

Remember that you literally have no say. You you wanna be prepared.

And it saddens me that people don’t realize that God gave them their own gifts instead of believing and leaning into their own unique ability or capacity to create something of their own, instead, they hit the easy button and they follow the crowd.

I will end this episode with this, and I want you to remember it.

Do not become slaves to building someone else’s empire, my friend.

If you wanna learn more about content creation, how to build your social media, create sustainable relationships with people that will allow you to monetize your online presence, your brand, and more, I encourage you to reach out to me.

I created a 90 day live group coaching program to help you get real with your content, stop wasting your time, and in turn, start making income. Not some boring modules you’ll never watch, nor am I asking you to drop money and never hear from me again.

You will stand out from the crowd. This is actual help that is unique to your income goals and your industry.

From someone who has been building multiple streams of income for over a decade. Someone who has prepared for the worst and hope for the best and come out on top.

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If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.

Maren Crowley

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In each episode we’re seeking truth and getting real – helping you discover your strength and voice to make the best, informed choices on YOUR terms in accordance to HIS will.

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