Jody (Coughlin) Greene argues in her Forbes article titled “Is MLM a Bad Word?” that MLM has had a bad reputation because its structure is similar to pyramid schemes and its negative image isn’t deserved.

Not only is network marketing a proven business, being one of the longest-running business models in the United States, but its marketing strategy has also proven successful. Distributors create income through their personal sales and the sales of those who they’ve recruited in their downline. Because of its pyramid-like structure, MLM has in some cases gotten a bad name.

Ms. Greene explains just some of the criticisms faced by network marketing companies:

Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes (hence the “scheme” reference), price-fixing of products, high initial start-up costs, emphasis on recruitment of lower-tiered salespeople over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring salespeople to purchase and use the company’s products, potential exploitation of personal relationships which are used as new sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members’ enthusiasm and devotion.

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