Multi-level marketing (MLMs) companies are having a moment — more specifically, a $30 billion in sales kind of moment. MLMs, aka network marketing, use direct sales via social media networks to sell product. They drive sales leveraging personal relationships between seller and consumer, rather than relying on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and big-box stores. Salespeople post unbelievable success stories on social media to entice “friends” to buy product or, better yet, to join their growing team. Many MLM companies boast that for a small starter kit fee, anyone can start their own business — the key being the more product you sell and the more people you recruit, the bigger the payday.
We wondered who is most interested in MLMs and how they express that interest. We used Quantcast data to find out. Overall, MLM searchers skewed significantly toward females, ages 18 to 44, with children in the household, college- or graduate school–educated and Asian. We got even more detailed and broke out searchers by: 1) people interested in becoming MLM consultants, 2) people interested in the business side of MLMs (CEO, stock, current news, etc.) 3) people searching for the company’s products 4) reviews of the quality of products, and 5) people investigating whether MLMs are a scam.
- People interested in becoming salespeople/consultants over-indexed even more heavily toward females than did the overall group of MLM searchers. This group also trended more toward a mid-income of $50K to $100K and indexed higher toward Caucasians.
- People searching more for the business side of MLMs, the company’s product and product reviews had very similar demographics; each group skewed more toward females, and had an older demographic of 35 to 44 years old.
- Scam searchers were the only group that over-indexed with males and incomes of $150K+.
We took a deeper look at a handful of MLM companies to better understand who is interested in each.
On a regional basis, 9 of the top 10 indexing states for MLMs were located in the East, while Arizona was the seventh-highest indexing state compared to state population. Interest in companies was very regionally focused:
- LuLaRoe: Interest in this manufacturer of comfortable and stylish clothes skewed toward northeastern states; unsurprisingly, the densest amount of salespeople appear to be located in this same geographical region.
- Nutrition company Herbalife over-indexed in 3 of the 5 top-populated states in the United States: Texas, Florida and New York.
- Essential oil company doTERRA and vitamin company Usana over-index with western states, compared to state population.
- Skincare company Rodan and Fields evidenced popularity in the South and had additional interest sprinkled across central states.
- Pampered Chef was most popular in northern central states.
We then dug even deeper into the data for each of the companies to see differences in who is searching for each. Key highlights of our findings include:
- Of the companies we looked at, long time MLM veteran Avon had one of the highest search volumes, and skewed toward the oldest searchers (55 to 64 years old).
- Asians over-indexed with beauty and health (specifically anti-aging) companies like Arbonne, Usana and Mary Kay.
- Herbalife searchers skewed the heaviest toward higher incomes ($150K+) and had the highest searches around whether the company is a scam. Top interests were finance news, legal news and business news.
- Usana over-indexed toward the lowest income bracket (<$50K) of searchers, and was the only company to over-index with males.
- Herbalife, LuLaRoe and Usana had the highest percentage of searches on the business side (stocks, CEO, lawsuits, annual reports, etc.), while Rodan and Fields had the highest searches for reviews and doTERRA indexed most highly among those investigating becoming salespeople/consultants.
Whether you’re quantifying searches on the business aspect of MLMs or looking to see how many people show interest in becoming independent consultants, online interest around MLMs is on fire. Even Hollywood is cashing in on the phenomenon with a new film starring Kirsten Dunst in the works and the newly released movie Betting on Zero that explores the inner workings of Herbalife. With promises of large paychecks made on part-time work schedules, it’s no wonder so many people want to know more.