Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MLM and Health Claims

Today's blog post is about an article written by Truth In Advertising (TINA.org) involving illegal or false health claims from MLM supplement companies. The article states, "Calling into question the Direct Selling Association’s commitment to consumer protection, a truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) investigation has revealed that 97 percent of DSA member companies selling nutritional supplements have distributors deceptively marketing their products with unsubstantiated health claims." TINA.org's investigation is not only scary, but down right frustrating, as this industry continues to propose they have answers to major diseases through unregulated and untested products. These flim-flam companies have just as high a rate of failure as they do for their illegal health claims.

Some examples of their illegal health claims include, "
From autism, and cancer to Ebola, there is an MLM supplement that is being marketed to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent a wide variety of diseases, the ad watchdog’s findings show. " This is just the tip of the iceberg as fellow bloggers regularly see other health claims from distributors boasting about their miracle product cures. These MLM companies have gotten too big to regulate their distributors, and probably don't want to regulate them because the distributors are the bulk of their revenue. If the regulatory agencies are ineffective in policing these companies, and the companies are unable to police their distributors (or care to), then it is up to each individual to be aware and informed for their own protection.

MLM companies have no qualification processes to join and hawk their products. They give MLM distributors free reign to promote the products, and only create limitations on how they actually distribute the products. There are consistently false or illegal testimonials, photos, research studies, and references. Youngevity claimed to be working with Clemson's research institute, and Nerium claimed to be working with Princeton, both of these claims are completely false. John Oliver's twenty minute segment on MLM also eviscerated Herbalife and showed distributors hosting a meeting and claiming to help with heart problems and pregnancy. As long as you have a pulse and a couple of dollars in your pocket, then you are allowed to start selling MLM products.

Snake-oil companies have existed for far longer than MLM, and the MLM business model is not creative or new, but rather a convoluted pyramid designed to destroy people's finances
MLMs have not grown out of necessity for their products or their business model, but rather through top dollar donations, lobbying, settlements, SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) lawsuits to stifle first amendment rights, and continuous lies about everything involving their businesses. These people are not your friends, they are not interested in making you fabulously rich, they are not interested in curing your diseases. These MLM companies are here to take your money, get you to find more friends to take their money, and ravage your local neighborhoods until everyone is stuck with worthless products and no assets.

Sources: Truth in Advertising - https://www.truthinadvertising.org/tina-org-investigation-reveals-mlm-industry-rife-with-illegal-health-claims/

John Oliver - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MwGeOm8iI&t=749s

Friday, March 17, 2017

MLM and a "Quality" Analogy

Today's blog post is about a recent stint of analogies that have been coming up on other blogs. The idea that MLM products somehow have better quality than other products is a myth that has been going around since the beginning, but the analogies seem to change and evolve over time. MLMers can't ever point out what that special ingredient, potion, spell, voodoo, or whatever it is that makes the product better, but they have no problem espousing that it exists, and that it makes their MLM product of the highest quality unlike the generic competition found at every other brick-and-mortar or online store. The price for these top shelf, top notch, grade-a, MLM products is always far higher than their competitors (http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2016/12/mlm-and-product-value.html), and it also is much more difficult to purchase because many require a membership. You may also have to sit through a pitch about the business opportunity, and in certain cases you have to purchase monthly, which makes these products far less reasonable to purchase.

So, how do MLMers attempt to prove that their company's products are of a higher quality? Do they attempt to utilize research from clinical tests? Do they research the ingredients from the competitors and do thorough analyses of the contents in comparison to their company's products? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no. Instead, they try to use technical jargon, mixed with circular arguments, and then transition into the bad analogies. It is important to note, none of these techniques have any veracity and are simply used to deceive and mystify.

One of the common quality analogies that continues to be used is the comparison between Mercedes and Honda. Their hypothesis is, if MLM products are more expensive than their competitors, then it is because of the quality. Similarly, Mercedes is more expensive than Honda, therefore the quality of Mercedes is better. Aside from the kindergarten logic being used, let's break down all of the flaws in this argument.

Higher price does not always mean better product. Yes, products of higher quality tend to be priced higher than those of lower quality. However, there is more than just this simple notion as the market place is more dynamic and has different tiers. You have to make sure that you are comparing two products that are in the EXACT same category, and the analogy above fails to do so. Honda does not target the same market as Mercedes (for the most part), and both have success for varying reasons.
Honda is designed to focus on an economical and simple vehicle, whereas Mercedes focuses on a luxurious and technically engineered vehicle. Mercedes and Honda both have specific regulations they must adhere to, and both must price their vehicles according to the market they are targeting. The bottom line is, BOTH have excellent quality for the markets they are targeting and they BOTH have great financial success.

A better comparison would be between Honda and Toyota or BMW and Mercedes. Not only are these comparisons involving the same target markets, but they are also involving the same countries of origin. When comparing these companies, price is usually the last thing to look at because it is more important to know which company has, more recalls, longer warranties, better safety standards, better gas mileage, better interiors, better longevity, and then somewhere down the line you can worry about the price.

Analogies like the one listed above run rampant in MLM pitches and it is important to remember that analogies are great for helping to understand, but they are not acceptable for determining facts. If an MLMer decides to answer your question with an analogy, especially if it is pertaining to something requiring data, then it is important to analyze what is actually being stated. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

MLM and Realities

Today's blog post is about taking time to reflect upon my world. The reason I call it my world is, it is inherently unique to me as everyone has their own version of reality. One of my favorite expressions is, "There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently" (Robert Evans). I'm going to switch the order around but today is about exploring my version of MLM, the MLMers side of MLM, and then the truth about MLM.

My version of MLM is very dark. I have explored MLM relentlessly and come across the same MLMers and their logic ad nauseam. They have no ability to critically think, they have become completely warped by jargon and analogies, and they have been blinded by the insatiable desire to become the person with the most stuff. MLMs have become synonymous with a virus as they spread their opportunity through the general population. MLMs are a pervasive parasitic paradigm shift in pyramidal schemery that continues to plague society.

MLMers believe MLM is the answer to the mysteries of the elite. They believe it is a golden ticket to launch them from poverty to greatness, and they also believe they will be doing a noble service at the same time. MLMers generally do not believe they are harming anyone and simply want what is best for their family and society. In general, MLMers are harmless, simple people that just want to make a great life for themselves and their families. MLMers are also very spiritual people, and believe they will be right with god as long as they pursue this venture. They believe the world is full of corruption and that MLM is their way to fight back against the evils of corporations.

The truth about MLM is found in the FTC investigations, the court cases, and the words of the MLM leaders. The FTC has found certain MLMs to have problems which have resulted in them being warned, fined, revamped, or completely shut down. They have gone after all kinds of MLMs, supplement based, juice based, clothing based, currency based, vacation based, and many others. The only thing all of these companies have in common is their MLM structure. To date, not one MLM has been exonerated in court, and have only survived because of large settlements and agreements to change their troubled ways. They continue to be sued and settle regularly until they must abandon their business and start something newDateline had a former Amway leader talk about the tools scam and how completely terrible the business actually was, and Eric Schiebeler has written a book, Merchants of Deception, about his experience in Amway and its corruption.

At the end of the day, not all MLMers are bad people, in fact most of them are probably good people. They lead very simple lives, and they just want the best for the people they love. They are victims of crime groups that utilize psychological tricks to deceive and manipulate the MLMers, and they prey on their vulnerabilities. The worst way to describe most MLMers is, they are a group of people similar to Jehovah's Witnesses that want to take a moment to talk to you about god, except they are at Starbucks instead of your house and they want to present a life changing business opportunity.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MLM and Pluralistic Ignorance

Today's blog post is based on a recent article from Psychcentral called How to Avoid Groupthink on Your Team. This article figuratively screamed, "Read Me!" with that Orwellian title. The article talks about a particular issue within the herd or group mentality, called pluralistic ignorance. Pluralistic ignorance is group silence due to fear of asking a question about a particular topic that was not understood. The fear of being judged by the group as the only person who did not understand is extremely powerful and is a regular problem within large meetings or lectures. Teachers often emphasize the importance of asking questions by suggesting if a particular point didn't make sense to you, then there are probably others that also didn't understand. This is one of the best ways to combat against pluralistic ignorance.

An example of pluralistic ignorance could be a boss addressing their sales staff about a new strategy for marketing their products. The boss may use certain types of jargon that are confusing or vague which makes the staff have questions, or worse, complete misunderstanding of the new strategy. The staff, out of fear of looking foolish in front of the boss and their peers, may elect not to ask questions about explaining the strategy and instead remain silent until the meeting is over. Afterward, they may ask each other for help explaining the strategy from the meeting, only to find out nobody else understood either. This is where pluralistic ignorance is generated and is an extreme problem when trying to go over new material in front of a group.

MLMs utilize pluralistic ignorance to their advantage and consistently utilize technical jargon that new recruits couldn't possibly understand. In fact, many of the mid level members of MLM don't understand what they are talking about, which makes the pluralistic ignorance more prevalent. They do not do a good job of explaining the business opportunity, which includes describing how new prospects generate revenue, how the bonus structures work, what commitments are needed to make the business work (time, money, education), or even the statistics for success. Unfortunately, the more technical they sound in their explanations, the less likely people are to question their validity.

MLMs also use bad analogies and dreams to fuel pluralistic ignorance. They invent their own answers to questions that either, don't actually answer the question or shame the questioner. They insist upon never directly addressing major points, and emphasize focusing on the results and dreams of others. An example of this is when people ask if MLM is a pyramid. A common response will be something obscure and technically difficult for a prospect to understand while also being unnecessarily long. A common bad analogy is the famous, corporate America is a pyramid explanation, which is not only erroneous but is also full of technical jargon that would confuse people and make them fearful to ask more questions.

It is extremely important to ask meaningful questions and phrase them in such a way that you will not feel concerned about others opinions. This is an important skill to develop and the article does a great job of explaining how to practice and grow in group settings. The worst disservice you can do to yourself, especially when investing your time and money, is to not fully understand what the opportunity actually entails. At the end of the day, the group isn't responsible for your inability to understand, therefore you cannot fear their impression of you.

Source: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/03/01/how-to-avoid-groupthink-on-your-team/