Introduction to Forever Living MLM Compensation Plan
If you are a regular reader of Notebook Crazy, then you have been accompanying me on my quest to review as many multilevel marketing (MLM) companies as possible. Every winter, I dedicate three months to sitting on my keister and staying out of the cold and the snow, but this winter, I have seen fit to sit on my keister and provide objective and well researched assessments of MLM opportunities, and there are lots of MLM companies out there to choose from, so the time is passing quickly. If you are just joining us for the first time today, you have arrived just in time for my Forever Living review.
I am an eight-year veteran of the MLM industry, and, as you may also have discovered if you have already tried your hand at MLM, no one lasts very long in this business without making at least one trip to sunny Florida. As I described in a previous post, Florida is MLM Valhalla. It is full of larger than life weather patterns and a dazzling array of reptiles, but it is too morally ambiguous for me to feel confident about calling it MLM Heaven or MLM Hell. Florida is the perfect place for MLM conventions, with its huge hotel ballrooms air conditioned like refrigerators, populated by people whose plastic surgeons could make zombies look youthful and radiant. It no longer surprises me to go to MLM conventions in Florida and meet people whose track record of marriages and divorces makes King Henry VIII look like a confirmed bachelor.
I have been to Florida enough times to know that those pink and green leaf cookies from Publix are awesome and enough times that most of the Sunshine State’s quirks no longer surprise me. Despite the weirdness and the moral vacancy, though, Florida is sunny and beautiful in ways that few other places are. The roadside hotels where the MLM conventions take place, especially in the expanse of central Florida that extends approximately from Orlando to Tampa tend to be enormous and round, and located within sight and earshot of multiple highways, as if a Disney version of the Roman Colosseum had been transplanted into the midst of where Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner do battle. They are an eyesore in the middle of the wasteland. Once you get out of your car and start walking toward them, you notice that the sidewalks leading from the parking lot to the hotel are gorgeous. On either sides, and with pebbles covering the soil in which they are rooted, are bromeliads and impatiens and aloe plants. Lizards wait at the edges of these sidewalk gardens, waiting until the coast is clear so that they can dart across the sidewalk to the garden of bromeliads and impatiens and aloe plants on the other side.
A few years ago I was at an MLM convention in Florida, and the session I was attending, in a big ballroom required small group discussion, with about eight participants sitting around each table. The tables had sickly pink tablecloths, and one of the most vocal people at my table was a German woman at the tail end of middle age. Despite her apparent cluelessness about some of the conventions of conversation in American business settings, she seemed much more confident and much less false than many of the American women her age that I have met at MLM conventions, especially in Florida. In any case, she had come to that particular session after having spent the previous day enjoying the Florida sunshine, and she had quite a sunburn. (By less false and more confident, I mean that she was the kind of person capable of living in the moment to the point that she would swim in the ocean at the risk of her sunscreen washing off and be having so much fun that she would forget to apply more.) When the moderators announced a 10-minute break, she left the room, as many people did, but when the session reconvened, whereas most people returned to the ballroom with Starbucks cups, my German table mate (I wish I could remember her name) returned with several stalks of aloe from the gardens beside the walkways in front of the hotel, and she was casually applying them to her sunburned face and arms.
This story comes to mind because the MLM company I am reviewing today, Forever Living, thinks as highly of the benefits of aloe as my table mate from the MLM convention in Florida. So now that we are all in the frame of mind to think about aloe, onward to our Forever Living review.
Forever Living: The Company and Its Products
The Forever Living company was founded in 1978, which puts it at the tail end of middle age in MLM company years. Its headquarters are in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is also a strong contender for MLM Valhalla, if Florida ever loses its competitive edge. Arizona has Florida’s natural beauty, materialistic culture, and terrifying reptiles, although the scariest reptiles in Arizona are snakes, rather than alligators. We have established on this site that, in order for an MLM company to stand out from the crowd, it has to have a unique flagship product or at least a signature ingredient, and Forever Living definitely has this. Whereas Forever Green has built its reputation on plankton, Ardyss on body shaping garments, and CieAura on holograms, Forever Living has tied its fate to aloe vera.
There are worse ingredients to build an MLM company round than aloe vera. It is already an ingredient in lots of skin care products you already own, even ones you did not buy from an MLM company, and the idea of ingesting aloe is not that weird to some people. If you asked a random sample of 100 people, you would probably find more people who have ingested intentionally aloe than people who have intentionally ingested plankton.
The Forever Living products page includes more different types of aloe drinks than you would ever have thought existed. Depending on how picky you are about the things you drink actually being liquids, you can choose from Forever Aloe Vera Gel or Forever Aloe Vera Juice. Most of the Forever Living aloe drinks are flavored orange or lemon lime or berry or some other normal health drink flavor, but the selling point of Forever Aloe Vera Gel is how much it tastes like aloe. According to the Forever Living website, drinking (eating?) Forever Aloe Vera Gel is as close as you can get to “slicing open an aloe leaf and consuming the gel directly from the plant”. Don’t get me started on how much MLM nutraceutical companies overuse the word consume; that is beside the point right now. My issue is why someone would want to ingest aloe gel straight up. It doesn’t sound much more enjoyable than taking a bottle of Panama Jack out of the medicine cabinet and squeezing it directly into your mouth. Oh, well. To each his own. The selection of Forever Living aloe beverages also includes energy drinks, flavor packets and herbal tea, each with aloe vera as one of the ingredients.
But that’s not all. In case aloe vera is not truly capable of being all things to all people, Forever Living also has a line of bee pollen products. That doesn’t surprise me very much. It seems that bee pollen has been considered a superfood since before the word superfood even entered the popular lexicon. On my first trip to Florida, the other Brad and I went to a diner where all the tables had disposable paper placemats advertising bee pollen supplements. There were even supplements containing royal jelly, which is a special type of honey that worker bees feed to one of their number to make her metamorphose into a queen bee after the previous queen bee dies. The placemats looked like they had been printed from a mimeograph machine, not a day after 1989. I am not sure how I feel about ingesting bee pollen, but if you ask me, royal jelly sounds like the perfect gimmick ingredient for an MLM nutraceutical company. Your advertising platform ca be that royal jelly will make you a king among humans the way that it makes the bees who eat it queens among bees. Even I might consume aloe gel if it were called royal jelly.
Beyond that, the Forever Living products creep much closer to generic MLM merchandise territory, meaning that they are not much different from the MLM merchandise that is probably already piled up in your basement. If you are reading this Forever Living review primarily to avoid looking at all the boxes of skincare products, essential oils, and vitamin supplements in your computer room, I regret to inform you that you will find even more of them on the Forever Living website, just waiting to be autoshipped. Sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger.
The Forever Living Compensation Plan
Now here comes the ugly part. I have searched far and wide for MLM companies that allow you to steer clear of the three hideous sisters (Gorgons?) of binary structure of your downline team, the stair-step breakaway system, and my least favorite of all, home parties. Let’s take a look at the Forever Living compensation plan to see how it holds up.
One of the biggest complaints that former Forever Living distributors have about the Forever Living compensation plan is that, in order to keep your active status as a Forever Living distributor, you have to order a certain amount of merchandise from the company every month, even if that means buying lots of Forever Living products for yourself when you cannot sell enough to other people. That is pretty normal for MLM companies, and if you have never tried your hand at MLM, it doesn’t sound so bad, but if you have, then you know the implications. You will end up with a basement so full of aloe vera and bee pollen, it might as well be a botanical garden.
The Forever Living compensation plan offers several ways that Forever Living distributors can earn money:
- Retail Commissions – You earn commissions of between 15% and 40% on your product sales.
- Personal Volume Bonus – This commission on your personal sales increases as your rank within the company increases.
- New Distributor Bonus – You get this bonus when you recruit new Forever Living distributors.
- Group Volume Bonus – This bonus is a commission on the sales of your entire downline team.
- Leadership Bonuses – These bonuses are based on downline sales and are reserved for the higher ranks in the company.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- The Forever Living compensation plan is far from the ugliest MLM compensation plan I have ever seen.
- Aloe vera really does smell good. I am not sure how it tastes, but aloe vera skincare products are quite pleasant and uncontroversial.
- It is very hard to sell substantial amounts of MLM merchandise. In all likelihood, you will end up buying lots of Forever Living products from yourself just to stay active in the company. The idea of my basement filling up with boxes of bee pollen supplements like so many cardboard beehives makes me nervous just thinking about it.
- The starter kit to become a Forever Living distributor costs $200. It does contain lots of Forever Living products, but the chances that you will have to buy lots more of them before you finish using the starter kit ones are very good.
I have nothing against aloe vera, and I have nothing against bee pollen. I do give Forever Living credit for not making its distributors jump through some of the more humiliating hoops in the MLM industry, like home parties and the stair-step breakaway plan. Unless you know people who absolute love aloe vera and bee pollen and are willing to buy huge amounts of it to help you out, Forever Living probably isn’t your ticket to financial freedom.
There really are ways to make money in the MLM industry. To find out what all the buzz is about, give me a call.