Introduction to Reliv international MLM Compensation Plan
It is right to begin my Reliv International review by clarifying that I do not have anything against soybeans, but I do not go out of my way to eat them. Plenty of soybeans grow here in the Midwest, and they contribute a lot to the economy of several Midwestern states. They are an unassuming ingredient in foods where we do not even taste them. They are in cookie dough ice cream and in some of the soups at Panera. I don’t mind eating soy. I just don’t like to eat it on purpose.
My distaste for soy goes back even farther than my distaste for the multilevel marketing (MLM) industry. Unlike a certain fungus that will remain nameless, soy did not leave me with a big pile of credit card debt and a basement full of unsold MLM merchandise. Rather, soybeans are part of the reason it felt so good to drop out of college.
When I was in college, I had a vegetarian girlfriend, and vegetarian dining options in the Midwest when we were college aged were not what they are now. It was difficult for us to find things to eat together. Sure, we ate cheese pizza with considerable frequency, but you would be surprised how many cuisines there are where the default vegetarian option is something with soy. When we would order Chinese food, we would get something with tofu, which has absolutely no taste at all. She used to say that that was the point of tofu, that it just tastes like whatever you cook it with, but I could never understand the point of eating food that doesn’t taste like anything. Grilling veggie burgers at the frat house barbecue was an exercise in frustration, especially since my then girlfriend would insist that we reserve a space on the grill just for her veggie burgers. No matter how long we left the veggie burgers on the grill, they just never tasted grilled. I know that the late Roger Ebert liked veggie burgers, and he is one of my personal heroes, but I am afraid that this is a point on which he and I will have to disagree. And don’t even get me started on Tofurky or those Tofu chicken nuggets. Those things just tasted awful. Of course, the alternative to soy was Portobello mushrooms, which are also something that I would not choose to eat, but I have already devoted enough space on Notebook Crazy to venting my animosity toward various types of edible fungi, so I shall resist the temptation to turn this Reliv International review of mine into yet another fungus rant. If you are in the mood for a fungus rant, however, all you have to do is click on my other MLM reviews, and it will not take you very long at all to find one.
Reliv International: The Company and Its Products
First the good news. Reliv was founded in Chesterfield, Missouri, and it has its headquarters in St. Louis, which is not too far from here. In my quest to review every multilevel marketing (MLM) company I can find, it is refreshing to find companies that are not based in Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, or Utah, and it brightens my day even more if they are based in the Midwest. It isn’t that I necessarily think the Midwest needs a bigger MLM presence than it already has; quite the contrary, in fact. It is rather that finding out that an MLM company has its headquarters in the Midwest gives me a chance to give a shout out to another city in my home region. I have already expressed my admiration for St. Louis on the pages of this blog. I have never met a barbecue I didn’t like, but St. Louis barbecue has to be my favorite barbecue of all time. Seasoned readers of Notebook Crazy will also recall that it was on a road trip to St. Louis that the other Brad, who is my business partner and the co-founder of Notebook Crazy, first heard The Piper at the Gates of Dawn from beginning to end. (In case you are not a seasoned reader of Notebook Crazy, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is the only Pink Floyd album with which Syd Barrett was involved from beginning to end. It is innocent and unsettling all at the same time. If you are lucky enough to have a good friend like I have in the other Brad, I recommend that you sit him in your car and listen to this album with him. It is best if you do this while driving toward St. Louis or some other friendly city full of barbecue so that you can replace the pictures that The Piper at the Gates of Dawn painted in your mind with something more pleasant before it comes time to go to sleep.)
The Reliv business opportunity was founded in 1988, which means that it is quite long in the tooth as MLM companies are concerned. It is not as old as Avon or Amway, but it definitely does not fit the pattern of a “pump and dump” MLM, where the founders seem to have planned all along to collect people’s membership fees and then skip town. Pump and dump MLMs usually implode after about two years. Its founders, Robert and Sandy Montgomery, are still involved with the day to day leadership of the company, which is also a good sign. The sleazier MLMs out then tend to change hands every few years, often precipitated by one leader going to jail for fraud, while another one with a long resume of being in charge of other MLMs steps in to take over.
Reliv International products are various types of nutraceuticals. They do have a flagship ingredient of sorts, but it is not an especially glamorous one. The flagship ingredient in Reliv International products is lunasin, a compound derived from soybeans. Anyone who has driven past a field full of soybeans (and in the Midwest, that is a lot of us) knows that they are not much to look at, and even committed proponents of health food admit that soy has a bland taste. Some people even consider soybeans a has-been among health foods; it ranks up there with low fat diets and artificial sweeteners among former health fads that now get a lot of bad press. Still, the folks at Reliv claim that Lunasin helps the healthy genes in your genome express themselves. As is the case with so many nutraceutical MLMs, the claims about the health benefits of Lunasin are based on only a few studies, and these studies were not done in vivo in humans.
I did find one pleasant surprise on the Reliv International website that elevated the Reliv business opportunity above most other nutraceutical MLMs in my estimation. On the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Reliv International website, the very first question is “Does Reliv cure any cancer, diseases or other illnesses?” I am pleased to report that the answer is “no”. Right there, in the first question of the FAQ page of the Reliv International website, it says, “Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” MLM companies are required to include this disclaimer on their products, but most of them put it in fine print where almost no one will notice it. Leave it to Reliv and good old fashioned Midwestern integrity to state this explicitly in the first question on the FAQ page. The FAQ page of the Reliv International website then goes on to advise potential customers to consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements and to read the labels of Reliv International products to check to see if they contain any ingredients to which the customer is allergic.
While soy powder is the poster child for Reliv International products, there are also dietary supplements aimed at joint health, weight loss, anti-aging, and the other usual suspects of MLM nutraceuticals.
The Reliv business opportunity is available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Thus, the Reliv International website has versions in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, and Indonesian.
The Reliv Compensation Plan
The Reliv compensation plan is one of the simpler MLM compensation plans out there. I was hoping to find a copy of the Reliv compensation plan document just by clicking in the right place on the Reliv International website, but the closest thing to an explanation of the compensation plan that can be directly viewed from the website is a video, and I have already sat through enough MLM videos to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. I did, however, find a slideshow online that outlines the basics of the Reliv compensation plan.
The Reliv compensation plan affords Reliv members five different opportunities to make money. The first way is through earning a profit from the retail sale of Reliv International products; the company estimates that Reliv members will earn a profit of between 20% and 40% on the products they sell. The next opportunity is called “wholesale profit”, but only in the MLM industry does what it describes qualify as wholesale profit. It is, for all practical purposes, a percentage of the profits made by Reliv members in your downline sales team. Then there are overrides, which are percent commissions you get on five levels of downline. Unlike most MLM compensation plan documents, the Reliv compensation plan gives names to the distributors in the scenario it presents. Then there are cash bonuses, as well as trips to Acapulco, Greece, Hawaii, Jamaica, Nevis, and Rome, among other places. Finally, high ranking members get “special recognition”, but the Reliv compensation plan slideshow does not specify what kind.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Reliv International is based in St. Louis, which is one of my favorite cities.
- The FAQ page of the Reliv International website contains a good deal more common sense than I am used to hearing in the MLM industry.
- Reliv International products are vegan and certified halal and kosher.
- Reliv International products are nutraceuticals, even if they are earnest Midwestern ones. Whichever way you spin it, I just am not convinced that nutraceutical MLMs are a good way to make money. Perhaps the boxes of fungus coffee piled up in my basement since my last MLM outing have something to do with it.
- While I have to give Reliv credit for being so honest as to say this right on the Reliv International website, the Reliv business opportunity involves three way calls, which are another of my least favorite aspects of the MLM industry. If you have never experienced a three way MLM call, I hope you never do, because I would not wish it on anyone. For those of you who have, you know that it involves sitting there awkwardly while your friend, who trusted you up until this point, listens to what might as well be a spiel from a telemarketer, and you and your friend are both too embarrassed to hang up.
I like the simple and straightforward vibe of the Reliv International website, but you have to do a lot more than just be a down to earth Midwesterner to convince me to try to sell nutraceuticals again. I firmly hold that, if it is your aim to go one vacation to Rome, Hawaii, or anywhere else, you will get there faster by setting aside just 2% of each paycheck until you have enough money saved for the airfare and hotel than you will by autoshipping MLM products to yourself and sitting through three way calls. The Reliv business opportunity offends me a lot less than most other nutraceutical MLMs do, but I still do not think that you should invest in it.
If you have ever visited St. Louis and want to compare notes about how awesome it is, schedule a call with me. I promise it will not be a three-way call, and it will not be awkward.