There are tonnes of multi-level marketing companies out there.
So much so that even though I spend a significant amount of time researching network marketing companies, it seems as though there is a new one popping up every single week, and if you’re curious about the world of network marketing and wondering which are the best MLM companies to join, it can be difficult to know where to start.
As if that isn’t enough, many of the articles out there about the best MLM companies came to their conclusions using very odd data.
(Sidenote: in this article I will be using the terms ‘MLM companies’ and ‘network marketing companies’ interchangeably.)
For example, many people promote their MLM by bragging about how many distributors are already out there and how quickly the number of the people in the company is growing. Now I totally get that this makes the whole ‘sisterhood’ aspect exciting, as well as increasing your FOMO, but listen – if a network marketing company is growing super rapidly, this isn’t necessarily a good thing!
While the promise of being able to grow and nurture a large downline is enough to make you go starry-eyed (get that #timefreedom sis), the facts are that if a multi-level marketing company is welcoming tonnes of new people in, it means that the market is becoming saturated very quickly, and no savvy business person wants to sell their products in an oversaturated market.
It is also dangerous to judge which are the ‘best MLM companies’ based on how much revenue they rake in, because in the world of multi-level marketing, a lot of that money comes from the distributors themselves, both from start-up costs and product buying.
In addition to that, most of the money in an MLM will go straight to the people at the top, and so a company’s overall revenue intake is not representative of how much the average Jo is earning.
With this in mind, I decided to take a closer look at the world’s top network marketing companies and how much you can actually expect to earn in each company.
After all, that’s why you want to join right – to make money?
But before we dive in, let’s outline just what MLM and network marketing even is, for anyone who doesn’t know (although if you’ve found this article through Google then this bit may not apply to you so feel free to skip this section!)
The Top Network Marketing Companies 2021 (and How Much Money You Can Earn With Them!)
What is Network Marketing and How Does it Work?
Network Marketing is the same thing as MLM, although ‘Network Marketing’ is definitely the most common way that people in the industry refer to it.
MLM stands for multi-level marketing and it has been around for years. Popular MLM companies include Amway, Avon and even Tupperware!
As of February 2020, 60 million people worldwide were working in MLM companies, and with the pandemic causing many people to lose their jobs and seek work from home opportunities, it isn’t difficult to see why MLMs are attractive to people.
How does MLM work?
People in MLM companies do not receive a salary but instead earn money from selling products to people they know and making a commission from every person that they sign up to the company, as well as commission from the sales and recruits generated from THAT person, continuing down in multiple levels (hence, Multi-Level Marketing).
The big money comes in if you manage to recruit a lot of people into your ‘downline,’ because then you will make commissions off every single person underneath you, enabling you to make large amounts of passive income for little to no work.
However, Jon Taylor found that on average, 99.6% of people in MLMs lose money, and so I wanted to investigate just how much you can expect to earn in the top MLM companies, and whether their huge revenue intakes are representative of how much the majority of people in the company are earning.
The Top Network Marketing Companies 2021
Before I jump in, I want to note that these will just be brief outlines of the top network marketing companies in the world today, and I will not be going into lots of detail about the income disclosure statements, compensation plans, controversies etc. This is just a guide to the best MLM companies and how much money you can expect to earn with them.
If it’s deep-dives you’re looking for, I recommend my Monat, Arbonne and It Works! articles.
I also want to say that I will try not to inject too much of my own personal opinion into this article. My aim is to present you with the facts and let you make up your own mind about whether you think joining any of these companies is a good idea.
1. Amway – $8.8 billion
Amway is one of the most profitable MLM companies of all time and it’s old-school. In fact, it was actually Amway who introduced the concept of multi-level marketing to the world!
Amway is a makeup and nutrition company that owns a whole load of other companies, and many Amway distributors try to hide the fact that they’re shilling Amway products.
In fact, during the induction process (unless you apply through the official Amway website), Amway jump through hoops to not even tell their recruits that the company they will be building a business with Amway!
The reason for this is that Amway has been at the centre of a lot of controversy, not least for being in the infamous FTC vs. Amway scandal in 1979, where the FTC accused Amway of being an illegal pyramid scheme.
You can read the full ruling here.
Amway income levels – how much money can you expect to earn with Amway?
According to Amway’s website, 34% of U.S. registered IBOs received no compensation from Amway at all (meaning they will have lost money due to the costs incurred with running an Amway business).
The average income for those who did receive compensation from Amway in 2019 is shown below:
The Top 1% earned $43,853
The Top 10% earned $3,694
The Top 50% earned $404
This means that if you were in the top 50% of earners, you could expect to earn an average of $7.76 a week with Amway before expenses. Amway expenses include: registration/renewal fees, shipping charges, taxes and expenses incurred from samples, travel, any training purchased from Amway and more.
For a detailed breakdown of the expenses that an average Amway rep incurs, here is a super comprehensive article.
(Note that I have used the median averages because they are more representative of the Amway income levels – when using the mean average, one high earner can throw the whole average off.)
2. Avon, $5.7 billion
If you mum didn’t sell Avon products (or have friends who did), was she even really your mum?
Avon is a huge beauty MLM and has been going since forever (well, since 1886). It is known for its cheap makeup, skincare and haircare products. While in the past, Avon was more of a traditional direct sales company, in recent years they have placed a heavier emphasis on recruitment and are now one of the major players in the multi-level marketing game.
how much do you make selling avon?
Avon haven’t released an income disclosure statement since 2009, but what is publicly available is a 140 page annual report from 2015, which The Finance Guy provided a deep analysis of over on his website.
He found that average Avon Representatives earn less than $135 per month from Avon (total income, not profit). To find the profit, you would have to deduct all of the money that the rep spent on sign-up fees, samples, products, brochures, marketing campaigns etc.
3. Herbalife, $4.5 billion
Herbalife are another MLM that have attracted their fair share of controversy, so much so that a Netflix documentary called Betting on Zero was entirely dedicated to uncovering the truth about whether this colossal enterprise is actually operating as a pyramid scheme.
Herbalife sells dietary supplements and is banned in Belgium after a Commercial Court ruled that it was an ‘illegal pyramid scheme.’
That said, Herbalife remains hugely popular in many countries around the world (I’ve even seen flyers for Herbalife in the tiny village in Spain that I live in!), and is the third biggest MLM company in the world.
how much do herbalife distributors make?
According to Herbalife themselves, ‘nearly 86% of U.S. Distributorship (399,673) did not receive any earnings from Herbalife.’
Below is a breakdown of what Herbalife distributors earn (assuming that there are 464,736 distributors if 399,673 is 86%):
399,673 Herbalife distributors made nothing.
34,855 made less than $370 a year.
6,971 made $6,965 a year.
697 made $108,802 a year.
Like the two examples above, the people earning $370 a year likely lost money due to the money that Herbalife distributors spend on their business.
In this video, one ex-Herbalife distributor explained that it ‘cost him $5000 to make $1000.’
So, to recap, 86% of people earn no money with Herbalife and most of the people in the top 15% earn less than $400 a year (not including expenses).
4. Vorwerk, $4.2 billion
I’d never actually heard of Vorwerk (or Thermomix) prior to compiling this list, so I had to do a bit more research on this company to find out what the hell it even is.
Turns out Vorwerk is a household goods company based in Germany. It is known for having expensive products of excellent quality (the Thermomix food processor comes in at around $2000 and their Kobald vacuum cleaners start at about $1000).
Unfortunately, Vowerk do not release income disclosure statements, so it is impossible to see how much their distributors earn. You cannot even view their compensation plan (a breakdown of exactly how you will earn money and the commission structure etc.) until you have paid the sign-up fee and purchased the Thermomix.
Now, this is only my opinion, but if a company won’t even release it’s compensation plan, it is for a reason. I have never encountered an MLM company that does not make its compensation plan public.
5. Mary Kay, $3.5 billion
Another old-school MLM and one of the top network marketing companies out there is Mary Kay, a Texas-based makeup MLM that has been going for over 50 years! Mary Kay sells a tonne of lotions, potions and things to put on your face, and while it isn’t as famous now as it used to be, it still brings in the big bucks.
how much do mary kay consultants make?
Mary Kay do not publish their income disclosure statements for their U.S distributors, but they do for their Canadian ones because Canadian law requires it.
The Mary Kay income disclosure for 2019 states that a typical distributor ‘does not earn any commissions or bonuses,’ and that 83% of Mary Kay distributors in Canada earned nothing in 2019, with 15% earning an average C$206 (163 USD) annually. Less than one half of one percent (0.050%) earned more than $20,000 in annual commissions on average in 2019.
In USD, this is $15,880.
So, to summarise, you have a 98% chance of earning 0-206 Canadian dollars per year with Mary Kay, and a 0.050% chance of earning C$20,000.
To put this into context, the minimum wage in Canada is between C$23,816 (in Saskatchewan) and C$33,280 (in Nunavut).
6. Infinitus, $3.4 billion
Despite being one of the world’s top MLM companies, Infinitus is another one that I hadn’t heard of, and it’s weirdly difficult to Google (the name itself doesn’t bring up anything relevant, you have to add ‘MLM’ to it).
To be honest, I’m surprised that they are so high on the list because although they sell their products in over 100 countries, they really don’t have much of an online presence. My assumption would be that they are a lot more popular in countries where they have official divisions, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Anyway, Infinitus are a company that sell Chinese herbal products, as well as household products and personal care products such as shampoo and toothpaste. A bit of everything, basically.
How much money can you make with Infinitus?
Infinitus do not operate in the United States, but they do operate in Canada, and the Canadian income disclosure statement claims that a typical distributor earns C$49 to C$964 annually, without expenses. That’s 39 USD and 769 USD.
If you want more information on how to make money with Infinitus, Beastpreneur does a fascinating breakdown!
7. Natura, $2.9 billion
Based in Brazil, this cosmetics company isn’t very popular in the States or the UK (where most of my readers are from).
In 2016, Natura had distributors from seven countries: Brazil, France, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. So, while my British and American readers may not be about to sign up with Natura anytime soon, Natura is one of the top network marketing companies in the world and is worth almost 3 billion dollars, so I couldn’t leave it off this list!
Natura’s selling point is that their products are eco-friendly, with safe ingredients and ecological packaging. They have a lot of creams, gels and other things that you can put in the bath and on your face.
Natura do not publish data on how much their distributors earn, so unfortunately I can’t tell you how much money you can make with Natura.
8. Tupperware, $2.2 billion
Yep, Tupperware is one of the top MLM companies in the world! For the longest time, I didn’t even know that Tupperware was an MLM, or even a brand – I just thought that all those little plastic containers in the kitchen were called ‘tupperware!’
To be fair, you have to be pretty successful for people to think that a standard household item (FYI they’re just called food-storage containers) is your brand’s name.
While shilling Tupperware is not going to get you any street cred, Tupperware containers have stood the test of time, and there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of Tupperware, which is probably in your favour?
how much do tupperware consultants make?
While it’s great that so many people have heard of Tupperware, they have a global sales force of over 3 million people, so the market is very saturated.
One thing I will commend them on is that their income disclosure statements for every year were very easy to find, which makes them the most transparent MLM I’ve covered on this list so far.
However, enough about that. Let’s look at the numbers.
Tupperware’s 2018 income disclosure statement shows that, on average, 47.88% of distributors lost money. A further 49.04% earned an average of C$653.63 per year, or just over 519 USD.
Only 0.17% of Tupperware distributors earned over the Canadian minimum wage, with their average earnings coming in at C$31,521 (25,157 USD).
9. Nu Skin, $2.2 billion
Nu Skin is all about skincare (the clue is in the name, right?) and got its start in Utah in the 1980s. Their most famous product is the LumiSpa device, which is said to cleanse your skin of dirt, oil and makeup and give you a ‘visibly refreshed complexion.’
They also have a tonne of peels, masks, scrubs, moisturisers and gels that promise clearer skin and anti-ageing benefits.
how much can you earn with nu skin?
According to Nu Skin’s 2019 income disclosure, only 17.85% of distributors earned any commission in 2019 (meaning that 82.15% of them made no money).
So, 82.15% of Nu Skin distributors made no money, 11.92% made $33 a month before expenses, and 1.02% made $102 per month. All of these people likely lost money due to purchasing expensive Nu Skin products to advertise.
You can check out the other figures here.
10. Melaleuca, $1.5 billion
Melaleuca prides itself on being the ‘largest online wellness shopping club,’ in its own words. They sell household cleaning products, supplements and cosmetics (but if I may say it, their website is shockingly bad and it’s almost impossible to see the actual products without signing up…).
You also can’t see how much the products actually cost without signing up, which seems fishy IMO but hey, that’s none of my business.
Can you make money with Melaleuca?
Not according to the FTC.
Jon M. Taylor found in his research (page 8) that ‘approximately 99% of all Melaleuca participants lose money and therefore get behind financially because of their participation.’
You can find their income disclosure here, but I will warn you that trying to do the mental gymnastics to work out how much participants in Melaleuca actually earn will give you a headache.
If you do read the IDS, remember that there are costs involved in building a business with Melaleuca ($29 one-time membership + $19.90/year renewal fees + ~$55/month in products = $689 per year), so you must subtract that from the reported earnings to find out how much money Melaleuca participants made.
The Top Network Marketing Companies 2021 | Final Thoughts
This brings me to the end of the 10 top MLM companies! These are the MLM giants that rake in the most revenue, but are they the best MLM companies to join?
Without studying every single MLM out there (there are literally thousands!), it’s hard to say.
It is interesting to me that most of the average earnings are similar. Sure, some are slightly better than others, but for the most part, Taylor’s assertion that 99.6% of people in MLMs don’t make money seems to be true for the 10 top network marketing companies.
The best MLM on this list seems to be…well…none of them really.
If you disagree with me (which is fine!) and are set on joining an MLM, my advice would be this – keep a detailed record of exactly how much you are spending on the business.
It is easy to get your paychecks and brag about how many commissions you’re making, but if you don’t factor in your outgoings, you will never get an accurate picture (and also, you need to know how much you can write off for your taxes!).
If you are buying products every month from this company (that you weren’t buying before you signed up), deduct the cost of those from your earnings. If you have to pay a monthly website fee, deduct that. Deduct anything you spend on social media advertising, sign-up fees, shipping costs, sample packs, catalogues, training materials…deduct all of that and then see if the money you are making with your MLM is worth the time that you are putting into it.
I hope that this article was helpful. With multi-level marketing, looking at how much a company is worth is not the best way of deciding whether that company can provide a good opportunity for you. In showing you how much people actually make in some of the ‘best MLM companies’ out there, I feel as though I have given a more accurate representation of these companies than the other articles out there have done.
If you read this far, thanks so much for reading and I wish you well in your search for a new side hustle/business opportunity. Now you have the information, it is up to you to decide what to do with it.
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