J.R. Watkins is a network marketing company that sells body care products, cooking spices, soaps, and cleaners. Technically it qualifies as an MLM, but at its heart, it’s an old-fashioned direct sales company that has many of its products available at regular retail outlets.
The company was created long before multilevel marketing was a concept. It was founded in Minnesota in 1868 and has survived to this day. Its core product market is still soaps, spices, and home goods, and they have a high reputation for quality and utility.
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As with many well-established companies, its search engine traffic is tremendously stable over time. You aren’t likely to reach the customers who value its products through the internet, though–the “Watkins man,” a door to door salesman who is the point person for retail sales, is a classic trope in Midwestern America.
Because of this long history and tradition, the company is well-respected, so it’s going to be a lot easier to enter into a market with J.R. Watkins’ products. However, it does mean you’ll have to go the extra mile to provide convenience to your customers; otherwise they can just get Watkins products at a retail outlet.
The marketing and packaging of all of J.R. Watkins’ products proudly reflects its old-fashioned heritage. Broadly, their product catalog consists of personal care items, gourmet cooking ingredients, home care products, and home remedies.
Their personal care items include their famous soaps and lotions, which are handcrafted and American-made.
J.R. Watkins eschews artificial ingredients, opting instead for natural oils and scents as opposed to synthetic dyes and preservatives. This is in keeping with their philosophy of using traditional recipes and high quality ingredients in their products.
J.R. Watkins is also known for their cooking spices and extracts, which are well-known and competitively priced.
Like with their personal care products, these are free from cheaper, low-quality ingredients like corn syrup and genetically modified ingredients. J.R. Watkins also takes care to note which products are certified gluten-free or kosher.
With their home care products, the same code of purity applies. J.R. Watkins has a “freedom code” in which it pledges not to use a wide range of ingredients, such as parabens, petroleum products, and chlorine bleach.
It shouldn’t be a shock that a 140 year old company sells home remedies that aren’t the latest and greatest medical breakthroughs. Their remedies are old-fashioned salves like menthol-based cooling gels and red pepper extract pain relief balms.
Surprisingly, this one actually does have some science behind it: a 2004 review article in the British Medical Journal found that capsaicin, the active ingredient in red pepper extract, is an effective treatment for chronic pain, though the absolute magnitude of its effect is small. Not bad for a product that sells for $8.99.
Generally, their items are priced very reasonably, unlike other MLMs. Part of the reason why is because J.R. Watkins’ products are available at major retailers like Target and Walgreens. As a result, there aren’t huge markups, because otherwise it’d be impossible for them to sell their products in an open market.
Compared to a lot of other direct selling organizations, joining J.R. Watkins is pretty easy. For $29.95, you get a startup kit and a gift card (during special promotional periods at least) and access to a web knowledge portal to help you learn about the product line.
Unlike other network marketing companies, J.R. Watkins doesn’t have a flat retail discount fee. Instead, their discounts work on a sliding scale based on your monthly sales.
This ranges from no discount at all for orders under $100, to 35% for orders of over $10,000. In this sense, J.R. Watkins functions like an old-school door to door direct sales model where you take care of product inventory.
It would seem like it’s much more profitable to directly oversee your sales team, making periodic high-volume orders, but J.R. Watkins has foreseen this problem and calculates total monthly sales at the end of the month and will reimburse you for any additional savings you would have made had you ordered the products all at once.
Additionally, while you are free to build your own traditional downline like you would with any other MLM, bonuses and commissions aren’t awarded hierarchically. You get commissions based on the sales volume of your entire sales team, including yourself.
J.R. Watkins is a true blast from the past. Their products are inexpensive, high-quality, and well-respected.
You don’t have to wonder whether people would buy their products if the direct selling network didn’t exist, because they do–they’re widely available at major retailers.
While this lends credibility to the brand, it also presents a sales obstacle. The model for J.R. Watkins is only going to work in locations that are amenable to real direct selling, whether this is sales parties, door to door selling, or working flea markets and local festivals.
Because the compensation plan is a lot more transparent than a typical MLM, it’s a lot easier to run the math on your business model and determine how much money you stand to make.
Still, because the sales work is in-person and because you’ll be delivering goods yourself, you’ll need to have a much more rigorous plan in place. It will involve more direct selling and literal legwork on your part.
The good news is that the brand is respected and the products are well-known and well-made, so at least the products aren’t an obstacle to making a profit.
Basically, if you’re set on MLM, it’s not terrible, but there are more profitable options out there.
If you’re doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job. You might like our coaching because it shows you the good life without peddling products to your family and friends.