Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Arbonne, is it worth it? Read this to find out

Arbonne is a popular multilevel marketing company that is well-known for its skincare, makeup, and nutrition products.

Though Arbonne started out focusing on skin care products, and still has them as its core product line, its Arbonne protein matrix products have become increasingly popular recently.

So have I been involved? This explains everything:

The road has not always been easy for the Southern California-based network marketing company.  In 2009, the company announced it was going through bankruptcy proceedings.  

Amazingly, only a bit over a month later, the company had restructured and emerged in more or less its current configuration.  More recently, it was accused in a lawsuit by a Texas couple of being a pyramid scheme.  

This lawsuit is in its early stages, and many other MLMs have faced similar accusations and emerged unscathed.  It may be worth noting that this lawsuit could generate some short-term negative publicity for the company, especially if it drags on or if the initial court ruling agrees with the plaintiffs.  

Since the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling on Amway’s business model in 1979, it’s been established in US law that the multilevel marketing method is not illegal or fraudulent per se.  

MLM companies only face sanction when they violate other rules, for example when a supplement company claims their product can treat specific medical conditions, or when an MLM misleads people about the typical earnings of a distributor.

So far, Arbonne’s popularity hasn’t been affected by this recent lawsuit.  In terms of internet search volume, Arbonne has had a rough time climbing out of the hole dug just before its sales tanked and it had to declare bankruptcy.  

Long-term trends on search traffic show the precipitous decline in popularity that preceded the bankruptcy filing, and sadly, the company has yet to make much progress.  

Current search volumes are tracking only about 40% higher than at the nadir of the company’s performance, circa 2008 (some of this steep decline can no doubt be pinned on the global financial crisis).


The headliners for Arbonne’s product line are its makeup and especially its skincare products.  Arbonne definitely takes the boutique approach, selling its cosmetics for a pretty penny and trumpeting the scientific research that goes into them.  Their RE9 Advanced restorative cream, for example, retails for $66 per 1.7 oz tube.

The ingredients list is impressively long, but most of them are moisturizers and surfactants, which help the product spread out into the small crevices in your skin.  

Arbonne does not go in-depth on what each of the over two dozen ingredients are supposed to do; only that they are “collagen supporting.” Without any research or material highlighting the use of the key ingredients, it’s hard to take this product seriously for its price.

Oddly, Arbonne’s protein-based nutrition products seem to be outperforming its cosmetics, at least based on search engine traffic.  Arbonne advertises its specialized protein matrix in products like its Arbonne Essentials Protein Shake Mix, which is comprised of pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, and rice protein, alongside sugar and a few other flavoring agents.  

The cranberry protein is a unique ingredient, and surely contributes to its hefty price tag ($76 retail for a 44 oz bag).  Cranberry, as you’d guess, is comprised of only 0.5% protein, so extracting that amount is surely an expensive process.  

Though exotic, there’s precisely zero research supporting the benefits of protein derived from cranberries.  The berries themselves, of course, are known to be a healthy and nutritious food, but what benefits are gained, or lost, by isolating and extracting the protein in them is unknown.

Compensation plan

Becoming an Arbonne distributor is pretty straightforward.  You sign up on the website and pay a $79 registration fee, which activates your account for a year.  

Hereafter, there are annual fees of $30 to stay registered.  You’re immediately entitled to a 35% discount on your own personal orders, and a 35% profit on the orders of your direct customers.  

Once you recruit “preferred customers” (a midpoint between being a retail customer and a full distributor), you can earn 15% commission on their sales, too.  The rest of the savings, of course, is passed on to to the preferred customer. 

To maintain active status, you need to sell at least 150 product volume per month, which equates to about $150 in sales.  Do this and you can earn a cool 6% override on the sales of your downline distributors–if you accumulate a total of $500 in sales among all of your personal and group sales.  

This is a good starting place, but it takes a lot of sales to bump this up.  The next increase doesn’t come until $2000 in group sales per month.

With this plan, the average consultant fares pretty poorly.  The high sales minimums for getting paid make it tremendously hard to earn money.  

According to the company’s income disclosure statement, of all active consultants, almost 60% were at the lowest rank, and earned an average of $767 per year.  Wait, it gets worse.  Only fourteen percent of all Arbonne consultants even met the requirements for being active! This is one of the worst return rates in the industry!


Arbonne is characterized by extremely expensive products, an unimpressive lack of public interest, fulminating legal trouble, and a compensation plan that results in some of the worst earnings in the MLM industry, at least among companies that publicly disclose the income of their distributors.  

It should be obvious that you should stay far, far away from this network marketing company, as there is very little in the way of redeeming factors for it.

If you’re doing it for the money, there are much better ways to kill your day job. You might like our coaching because it shows you the good life without selling stuff to your family and friends.

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