Chances are someone (probably a friend or family member) has just introduced you to this amazing “work from home” opportunity. But now you’re wondering, is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?
How do I know?
I’ve been in your shoes before and I seriously considered giving it a go. I was ready to start a legit online business, but I had no idea where to start.
But there was this niggling feeling in the back of my brain that made me research it, just like you are doing right now!
However, I had to work it all out myself by piecing it together such as:
- How much will it cost me each month?
- Can I really make money from Arbonne?
- And what will I actually need to do to make money?
This honest Arbonne review, with videos, will expose the truth about the MLM company with the pros and cons laid out in one place. That way, you can make an informed decision if it's right for you or not.
The overview and rankings
Name: Arbonne International
Founder: Petter Mørck in 1975 – started in the USA in 1980
Type: Health and Beauty MLM
Products (Including Pricing): 50 out of 100
Success Stories: 1 out of 100
Price To Join MLM: $79 registration fee + ~$150 “monthly auto-ship” + $30 annual membership (40 out of 100)
What to look for in a MLM:
Summary: Arbonne is a health and beauty MLM that sells a wide range of "natural" products.
However, it is very hard to make good money as a consultant at the company. I will even prove to you that only 1 in 256 consultants earn more than $18k a year by working like a "full time sales manager".
Make Time Online Rating: 30 out of 100
What is Arbonne?
Arbonne is a health and beauty Multi-Level-Marketing company that started in 1975.
They sell a wide range of products including makeup, nutritional supplements and shampoos in a range of countries.
Arbonne’s mission is to transform lives through pure botanically based ingredients in scientifically tested products.
It’s a movement for healthy living inside and out.
It sounds like a great mission really doesn’t it?
You can find out more in the 5-minute video below…
Some people will watch that video and get excited about the opportunity to "make extra income to take care of our families".
But you're smart enough to realise this is just a sales video created by Arbonne. So you're probably still wondering...
Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?
No, Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme.
It’s possible for consultants to sell Arbonne’s products and make money from doing so.
But here’s the hidden truth…
You can only make good money if you recruit more people into the company.
And that makes Arbonne very similar to a "pyramid scheme in disguise". Let me explain what I mean by that...
What is a pyramid scheme?
A pyramid scheme is when a company recruits members by promising them payment for recruiting more members.
Technically speaking pyramid schemes do not sell any products or services.
They are illegal in most countries because they are unsustainable and impossible for everyone to make money. Just look at the Wikipedia diagram below to see why…
So even though Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme, it is possible for MLM companies to be a “pyramid scheme in disguise”.
This Arbonne review will dig into this a bit more later on, but for now, you can educate yourself on what to look out for in this short video below…
Success is rare with Arbonne
In fact, success is hard to find in any MLM company.
Just by digging into Arbonne's previous income disclaimers you can see that 99% of consultants earn less than $3,500 per year. Later on I will show you that consultants need to allow expenses of at least $2,179 per year.
So just from using their own income disclaimers you can see that between 95%-99% of all Arbonne consultants lose money.
That's not something you will find advertised on their website or hear from the person that introduced this to you, but it is a fact.
Ready to make passive income online?
Hey, I'm Mike.
I created a passive income online within a year. I had no marketing skills or online experience when I started.
How does Arbonne Work?
When I was on a skype call with a friend who was encouraging me to join the MLM program, he did a great job of explaining this.
Basically, Arbonne creates awesome natural products and sells them.
But rather than having to spend thousands of dollars every month on advertising they have “independent consultants” who market the products for them.
These consultants get paid a commission for every product they sell.
In theory it's like a win-win!
The truth is the only people that win are the owners...
Who owns Arbonne?
Yves Rocher, a worldwide cosmetics and beauty brand, owns Arbonne today (acquired Arbonne in 2018).
But it was founded by Petter Mørck in 1975 and moved to the United States in 1980, with the headquarters now located in Irvine, California.
They both have a love for natural products and a pretty clean history (from what I could find online).
What countries does Arbonne operate in?
Arbonne is still expanding into new countries. But as of today, they operate in 7 countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
It opened in Poland in 2014 and Taiwan in 2016 so you can see they are still growing.
So let’s find out more about the…
There are a lot of products sold at Arbonne!
They typically only fall into one of 5 categories though:
- Skincare – Facial cleanser, sunscreen, eye cream, toner, etc.
- Bath & Body – Essential oil, hand wash, lotion, lip balm, mask, etc.
- Makeup – Eyeliner, makeup primer, mascara, lipstick etc.
- Nutrition – Protein shake, energy sticks (fizz sticks seem to be the signature product), snack bars, immunity booster, etc.
- Hair – Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, hair serum, etc.
Just think about it...
There are thousands of brands offering a very similar range of products. In fact, there are hundreds of MLMs that offer a similar range of products such as...
- Max International
- Reliv International
- Genesis Pure
- American Dream Nutrition
They all claim to have some special reason they stand out such as natural products or scientifically proven products.
But in reality, they are all offering a very similar opportunity.
So what makes Arbonne stand out?...
Arbonne Fizz Sticks- flagship product
Arbonne Fizz sticks are basically a supplement energy drink. It can be added to hot or cold water for a tasty beverage that provides extra nutrients and provides an "energy kick"...
Some of the benefits include:
- Promote endurance
- Reduce fatigue
- Boost energy
- Provide antioxidants
The only way to tell how good a product like this is to try it yourself. I've personally tried them out and I can't say I was overly impressed with the ingredients or nutrition for the hefty price tag of $55 for 30 sticks!
- It's the equivalent of drinking half a cup of coffee for caffeine intake. Ginseng supplements ($16 for 250 capsules) are like 5 cups of coffee and natural.
- The "fizz" is from the citric acid which you could buy from Amazon for $12 and get 100 servings... just add stevia for flavour!
They are an insane price and I wasn't even a fan of the taste anyway!
But here's what the ratings on Amazon are...
I'll dig more into the price of the products later, but for now you can watch the 4 minute video below to see why Arbonne loves these overpriced sticks so much...
Can you make money with Arbonne?
As you've already seen between 95-99% of all Arbonne consultants lose money.
The few that do make money do not work on this as a part time business like so many people claim you will be able to do! They treat it like a full time "sales manager" job.
Here's what it typically looks like:
- Post about Arbonne and your whole life on social media all day every day
- Message as many people as possible on FB
- Mention your "online business" to everyone you meet
- Have a Zoom call and sell the dream of "being your own boss"
- Recruit as many people as possible
- Zoom call your "team" every day and encourage them to sell more and recruit more because it will help them (aka help you make "residual income")
After years of working on this you may just about have the income to replace your full time job if you can build a big enough team (aka recruit a ton of people) who decide to stick around and also do what you do.
If that sounds like fun to you then maybe you could be the 1% that makes some money. But if you know you can only put part time effort in, you are guaranteed to lose money!
How to make money with Arbonne
Like most MLM companies there are really only 2 ways you can make money from Arbonne:
- Sell products and make a commission
- Recruit more people into the MLM program and earn commissions for the sales they make
Technically you don’t earn money directly from recruiting people.
You actually just receive bonuses from the sales these recruits make either for themself or to other people.
This is another way MLM companies avoid being caught out for being a pyramid scheme.
How much does it cost to join Arbonne?
On paper, it looks like it’s quite affordable to start.
To be honest when you compare this to most bricks and mortar businesses such as opening a restaurant it is very reasonable!
It costs $79 for the registration fee to get a basic starter kit with some training materials to start.
There is also a $30 annual recurring fee.
But you won’t have any products yet, and this is a business that is pretty much impossible to start without products.
So you can get a discounted value packs from between $270-$500 with a whole range of goodies for you to try out and use to market!
However, the costs do not stop there, which you may be led to believe from the person that introduced this opportunity to you…
Arbonne monthly cost
This is where I had to do some serious digging.
I even outright asked the person who tried to recruit me into the company what the monthly sales quota or monthly costs would be and this got totally sidestepped!
This honestly is not answered anywhere online either… so I got creative!
The first step by “detective Mike” (I’m not a real detective by the way!) was to find out what the monthly sales quota was to reach “qualified status”.
It’s 150 PQV (personal qualifying volume) as you can see in the compensation plan.
But what does that mean in English aka real money terms?!
This is where it got really tricky!
Arbonne does not make it easy to find out how many dollars of products equals PQV.
So I went super creative… and watched YouTube!
By watching some YouTube videos of an Arbonne consultant setting up an auto-ship order you can see that her order of $463.20 gets her 502 QV.
Monthly Arbonne PQV to stay active:
Simply put, you need 150 PQV = ~ $150
This means you will need to spend around $150 every month to stay “active” as a consultant.
Now we’re getting to the truth right?!
You can check out the YouTube video yourself if you like (but be warned, it’s pretty long and boring! I have put it to the right place to see the QV if you want though)
Just to put this in perspective you’re looking at a total cost of:
- $150 x 12 = $1,800
Total cost for year 1 = $2,179
Obviously, if you sell products you won’t NEED to spend this much. But the auto-ship is recommended for EVERY consultant to make sure you “stay active”.
I also bet my bottom dollar the person trying to recruit you didn’t lay it out like this. And who needs $1,800 worth of makeup and shampoo each year?
Silly question… my wife obviously!
Arbonne compensation plan
So for some reason, MLM companies tend to make compensation plans more complicated than solving a rubik's cube blindfolded.
First of all, it’s important to get your head around some key terms if you truly want to understand what’s going on…
Once you understand that you only need to know that there are 4 ways you can earn an income from Arbonne:
- Client commissions (15% for preferred clients or 35% for regular clients on SRP)
- Overrides (commissions of the sales volume of your team, greatly increases as you get “promoted”)
- Mercedes-Benz cash bonus (hire a white Merc if you reach Vice Presidents status)
- Cash bonuses (for the team and personal sales)
I could go into detail about all the bonuses and incentives you get at each “rank” (qualified status, consultant, district manager, area manager, regional vice president, national vice president). But this gets super confusing and you really don’t need to know this when you are starting.
You can watch this 3-minute video if you want to learn more (there used to be a great 15 minute video that they've taken down for this airy fairy video)…
Or you can find the full Arbonne compensation plan here.
Is Arbonne a scam?
No Arbonne is not a scam.
It sells legitimate products that people want to buy.
It also pays consultants commission for any products they sell and bonuses for more consultants they recruit into the MLM company.
Just because a “work from home” opportunity is legit it doesn’t always mean it’s right for you. The rest of this Arbonne review will help you decide if you think this opportunity is right for you or not.
Just to be fully transparent with you, I am not a distributor myself and I do not endorse Arbonne in any way.
I have researched the website, testimonials and information on the Internet to get to the bottom of what this program genuinely does. This is because I have been burnt from programs just like this in the past and I want to prevent others from making the same mistakes.
What I like about Arbonne
Here are some of the things I like about Arbonne…
- Pyramid Scheme – recruits members via a promise for payment from referring others to the service rather than providing a product
- Affiliate Marketing- Connecting a customer to a product they are looking for and receiving a commission for doing so
- Red Flag - A warning sign
#1 Proven history
It started in America in 1980. Any company that has been running for 40 years must have some credibility to it!
And if Arbonne was a pyramid scheme then the FTC would likely have shut it down years ago.
I really dug into the history and there are hardly any lawsuits against the company.
The only slight concern was when their ex-holding company, Natural Products Group LLC went bankrupt is 2010. There have also been some smaller lawsuits that seem to have been swept under the carpet that we'll dig into later.
Apart from that Arbonne has a pretty clean record!
#2 Social media marketing skills
Every Arbonne consultant gets their own “ready-made website” when they join.
There is certainly some information about how to use social media as I know more about some of my Arbonne consultant friends lives than I do about my wife!
(That’s a joke sweetie in case you’re reading this!)
The above screenshot is an example of what the website looks like for each consultant (you can see this one belongs to Catherine Wilkinson).
#3 Focus on personal development
This is my favourite thing about MLM companies.
They generally are quite good at encouraging people to better themselves and work on improving their business skills.
Arbonne actually has an annual event in Las Vegas to provide training (and entertainment) to its consultants.
You can learn more in the 5-minute video below…
It just looks like one big party doesn’t it!
The great thing is that you can actually earn a “paid for” trip there if you hit a certain sales quota for the year.
As far as I’m concerned, any personal development is a good thing and anyone that wants to work from home needs to improve themselves continually.
What I don't like about Arbonne
There are a few areas of Arbonne that I’m not a fan of.
Some of these areas are hidden in plain sight and some I’ve had to do some serious digging to get to the bottom of it.
But in reality, I think everyone should be aware of these things before diving in…
#1 Expensive products
This is my number 1 red flag for any MLM company.
When there is a big mark up in prices compared to alternatives that exist in the real world this makes my “spidey senses” tingle.
Because it means that the company typically rewards recruiting rather than selling the products.
And that means the company is more like a pyramid scheme in disguise.
I personally use protein shakes so I’m using this as an example (because I know what to compare it to) but the product’s pricing is similar across the board…
When a similar product (arguably worse in this case as Arbonne has less protein and more sugar per serving) costs over 100% more through a MLM company it becomes worrying.
No one in their right mind would choose these expensive products.
So how does Arbonne continue to make sales each month?
The answer lies in hidden truth #2…
#2 Hidden monthly expenses
To stay active as a consultant you need to sell 150 PQV every month.
If you don’t do this you are removed from the commission structure and you won’t be able to make any money whilst you are suspended.
But don’t worry Arbonne will help you out…
You can make a monthly “auto-ship” order.
Basically you can set up a standing order of $150 worth of products every month so that you remain active.
Re-read that last sentence.
That’s your answer to the question above. Arbonne continues to make money every month because of who their biggest customer/ consumer is… their own consultants!
The people recruited are the people that continue to spend obscene amounts of money on products that you can pick up for a fraction of the price elsewhere.
I actually purchased an order "to help a friend try and gain a promotion". Obviously I didn't need to, but I ended up on a phone call and could hear the desperation in his voice... $300+ later I had ordered 2 months protein shake and 60 crappy fizz sticks.
It's safe to say I have never... and will never order from them again!
#3 Abonne is a pyramid scheme in disguise
There are even real people like Cynthia and Michael Dagnall who actually sued Arbonne for being a pyramid scheme in 2017. But this case was settled in 2018 out of court to sweep the accusation under the carpet.
In fact, here's an insight into the Arbonne training...
Read all of that paragraph and you can see you will actually be advised to try and recruit people from:
- Your address book
- Facebook friends
- Twitter friends
- School friends
- Sports clubs friends
- School parents
- Charities (seriously?!)
I don’t know about you but this doesn’t sound like my idea of an enjoyable, scalable or thriving business.
When you truly understand the 2 hidden truths above you can see why Arbonne is very similar to a "pyramid scheme in disguise". The main way consultants can avoid losing money each month from their autoship is by recruiting some more people and "pass the buck" to them!
And when a company is focused on recruiting to make money it always ends up looking like this...
Still don't believe me? Check this out...
#4 Only 1 in 256 earn more than $18k a year
Hidden in plain sight is the truth in Arbonne's previous income disclaimers...
The table above may look quite promising. But it only uses the 13% of consultants that made some money in 2014.
With some basic maths you can see that only 0.39% of all consultants made more than $18k in 2014.
In English, that means only 1 out of 256 consultants earn over $18k per year!
Is that even enough for you and your family to live off?
#5 Downward trend
The final nail in the coffin for Arbonne is found on Google Trends.
It’s no secret that the most successful MLM recruits are the ones who “got in early” and helped to grow the company.
However, Arbonne is not one of these companies. It’s existed for dozens of years and you can see on Google trends that it’s plateaued in the number of people that search for it every month.
There are other newer MLM companies such as Farmasi which is a beauty company that offers reasonably priced products and is still growing.
It's much harder to sell something that people are not looking for anymore.
Ready to make passive income online?
I've created a growing passive income online with no previous marketing skills or online experience...
I've made a special video for you to explain exactly how I did this.
My opinion - Arbonne
If you love makeup, shampoo and nutrition stuff and you’re ready to jump all into a business and dedicate your life to social media then this may be for you.
I usually like to leave something witty and funny like a gif to sum up my feeling about a “make money from home” opportunity.
But I stumbled across this amazing 5-minute spoof video, which pretty much does the witty part for me…
But seriously… do you notice how many of my concerns are covered in this video?
- Not in the early momentum phase
- You need to recruit more competition
- Saturated market (there’s loads of other health and beauty MLM’s/ brands)
- Recruit friends and family
- Low incomes, and it’s not even all profit
But it’s not all doom and gloom amigo…
How I make passive income online
MLMs are not all scams or illegal. However, I'm not a fan of them because of the restrictions to the expensive products you have to promote.
Once I learnt about affiliate marketing, I realised it's a far superior business model because:
- You can promote anything you want and truly own the business
- You never need to sell to friends and family
- It's completely free to start
In 2018 I had no idea what affiliate marketing was.
But I went from a full time PE teacher to making a passive income online within one year...
If you want to discover how I did it then check out this special video I created which explains exactly how. You can also get your free 7-day bootcamp to get started.