Facts about the Mary Kay MLM system
-(A)Mary Kay PRODUCTS;
-(B)The Mary Kay marketing APPROACH to retail consumers;
-(C)The Mary Kay RECRUITING process "Independent Beauty Consultant";
-(D)The many DISAPPOINTMENTS and PITFALLS of a Mary Kay consultant;
With approx. 1.5 million Mary Kay consultants worldwide, most ladies in the U.S. will come in contact with a Mary Kay consultant and Mary Kay products sooner or later. It can be very helpful to be informed about the facts of the Mary Kay MLM marketing system before you accept a "Free Facial" or attend a "Free Spa Event" or if you're approached by a Mary Kay consultant about becoming an "Independent Beauty Consultant" with Mary Kay regarding the Mary Kay business opportunity.
Mary Kay PRODUCTS:
At first let us say that based on personal experience and research it's a fact that Mary Kay products for the most part are actually very good quality products. Some MK skin care products are very helpful and are often superior to products from competitors, especially for individuals with sensitive skin. True, some individuals may be allergic to this or the MK product and in such a case the product can be returned to the MK consultant for a full refund. Mary Kay also offers a very nice and extensive line of cosmetics products.
-Cons with some positives-
Mary Kay products are officially only available through the so-called "Independent Beauty Consultants" of Mary Kay. Therefore MK products are not available in stores. This can create a problem for some customers as they are dependent on a particular MK consultant to supply them with product. For convenience sake, orders can also be placed via each MK consultant's MK website or by calling the consultant. While new MK consultants may not have the requested products in stock, most established MK consultants will have most frequently requested products in stock. MK consultants offer a personal service with the possibility of returning items in case of skin allergies, etc.
Mary Kay products are also often sold by unauthorized resellers on auction sites like e. g. Ebay and other websites. In general it's difficult to trust such unauthorized resellers regarding product quality because such items could be dated and the buyer can't find out where the product really originated, and also such purchases from auction sites cannot be returned for a refund. So, if you do buy Mary Kay products it's best purchase such directly from a truly authorized Mary Kay "Independent Beauty Consultant."
The Mary Kay marketing APPROACH to retail consumers:
As described above, Mary Kay sells their products through their extensive network of independent Mary Kay Beauty consultants. Such consultants may use various marketing approaches from little classified ads to postcards and personal invitations to a "Free Facial" or a "Free Spa Event" etc. to get in touch with new customers. Often a Mary Kay party is conducted in a home and a friend may invite you to such an event. Such an event can be fun, but you need to be aware of the purpose and the true intentions behind e. g. a Mary Kay party at a friend's house.
(1) The friend who invited you to her house for the MK party will usually receive a small Hostess gift from the Independent Beauty Consultant who conducts the party. Such parties can last from 1-3 hours depending on the products introduced and how the event is conducted.
(2) Free? Yes, you're invited to try out products at such parties for free in hopes that you will purchase this or that item and that you will become a faithful customer of these products. As mentioned above, most Mary Kay products are really good quality products and are fairly priced and in many cases MK products are even priced below comparative products from competitors. Sure, in many large retail stores you can find a whole array of skin care and cosmetics products from popular name brands at perhaps lower prices, but often the quality won't compare and if it does the prices are pretty much the same or even higher priced than MK products.
(3) While psychologically people feel obligated to purchase something at a MK party, there's never any obligation to purchase anything at such events. Many MK consultants put a lot of effort into these parties and it is rude to cancel shortly before the event or to be a no-show. Most MK consultants are hard-working ladies and they really put a lot of effort into their presentations and in acquiring new clients. So, there might be some pressure to purchase something at such a MK party at your friend's home.
(4) But there's much more to the MK party system than what meets the eye in the beginning. The real intention for most MK consultants is that they want really recruit so-called "Team members." This is what the whole Mary Kay marketing approach is, that the more people who sell MK products the more products the company will sell. We'll discuss the MK recruiting process next, but to give you the basic idea, the Mary Kay marketing systems is nothing less than a MLM (Multi-Level-Marketing) system as MK consultants will only advance to the next level of directorship, etc. if they have a certain number of recruits and a certain amount of sales over a certain period of time.
The Mary Kay RECRUITING process "Independent Beauty Consultant":
(1) As mentioned above, most ladies will be first invited to attend a MK party at a friend's home, ... maybe it's called a "Free Facial" or a "Free Spa Event." The hope is that some guests will become interested in the products and in a sense also to find new friends.
(2) The second step is that MK consultants may find out a bit more about the guests at the MK parties including about their jobs, lifestyle, etc. The purpose for this is to evaluate if one or the other lady could become a potential "Team member." So while at the MK party products are sold and the MK consultant can generate a nice income at such parties if enough product is sold, the next step is to find new potential team members, ... new recruits.
(3) After potential team members are identified the MK consultant will schedule a phone interview. Usually, the MK consultant will say that she just wants to practice her phone skills or if she (the potential team member) would be available for a no-strings attached practice phone interview. The fact is that the MK consultant's team director will conduct the conference call. In this phone call the local MK director will explain all the benefits of becoming an "Independent Beauty Consultant" especially that the new team member will receive 50% off of the retail price of all Mary Kay products, ... and that's usually the hook. But in this phone call the director will also explain also the "great" potential in selling Mary Kay by conducting such MK home parties and that MK consultants can earn a "free" car, etc. The initial suggestion is that the new team member will get at least the huge 50% discount on her purchases and that she will be able to supplement her income rather easily by conducting MK home parties, and perhaps also Win or rather "earn" a free car after some time. It depends on the particular MK director how much pressure is applied. After the phone call, the MK consultant and the MK director will discuss the score of the conference call regarding the actual potential of the new possible team member and evaluate how they can recruit her specifically.
(4) Another approach is the invitation to the local MK center for the weekly team member meetings which we consider to be a type of hyped up cheer parties. Such weekly meetings, usually in a rented retail space or office space, are here to motivate the MK consultants, as well as to bring new potential team members there to finalize the deal to have them recruited, as well as to sell product to those who are potential new customers, etc. While the guests will usually not have to pay anything, most local MK "centers" will charge like e. g. $5 or so to cover rent, etc. for each weekly meeting.
(5) The conversion rate of potential team members to actual team members depends on the sales techniques applied by the local director and consultant. The starter kit is currently only $100 and is actually worth a lot more in retail value as it consists of products and product samples as well as some presentation material and a nice bag. The hook in the beginning is always that it's a business that can be started for only $100.
(6) It costs only $100 to start a MK business?
Yeah right. The fact is that right after sign-up and the purchase of the starter kit and perhaps after the first arranged house party, the new MK consultant is quickly confronted with the fact that she perhaps should stock an inventory of certain products in order to serve her new customers at parties. Of course, the established MK consultant or MK director will have already a pre-packaged suggestion list of products for the new consultant's first inventory order. This suggested order or inventory package will run usually approx. $2,700 to $5,000 or even more. The new recruit will be told that there's no risk to the order as at any time the products can be returned to Mary Kay for a full refund at any time. What they often don't tell you, if you return product and give up your MK consultant opportunity, you can't become a MK consultant ever again or you may have to wait 10 years or so to get started again. As a result once MK consultants are informed about that fact down the road, it is already too late and they've purchased their initial inventory for thousands of dollars. If MK consultants decide to quit, then they often won't return their unsold inventory, but instead they will keep it so that they have the option of restarting their MK business sooner or later again. Some may rather sell their MK inventory on Ebay or other such sites instead of returning it to Mary Kay.
(7) Once a lady is sucked into the Mary Kay marketing system and she has signed up and has ordered her inventory, etc. the promise of a "free" car is constantly put in front of her, as well as the potential to Win "free" cruises, "free" jewelery and lots of other rewards. Also, there are so-called "Career Conferences" and the annual MK conference in Dallas, TX who every MK consultant should attend. These seminars, conferences, etc. will cost many hundreds of dollars and perhaps even over a $1,000 annually which many MK consultants see as necessary to attend. Of course the promise of becoming a director to those who work hard will also always be presented to them. And also the biggest reward of becoming a "National" will always be put in front of MK consultants in order to keep them motivated week after week. A "National" can earn currently approx. $600,000 a year and after a certain time will receive a nice "pension" and of course can choose to have the top of the line Cadillacs (those are usually silver with a shot of pink metallic in it, but are a more attractive color today than once a long time ago when they were candy pink). The problem is that there are supposedly only approx. 100 "Nationals" out of 1.5 million MK consultants, meaning the chance of becoming a "National" is extremely slim (only 100th of 1%) just like the chance to be at the very top of any organization/company is always very slim. But that potential of becoming a "National" is always put in front of MK consultants with the various stories and/or accounts of how the famous "Nationals" became what are.
(8) Failures are looked down upon if discussed at all. Sadly, along the way the failures of many MK consultants and even MK directors are rarely ever discussed and when such failures or former consultants or directors are discussed, there's always an excuse and the blame is usually put on that failed consultant or director and/or their husband/family, etc. ... it's always their falt. So there's no objectivity as what caused the failure of this or that consultant and/or director and therefore new MK consultants don't learn about the many pitfalls and hurdles of a career as a MK consultant.
The many DISAPPOINTMENTS and PITFALLS of a Mary Kay consultant:
With the great potential of making a good living for a relatively small number of MK consultants, there are also many dangers of disappointments and pitfalls for Mary Kay consultants about which not much is said at MK meetings and of which many new potential recruits are not aware of.
(1) The first disappointing issue could arise from the step-by-step "revelation" process of how the Mary Kay marketing machine really work or the revealing on a "need-to-know" basis when becoming more and more involved with Mary Kay. Meaning first you're at a MK party at your friend's house to have a "Free" event with some pressure buy products, then the lure to be recruited as a MK consultant, then that it's not only $100 to start as MK consultant once signed up and started but that an inventory will cost several thousands of dollars, then the constant dependency of attending meetings and the need (in order to be successful) to be constantly on the phone with the local director to talk often for many hours every week with that director.
(2) The potential danger of not being able to sell the acquired inventory, although it can always be returned for full refund to Mary Kay Inc. But often failed MK consultants that thought that the MK business affords only a few hours of work a week, have thousands and thousands of dollars worth of product in their basement/garage and only have the option of facing the reality to give up their MK business. A true MK consultant will need to work at least 40 hours a week to just make a somewhat decent living, but it ain't easy considering all the work that is involved in the process of becoming successful. There's also enormous stress/pressure to succeed as the local team director will only keep her car when her team members perform and generate appropriate sales. We've seen team directors that received their Cadillac only to have it taken away from them after a while as their total team sales slumped. Then the pressure starts again to achieve the "free" car and so on. So, although it is said that when giving up the Mary Kay business a consultant can return her inventory for a full refund, the reality is that there's a huge financial risk involved in doing the MK business in the right way. We've seen consultants who in the process of having their MK business ran up their credit cards to tens of thousands of dollars for inventory purchases, all kinds of marketing efforts, establishing a home office, distribution of free product samples and catalogs, etc. (which MK consultant need to buy), and to attend MK meetings, seminars, etc., etc.
(3) The third category can be a huge human toll and stress on a marriage and the family. Mary Kay directors even offer seminars, etc. for MK consultant's husbands so that they can support their wife in their new business and perhaps even become involved. MK consultants will often blame their failure in the MK business in not getting proper support from their husband. The idea is that the whole family should support mom in her MK business by distributing business cards and looking out for potential team members, etc., etc. It becomes a lifestyle as everything Mary Kay becomes the life of a MK consultant instead of the MK opportunity to be used as a source of income to live the life many wish for. So the whole thing can become a huge drag on relationships and may often result in alienation between spouses. The weekly team member meetings (who are often cheer parties and mutual society appreciation meetings) together with the frequent phone calls between MK consultant and her MK director produce a type of almost cultic co-dependency that can be very harmful. The numbers speak for themselves. How many of the approx. 1.5 million MK consultants are really successful to some extent and how many earn their "free" car and how many are even able to make a somewhat decent living from their MK business? The reality is not many. Most MK consultant only make a few hundred bucks a year for a lot of work and a lot of effort.
Bottom line: it's only worth to get involved in the MK business opportunity for certain types of outgoing people who as usual are at the right place at the right time. Yes it's possible to succeed in the MK business but often at a huge cost and the price is often not worth it, and the MK business most certainly is not a walk in the park. Only a very few will be truly successful in the Mary Kay MLM marketing system just like in any other MLM business. Unless you're single and you want to work at least 40 hours a week and you're determined to make this career a success, the MK marketing career may not be for you as the pursuit of success in the MK business will often put tremendous pressure on your marriage and family. The best thing is to pick your favorite MK products and just buy them from your authorized Mary Kay consultant and for most ladies it may not be recommended to engage in any "MK opportunity" discussions as the MK marketing systems works like a vacuum as ladies are sucked deeper and deeper into the involvement step-by-step, and at least you should be prepared about what you can expect if you do proceed with the MK opportunity.
Getting involved in the MK business opportunity may truly change your life, but in most cases not for the better, instead lots of heartaches and various difficulties may arise and alter your life over time dramatically. We consider the Mary Kay MLM marketing system to work similar to a religious cult and many marketing techniques that are found among Mary Kay consultants and directors seem to be somewhat deceptive to say the least.
Much more could be said about Mary Kay, especially the "MK opportunity" and books could be written about it, but we hope that the above provides a bit of an overview what to expect when confronted with Mary Kay as a retailer customer and/or as a potential new Mary Kay consultant.