Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called pyramid selling and network marketing, is a controversial[vague] marketing strategy for the sale of products or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company's products or services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system. A MLM may be an illegal pyramid scheme.
In multi-level marketing, the compensation plan theoretically pays out to participants only from two potential revenue streams. The first is paid out from commissions of sales made by the participants directly to their own retail customers. The second is paid out from commissions based upon the wholesale purchases made by other distributors below the participant who have recruited those other participants into the MLM; in the organizational hierarchy of MLMs, these participants are referred to as one's down line distributors.
MLM salespeople are, therefore, expected to sell products directly to end-user retail consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, but most importantly they are incentivized to recruit others to join the company's distribution chain as fellow salespeople so that these can become down line distributors. According to a report that studied the business models of 350 MLMs, published on the Federal Trade Commission's website, at least 99% of people who join MLM companies lose money. Nonetheless, MLMs function because downline participants are encouraged to hold onto the belief that they can achieve large returns, while the statistical improbability of this is de-emphasised. MLMs have been made illegal or otherwise strictly regulated in some jurisdictions as merely variations of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in mainland China.
The overwhelming majority of MLM participants (most sources estimated to be over 99.25% of all MLM distributors) participate at either an insignificant or nil net profit. Indeed, the largest proportion of participants must operate at a net loss (after expenses are deducted) so that the few individuals in the uppermost level of the MLM pyramid can derive their significant earnings. Said earnings are then emphasized by the MLM company to all other participants to encourage their continued participation at a continuing financial loss.
Many MLM companies do generate billions of dollars in annual revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profit. However, the profits of the MLM company are accrued at the detriment to the majority of the company's constituent workforce (the MLM participants). Only some of said profit is then significantly shared with individual participants at the top of the MLM distributorship pyramid. The earnings of those top few participants is emphasized and championed at company seminars and conferences, thus creating an illusion of how one can potentially become financially successful if they become a participant in the MLM. This is then advertised by the MLM company to recruit more distributors to participate in the MLM with a false anticipation of earning margins which are in reality merely theoretical and statistically improbable.
Although an MLM company holds out those few top individual participants as evidence of how participation in the MLM could lead to success, the MLM business model depends on the failure of the overwhelming majority of all other participants, through the injecting of money from their own pockets, so that it can become the revenue and profit of the MLM company, of which the MLM company shares only a small proportion of it to a few individuals at the very top of the MLM participant pyramid. Participants, other than the few individuals at the top, provide nothing more than their own financial loss for the company's own profit and the profit of the top few individual participants.
The main sales pitch of MLM companies to their participants and prospective participants is not the MLM company's products or services. The products/services are largely peripheral to the MLM model. Rather, the true sales pitch and emphasis is on a confidence given to participants of potential financial independence through participation in the MLM, luring with phrases like "the lifestyle you deserve" or "independent distributor." Erik German's memoir My Father's Dream documents the real life failures of German's father as he is lured into "get-rich-quick scheme]]s" such as Amway. The memoir illustrates the multi-level marketing sales principle known as "selling the dream".
Although the emphasis is always made on the potential of success and the positive life change that "might" or "could" (not "will" or "can") result, it is only in otherwise difficult to find disclosure statements (or at the very least, challenging to read and interpret disclosure statements). MLM participants are given fine print disclaimers that they, as participants, should not rely on the earning results of other participants in the highest levels of the MLM participant pyramid as an indication of what they should expect to earn. MLMs rarely emphasize the extreme likelihood of failure, or the extreme likelihood of financial loss, from participation in MLM. MLMs are also seldom forthcoming about the fact that any significant success of the few individuals at the top of the MLM participant pyramid is, in fact, dependent on the continued financial loss and failure of all other participants below them in the MLM pyramid.
Comparisons to pyramid schemes
MLMs have been made illegal in some jurisdictions as a mere variation of the traditional pyramid scheme, including in China. In jurisdictions where MLMs have not been made illegal, many illegal pyramid schemes attempt to present themselves as MLM businesses. Given that the overwhelming majority of MLM participants cannot realistically make a net profit, let alone a significant net profit, but instead overwhelmingly operate at net losses, some sources have defined all MLMs as a type of pyramid scheme, even if they have not been made illegal like traditional pyramid schemes through legislative statutes.
MLMs are designed to make profit for the owners/shareholders of the company and a few individual participants at the top levels of the MLM pyramid of participants. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some MLM companies already constitute illegal pyramid schemes even by the narrower existing legislation, exploiting members of the organization.
Companies that use the MLM business model have been a frequent subject of criticism and lawsuits. Legal claims against MLMs have included, among other things:
- their similarity to traditional illegal pyramid schemes
- price fixing of products or services,
- collusion and racketeering in backroom deals where secret compensation packages are created between the MLM company and a few individual participants, to the detriment of others
- high initial entry costs (for marketing kit and first products),
- emphasis on recruitment of others over actual sales (especially sales to non-participants)
- encouraging if not requiring members to purchase and use the company's products,
- exploitation of personal relationships as both sales and recruiting targets,
- complex and exaggerated compensation schemes,
- false product claims
- the company or leading distributors making major money off participant-attended conventions, training events and materials, advertising materials, and
- cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion.
Direct selling versus network marketing
"Network marketing" and "multi-level marketing" (MLM) have been described by author Dominique Xardel as being synonymous, with it being a type of direct selling. Some sources emphasize that multi-level marketing is merely one form of direct selling, rather than being direct selling. Other terms that are sometimes used to describe multi-level marketing include "word-of-mouth marketing", "interactive distribution", and "relationship marketing". Critics have argued that the use of these and other different terms and "buzzwords" is an effort to distinguish multi-level marketing from illegal Ponzi schemes, chain letters, and consumer fraud scams.
The Direct Selling Association (DSA), a lobbying group for the MLM industry, reported that in 1990 only 25% of DSA members used the MLM business model. By 1999, this had grown to 77.3%. By 2009, 94.2% of DSA members were using MLM, accounting for 99.6% of sellers, and 97.1% of sales. Companies such as Avon, Electrolux, Tupperware, and Kirby were all originally single-level marketing companies, using that traditional and uncontroversial direct selling business model (distinct from MLM) to sell their goods. However, they later introduced multi-level compensation plans, becoming MLMs. The DSA has approximately 200 members while it is estimated there are over 1,000 firms using multi-level marketing in the United States alone.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2020)
The origin of multi-level marketing is often disputed; but multi-level marketing style businesses existed in the 1920s, 1930s California Vitamin Company, (later named Nutrilite) or California Perfume Company (renamed as "Avon Products").
Independent non-salaried participants, referred to as distributors (variously called "associates", "independent business owners", "independent agents", etc.), are authorized to distribute the company's products or services. They are awarded their own immediate retail profit from customers plus commission from the company, not downlines, through a multi-level marketing compensation plan, which is based upon the volume of products sold through their own sales efforts as well as that of their downline organization.
Independent distributors develop their organizations by either building an active consumer network, who buy direct from the company, or by recruiting a downline of independent distributors who also build a consumer network base, thereby expanding the overall organization.
The combined number of recruits from these cycles are the sales force which is referred to as the salesperson's "downline". This "downline" is the pyramid in MLM's multiple level structure of compensation.
Several sources have commented on the income level of specific MLMs or MLMs in general:
- The Times: "The Government investigation claims to have revealed that just 10% of Amway's agents in Britain make any profit, with less than one in ten selling a single item of the group's products."
- Eric Scheibeler, a high level "Emerald" Amway member: "UK Justice Norris found in 2008 that out of an IBO [Independent Business Owners] population of 33,000, 'only about 90 made sufficient incomes to cover the costs of actively building their business.' That's a 99.7 percent loss rate for investors."
- Newsweek: based on Mona Vie's own 2007 income disclosure statement "fewer than 1 percent qualified for commissions and of those, only 10 percent made more than $100 a week."
- Business Students Focus on Ethics: "In the USA, the average annual income from MLM for 90% MLM members is no more than US $5,000, which is far from being a sufficient means of making a living (San Lian Life Weekly 1998)"
- USA Today has had several articles:
- "While earning potential varies by company and sales ability, DSA says the median annual income for those in direct sales is $2,400."
- In an October 15, 2010 article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month, before costs. Fortune was under investigation by the Attorneys General of Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, and North Carolina with Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, and Florida following up complaints against the company. The FTC eventually stated that Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing was a pyramid scheme and that checks totaling more than $3.7 million were being mailed to the victims.
- A February 10, 2011 article stated "It can be very difficult, if not impossible, for most individuals to make a lot of money through the direct sale of products to consumers. And big money is what recruiters often allude to in their pitches."
- "Roland Whitsell, a former business professor who spent 40 years researching and teaching the pitfalls of multilevel marketing": "You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone making over $1.50 an hour, (t)he primary product is opportunity. The strongest, most powerful motivational force today is false hope."
- Based on the results of a 2018 poll conducted with 1,049 MLM sellers, the majority (60%) earned an average of less than $100 in sales over a five year period, and 20% never made a single sale. The majority of sellers made less than 70 cents per hour. Nearly 32 percent of those polled acquired credit card debt to finance their MLM involvement.
Legality and legitimacy
Multi-level marketing (simplified Chinese: 传销; traditional Chinese: 傳銷; pinyin: chuán xiāo; lit.: 'spread selling') was first introduced to mainland China by American, Taiwanese, and Japanese companies following the Chinese economic reform of 1978. This rise in multi-level marketing's popularity coincided with economic uncertainty and a new shift towards individual consumerism. Multi-level marketing was banned on the mainland by the government in 1998, citing social, economic, and taxation issues. Further regulation "Prohibition of Chuanxiao" (where MLM is a type of Chuanxiao was enacted in 2005, clause 3 of Chapter 2 of the regulation states having downlines is illegal). O'Regan wrote 'With this regulation China makes clear that while Direct Sales is permitted in the mainland, Multi-Level Marketing is not'.
MLM companies have been trying to find ways around China's prohibitions, or have been developing other methods, such as direct sales, to take their products to China through retail operations. The Direct Sales Regulations limit direct selling to cosmetics, health food, sanitary products, bodybuilding equipment and kitchen utensils. And the Regulations require Chinese or foreign companies ("FIEs") who intend to engage into direct sale business in mainland China to apply for and obtain direct selling license from the Ministry of Commerce ("MOFCOM"). In 2016, there are 73 companies, including domestic and foreign companies, that have obtained the direct selling license. Some multi-level marketing sellers have circumvented this ban by establishing addresses and bank accounts in Hong Kong, where the practice is legal, while selling and recruiting on the mainland.
It was not until August 23, 2005 that the State Council promulgated rules that dealt specifically with direct sale operation- Administration of Direct Sales (entered into effect on 1 December 2005) and the Regulations for the Prohibition of Chuanxiao (entered into effect on 1 November 2005). When direct selling is allowed, it will only be permitted under the most stringent requirements, in order to ensure the operations are not pyramid schemes, MLM, or fly-by-night operations.
MLM marketing is banned in Saudi Arabia by imposing religious fatwa nationally, for this reason MLM companies like Amway, Mary Kay, Oriflame and Herbalife sell their products by online selling method instead of MLM.
MLM businesses operate in all 50 U.S. states. Businesses may use terms such as "affiliate marketing" or "home-based business franchising". Many pyramid schemes attempt to present themselves as legitimate MLM businesses. Some sources say that all MLMs are essentially pyramid schemes, even if they are legal.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states: "Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They're actually illegal pyramid schemes. Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people—except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid—end up empty-handed."
In a 2004 Staff Advisory letter to the Direct Selling Association, the FTC states:
Much has been made of the personal, or internal, consumption issue in recent years. In fact, the amount of internal consumption in any multi-level compensation business does not determine whether or not the FTC will consider the plan a pyramid scheme. The critical question for the FTC is whether the revenues that primarily support the commissions paid to all participants are generated from purchases of goods and services that are not simply incidental to the purchase of the right to participate in a money-making venture.
The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products." The Federal Trade Commission issued a decision, In re Amway Corp., in 1979 in which it indicated that multi-level marketing was not illegal per se in the United States. However, Amway was found guilty of price fixing (by effectively requiring "independent" distributors to sell at the same fixed price) and making exaggerated income claims. The FTC advises that multi-level marketing organizations with greater incentives for recruitment than product sales are to be viewed skeptically. The FTC also warns that the practice of getting commissions from recruiting new members is outlawed in most states as "pyramiding".
Walter J. Carl stated in a 2004 Western Journal of Communication article that "MLM organizations have been described by some as cults (Butterfield, 1985), pyramid schemes (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997), or organizations rife with misleading, deceptive, and unethical behavior (Carter, 1999), such as the questionable use of evangelical discourse to promote the business (Höpfl & Maddrell, 1996), and the exploitation of personal relationships for financial gain (Fitzpatrick & Reynolds, 1997)". In China, volunteers working to rescue people from the schemes have been physically attacked.
MLMs are also criticized for being unable to fulfill their promises for the majority of participants due to basic conflicts with Western cultural norms. There are even claims that the success rate for breaking even or even making money are far worse than other types of businesses: "The vast majority of MLMs are recruiting MLMs, in which participants must recruit aggressively to profit. Based on available data from the companies themselves, the loss rate for recruiting MLMs is approximately 99.9%; i.e., 99.9% of participants lose money after subtracting all expenses, including purchases from the company." (By comparison, skeptic Brian Dunning points out that "only 97.14% of Las Vegas gamblers lose money .... .") In part, this is because encouraging recruits to further "recruit people to compete with [them]" leads to "market saturation." It has also been claimed "(b)y its very nature, MLM is completely devoid of any scientific foundations."
Because of the encouraging of recruits to further recruit their competitors, some people have even gone so far as to say at best modern MLMs are nothing more than legalized pyramid schemes with one stating "Multi-level marketing companies have become an accepted and legally sanctioned form of pyramid scheme in the United States" while another states "Multi-Level Marketing, a form of Pyramid Scheme, is not necessarily fraudulent." In October 2010 it was reported that multi-level marketing companies were being investigated by a number of state attorneys general amid allegations that salespeople were primarily paid for recruiting and that more recent recruits cannot earn anything near what early entrants do. Industry critic Robert L. FitzPatrick has called multi-level marketing "the Main Street bubble" that will eventually burst.
Many Islamic jurists and religious bodies including Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta of Saudi Arabia have considered MLM trade to be prohibited or haram, the reasons behind which are as follows: In this process, followings are related – exchange without labor and labor without exchange, contract on another contract or condition on another condition, similarity with Riba (interest), similarity with gambling, widespread uncertainty of profits and losses, not everyone benefiting equally, financial fraud and torture, lying and exaggeration, etc.
- Binary option
- Destiny Group
- List of multi-level marketing companies
- Saradha Group financial scandal
- Clegg, Brian (2000). The invisible customer: strategies for successive customer service down the wire. Kogan Page. p. 112. ISBN 0-7494-3144-X.
- Kitching, Trevor (2001). Purchasing scams and how to avoid them. Gower Publishing Company. p. 4. ISBN 0-566-08281-0.
Mendelsohn, Martin (2004). The guide to franchising. Cengage Learning Business Press. p. 36. ISBN 1-84480-162-4.
- Vander Nat, Peter J.; Keep, William W. (2002). "Marketing Fraud: An Approach for Differentiating Multilevel Marketing from Pyramid Schemes". Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. 21 (1): 139–151. doi:10.1509/jppm.220.127.116.1103. S2CID 154490614.
Mendelsohn, Martin (2004). The guide to franchising. Cengage Learning Business Press. p. 36. ISBN 1-84480-162-4.
- Karp, Gregory (February 10, 2013). "The fine line between legitimate businesses and pyramid schemes". The Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020.
- "Multilevel Marketing". FTC.
"Multi-Level Marketing Businesses and Pyramid Schemes". FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- DuBoff, Leonard D. (2004). The Law (in Plain English) for Small Business. Sphinx Pub. pp. 285–286. ISBN 978-1-57248-377-4.
- Xardel, Dominique (1993). The Direct Selling Revolution. Understanding the Growth of the Amway Corporation. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 1–4. ISBN 978-0-631-19229-9.
- Valentine, Debra A. (May 13, 1998). "Pyramid Schemes". FTC. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "The Perils Of Multi-Level Marketing Programs". Texas Public Radio. October 4, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- "Legging company, LuLaRoe accused of misleading consultants". Valley News. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
- O'Regan, Stephen (July 16, 2015). "Multi-Level Marketing: China Isn't Buying It". China Briefing. Dezan Shira & Associates. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "MLM law of China 'Prohibition of Chuanxiao'". gov.cn. September 3, 2005. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 235–236. ISBN 0-471-27242-6.
- Taylor, Jon M. "Reports from Federal Trade Commission website" (PDF). FTC.
- Chung, Frank (March 1, 2017). "WorldVentures multi-level marketing business claims to have 10,000 Australian members". News.com.au. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Herb, Greenberg (January 17, 2013). "From High Energy Clubs to Dashed Dreams: Herbalife Tales". CNBC. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "Amway: Selling the Dream of Financial Freedom". [email protected]. May 5, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "Lewis: Herbalife selling 'dreams' and 'stories'". The Denver Post. January 8, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "Selling the American Dream". CNBC. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Coenen, Tracy (2009). Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide. Wiley. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-470-38796-2.
- Salinger, Lawrence M., ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime. 2. Sage Publishing. p. 880. ISBN 0-7619-3004-3.
- "The Bottom Line About Multilevel Marketing Plans and Pyramid Schemes" (PDF). FTC. December 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes.
"Multilevel Marketing". FTC.
"Multilevel Marketing". FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?". Vandruff.com. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Edwards, Paul; Edwards, Sarah; Economy, Peter (2009). Home-Based Business for Dummies (3rd ed.). Wiley. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-470-53805-0.
- "'Person to person' sales plans... "dream" opportunity or business nightmare? [Amway Ad]". Life. 68 (7): 51. February 27, 1970.
Brown, Caryne (December 1992). "Door-to-door Selling Grows Up". Black Enterprise. 23 (5): 76.
- Charles W. King; James W. Robinson (2000). The New Professionals. Prima Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 0-7615-1966-1.
- Sheffield, Michael L. (February–March 1999). "Comp Plan Conversion:Direct Sales to MLM Compensation Plans". Direct Sales Journal. Retrieved September 19, 2018. (citing Neil Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association)
- "US Direct Selling in 2009" (PDF). Direct Selling Association. 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2018. Cite journal requires
- "Direct Selling Organization Membership". Direct Selling Association. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Ziglar, Zig; Hayes, John P. PhD (2001). Network Marketing for Dummies. Hungry Minds. ISBN 0-7645-5292-9.
- Pareja, Sergio (2008). "Sales Gone Wild: Will the FTC's Business Opportunity Rule Put an End to Pyramid Marketing Schemes?". McGeorge Law Review. 39 (83).
- Attri, Rekha (2011). "A Study of Consumer Perceptions of the Products Sold Through Multilevel Marketing". Management Research Journal. Prabandhan & Taqniki. 39 (83): 97–103.
- "MLM History". network-experience.net. January 24, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Brown, David (November 27, 2007). "Marketing group merely 'selling a dream'". The Times. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Berkowitz, Bill (January 28, 2009). "Republican Benefactor Launches Comeback". Inter press service. Retrieved September 19, 2018. (in reference to BERR vs Amway (Case No:2651, 2652 and 2653 of 2007) in point of objectionability"c")
- Dokoupil, Tony (August 2, 2008). "A Drink's Purple Reign". Newsweek. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Ryan, Leo; Wojciech, Gasparski; Georges, Enderle, eds. (2000). Business Students Focus on Ethics (Praxiology): The international Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology. 8. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 0-7658-0037-3.
- Peterecca, Laura (September 14, 2009). "What kind of business do you want to start?". USA Today. pp. 4B. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- O'Donnell, Jayne (October 15, 2010). "Fortune Hi-Tech: American dream or pyramid scheme?". USA Today. pp. 6B. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- FTC (8 November 2016) "FTC Returns More Than $3.7 Million to People Harmed by Pyramid Scheme"
- O'Donnell, Jayne (February 10, 2011). "Multilevel marketing or 'pyramid?' Sales people find it hard to earn much". USA Today. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Del Valle, Gaby (October 15, 2018). "Multilevel marketing companies say they can make you rich. Here's how much 7 sellers actually earned". Vox. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
- Clements, Nick. "3 Reasons To Avoid Multilevel-Marketing Gigs". Forbes.com. Forbes Media LLC. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- Singletary, Michelle. "Why multilevel marketing won't make you rich". WashingtonPost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
- ফখরুল ইসলাম (Fakhrul Islam) (April 11, 2015). "সব এমএলএম অবৈধ (All MLMs are illegal.)". Prothom Alo. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
- Jeffery, Lyn (March 21, 2001). "Placing Practices: Transnational Network Marketing in Mainland China". In Chen, Nancy N. (ed.). China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Duke University Press. pp. 23–42. ISBN 978-0822326403.
- Xu, Lehman Lee. "Chinese Law | China: Direct Sale". www.lehmanlaw.com. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- 直销企业信息披露网站. zxjg.saic.gov.cn. State Administration for Industry and Commerce. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "Hong Kong multi-level marketing plan needs closer look (editorial)". South China Morning Post. October 31, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Nestorović, Čedomir (2016). Islamic Marketing: Understanding the Socio-Economic, Cultural, and Politico-Legal Environment. Springer. p. 242. ISBN 978-3-319-32754-9. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
- "FTC Consumer Alert; Lotions and Potions: The Bottom Line About Multilevel Marketing Plans". FTC. January 2000. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Kohm, James A. (January 14, 2004). "RE: Staff Advisory Opinion – Pyramid Scheme Analysis" (PDF). Federal Trade Commission. Archived from the original (reprint) on July 3, 2017. Cite journal requires
- Eisenberg, Richard (June 1, 1987). "The Mess Called Multi-Level Marketing With celebrities etting the bait, hundreds of pyramid-style sales companies are raking in millions, often taking in the gullible". CNN. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- In re Amway Corp., F.T.C. (1979).
- "Multilevel Marketing Plans". FTC Consumer Alert. November 1996. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Stephen Butterfield, Amway, the Cult of Free Enterprise (Boston: South End Press, 1985).
- "FalseProfitsHomePage". Falseprofits.com. Retrieved September 19, 2018.; Robert L. FitzPatrick & Joyce K. Reynolds, False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes (Herald Pr, 1997).
- Ruth Carter, Amway Motivational Organizations: Behind the Smoke and Mirrors (Winter Park, Fla.: Backstreet Publishing, 1999).
- H. Höpfl & J. Maddrell, “Can You Resist a Dream? Evangelical Metaphors and the Appropriation of Emotion”, Metaphor and Organizations, eds. D. Grant & C. Oswick (Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Sage, 1996), 200–212.
- Carl, Walter J. (2004). "The Interactional Business of Doing Business: Managing Legitimacy and Co-constructing Entrepreneurial Identities in E-Commerce Multilevel Marketing Discourse". Western Journal of Communication. 68 (1): 92–119. doi:10.1080/10570310409374790. S2CID 151564237.
- Hu Yongqi (July 29, 2010). "Going against the slippery slope of a pyramid scheme". China Daily. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Bloch, Brian (1996). "Multilevel marketing: what's the catch?". Journal of Consumer Marketing. 13 (4): 18–26. doi:10.1108/07363769610124519.
- Taylor, Jon M. (2002). "Comparing Recruiting MLMs with No-product Pyramid Schemes, and with Gambling". Consumers Awareness Institute. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
Cruz, Joan Paola; Camilo, Olaya (2008). "A System Dynamics Model for Studying the Structure of Network Marketing Organizations [Peer reviewed paper that refers uses Taylor as references]" (PDF).
- Dunning, Brian (October 20, 2009). "Skeptoid #176: Network Marketing". Skeptoid. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
- Sandbek, Terry. "Brain Typing: The Pseudoscience of Cold Reading". American Board of Sport Psychology. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "Multilevel marketing or 'pyramid?' Sales people find it hard to earn much". USA Today. February 10, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Greenberg, Herb (January 9, 2013). "Multi-Level Marketing Critic: Beware 'Main Street Bubble'". CNBC. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
- "فتوى اللجنة الدائمة بشأن التسويق الشبكي – إسلام ويب – مركز الفتوى". www.islamweb.net (in Arabic). Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad Saed (2004). Islam: Questions and Answers – Jurisprudence and Islamic Rulings: Transactions – Part 7. MSA Publication Limited. ISBN 978-1-86179-461-1. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Manjur Elahi, Muhammad; Tajul Islam, Muhammad; Muhammad Zakaria, Abu Bakr (May 18, 2011). "The provisions of network marketing in Islamic jurisprudence – Bengali – Muhammad Manjur Elahi". IslamHouse.com (in Bengali). Retrieved June 8, 2020.