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Multi-Level Marketing Businesses And Pyramid Schemes – Why MLMs target Mothers

I am very anti-MLM, as you know if you read my post Why MLMs are scams. In this post, I want to talk about why…

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I am very anti-MLM, as you know if you read my post Why MLMs are scams. In this post, I want to talk about why MLMS targets mothers, especially stay at home mums

Recently, I’ve felt the pull to write more content about MLMs. As the cost of living is increasing, I’ve seen MLMs worm themself into Facebook groups more frequently. In fact, I’ve just had an argument with a girl on a mum’s group who was trying to sell FM World products and her angle was ‘I just thought people might want discounted products as many are struggling’.

Really, she’s taking advantage of women in vulnerable positions at a time when money is tight.

(FM World sells knock off perfume (and other beauty/health products) and the reps regularly claim that they are made in the same warehouses and are the same as designer perfumes, but don’t have the branding and names so are cheaper.)

So, a quick recap:

Why are MLMs bad?

MLM meaning

MLM stands for multi-level marketing. It’s a business model/strategy that encourages distributors to recruit to recruit new distributors.

Why are MLM companies bad?

MLMs are bad as they are based on a business model that is designed to make those at the very top very rich, and those at the bottom make no money or lose money.

An MLM is like a pyramid scheme. The only difference is that it sells a product. But it’s not about the product, this only exists to differentiate it from pyramid scheme which is illegal.

People in an MLM sell products and recruit others to also sell products (and recruit others). The people you recruit are called your downlines. The person who recruited you is your upline.

You earn commission on sales your downlines make, as well as who they recruit. So the higher you are in the pyramid, the more you earn.

People lose money by paying membership fees, buying start-up packs, buying stock that never sells, buying products themselves to meet targets, spending money on social media advertising, and spending money on conventions and training events. People are told these are investments to grow their business, but often distributors don’t make that profit back.

They also lose time. MLMs often preach the ‘hustle’ culture where you need to be grinding and working all the time to make money. People are told that if they aren’t making money, then it’s their fault for not working hard enough.

People are sold success stories which are often lies. People in MLMs will pretend they paid for their holiday, car or house with the money made from their business. These are all tactics that are played to get people to sign up. It sells people a dream about being able to make a good income using these schemes. Truth is, the market is so oversaturated. Are you really going to buy products from a stranger on Instagram?

You can read more about this in my original post about MLMs here.

What I want to talk about today is why MLMs target mothers and stay at home mums.

Why MLMs target mothers and stay at home mums

This is because it’s an easy demographic to target. Those who are run MLMs are not stupid and they know exactly what type of people are likely to fall for MLMs. They write posts social media posts for reps to cut and paste to influence others to join and these posts pull on the emotions of vulnerable women. A woman with a newborn baby is a great target as she wants nothing more than to stay at home with her baby rather than go back to work.

Here are some generalisations that help mums become good and easy targets.

Please note these are just generalisations, not everyone falls into these categories!

They are lonely

Many mums are lonely, spending their days with their kids while dad is at work. They have little social interaction with other adults and often lose contact with friends, or are unable to meet up as much. They want to be a part of something and have adult conversation, they want to get a sense of self back.

Children are expensive

Having a child isn’t cheap, they are a large expense and many families struggle and live paycheck to paycheck. Childcare is also expensive, so the offer to make money around your children is hard to resist.

Don’t feel appreciated

They can feel unappreciated. Being a stay at home mum is hard, but many people think it’s easy – just sit at home and play with the kids all day, how’s that hard? Then dad comes home, has his dinner and talks about his day. Mum’s emotional needs aren’t met and she needs and wants more.

No time

Mums are so busy taking care of everyone that they don’t have any time to work on their own development or careers.

Hustle culture

These days, we see all over social media that women can do anything and everything. It’s not enough to just be a stay at home mum, women feel pressured to be more than that.

They’re not the breadwinners

Typically, mums & stay at home mums aren’t the breadwinners. If they were, they would likely realise that their MLMs aren’t making enough money to actually pay bills. The issue is that a lot of these people aren’t business-minded and the figures are skewed. Money goes into their accounts but it doesn’t take into account the expenses they’ve paid, or the cost of the product before the commission, fees and buying products themselves to stay active or make rank.

Many people in MLMs will just look at what has gone into their bank as profit when in fact, they are losing money.

Why MLMs target Mothers

A perfect pitch

Now think about how someone with the characteristics above might fall for a pitch like this:

Hey hun! I’m currently expanding my business and thought you might be interested in making an extra income. I’m looking for some smart women to join my team and start making money from home. The hours are completely flexible and you work around your children, you make as much as you want to depending on how much time you put in. There’s a free training course and I will mentor you along the way. Let me know if you’re interested, there are only 3 spots left!

Can you see how this may be attractive to a stay at home mum? Making unlimited amounts of cash around the kids, being part of a team and starting your own business. Plus you have to be quick as there are only a few spots left!

It plays completely into the emotions of vulnerable women.

They won’t accept criticism

If anyone disagrees with MLMs, they are haters. They are negative and toxic. It’s a red flag, they say. They aren’t supporting other women. I know this because these are the things I get told. Just tonight I was actually told that I need to ‘be kind’ white I was trying to inform other women that FM World is an MLM and unethical.

I get told I don’t understand how MLMs work and asked why does it bother me if someone else makes money?

I get told to just ‘scroll on’ if it’s not for me.

I’ll never scroll on when it comes to MLMs. I will ALWAYS fight to ensure women have the correct information.

It’s just so easy to ‘be kind, scroll on, you’re not supportive.

Trying to argue with someone in an MLM is like playing chess with a pigeon.

They knock all the pieces over, shit on the board and parade around like they’ve won.

A defensive response

Here’s a typical response you get when you try to prevent people from joining an MLM. This is the conversation I had tonight, with a rep from FM World.

For context, she posted in the group trying to sell FM perfumes at a discount. I responded by saying that it’s an MLM. I linked this article from the BBC so people could read about it themselves.

She then deleted the post and posted the below, saying it’s disgusting that she’s not being supportive and I’m told to ‘be kind’. I was then met with a ‘sea of huns’ as other FM World consultants got involved, before blocking me so I couldn’t see the rest of the conversation.

The reality here is that I am trying to inform and empower women to prevent them from buying products from MLMs as it’s not ethical. I want to inform them about the dangers of MLMs.

To me, that is being kind.

It’s so easy to call someone negative or a hater and then dismiss what they are saying.

It’s not a logical response, it’s a defensive response.

It’s hard to blame this girl, though. She’s probably been brainwashed by her upline to believe she is the owner of her own businesses. They all live and breathe the gospel that people who are anti-MLM are stupid, don’t understand MLMs and are toxic.

Uplines use similar techniques as gaslighting. It’s abusive behaviour where they control the flow of information, warp their sense of reality and play onto the insecurities and vulnerabilities.

It’s quite sad really. Your average, nice person can be groomed this way and become focused on money, really buy into the idea of having their own business and in turn, start grooming others so they can get higher up the pyramid and make more and more sales. Sometimes they have no choice, after investing so much time and money, after convincing their friends and family to join – it would be embarrassing to quit.

They need those sales

FM World offers a car scheme. When you make a certain rank, you get a ‘car’. What actually happens is, is you can buy a car on finance in your name and FM World will pay you the monthly payment IF you continue to get the required amount of sales.

And this is where people get desperate when you need sales, or volume points or whatever else the company calls it to start at the same rank, or move up to the next level. You have to earn at least 50 points a month to even make commission.

You’re not a business owner, you’re a customer

These people claim to run their own small businesses and help others start people’s businesses. The reality is they don’t know anything about running a business, calculating profit vs sales, expenses, tax, how to analyse sales data, website statistics, CTR, conversions, and do competitor analysis. They aren’t entrepreneurs or the CEO of their own companies.

They are selling the products of a large company.

Have you ever heard the term ‘the true customers of an MLM are its reps’? I’ve seen this time and time again.

For one, these women are told to live and breathe the brand. They are told they need to commit to the products, love the products and post images of them using the products on social media. If you’ve ever come across an MLM account on Instagram, I’m sure you will see the product plastered all over. The reps buy the products themselves.

They also are sometimes forced to buy some to retain rank or stay active. They get told to buy it and sell it later as stock. They become these pushy salespeople that nobody wants to become to try and get rid of it. But this doesn’t work and is why you can find bundles of the stuff on Facebook Market Place, Etsy and eBay.

Most people lose money in MLMs

An average of 99.6% of these mothers will LOSE money once expenses are taken into account.

They also lose friendships due to trying to recruit others.

There are many ways to make money online or start selling products through Etsy or Instagram. Or even do risk-free Matched Betting over an MLM!

I will always stand up against MLMs when I see them in Facebook groups. If I managed to educate just one woman on the dangers of MLMs, then my job is done.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on MLMs! Have you ever been targeted?

8 comments

  1. This is such a interesting post, thank you so much for sharing such a insightful post with us all. I defiantly feel like these MLM are targeted towards mothers and it’s so sad. The people at the bottom are the backbone of these companies yet earn basically nothing, it’s bloody frustrating! I think a lot of women will appreciate this post. Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  2. I don’t feel like I’ve had many MLM Dms recently, be interesting to see if that changes when I’m on maternity leave! I tend to just delete without even replying!
    Amy x
    callmeamy.co.uk

  3. When I had Jaxon, I got contacted by a lady who I thought was contacting me about social media as that’s what I had started doing as my own business around looking after Jaxon. I should have noticed the red flag when she said “recently started a network marketing business in the Health and Wellness Industry” but I didn’t, she kept getting in touch every week or so for a while almost trying to be my friend. Then it turned out who she was working for. Thankfully, I’d gained more knowledge about MLMs and knew to run away quickly lol.

    I’m part of an admin team for a Mum’s group on FB and we have completed banned MLMs for posting in our group. If people do then we flag them for approval and if they are repeat offenders we either keep them like that or kick them out because that’s not what our group is for and we’ve seen the harm that MLMs can do. MLM people often try to argue their way out of it (I know my friend is an MLM person…) but it’s a losing arguement!

  4. I hate MLM schemes, there’s not a week that goes by where I see someone DMing me on Instagram asking to give me more information on making more money – and I’m not even a mother! I hate that they target mother’s in particular, that’s just awful and it needs to stop x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  5. Loved reading this Corinne! In definitely with you on it. I know someone who does FM & although I don’t know that much about it (definitely didn’t know that the car thing isn’t even a car) it doesn’t take a genius to realise there isn’t money to be made from it. Not unless you’re at the top ofc. She was at one point selling 5 samples for £3 which included free delivery. Like surely that’s got to be a loss. Surely.

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