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Is Market America a Pyramid Scheme? Can you make money with your spending?

Is Market America a pyramid scheme?

MLMs are usually known for one, two, or three products. The types vary but the category remains the same. How about having products to sell in health and wellness, jewelry, home and garden, pet care, auto care, personal care, cosmetics, financial management, and internet services. Maybe I have missed the count or a category here and there but this is the fact. Too good to be true? Market America is a company that offers a wide variety of products in different categories so that people and entities can promote and make some money. It claims to be a full-fledged business opportunity. Or is it? Is Market America a pyramid scheme? Or a scam?

That’s what you are going to find out in this review post. You will get to know all the details behind this so-called business opportunity (MLM), its products, commissions, pros, cons, and whether it is recommended.

New to MLM?

Read: What is MLM Business?

What is Market America?

The company was born in 1992 by its founder James Howard Ridinger and his wife. James had experience as a distributor of Amway, another MLM-based company. Market America initially started with a line of dietary supplements and gradually expanded its products into different categories.

The company is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina, and has a distributor presence in other countries like Canada, Australia, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Market America operates with more than 150,000 distributors under the name of ‘UnFranchise Owner’ to earn their profits.

The company acquired Shop.com in 2010 to enhance its product range and provide a convenient way of shopping to its customers. In recent times, it partnered with Verb Technology, Inc. and Sezzle to match the current trend of advanced online shopping methods and payment options.

What is Market America MLM program?

The MLM comes into the picture with its business model that runs on direct sales and recruitment. It offers an opportunity to individuals and business entities to become ‘UnFranchise Owners’ (UFO) of Market America.

Under UFO, the members will have access to the Shop.com website and other retailing websites to sell their products. Market America offers comprehensive training materials, guidance, tools, and support to its independent UFOs to build their business.

How does the Market America MLM program work?

The MLM program works by registering and becoming a member of Market America. To start with, you will have to purchase one of the starter kits worth $149.95 and $429.95 plus taxes. The other investment includes an annual membership cost of $99.95 and business management software worth $21.95.

The starter kits include different categories of products under health, weight-loss, internet services, and cosmetics. Members are also required to attend seminars and training events conducted by Market America to develop their selling and business management skills.

How to join the Market America MLM program?

To join the Market America MLM program, you can visit https://www.marketamerica.com/site/own-your-own-unfranchise and fill out your details for registration.

To complete the registration process, you will have to provide your phone number or an email id as an obligation to receive more details about Market America’s MLM program.

Market America products 

The products are the plus point. Market America’s take over of Shop.com has given their product range versatility. Shop.com is a marketplace for a wide variety of products very much similar to Amazon and other e-commerce stores.

As a member you have the flexibility to promote established Shop.com products and Market America’s following line of products:

Nutrametrix (Isotonix): Neutrametrix products are developed under the shadow of Isotonix which was Market America’s flagship product introduced in 1993. The product line consists of different food supplements, vitamins, minerals, etc. to improve wellness and provide weight balance.

Motives (Skincare): Motives has various types of skincare solutions. The products are sold under the name of Sublime and Lumiere brands that offer good-looking colors and shine to your face, lips, eyes, and skin.

Transitions Lifestyle System (TLS): The TLS category is dedicated to weight-loss programs. There are cafes, nutritional shakes, and supplements in the form of capsules to feed your body with appropriate levels of protein, and fiber.

Mawebcenters (Online Services): This is a completely different category of services. Customers get to choose solutions related to internet and digital marketing, social media, website designing, etc. that are the latest trend. This is one sure piece of attraction for many visitors looking for resources to make money online.

All the products are offered with 5% cashback under the Market America/Shop.com partnership. There is also a Shopping Annuity program where you as a member get 100% credit for online purchases made by your customers through UnFranchise Owner Businesses or Shop.com.

Are the Market America products worth their price? 

The quality of the products, delivery and its final outcome is the aspects to look for while analyzing the pricing.

Surprisingly, the customer reviews and ratings on BBB are on the higher side. The overall ratings stand at more than 4.5-stars and users seem to be quite happy with the Market America product results. The company is accredited by BBB with an A+ rating which is outstanding.

As for the pricing comparison with other marketplaces like Amazon, there is a big difference. I checked a few products in different categories on Shop.com and Amazon. For some products, Amazon had lesser pricing than Shop.com and vice versa.

I guess this has something to do with the quality of the products (some were refurbished items and some were new) and the retailer who is going to deliver them.

To summarize, I think Market America’s product pricing is fairly justified considering the quality of their products.

It should be noted that none of the products are manufactured by Market America itself. They act as a platform to provide other retailers and store owners to promote their products.

What are the ways to make money with Market America’s MLM program? 

There are two typical ways to make money with Market America:

  • Direct sales – This is where you can promote and sell the products through your web portal/Shop.com partner store and make money,
  • Recruiting others – This method you can use to convince your friends, family relatives, and followers to buy products from your store, and additionally, you can convince your customers to opt for the Shopping Annuity program to earn 100% credits and increase your earnings.

Market America compensation plan 

The compensation plan of Market America is different and quite interesting. It works on the so-called ‘Shopping Annuity’ concept. To keep it short, I am summarizing the whole plan into bullet points to save your time:

  • The commission plan is called ‘Management Performance Compensation Plan (MPCP). You have to follow certain procedures to become eligible for MPCP:
  • Take the Shopping Annuity assessment and start spending your shopping expenses on the Market America/Shop.com portal.
  • The portal will guide and direct you to similar products depending on your shopping/spending habits. This way you can save a considerable amount of expenses by adopting Market America/Shop.com product discounts and deals.
  • Refer your favorite products and deals to others and convince them to make purchases through your partner store on Shop.com. This way you can earn Business Volume (BV) and Internet Business Value (IBV) that are later converted into commissions which are between 30%-50%.
  • Market America uses a Referral Tracking System to track your referrals/customers so that you don’t miss out on qualified commissions.
  • With the increase in online purchases through your partner store and with more and more people adopting the ‘UnFranchise Owner Business’ model, you become eligible for Shopping Annuity Master Member criteria that enhance your commissions significantly.

There is also a detailed video explaining how you can adopt the method, save money, earn and increase your earnings.

Can I make money with the Market America MLM program? 

The compensation plan looks very interesting on paper and has the potential to convert your expenses into consistent earnings. If you can implement your learning and improve your partner store capability, you are in to make good money. The actual earnings figures are inconclusive since their website does not have an income statement.

One thing that goes in Market America’s favor is their business method which is completely online. This is the latest trend and it will keep increasing with time.

But before you start to make money, there is a big amount of investment. The starting cost and starter kits are expensive. Add to that the training cost, yearly membership cost, and other purchasing expenses required to achieve BV volumes which may not be affordable for many people.

The other drawback is the competition and product pricing. The online shopping trend is very exhausted and there are many established players in this category who are not easy to beat with their never-ending and outrageous shopping discounts and deals.

Last but not least is lawsuits. Market America has been accused with many lawsuits and accusations and one of them is related to their distributor earnings.

The company has been accused of misleading and misrepresenting the earnings of its distributors to generate more leads which is against FTC law. As a result, Market America acted by removing such claims from its advertising campaign.

The lawsuits are not new, but the end result is discouraging.

Is Market America a pyramid scheme or a scam? 

Market America has been accused of being a pyramid scheme in the past but the charges were not proven. The company uses recruiting methods to sell its products and generate profits however this is the case with every MLM out there.

Market America has legal products to sell whereas pyramid schemes fully operate without any physical products. Officially, it is not a pyramid scheme.

The company’s existence since 1992 speaks volumes. It is still going strong with the number of acquisitions and partnerships adopting advanced business methods. Market America is not a scam.

Market America controversies/legal issues 

As mentioned above, Market America has been targeted with several lawsuits. Most of the charges were related to their business model and earning methods for which they faced several investigations.

In 2011, Consumer Awareness Institute study declared that 99.6% of Market America’s distributors wind up losing money.

In 2017, two of its distributors charged Market America under the ‘Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ‘claiming the company deliberately targets Chinese-American immigrants to sell their products and is running a pyramid scheme in disguise.

In 2020, Truth in Advertising accused the company of making deceptive earning claims across its online resources to mislead its distributors.

All the above issues reflect the company’s inefficient policies and mismanagement of its distributors under their business method.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Is Market America/Shop.com accredited by BBB?

Answer: Yes, the accreditation rating by BBB is A+ for Market America/Shop.com

2. Are Market America health products FDA-approved?

Answer: No. The products are not FDA-approved.

3. Are Market America health products safe to use?

Answer: Yes, the products are very safe with prescribed dosage and appropriate storing.

Pros

  • The versatility of products: Selling health and wellness products along with thousands of day-to-day products through Shop.com under an MLM program is different. You get the versatility, flexibility, and multiple choices to convince your audience.
  • Selling method: This is another advantage wherein all the research, selling, and payments happen online. People are used to doing online shopping and providing them such convenience with attractive cashback deals and flexible payments options are a winner.
  • Unique earning opportunity: The Management Performance Compensation Plan is unique. While the recruiting and selling aspects are evident what makes it different from other MLM compensation plans is a higher percentage, minimum levels of the distributorship, and uncomplicated bonus structure.
  • Training and seminars: Even though it’s not free but Market America provides comprehensive coaching and guidance along with necessary supportive tools and resources to build your business. It helps, in the long run, to keep your position active and make ongoing income.

Cons

  • High start-up cost: The start-up cost to begin your distributor journey with Market America is very expensive. You spend close to $500 on your membership, starter kits, and training costs. In addition, you will have to keep a certain amount of money aside for membership renewal, regular product purchases, and other miscellaneous expenses related to your business.
  • Pricing irregularities: The products available on Shop.com come with inconclusive pricing. This generates curiosity among the visitors who tend to research the same products on other marketplaces to get better deals and pricing. Over-pricing/irregularities may reduce your conversions.
  • Investigations and lawsuits: MLMs are prone to lawsuits but charges related to deceptive earnings can discourage many people from joining their program. The company has a bad history of repeated pyramid scheme accusations and advertising bogus income figures for their distributors.

Conclusion: Is Market America/Shop.com MLM recommended?

What I like about the Market America/Shop.com business program is its range of products. There is no doubt about its potential to attract many people to its portal. The deals/cashback/discounting gimmicks can add the numbers quickly.

The MLM business model has its advantages in the form of superior training, web portal, and other resources. The company offers a profitable commission structure to its distributors and it can lead to serious earnings if implemented appropriately.

However, the promises are not backed by actual income evidence. On the contrary, the company has surrendered to many income-related controversies that make it look like another ordinary MLM program that focuses on making money by selling its products to its own distributors.

As a member of Market America’s business plan, you are left with aggressive spending on your own training, membership renewals, products purchase, recruitment, etc. My recommendation to you is to do thorough research, and apply caution before you proceed with the Market America/Shop.com MLM program. 

There are many alternatives to building a passive income online in the same amount that you will spend on Market America’s business program. One of them is below.

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MLM is risky and not sustainable

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