[Editor's Note: This article is long and I hope you find the information you need to make an informed decision. Towards the end, I have a special gift for you. (If you want to cheat, click here to get it now.)]
Back in 2008, I asked if MonaVie was a scam and with over 6500 comments from readers I came to the conclusion that MonaVie was a scam. Specifically, I showed that "MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that appears to be illegal pyramid scheme, supported by nonsensical 'scientific' studies and illegal medical claims." In years of research it was one of the top 5 scams I've encountered.
As pyramid schemes are known to do, MonaVie collapsed as shown by Google Trends. At its peak it claimed to be doing a billion dollars a year in sales. A couple of months ago, they announced the "exciting news" that they have been bought by a company called Jeunesse Global. Except that like everything with MonaVie, they can't even sell themselves properly and a a judge may block the "FORECLOSURE" so that MonaVie employees can get value for their stock.
When your company is foreclosed upon it is hardly worth writing "exciting news" in a press release... especially if it leaves your employees with worthless stock.
The MonaVie article tops my blog with 6500+ comments.
However, comments on my blog about Jeunesse go back to 2012 and I now that I have had a few people email me asking about the company. It's time to review Jeunesse to see if it is a scam.
I thought about doing some extensive research into the products, but in writing about the business (see below), I had almost 2000 words which is a considerable review.
Also, after reviewing dozens of MLM companies, I've found that in EVERY case the products are vastly overpriced and the distributors claim that it is because they are of superior quality. The attempt is to push the discussion towards a subjective quality discussion rather than address that pricing is reflective of the admission ticket to the "business opportunity/pyramid scheme."
This is why you don't see any MLM television companies. It's almost always "lotions and potions." And of course Jeunesse is no different. And of course the FTC used warn of MLMs using lotions and potions (PDF). They've broadened the writing now to cover other MLMs, but it is telling that Jeunesse is another "lotions and potions" MLM.
At some point I could see spending more time on the products themselves, but after Nerium and Rodan and Fields, I have little interest in looking to skin creams. It's too easy for distributors to Photoshop before and after pictures and say, "See... it works!"
I could spend more time on their AM and PM pills. Their Telomere Maintenance Complex and Stem Cell Maintenance Complex is laughable.
Jeunesse Finiti is much more interesting with the TA-65 that I've seen distributors marketing. Look at all the warnings on the on the WikiPedia page for it. And Nature has an article where experts say that it isn't tested. Also, there's the evidence it evidence it has been linked to cancer.
This is all stuff I could find in just a few minutes looking at TA-65. In the future, maybe I'll spend a couple of hours and expand this section.
The Business of Jeunesse
A lot of people ask me about the business of a particular MLM. In most cases the answer isn't particularly quick. In this case, there is pretty obvious, irrefutable evidence that Jeunesse is a scam. The majority of comes from the secret backroom deals. After that I'll comment more on Jeunesse's compensation plan.
Secret Backroom Deals for the People at the Top
The office of lawyer Thompson Burton, who typically works for MLM companies, is actually suing Jeunesse on behalf of its client.
While that link only presents one side of the story, you can clearly see that Jeunesse's Darren Jensen engaged in providing at least one special undocumented deal for high-level distributor Matt Nestler. These secret deals to bring over high-level distributors and their downlines creates a misrepresentation of the business. These people are held up as success stories in that MLM for new distributors to see as examples. However, they are given preferential spots at the top instead of doing the work of a new distributor. I've never this described in any MLM compensation plan.
The dispute between Nestler and Jeunesse reached the level where the police had to be brought in. BehindMLM suggests, and I agree, that it looks like Jeunesse set up Nestler to take his lucrative downline, especially because he passed the polygraph tests.
Combine the secret, favoritism deals and the shenanigans of murder accusations and potentially stealing a distributor's business and I'd want nothing to do with Jeunesse.
The Jeunesse Compensation Plan
I found this 4 minute video on the Jeunesse Compensation plan:
The actual compensation is actually much more complex with bonuses for top earners and the need to understand terms like Commissionable Volume (CV) and Personal Volume. And don't get me started on Group Volume and Personal Group Volume.
When you've seen the number of MLM compensation plans that I have, you get an idea for when things don't add up. For example, the video says that you don't earn any money until you recruit people on the left and the right. This seems like a good time to bring up the The FBI's definition of a pyramid scheme:
More specifically, pyramid schemes—also referred to as franchise fraud or chain referral schemes—are marketing and investment frauds in which an individual is offered a distributorship or franchise to market a particular product. The real profit is earned, not by the sale of the product, but by the sale of new distributorships. Emphasis on selling franchises rather than the product eventually leads to a point where the supply of potential investors is exhausted and the pyramid collapses. At the heart of each pyramid scheme is typically a representation that new participants can recoup their original investments by inducing two or more prospects to make the same investment. Promoters fail to tell prospective participants that this is mathematically impossible for everyone to do, since some participants drop out, while others recoup their original investments and then drop out.
In this case, recruiting two people doesn't recoup your investment. You need to get 600CV on one side and 300CV on the other to earn a measly $35. I found an interesting PDF chart of prices and CVs from what appears to be one distributor. It seems like to earn 200 CV you have to get someone else to be spending around $300 on "autoshipped" product every month. So if you get 600 of that ($900 every month) on one side and 400 of that ($600 every month) on the other side, you get $35. So if you balance everything well and you get people to spend ~$1500 every month, you can get $35. As best I can tell, that $35 isn't even enough to pay for your own qualification to earn commissions.
It's worth noting that I've seen every presentation points out that you can earn 750 of these $35 cycles every week or $26,250 a week. However earning a single $35 "cycle" appears to be extraordinarily difficult from the math above. Do this extraordinarily difficult thing 750 times each week and you can make a boatload of money. They may point out that some people actually do it, but they'd be ignoring the fact that they are at the top and essentially get to start out with it already done for them (see the secret backroom deals listed above).
The point is that these presentations go out of their way to sell high numbers such as $26,250 a week or even $105,000 a month. Such as this one:
These presentations appear to be breaking the FTC guidelines of endorsements, by stressing "what's possible" instead of "what's typical" and they don't have the necessarily disclaimers.
Is the Jeunesse Compensation a Pyramid Scheme?
That's a great question. I gave you the FBI definition above. Given that alone, I would say it does appear to be a pyramid scheme.
However, the FTC has it's own MLM/pyramid scheme guidelines which have some overlap:
"Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money... Avoid any plan where the reward for recruiting new distributors is more than it is for selling products to the public. That’s a time-tested and traditional tip-off to a pyramid scheme... One sign of a pyramid scheme is if distributors sell more product to other distributors than to the public — or if they make more money from recruiting than they do from selling."
When I watch those videos about the Jeunesse compensation plan, they spend all the time explaining about how you recruit people to the left or right, only briefly mentioning selling product if at all. It seems clear to me they are pushing you towards recruiting (bad) and not selling to the public (good). It doesn't seem like they should be mentioning earning $25,000+ per week in commissions from a downline. In order for that independent distributorship to be legitimate and not a pyramid scheme, someone earning that would have to be working extremely hard to earn more than that through sales to the public (according to the FTC guidelines above).
For me, the FBI and the FTC words are enough, but I like this video which gives a little more detail about pyramid schemes:
I'm not sure what else needs to be said on the topic.
Quick Takes on Jeunesse
Here are some random things that I found that I thought were interesting. It's a potpourri of information.
Jeunesse Executive Team
This is kind of a bonus section because I thought it was odd/funny.
The Jeunesse website makes a point to highlight their Executive Team. I found it interesting that after the CEO and COO they put the CLO and CVO. These people are ahead of the CFO, the Chief Financial Officer. Go ahead and search Google for CLO and CVO. I'll wait. Didn't find Chief Legal Officer or Chief Visionary Officer did you? Me either. Feel free to insert your own lawyer joke, but it's hard to believe that they'd put CLO (or CVO for that matter) that high up on the totem pole.
What about Jeunesse and the Inc. Magazine 5000?
I think it was just two weeks ago that I explained this in my Plexus article and that built on the research I did when MonaVie was in the Inc. Magazine’s 500. As covered above, that wasn't a sign of success. In fact, the company declined soon after getting the ranking.
In the world of MLM companies often "pop and drop." At the start, they hype everything and people believe it is going to be the next big thing and rush to jump on board as its growing. However, once it becomes clear that each person would have to recruit many, many other people to make any significant money... and can't recruit them... it drops.
So MLM companies can make the Inc. Magazine 5000 which measures revenue growth, but they don't sustain it. It doesn't stop them putting a badge on their website though... as if to say, "Hey we are legit!"
The reality is that Inc. Magazine wrote about how bad MLM is back in 1998.
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For more, visit my five minute financial fixes article. If neither of the above is helpful, I'm sorry. I appreciate you for just being here. The person recruiting you has a financial incentive to present only one side of the story. Kudos to you for searching for more information to make an informed decision.
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