[Note: The VP of Business Development, David Ciemny, has left a comment of which I responded to. On January 17, 2012 he has promised a response, but has not delivered yet. I have reminded him twice via email and he hasn't responded to those requests either. I wouldn't recommend aligning yourself with a company with such irresponsible management.]
Today I'd like to tell you about a scam that I find interesting. I find it so interesting because seemingly intelligent people fall for it. It's not like the Nigerian Prince scam that we can all joke and laugh about, because it is so ridiculous that no one knows anyone who actually falls for it.
This scam about a fruit juice. Here are a few things about it:
There's a product of blended fruit juices - exotic fruit juices. It comes in a 750ml wine bottle that looks more suited for expensive. That bottle retails for around $50 and the suggested serving size is 2 oz., twice a day. The theory is that it packs a bunch of antioxidants.
The company has a scientific board of doctors to give the product an air of legitimacy. The company also puts a large focus on its charity contributions in an effort to market the company.
The company touts the patents it has. Many of its customers don't realize that patents are granted for ridiculous things - things that don't necessary work.
The business model is a multi-level marketing one. It is very complex and includes uses a bunch of confusing terminology. Some of this terminology involves distinguishing amongst sales of Personal and Downline creating a point system of PV (Personal Volume) and GV (Group Volume). There are at least 9 "ways to earn money!" marketing designed to nab the suckers who think that more ways to earn money is better.
If a distributor wishes to participate in most of these ways to make money, they are required to purchase a case of 4 bottles each month at a cost of around $140 to them. In this way, the company ensures that everyone involved in the pyramid has subscribed to paying them $140 a month or $1700 a year with the renewal fee to be a distributor each year.
The compensation plan allows for a luxury car bonus. While that sounds great, if a distributor doesn't maintain the sames level (replacing people who quit after they realize that they aren't making money), the distributor is on the hook for the car lease themselves - a financial burden that many find out the hard way.
There is an annual get together for all distributors that they have to pay for out their own pocket (traveling costs and hotel are extra). This is big win for the company because they get more income from its distributors who effectively pay for their own brainwashing.
The compensation plan ensures that around 99% of people will never make money in the business. That's why the constant motivational meetings are necessary.
Did you Guess who the Company is?
If you are familiar with Lazy Man and Money and you probably think I'm writing another article about MonaVie. After all I've written enough about MonaVie over at MonaVie Scam to prove that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that appears to be an illegal pyramid scheme, which is itself wrapped in illegal medical claims, supported by nonsensical "scientific" studies, and tied to a fraudulent charity.
[Update: MonaVie appears to have been foreclosed upon according to my reading of the the Salt Lake City Tribune.]
However, this is really an article about Jusuru. Don't be upset, you didn't really have a way of knowing which juice scam I was referring to. In fact, I almost didn't write about Jusuru, but a friend convinced me that it was probably worth it to warn consumers before it got along too far. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?
I could have gone into a lot more detail about the individual aspects of Jusuru, but in many cases you may wish to read that MonaVie website and substitute "MonaVie" for "Jusuru" just like you could have with most of this article.
Update: It appears that Vogel was kind enough to find a ton of dirt on Jusuru. Some of the things at that link:
- The President coaching distributors about how to walk the line of making fraudulent medical claims
- The fact that neither of the two people credited with inventing it are scientists
- The previous scammy products they've been a part of in the past
- Dr. Brady and Mike Lattuca participating in what sounds to me illegal medical claims about the product.
- ... and much much more! See just like MonaVie
Meet the New Juice Scam. Same as the Old Juice Scam. Heed the The Who's words and you Won't Get Fooled Again.
Let's Get into Jusuru for Real
I had presumed that if I showed people how Jusuru is a MonaVie copycat in just about every way, they'd be wise enough to understand that they just said, "Hey look, they are getting people to pay outrageous prices for fruit juice... we can do the same thing." Clearly there are still a subset of people, likely Jusuru distributors, who aren't able to make that mental connection.
With that being the case, I thought I'd slowly bring out a few more things about Jusuru:
Resveratrol as a "Star" Ingredient
For one thing, I couldn't find Jusuru make a clear claim to how much resveratrol is in the product. There do say "one serving size (2 oz) contains the same amount of resveratrol as in four full bottles of red wine" (Source), but not all bottles of red wine contain the same amount of resveratrol, so which four bottles of red wine is Jusuru using? Using this chart below we can see there is a big difference in wines with some having 5 times as much as others:
Four bottles of red wine is 3 liters (a wine bottle is 3/4s of a liter or 750ml), so to have as much resveratrol as 4 bottles of red wine, it could have as little as 3mg per 2 ounces (0.99 * 3 liters) or as much as 15mg per 2 ounces (5.01 * 3 liters) of reseveratrol. I found NutriGold Resveratrol GOLD, 500mg, 120 Capsules on sale for less than $25 (as of this writing: 11/17/2012). A single pill will give you somewhere between 33 and 166 times the amount of resveratrol in a Jusuru serving (depending on their fuzzy claim of the resveratrol in wine and not specifying specific quantities). In any case there are about 12 servings of Jusuru in a bottle, so a single pill is worth anywhere from 3 to nearly 14 bottles of Jusuru. If you want to get your resveratrol, you can either spend $25 for those 120 pills or you can spend $14,400 (3 bottles/per pill * $40/per bottle * 120 pills) to $67,200 (14 bottles/per pill * $40/per bottle * 120 pills) to get it from Jusuru.
However, before you spend the $25, $14,000, or the $67,200 on resveratrol the Mayo Clinic says, "most of the resveratrol in the supplements can't be absorbed by your body."
While Jusuru spends a good portion on it's website marketing resveratrol (Source) as a solution to the French Paradox, more research shows "the authors of a 2003 study concluded that the amount of resveratrol absorbed by drinkers of red wine is small enough that it is unlikely to explain the paradox" and that "some researchers have questioned the validity of this paradox altogether, particularly the connection between natural saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease. This view has recently received broad support through the results of the Nurses' Health Study run by the Women's Health Initiative. After accumulating approximately 8 years of data on the diet and health of 49,000 post-menopausal American women, the researchers found that the balance of saturated versus unsaturated fats does not affect heart disease risk, while the consumption of trans fat results in significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease."
It's also telling how easy Jusuru Canada replaced resveratrol that is in Jusuru's USA product. From Jusuru Canada's FAQ (PDF), "The difference between the two is that the Canadian formulation will contain all ingredients except resveratrol, lycium, jujube, and nopal. We have, however, replaced these ingredients with additional mangosteen, which has proven similar anti-inflammatory benefits as resveratrol. This will not change the efficacy of the product in any way. In fact, Jusuru Life Blend’s power comes from BioCell Collagen and antioxidants that are derived from a blend of superfruits."
It is of note that Jusuru makes the claim that "it will not change the efficacy of the product in any way." Since there are no clinical trials, the only way they can be sure is by admitting that Jusuru has zero efficacy and hence the change keeps it's efficacy at zero. Furthermore, if resveratrol can be replaced without changing the efficacy of the product, it is logically not a critical ingredient.
Lastly, it is particularly telling that Jusuru uses the marketing term Superfruit rather than a more scientific term.
In conclusion, I find the following problems with Jusuru's marketing of resveratrol:
- Reservatrol is not proven to do anything and it may not do anything.
- Most of the reservatrol in supplements can't be absorbed by the body
- Jusuru's marketing of reservatrol in tying it with the French Paradox only tells a portion of the story... a portion that my not be related to the French Paradox at all... even if the French Paradox exist... which it might not.
- The amount of resveratrol in Jusuru is so minimal that getting an equivalent amount elsewhere can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars.
- Jusuru itself dismisses the importance of resveratrol by replacing it in some of its juices.
Non-Profit Consumer Advocate Truth in Advertising (TINA) Warn Jusuru
In a letter with a subject of Deceptive Marketing for Jusuru International Opportunity and Products.
TINA continues to state: "Specifically, Jusuru distributors are making a multitude of unsubstantiated disease - treatment claims about Jusuru products, such as being able to treat, cure, or alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, neuropathy, cancer, psoriasis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and sciatica."
TINA also found deceptive income claims and wrote that they'd be warning the FTC unless the issues were corrected to their satisfaction.
You are free to make up your own mind of whether Jusuru is a scam. I let you guess my opinion.
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