Mormons & MLMs (Weekend Poll)

By: wheatmeister
March 29, 2014

Let’s get you in at the ground level!

Why do multi-level marketing schemes prevail in Mormon culture?

Why do pyramid schemes prevail in Mormon culture? (Choose the 3 best answers)

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17 Responses to Mormons & MLMs (Weekend Poll)

  1. wonderdog on March 29, 2014 at 5:08 AM

    You say “pick 3″, however, it will only allow you to pick one.

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  2. Douglas on March 29, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    #1 – ibid.

    Latter-Day Saints equate professional and financial success with their spiritual success (D&C 29:34). If a man is having difficulty in supporting his family, he expects to hear something to the effect of “What’s WRONG with you, mon?” from his bishop et al.

    With MLMs, be it “Quixtar” (new incarnation of (Sc)Amway, World Marketing Alliance, Frontier Long Distance (this was big about 20 years ago, Noni, or Mary Kay), they all market by recruiting. Their main ‘product’ is NOT soap, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, or insurance, it’s the DREAM. Fairly much this message is this:

    1) Working at a J.O.B. (Journey Of the Broke) is for chumps…(“You’ll never get rich, you son of a …..)
    2) You need to “leverage” your time, which is what your boss (“the Man” is already doing to you.
    3) Usually draw the circles..(“If you recruit six, and they recruit six, and so on…).
    4) WE have the wonder product and or “new” marketing method that’s going to revolutionize the American economy. (works also for the UK or wherever you are, with slight adjustments for local politics).
    5) Preach a brand of conservative politics. Go to ‘meetings’ called “Free Enterprise Day” or similar high-sounding themes.
    6) This is HOW you can pay off your debts, enable your wife to leave the workplace, spend MORE time with your kids (by taking on a side business and working long hours?)

    LDS folk are not unlike US conservative Protestants who primarily reside in what was once derisively termed “JesusLand”. We are no less susceptible to the typical MLM sell tactics.

    Lastly, and many critics of LDS will undoubtedly jump on this point: some of the MLMs have almost a cult-like quality of their own. Meetings that start at 9 pm or so (don’t want to interfere with prime selling time, right?) and go long into the night. And THEN, once your exhausted and ready to go home (b/c you still need to work at your J.O.B. and you’re supposed to be there at 7:00 AM, NOT “sebben-oh-faive-ah-yem, you got dat?”), your “upline” gets in your face and asks where you’re going. You reply, “Home! Meeting’s over!”. To which she replies, “Oh, No! That was just the MEETING! You need to stay for the “meeting AFTER the ‘meeting’” if you REALLY want to build this business!”. Just as some LDS members go “whole hog”, being it dedication or simply nothing better to do or not much of a home situation to go home to, so it is with many that get involved in MLMs.

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  3. The Other Clark on March 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Didn’t vote because several answers are equally valid. My top reasons would be.
    1) The “work from home” ideal makes MLM appealing to many Mormons
    2) Mormon social relationships are easily adapted to MLM.

    BTW, i believe Doug is right that they’re “selling the dream” more than the product.

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  4. The Other Clark on March 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    But I wonder if there’s not something deeper, tribal and subconscious going on, too.

    Do we as Mormons prefer to buy products from fellow saints, supporting MLMs the same way pioneer saints were encouraged to shop at ZCMI and avoid gentile establishments?

    Does the desire to build an MLM “downline” touch the same primative nerve that motivated early members to enter into dynastic sealings, via additional marriages and the Law of Adoption?

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  5. Jack Hughes on March 29, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Between MLM pyramid schemes and summertime salesdrones (Pinnacle, Vivint, etc.), we as Church members really need to reevaluate our priorities and what constitutes “honest dealings with our fellow men”. I find it incredibly disingenuous when I or my wife get invited by a fellow ward member to a social gathering under pretenses of good company, only to find ourselves trapped in a sales pitch by people who, under any other circumstances, we would consider our friends. Also, I detest the use of missionary (read: manipulative) language used in their pitches, such as the Commitment Pattern, or judging me or my family (“Do you really care about your family’s well-being?” or some such rhetoric to suggest that I would be a bad husband/father if I did not buy in). Things like Pre-Paid Legal and food storage plans also use obnoxious fear-mongering. In the summer, when young RMs from Utah head to coastal states and invade our wards and our neighborhoods, they show up at my door practically bearing a testimony of whatever product or service they represent, sometimes using missionary manipulation to try and make a sale (“pray about it”, etc.). Then they move on to my neighbors, confirming their suspicions about Mormons.

    Stuff like this makes me embarrassed to be LDS.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on March 29, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    wonderdog: fixed it. Sorry ’bout that.

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  7. Bob on March 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Sadly, Jack is exactly correct. I am a “gentile” living in Utah and this has been my experience.

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  8. Frank Pellett on March 29, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    I’d put as another choice – Mormons have a hard time saying “no”

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  9. Kristine A on March 29, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    It’s definitely not on the decline – I had to block half the people on my facebook feed because they are trying to get everyone to be “Beachbody Coaches” and sell overpriced products and challenge groups. They just keep on morphing – whether it’s makeup, oils, etc. All of their headquarters are in Utah.

    I grew up in a Quixtar family and bought into the hype, my husband almost broke off the engagement because of it. Thank goodness I snapped out of it.

    -I think it’s mostly selling “the dream”; which is related to our gospel of prosperity “God wants you to be rich”
    -Also you can translate your work in an organization to “I’m changing people’s lives and giving them hope” instead of “pressuring my friends to buy overpriced products that the only way they will be able to afford them is if they pressure their friends to buy overpriced products”

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  10. Steve on March 29, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Name one MLM product that is 1) competitively priced and 2) actually does what it is supposed to do.

    Most are incredibly expensive. And, I’ve never run into one that actually is “magic”.

    Juices? Nope. Blueberries are better and are available at your neighborhood store for $4/carton.

    Vitamins? Supplements? Nope. A balanced diet is infinitely preferably.

    Weight loss products? Nope. The winning formula to success has never changed: 1) Exercise more and 2) Eat less.

    Financial products? Nope. Subpar to what you can get from any decent brokerage.

    Soap? Magnets? Chocolate? Pre-paid legal? Mortgage pay-off schemes? The latest one? Nope. Everyone is inferior or doesn’t work or ridiculously overpriced.

    Let’s be direct. Everyone single one is fraud. And, through them, Utah is the fraud capital of the U.S. Yeah.

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  11. Steve on March 29, 2014 at 6:52 PM


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  12. Troth Everyman on March 29, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Several thoughts:

    Perhaps it is a small step from “lying for the Lord” often implicitly taught on missions that can easily shift to simply “lying”.

    Or perhaps economically speaking, it isn’t an easy time. I imagine the longer the economic downturn lasts for the middle class the easier it will be to sell the dream to others, and the more people who sell it will want to believe the dream too.

    Or perhaps religious training that encourages LDS to take religion as truth based on faith (despite evidence to the contrary) can lead people to believe in MLM’s despite all the evidence to the contrary.

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  13. sba on March 29, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    I heard nothing but ridicule for MLMs from my family as a youngster in Utah; my closest encounter with them was as a missionary in Hungary in the early 1990s, when a chunk of our teaching pool dropped us because all their spare time was taken up with Amway.

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  14. NewlyHousewife on March 29, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    I find it interesting no one has mentioned mental health thus far. Given the high rate of depression among women in Utah, maybe having an MLM sells them the idea of being able to complete their ‘divine role’ of parenting while at the same time feeling their own self-worth by claiming to have a job and put snacks on the table.

    Life would be a whole lot easier if GAs stopped hating on daycare.

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  15. Nate on March 30, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    It is inaccurate and offensive to characterize all MLMs as “pyramid schemes” although a few are.

    “A pyramid scheme is an unsustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public.” from Wikipedia.

    There are many MLMs which have lasted decades and have provided a good living for millions, and satisfying product lines.

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  16. […] that the CoJCoL-dS ironically uses all of them. The church has some interesting quirks, such as a preponderance of MLMs and weirdly picky rules like taking the sacrament with your right hand. Runtu praised some Mormons. […]

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  17. Jeff Spector on March 30, 2014 at 4:52 PM


    “It is inaccurate and offensive to characterize all MLMs as “pyramid schemes” although a few are.”

    Actually, it’s not. I’ve yet to encounter one which does not promise more money for recruiting than selling. If you want to be totally technical, they are not necessarily the classic pyramid where the ones at the bottom are left with nothing, while the ones at the top get rich, but it’s close.

    I refuse to listen to any of them anymore mostly because if I am going to put in my time, it is going to be something I’m actually interested in doing, not just for money, And i’ve heard them all at one time of another.

    But, I did like that spray-on shoe shine stuff…… The only product I actually eve bought from one of those.

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