The Cult of MLM Essential Oil Companies

The Cult of MLM Essential Oil Companies

I starting writing this blog post back in May when I saw articles and blog posts referencing a new class action lawsuit against Young Living accusing them of operating an illegal pyramid scheme. I read through the entire class action lawsuit and wanted to write about my experience having attempted to sell essential oils through Young Living casually for a year before I moved on to become a certified aromatherapist and started my own independent aromatherapy business, which has been a far more lucrative endeavor.

What experience do you need to sell essential oils for Young Living or doTERRA? ZERO. Buying a starter kit is pretty much it and then you rely on the companies marketing to provide "education" on how to use the oils and how to get other people to buy them too. I cannot emphasize enough the danger of millions of uneducated people using essential oils unsafely. Wintergreen (99% methyl salicyate) is great for pain relief, but did you know if a small child ingests a teaspoon of Wintergreen essential oil, they could in fact die and that is not some aromatherapist scare tactic, there are reported cases of deaths due to methyl salicylate poisoning. This is why professional aromatherapists educate themselves through certification programs and continue to investigate new information as it becomes available.

Young Living and doTERRA are both cult-like organizations. I’m not going to lie, there are definite cult-like aspects to Young Living and doTERRA. It's not a 100% across the board blanket statement and varies dramatically depending on your upline groups. I’ve met many wonderful people through my former Young Living upline and crosslines. However, I find that their marketing is treated like doctrine ignoring actual scientific facts and claiming to be beyond reproach. They espouse many unsafe practices that are practiced without question even when evidence proving the contrary is provided, which I have written about on this blog previously.

It starts out as a fun community of essential oil enthusiasts espousing empowerment and the business opportunity of abundance and prosperity.... and then it just gets weird and icky. If you question anything or offer scientific perspectives on safety you get shunned or chided because the company is above the law, no questions asked. Just to clarify, doTERRA was formed out of Young Living so they espouse many of the same things. The founder of Young Living, Gary Young was a fraudulent scam artist with a dubious past, but he was also genius for creating a billion dollar MLM company. I get the feeling that Gary Young is the L. Ron Hubbard of essential oils.

How do essential oil distributors and wellness advocates make money? In my experience, selling premium starter kits is really the only way that you can make consistent commissions with a new member bonus plus 25% of their sales for the first three months. It then drops to like 3%. So 3% of a $100 order is $3.00. You need a hefty downline that also sells oils in addition to their monthly orders to make any money off that. My best month selling oils, I made $150.00. Which was a drop in the bucket compared to my essential rewards order that month. Personally, I found the starter kit oils to be a little underwhelming you get a few single oils and then a bunch of their proprietary blends. The vast majority of education comes from uplines educating their members on the starter kit oils.

In order to receive compensation, you have to be a member of the Essential Rewards program and order a minimum of $100 or 100PV of products every month. Now, if you are actively using the oils, this really isn’t a big deal especially given their cost. $100 could buy you a 15ml bottle of Frankincense and Lavender, not dozens of products or oils that would sit on a shelf. If you use the oils, then it's really not a waste of money outside of them being overpriced. I don’t fault anyone in my upline because all of this was made clear to me and I loved experimenting with new oils every month. I still do that on a regular basis with other essential oil companies, I buy new oils that I have never used to experiment with for my own personal enjoyment.

In addition to having people in your downline, you will also need to have a portion of them selling essential oils as well. Organizational Group Volume is the total value assigned to the products bought by your downline group that determines your rank. So for the first rank of Star, you need to have 500 OGV, so all the people under you need to order about $500 a month combined EVERY MONTH to hold that rank. If you miss it a month, you lose the rank. The OGV goes up exponentially with each additional rank. In order to reach the highest rank, you would need a downline of 15,000 people ordering a minimum of $100 every month. According to the class action lawsuit, there are 46 people who have made it to this rank. It is not to say that reaching the higher level ranks is impossible, I know quite a few people who have done so successfully.

By the way, If you make less than $25 in commission you do not get a check or direct deposit, you get an account credit to spend on more products.

Use more, sell more, make more money.... Young Living and doTERRA's oils and products are some of the most expensive on the market, mostly due to having to compensate upline and downline commissions combined with the cost of owning some of their own farms. I spent a lot of money on their oils and they do push overusing them. I used to go through a 15ml bottle of Lavender every month and now I have not purchased a single bottle of Lavender in over a year. I always wondered, if their oils were so pure, why you would have to use so much of them to get any benefits? Something doesn’t add up there. One would think if you made a Rum and Coke with 90% rum and 10% coke that you would not need to drink as many as if you had a 50/50 mix, but I digress. I don't feel like I lost money per se, but their oils are vastly overpriced and there is no governing body determining whether or not they are "the most pure", " the only this or that", or "therapeutic grade." Those claims are nothing more than clever marketing language.

The Allure of Abundance I had difficulty recruiting members because the vast majority of people I know are anti-MLM. These companies will tell you they are different and in some ways they are, but you really need to know what you are getting in to so you don't get in over your head. You might think, okay I’ll invest X amount of money into the business because once I reach Silver I’ll be making $3,000 a month, which is the high end of the Silver compensation plan estimated income. The allure of all the higher ranking perks like being flown to Ecuador or go on a cruise or visit their Lavender farm in Utah makes the pursuit of selling the oils seem highly appealing. If you never reach that rank, you may have spent thousands of dollars in the process without making that money back. But, if you are actively using the oils and products that would lessen the blow. They use the promise of abundance and prosperity to lure in more members.

Since I started writing this post back in May, I am in the process of canceling my Young Living membership and have completely extracted myself from all Young Living Facebook groups. The final nail in the coffin for me was the highest ranking leader in my direct upline started espousing a lot of radical anti-vaxxer opinions and countless other members lauded their courage and lock stepped right into that dangerous mode of thinking that essential oils are a cure all for everything. This here folks, is what a cult looks like... unquestioning mindless devotion that is beyond reproach and anyone who questions or offers alternatives is the enemy. Be informed, do your research, and get out before you get in over your head.

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