(Updated: January 28, 2017) Wow, this has turned into the most popular MLM article on the internet. 19k+ Facebook shares and over 1 million views – thanks for the love!
Before viewing our rankings, watch this video.
(MLM sponsors hate it, but at least it tells the truth)
Watch the entire video? Cool.
Without further ramble, here’s the top 25 companies based on trends and your ability to make money in 2017:
#25. Empower Network
Back in 2013, co-founders Dave Wood and Dave Sharpe were like Tupac. Empower Network was cult and their message was unapologetic: “Don’t be a damned wussy and buy all the products”.
Somewhere along the way, they stopped updating their original digital products and the vision was lost.
These days, you can hop on a random Empower Network webinar and still see Dave Wood spitting knowledge from his mansion in Costa Rica. All of the original leaders are gone except for Lawrence Tam and Tracy Walker, but don’t ever count Dave Wood out.
#24. World Ventures
World Ventures makes the list for making network marketing look “fun”. The vacation membership company targets millennials with a sleek campaign which shows people posting travel pictures with “You Should Be Here” signs.
No other MLM’s come close to nailing the younger market minus Wake Up Now and Vemma, both of which went under in 2015. Maybe a bad sign? Still, you’d think more MLMs would catch on to Instagram-centric campaigns. Tacky or not, it seems to be working.
#23. Wealthy Affiliate
Ask any Wealthy Affiliate member if they’re MLM and they’ll probably cuss you out.
Although technically not an MLM, Wealthy Affiliate offers hosting and a solid digital product lineup that draws comparisons to other MLM digital product companies (see: Digital Altitude, Tecademics, MOBE, MLSP, Empower Network).
Give ‘em credit, though…they’re still one of the bigger digital communities in 2017.
A nasty lawsuit seemed to divide the company (1), but they’re still hanging around as one of the better skin care options in network marketing.
They’ve got badges to prove their worth: Inc. 500, DSA membership and some meh sponsorships.
Usana makes the list by sheer numbers ($918 million revenue 2015) (2).
Their forecast doesn’t look super pretty, but they’re not tanking, either.
Still, they’ve been voted one of the “50 Best Places to Work” and they’ve partnered with the controversial yet iconic Dr.Oz. Think what you like about Dr.Oz, but that’s actually a modest endorsement in network marketing.
#20. Mary Kay Cosmetics
I know, go high-five your fifty-something aunt right now. Mary Kay has been hanging in the beauty world for a half century and they’re still considered visionary. What other 50 year-old beauty business wins “best website” and “best Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube” awards? (3)
And they’re not merely “hanging on”, either.
In 2014 they did $4 billion sales (4) and their global sales force topped the 3.5 million mark. They are still one of the largest direct sellers of skin care products and cosmetics, no small win for this cutthroat industry driven by fickle consumers.
#19. Nu Skin
Up there with Mary Kay and Amway, Nu skin makes the billion dollar club easily. With over $2 billion in annual sales, they’re a candidate for any top list and they’re the clear-cut veteran skincare network marketing company.
Still, they’re not as hot as they were 5 years ago, and it’s tough to say if they’ll be on this list 5 years from now. They donate lots of money to charity, but they’ve had their fair share of scandal and affairs so it’s hard to say what their image is these days.
One thing I do know: I’ve never met anyone under 30 who promotes Nu Skin, and I lived down the street from them for 5 years.
The only MLM to rival Amway’s fortune, fame, and size is Avon. With over 6 billion in revenue in 2015 plus worldwide recognition, they’re already in the MLM hall of fame.
They’re sliding, though. Revenue is falling in North America and their sales force is shrinking. Revenue slid 19% in 2013 and 7% in Mexico. Skip ahead to July 2015 and revenue is still spiraling downward, with a 17% drop (5). Analysts blame Avon’s failure to maintain a strong identity for its products as well as the strong dollar. Lesson: Always re-create yourself.
Over three decades selling skincare products, soon Arbonne will be up there with Mary Kay in terms of ancient relics still pushing lotions.
Huge success here, with annual sales topping $502 million. Still, like Nu Skin, trends would show they’re past their glory days.
Their science is tight, management is blue chip, and products are continually renewed and upgraded for new generations. Arbonne represents the best of what other science MLMs should hope to be. A lock to consider for skincare companies.
Rest of the world: Hey, how’s it going?
Herbalife: FINE. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.
Lol. Herbalife is massive. Top 5 in revenue? Alllll day. Top 5 in brand recognition? Probably top 3.
Still, its Herbalife, which has been universally panned by the media (their fault or not? doesn’t matter, still hurts ‘em) and have become nearly synonymous for “pyramid scheme”.
Good news: They’ve recently settled with the FTC and agreed to pay back $200 million to former distributers (6). Probably not a good look, but it hasn’t stopped disciples to keep rolling with ‘em.
You’ve probably heard of P90X and Insanity workouts, right? They’re dazzlingly-sweaty workout DVDs sold via network marketing thanks to BeachBody.
Beachbody gets saluted for sky-high revenue and mass recognition of their products. Both are testaments of what MLMs can be: “Great-products-first-and-the-money-will-follow” company.
Wickless, scented candles are blowing up, in case your older sister hasn’t told you already. Product is innovative. Flameless candles. It’s simple: People love their products.
The Meridian, Idaho-based company competes with doTERRA for the most word-of-mouth marketing award (and perhaps the most likely to spam your Facebook timeline award), but their $537 million in annual sales are beast-mode. They’re one of the few companies that I would bet on being around 15 years from now.
#13. Pampered Chef
Will high-end kitchen gadgets ever not be hot? Pampered Chef products were made to be sold at home parties and thats why this company is still putting up numbers.
The unofficial Pampered Chef guide to recruiting:
Step 1: invite your friends to come over and watch Scandal
Step 2: ask them to watch a presentation afterwards and pull out their credit cards
Kidding, kind of. They were super hot, but they’ve cooled off. The Berkshire-Hathaway entity was recently profiled for revenue declines and job layoffs (7).
#12. Forever Living
Forever Living probably deserve a spot because of their long-term dedication to the aloe vera plant and products made from it. Aloe vera is hot right now.
It’s rare you see a plant steadily climb over the years. That screams longevity over the other hundreds of other “full service wellness” companies. Founded in 1978, they’ve made the Forbes 400, the Inc 500 and $2.6 billion in revenue.
Further reading: The SINGLE most effective way to kill your job (not MLM)
Trends search show Isagenix neck-and-neck with Advocare, so they’re buzzing nicely these days.
They’re still one of the hottest network marketing companies, although I’m not sure what makes them different from all the other nutri-MLMs out there. They don’t have the sponsorships like Advocare, but maybe that can be used to say they pay out more to distributors?
Overwhelming-positive product reviews on Amazon, a solid comp plan and strong sales make this a top-15 lock for 2017.
If revenue numbers were all that mattered, Amway is #1 or #2 (behind Avon).
What a curious run they’ve had. Amway is so universally recognized it’s become a household word and a ponzi scheme joke at the same time. It’s a tough one to shake off. Nevertheless, you can’t deny winning numbers like $9.5 billion (8) and 3 million distributors. Or naming rights to an NBA arena.
Brand upside for Amway? Aaron Gordon blossoms into a poor-mans Blake Griffen, and the Amway Center gets more runs on TNT and ESPN. That’s all I got.
WGN is blazing hot and they’re cashing in on the wearables trend. I’m not mad, it’s actually brilliant.
Not sure if they’ll be around in 5 years, but they’re hot right now. Their latest release is a health-tracking and disease-monitoring wristband called HELO. They also did $157 million in revenue, and they’re just starting to pop off.
Digging the innovation here, but I’m banking these technologies will be in all smart phones 5 years from now. Will they continue to re-create themselves?
Further reading: The page you need to see before joining any MLM
#8. Ambit Energy
Think: ACN but better.
Ambit has hit the Inc 5000 for 3 years in a row (9), and they seem to keep trending. They promise lower, fixed prices for natural gas and electric services, so they’re clearly less sexier than most network companies on this list. And that’s probably why they’ve thrived. No glitz and glamour, just practical savings.
#7. Young Living
Essential oils are still red-hot. And YL was the first in this category. Used for wellness, cleaning and beauty, essential oils are natural, have few side effects, and hundreds of home applications.
Their lavender fields are famous and they control every aspect of production from planting to bottling so quality is a big deal with this line. Founder Gary Young is famous for setting quality standards for the entire essential oils industry.
So, what’s not to like? Uh, lets just say it rhymes with “Moterra”.
Last year’s #1-ranked network marketing company, Advocare caught some bad PR and slid a bit.
A recent ESPN report (10) was a borderline hit-piece, covering mostly the negative aspects of network marketing, leaving the reader with ex-distributor quotes like these: “You catch people in a bad spot who maybe have hope that this could be a way for them to pay for their credit card and their kids, and you exploit them.”
Ouch. Still, Brees is still rolling with em, and they have the endorsements, products (Spark), programs (24 day challenge) and revenue to be a top 10 lock.
“Tec-a-who?”, you’re thinking.
Chris Record’s new venture is an “online internet marketing education” that’s still being cooked up, so it’s the calm before the storm. Students can attend a real, classroom setting (I believe in Scottsdale) or study online.
Thing is, dude hasn’t launched a wack venture to date, and he already has a team stacked with internet marketing big-leagues. Yes, this ranking is based on speculation, but Tecademics would be on my short list of MLMs to consider in 2017.
Concept makes too much sense. Just sayin.
#4. Digital Altitude
What happens when you create an e-learning personal development program focused on digital business for budding entrepreneurs? And encourage affiliates to spend up to $25k on programs, masterminds and digital retreats?
Correct answer: A bunch of internet marketers get rich
Digital Altitude is not just a money-grab, though, as their education teaches their distributors how to promote the products, which allows automation and scalability way past making a list of family and friends or approaching well-dressed people at Wal-Mart.
That’s why its hot and will probably stay hot for awhile.
In early 2017, 60% of Younique was sold to Coty for $600 milly (11), putting their valuation near $1 billion.
Clap for ‘em.
Good news for distributors: Derek Maxfield and the leadership is still in tact, and the social-media driven cosmetics company is still thriving with their $19 lipsticks and $39 moisturizers.
Younique blew up in Utah the last few years, cornering the market with cosmetic home parties for women who want empowerment. Powerful messaging that works.
Another winning product line here. Jeunesse products work super, super well. Even MLM-cynics need to show love for a product that rids wrinkles:
This live demo (12) is impressive. People will always want to look younger, and Instantly Ageless cream continues to make waves.
They were the #1 fastest growing Direct Selling Association company on the Inc 500 and poached Alex Morton months before Vemma went under in 2015. Savage AF?
Trending and a product that works really, really well? Thats rare in network marketing.
A recent third-party survey (13) said 9 out 10 people that live in the Eastern USA have never heard of “doTERRA”.
Translation: they’re poised for exponential growth.
doTERRA has been cult in Utah for some time, (33% of the consumers in the Rocky Mountain region) but now people all over the world are becoming strangely passionate about using essential oils.
Capitalizing on millennials who love going “all-natural”, doTERRA is buzzing from church parking lots to your married, twenty-something sisters Instagram feed. After only five years in business, they broke ground on a $60 million headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
A spin-off from Young Living, doTERRA started much later (2008) and manages to have the momentum.
Bottom line: They’re the clear leader in the essential oils market (a trending, distinguished niche), making doTERRA my #1 MLM pick of 2017.
Look, to be fair, I salute anyone looking at network marketing companies because it shows you’re trying to do something about your current financial situation.
Hard to knock that.
Now, should you join any of the above companies? The short story: MLM has worked for many, but hasn’t for most.
Network marketing companies usually have good intentions, but the industry is flawed.
Lemme explain a few:
1) Low barrier of entry
Simple: companies choose the multi-level marketing model because MLM companies are cheaper to start and cheaper to run. By transferring that job to a distributor, a company saves an average of $1,200 annually per employee (14). That’s just for training.
Now you have thousands of untrained marketers piggy-backing a hot trend and ultimately becoming “middlemen”, with more than half dropping out in less than a year (15).
2) Artificial supply and demand
Simple: network marketing companies get in trouble when most of their sales come from new recruits instead of outside customers.
Think about it: Why else would so many MLM companies mysteriously re-launch or re-brand? Its all about the new sign-ups.
“Another opportunity to get in at ground level,” the masses think, and artificial demand is created.
Obviously, there’s always exceptions, but these flaws apply to most network marketing companies.
If you’re doing it for the money, odds are you’ll make around $1,833 per year (17).
Ask yourself this uncomfortable question:
Am I pretending to like these overpriced products to disguise the truth, which is that I’m selling an opportunity to make money, whereby statistics say that almost no one is?
There’s wayyyyyyyyy better ways to quit your day job and live the good life. Start here.