Mary Kay, the MLM that has been around forever and still going strong

Mary Kay Inc. is one of oldest and largest cosmetic MLM companies in the industry whose beauty products are sold via direct sales.

They’re one of the pioneers of the home party business model that has appealed to so many stay-at-home moms looking for an easy home based business.

So have I ever been involved?

This video explains:


All good? Let’s continue…


Founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay Inc is privately held. Therefore, sales figures are self-reported by the company itself.

In 2011 the company reported $2.9 billion in revenue and a staff of around 5,000. Direct Selling News places Mary Kay at the number four position on its 2015 DSN Global 100, with 2014 revenue of $4 billion.

To put that in perspective, Avon (their chief rival) is at number two with $8.9 billion. Nu Skin at number 9 had a 2014 revenue of $2.75 billion. Traditional cosmetic companies (brick and mortar) like Sephora ($2.11 billion) come close but certainly don’t blow them away in terms of sales.

So if you were under the impression that Mary Kay was a dying brand supported by aging blue-hairs sporting frosted eye shadow and foundation made with outdated technology, think again.

Mary Kay Ash herself may have passed away, but her legacy of success (and her fortune) lives on.

Her son (Richard Rogers) now runs things out of the Dallas headquarters where they also run the primary manufacturing plant (there are also two plants in China and there used to be on in Europe but it’s closed now).

Mary Kay herself was a genius at all levels: marketing, branding, selling, and running one of the most successful direct selling companies ever created.

Everyone knows what it means when a pink Caddy rolls up: there’s a top-selling Mary Kay beauty consultant at the wheel. Today, they can be seen in the Cadillac DTS or the CTS (consultants also have the choice of choosing cash which equals $900 per month), which they lease with the option to buy.

The company gives boatloads of money to charity- this past December the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation donated $100,000 to Domestic Violence shelters…and that was just their Canadian initiative. There are similar stories all over the world, where the foundation gives each year.


Products are heavily researched by the company, which collaborates with independent medical professionals on safety and effectiveness.

There’s a Satisfaction Guarantee on all products, which offers exchange, replacement or full refund if customers are not satisfied. Their market research shows a 90% product satisfaction rate.

Products are not tested on animals at the Dallas facility, which manufactures products for the North American market. The Chinese plant, on the other hand, does indeed test on animals but only because it’s require by Chinese law.

Products are uniquely developed by Mary Kay Inc scientists uniquely for Mary Kay markets. The R&D wing is mammoth and prolific. This past year alone they were awarded more than 130 patents, for a grand total of over twelve hundred patents for innovative products, technologies and packaging designs.

Some of the recent patents have been in the anti-aging skin care line: Mary Kay® TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Lifting Serum, Mary Kay® TimeWise Body TM Targeted-Action® Toning Lotion and Mary Kay® TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Eye Renewal Cream.

There are six main categories of products:

  1. Skin care
  2. Makeup
  3. Fragrance
  4. Men’s
  5. Body & Sun
  6. Gifts

Prices are incredibly reasonable. Here’s a smattering:

  • Age-fighting moisturizer: $24 for 3 oz.
  • Ultimate Mascara: $15
  • Men’s facial wash: $16
  • Cologne spray: $50
  • Hand cream: $10
  • Broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen: $24

There are new products all the time, and customers may browse them on the Mary Kay website, an IBC website, an e-catalog or in person at a home beauty show. Makeup comes in trendy colors as well as a wide choice of classic combos. There are special offers to entice customers. These include things like:

  • free skin care consultation
  • free makeup consultation
  • hose a Mary Kay party and get free product

The website is also full of helpful and fun tips and advice

Compensation Plan

Becoming an independent beauty consultant is easy. The startup cost is low at $100 and retail sales will earn consultants 50% if they sell at full retail price. With those solid beginnings, it’s no wonder there are three and a half million Mary Kay consultants worldwide.

The startup kit comes with retail-sized products to demonstrate with, samplers to hand out, and brochures and DVDs. There are often limited-time special offers for new IBCs like the one at present:

  • free business announcement eCard
  • free custom color look
  • 50% discount on a Mary Kay website
  • 40% savings on a business kit with business cards

If it turns out selling Mary Kay cosmetics isn’t for you, they company will buy back the starter kit at 90% of cost, provided the products are unused. That offer is good for a year from purchase.

There is extensive training available, something you don’t see in all MLMs (hint: Zukul, Divvee, or MRW Life). Team commission starts when an IBC reaches senior consultant level, at which point she earns 4% commission on all downline sales. That figure goes up as she rises in the ranks, up to an impressive 13%.

In case you were wondering: yes there’s still a pink car incentive program. Top sellers are offered a two-year lease on a pink Cadillac. There are other levels of car incentive now too: a white Chevy Cruze, which comes in an exclusive color Lipstick Red (limited edition) too. This is offered to qualifying IBCs, who may choose the cash option at $375 per month.

Move up the ranks to Independent Sales Director and you can choose a Camry, a Chevy Equinox or the cash equivalent ($500 per month).

For all the car incentives, failing to meet the quota for the month will result in having to pay part of the lease fee yourself. To get the pink Cadillac, an IBC must sell more than $100,000 in one year.


Brand recognition, unique products, and a strong support network for IBCs are the main attraction for women who want to join Mary Kay Inc. Company revenue continues to climb, the company keeps on churning out patents at an alarming rate, and they’ve done everything right as far as company vision, corporate social responsibility and backing their products. Any woman would feel confident about becoming a Mary Kay IBC.

It’s only a matter of neighborhood saturation, and that’s up to you. One tip before you order your Mary Kay starter kit: please do your due diligence and find out how many women are already cruising your neighborhood selling Mary Kay.

As I’ve shown throughout this piece, definitely not a MK hater. But, it’s still the sad story of selling hype and chasing the hot opportunity.

There is a better way. You can build a real value-driven business…and feel good about it.

Check this out. This will help wreck your money-chasing habits.

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Jeremy Page

Jeremy Page created Multiple Streams for ballers, big thinkers and online business owners. You can follow him on Instagram here.

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