Organo Gold is the company that brought coffee to the MLM space.
And not just coffee, but coffee infused with mushroom powder. (Ganoderma mushrooms, to be exact).
So have I been involved?
This video explains:
All good? Let’s continue…
Fungus in your coffee? It’s a flavor idea that could only have come out of Asia. The Ganoderma mushrooms have actually been used in traditional Asian medicine for 4,000 years according to the Organo Gold website.
And co-founder Bernie Chua is from the region of China where the Ganoderma mushrooms come from.
So, I’m putting fungus in my coffee for what reason?
Organo Gold products are made with Ganoderma lucidum, a mushroom that grows on wood (is that rare?) somewhere in China.
Although the claims of this fungus playing a role in traditional medicine are sprinkled everywhere on the OG website, they never really say what the benefits truly are.
They simply state that there are “anti-oxidant” benefits. They never specify how it’s been used in medicine for 4,000 years.
If it’s all about anti-oxidants, I’d really rather just put blueberries on my morning cereal and call it a day (although blueberry MLMs are great, s/o to Kyani). But I think most Westerners would agree with me, too.
It get worse. If you love coffee, you’ll immediately be turned off by the fact that Organo Gold coffee products are sold in “sachets”. That means you’re pouring hot water over a teabag-like packet to make your coffee. As any gourmet coffee lover knows, instant coffee is not known for its aromatic properties. Stuff tastes terrible.
Not only that, but the Black Coffee sachets cost a little under a dollar apiece. King of Coffee is almost double that!
To be fair, OG does now sell BrewKups (that means brewed coffee for all you non-coffee drinkers out there).
What signifies prosperity?
The company is mighty proud of its shiny new headquarters in Richmond, BC, Canada. Organo Gold features an auto-play video on their website “About” page describing the new facility in glorified speech. Sometimes, however, the tone sounds a little too proud for what’s actually being said:
“Your brand new global headquarters with an abundance of wood. And glass!”
“Purposely designed to face west for prosperity!”
For most business people, it might make more sense to brag about rising revenues or great products. Why waste About Page autoplay on your wood-themed new building? Here’s what they should be telling their visitors:
- Sales in 2008, OG’s first year in business, were $2 million.
- From there, sales skyrocketed each and every year: $2M to $9M to $40M to over $100M in 2011, and skip ahead to 2013 and it’s $215 million.
But are things slowing down for Organo Gold? Direct Selling News, in its annual DSN North America 50 List cited OG at #34 with 2014 revenue at $214 (1). That’s a step in the wrong direction. $224 mil is still good money but CEOs like growth, not stagnation.
Maybe that’s why we’re seeing all the emphasis on the shiny new HQ. Like the Wizard of Oz using smoke and mirrors to distract Dorothy et al from all his failings, Organo Gold might just be trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.
Was 2014 the Year of Organo Gold?
In fact, revenue might not be the only thing that peaked in 2014 for this company (their new headquarters was opened that year too).
Seems they went on an executive hiring frenzy in hopes of expanding overseas. New top-level management positions were filled in Peru, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Singapore.
Did expansion not turn out to be what they’d planned? Did the late-2013 appointment of pro golfer Greg Norman backfire? Or was it the C3Club that caused revenue to plateau in 2014? (The Coffee Connoisseur Club is what they call it when customers are on AutoShip. It’s also Organo Gold’s version of the home party where hosts can earn free product for referrals to the OG auto-ship program).
Let’s be a little more data-driven here. According to Google Trends, the peak of interest in Organo Gold was actually a full year before, in 2013:
Perhaps OG execs saw the end coming and knew a huge push into Asia was in order. That would explain all the new appointees in that region. Would that explain the new HQ too? Hard to say, but perhaps that’s what all the smoke and mirrors in the video is all about: that’s what prosperity looks like to people halfway around the world.
It all boils down to branding
A direct selling organization with a coffee product should not have a motto that reads “KISS”. Short for “Keep it short and simple”, this is an operating principle that is completely disassociated from the company’s main product: coffee.
KISS is also more famously known to stand for “keep it simple, stupid”. That sort of negative connotation completely flies in the face of what MLM is supposed to be about: a supportive structure for independent distributors. MLM is about mentoring and sharing revenue, winning as a team and growing together.
Talk about mixed messages. Co-Founder and CEO Shane Morand was quoted in DSN as saying “Most people think we’re a coffee company. But we’re really disguised as a coffee company to bring this treasure called Ganoderma to the four corners of the earth.” (2)
That in a nutshell may explain why Organo Gold seems to have reached a plateau of market share in North America. It looks like a coffee company but they’re really pushing ancient Chinese mushroom powders.
Totally not matched to western appetites. Have they only been selling to Asian-Americans for six years, having reached the saturation point in 2014?
This company should decide if their target customers are coffee fiends or people who fall for hocus-pocus nutritional supplements. Those two worlds may collide occasionally but from a marketing point of view…not often enough!
Not that it seems to matter at this point, but the income opportunity is as follows It operates on a binary tree, unilevel residual income plan that goes nine levels deep. Matching bonuses go 4 level deep and there are Fast Track bonuses starting at $20 for selling a $199 Bronze pack and going up to a $150 bonus for selling a $1,295 Gold pack to new recruits. Retail commissions are 50%. If you can sell them for more, you can make more, too.
All this is inconsequential since the product line seems to be experiencing stagnation in the North American market. In Asia, however, maybe it will fly.
Also from a marketing standpoint, there’s no excuse at this point for having a website which is not responsive.
The first and final words on this company remain: fungus in my coffee? I just don’t get it, even after browsing the OG website thoroughly.
Again, it’s a matter of marketing. Show me the beauty of ruining a perfectly good cup of coffee and I’ll try and have an open mind.
If that is literally your cup – literally – go for it.
But, is it for the money? Stop it with these MLMs. I can help you.
There are more effective ways to be an entrepreneur. My 30k months come from a non-MLM source, building businesses that I can pass on to my future kids.
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