Can a positive review be a bad thing?

Today on my Facebook feed a post came up from Nutrilite US about Nutrilite Energy Bars getting a positive review in Triathlete Magazine -

“That’s great!” I thought. I’ve competed in triathlons and have a few friends who continue to do so. So I eagerly clicked on the link through to Amway’s News website and looked at the PDF of the Triathlete Magazine Review.

The magazine highlights four energy bars for “when you need an extra shot of energy to keep going on a long ride or run”. The four are Honey Stinger Waffles, Iron Girl Energy Bar, Nutrilite Energy Bar, and Clif Bar. All four are given glowing reviews, which is great for Nutrilite. So where’s the problem? There’s two. First is this -

Honey Stinger Waffles – $1.39
Iron Girl Energy Bar – $0.99
Nutrilite Energy Bar – $20.97 for box of 9 bars
Clif bar (coconut chocolate chip) – $1.39

You have to do the math, but that puts the Nutrilite Energy Bar at  $2.33/bar – nearly 70% more expensive than the next most expensive bar, and 135% more expensive than the cheapest!

If you were a triathlete, would you check out the Nutrilite bar first or last? Now, I’ve learned a lot over the year about The Nutrilite Difference, and often even though a Nutrilite product may be more expensive, it may be a significantly better product and better value. We don’t have Nutrilite Energy Bars where I live and so I’ve never tried them and don’t know much about them. So I went to Amway.com to learn more. And that’s where the second problem came up -

Hopefully it will change soon, but right now two of the three flavours, indeed the two that were mentioned by Triathlete Magazine, aren’t even available! Hello? Even if you can’t help when Triathlete magazine promotes something, why on earth would you be promoting a product on Facebook that people can’t even order? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to wait until the products were in stock?

In any case, I went to amway.com to see if I could learn more about these bars and if there was any information to help a consumer make the decision to purchase these over the other three bars, or indeed for an IBO to market these products against competitors. Unfortunately, under “competitive info” I found only some nutritional comparisons with Power Bar. Reading through the rest of the info the only thing that stood out was “Exclusive NUTRILITE® C-Lenium Blend provides antioxidant protection from harmful free radicals generated by intense exercise”.

Was that the Nutrilite Difference? I don’t know. It sounds good – but is it worth paying more than double the price compared to an Iron Girl energy bar? I don’t know that either. If anyone from Nutrilite or Amway, or an IBO, can help explain it, I’d love more information. What I do know is that it’s unlikely that many triathletes are going to be turned on to Nutrilite by this review. All the information they get is from the magazine, and then the Nutrilite Health and Amway websites. That tells them these products are expensive, and out of stock.

Is that what you want from being highlighted in a magazine?

UPDATE: Even worse, anyone checking out this product after September 2 (two days from now), will see another price – $22.65 for a box of 9, or $2.52/bar. So a potential customer checking out the product is going to get yet another “sticker shock”. Unless there’s something incredibly special about this product – and if there is, both IBOs and customers need to be educated about it, the only way I can see this being successfully marketed to customers is by IBOs putting big discounts on the suggested retail price. Even at base IBO price the bars are still significantly more expensive than the competitors. At least though they’d be marketable. Is Amway US slipping back to the old habit of targeting product pricing at IBOs instead of customers?

The #1 problem with Amway and multilevel marketing

Amway has  a problem, a problem it shares with entire multi-level marketing industry. The result of this problem is that the vast majority of people who join Amway never make any significant money.  It’s a problem that leads to low average incomes. It’s a problem that leads to many people not renewing their memberships.

This very same problem occurs with all MLM companies. This same problem, at an industry level, also means that a large percentage, perhaps even the majority, of multilevel marketing companies are not good business opportunities and many are outright scams.

It’s a problem that, thanks to things like above, results in the multilevel marketing concept and companies like Amway having a poor reputation among many people.

What’s the #1 problem with Amway and multilevel marketing problem?

Low barriers to entry and low risk.

It’s (relatively*) easy and (relatively*) cheap to start up an MLM company. You don’t even have to pay much for marketing! You only pay your salespeople when they actually get results! So if you’re an entrepreneur who is low on cash, or got some product that can’t compete in the traditional marketplace, or even if you’ve got some scam in mind … then MLM is the strategy for you. Low risk, low cost, so if it doesn’t work out you live to fight another today.

It’s easy to startup as an agent for an MLM company. It usually only costs a few dollars, nobody checks up to see if you’re turning up for work, you can return stuff you don’t want or can’t sell. Nobody cares what degrees you have or your success or failures of the past. Why not give it a shot for a few weeks or months and see if it’s something for you? What have you got to lose? It’s just an opportunity, not a promise.

Low barriers to entry and low risk. Amway and multilevel marketing’s biggest problem – and it’s greatest strength.

* compared to traditional strategies!