Tuesday night I was at an Open Plan, the presenter did a great job, but he did one thing that irritates the heck out of me and in my opinion is problematic and potentially dishonest. What did he do? Well, as is unfortunately not uncommon, when explaining the various benefits of becoming an Amway Business Owner (ABO), one he promoted was the idea that “you’ll save 30% on stuff you’re already buying”. Leaving aside the issue of whether saving money is a sensible way to promote starting a business or not, this is a problem, because for many people sitting in the audience it is at best misleading, and indeed usually completely false.
The idea behind this claim is that as an ABO, you get to buy Amway products from Amway at “wholesale price“, approximately 30% discounted from the recommended retail price. If you are an existing client of an Amway business owner, purchasing Amway products from them, then you will indeed save 30%. If you’re buying competitive products from elsewhere that are priced about the same or more than the Amway products at retail pricing, then, yes, you will indeed save 30% or so.
But how many people are? Amway’s two major product lines are Artistry and Nutrilite. Both are award winning brands and, in my opinion, excellent value. However …. Artistry, for example, has been independently judged as competing in the “prestige” cosmetics and skincare category along with other well known brands such as Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, and Chanel. In general, if you compare Artistry to these products, Artistry is cheaper. If you’re buying these products now, then switching to Artistry as a retail client will likely save you money and switching to these products as an ABO will save you even more than 30%.
So where’s the problem? Most folk aren’t buying cosmetics of the quality of Artistry, Estee Lauder etc. For them to switch to Artistry might get them a better quality product, and even, in my opinion, get them better value for money – but it’s likely to cost them more money than they are spending now.
Similarly with Nutrilite products. Many folk take no nutritional supplements at all. Of those that do, most are buying cheap synthetic substitutes, nowhere approaching the quality and effectiveness of Nutrilite organic, plant based, products. Unless you’re purchasing high quality supplements, generally only available from Nutrilite or other direct sales companies, then joining Amway is not going to save you money.
We can look again and again at different Amway brands. Satinique hair care products are fantastic, I wouldn’t buy anything else. But they’re salon quality products, not the $2 shampoo you can get down the local ‘mart. SA8 washing powder beats every other washing powder hands down. It’s better for your clothes and better for your health, but at full retail price it’s also a little more expensive than most other brands. Some brands, like the LOC concentrated cleaning products, are both best of breed and will save nearly everyone money, but the reality is that, overall, Amway products are not the cheapest, and neither do they aim to be. What they are is some of the best quality products in the world, at an excellent price, offering great value for money.
Promoting “savings” as a reason to register as an ABO is not a sensible way to build the business. In our case, on Tuesday night one of our downline had a guest along, checking out the business, and I sat with him afterwards. One of his first questions was about the prices and how much he would save by joining. To make things worse, the first product he asked about was Body Series Liquid Hand Soap, in our market one of the least price competitive products. This did give me an opportunity to explain the benefits of concentration, and the quality of Amway’s products, but in his case the presenter’s claim that he would ““save 30% on stuff he’s already buying” simply wasn’t even close to true. It immediately makes the prospect concerned about what else the presenter said that was misleading or exaggerated. Not exactly the best way to start a business relationship!
In my opinion this issue has had an even more drastic negative effect in older Amway markets such as North America and Australia. Ten years ago, when sites like Quixtar and a2k were launched, there was a lot of enthusiam for promoting the new “internet-based business”, and leaving some of the old “Amway baggage” behind. In the late 90’s and early 21st century, the clear target market for an “internet business” was the young, internet-savvy folk – university students and such. Most older folk simply weren’t yet comfortable with computers and the internet.
So Amway and Quixtar business owners, encouraged by Amway and LOA leadership, actively targeted the young, internet savvy, primarily male demographic. This leads however to a conundrum – of all the possible target markets for Amway’s consumable products, which one is least likely to be buying high quality nutritional, cosmetic, and household and personal care products? Yup – young, internet savvy males. The business opportunity was targeted to them, but, at least not until the introduction of XS Energy, the products were not. When you combine this with a common, and reasonable, teaching that as an Amway/Quixtar business owner you should “buy from yourself” and “support your own business”, this is problematic. Add on the “strategy” of building the business as a “shopping club” with few or no sales to retail customers, and it’s quite predicatably going to cause major problems.
Young people would join, excited by the possibility of an affordable internet-based business, then, as taught, change their shopping habits to Amway products. They were now spending significantly more than they were before joining, not saving money. Add on the inevitable costs associated with starting and maintaining a business, and it’s 100% predictable that many of these folk would stop after several months or so, find themselves stressed and in financial trouble, with numerous expenses having increased and, not surprisingly, not yet having built a significant enough business to be generating a profit.
So they quit building the business, and they quit buying the products.
Others of course never even got that far. They joined, or considered joining, heard the presenters tell them they’d “save money”, then asked to see the prices, and, completely predictably, discovered it wasn’t true for them. Would you want to go into business with an organisation that was being dishonest with you, right from the start?
Scroll forward a years. Is it any wonder that today, a number of these folk ended up as “critics” on the internet, with a common complaint being they spent a lot of money and the products are too expensive? Is it any wonder that few of them would remain as customers after they cease building the business? Is it any wonder growth stalled in markets that took this approach?
At that time, the Amway Products and an internet-focused Amway Business Opportunity had mutually incompatible target demographics. The only way it could work is if the business owners aren’t the focus for product sales, but instead were looking for customers who were part of the right demographic. Even then it may have been a challenge, as these potential customers were, at least 10 years ago, some of the least likely to be interested in shopping via the internet. They’d have to be personal customers – not exactly the “internet business” the budding young internet entrpreneurs signed up for.
It’s my belief that today things aren’t quite as bad. Folk in their 20s and 30s a decade ago are now in their 30s and 40s, they’re comfortable with the internet, as indeed are older folk now, and they’ve got more income to play with. Nevertheless, a significant number of prospects are still buying cheaper, lower quality products, particularly the younger generation, and this younger generation is still a popular “target” for the business opportunity. Might they like and prefer Amway’s quality products if they tried them? Absolutely. Might some of them save money as ABOs? Sure. But it’s simply not smart business to blanket promote joining Amway as way to save money on your shopping. For many folk it’s simply not true and it damages our reputation.
So please, ABOs – stop selling Amway as a way to save money