Is a Tastefully Simple Business Really that Simple?

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If you like to cook and experiment with new recipes, you may have considered starting a Tastefully Simple business from your home. Maybe one of your friends or coworkers even recommended Tastefully Simple to you.

What is Tastefully Simple?

Tastefully Simple (TS) was founded in 1995 by Jill Blashack Strahan and Joani Nielson and offers food items, seasonings, recipes and cook-at-home meal kits. The company operates as an MLM and hires contractors, called consultants, to advertise, demonstrate and sell its products. TS consultants may be found selling their wares at festivals and trade shows, at home parties, or even online.

These are but a few of the products that TS advertises on its main website:

How do you start as a Tastefully Simple consultant?

TS consultants can join the company by purchasing one of these three join kits:

  • A 30-meal kit that costs $200.
  • A $69.95 10-meal kit in a choice of Family Faves, Fix It Fast or Easy Grillin.
  • Any other qualifying meal kit.

In addition to buying a meal kit, the new consultant also pays a $39.95 join fee.

Is Tastefully Simple a good business investment?

The TS website doesn’t provide a lot of information about how much money its consultants can earn or how much of a commission they earn once they recruit other team members and rise up in the TS ranks. However, one piece of info that is noted on the website is that consultants earn 30% on the items they sell.

Consultants also earn the following rewards if they host a party and sell a given volume of product:

There are additional incentives offered to consultants who sell lots of product or recruit many downline consultants. Trips to tropical locations, for example, are touted as one of the incentives of being a TS superstar.

So, what stands out about Tastefully Simple in terms of its pros and cons?

The good:

Good quality products– TS food products are advertised as being as natural as possible, gluten-free, etc. In effect, I would expect to find TS stocked on the shelves of Whole Foods or some other natural foods store.

Market saturation is harder– Unlike jewelry, clothing or candles, food is consumed on a regular basis. As such, you are less likely to saturate your market with TS products once you’ve sold to all available customers. Sure, you may have to wait a week or two before advertising to the same clientele…but eventually cake mixes, sauce packets and spice jars are used up and people are hungry again.

Products transparency- Some food-based MLMs showcase finished meals and other foods on ther websites without telling the consumer that she isn’t getting the actual portrayed food, just the seasonings or sauces. TS makes a good effort to emphasize that it isn’t selling entire meals, just the kits and additives to make them.

Food items are listed with ingredients as well as customer reviews. For example, here is the information on the Brown Sugar & Maple Bacon Seasoning:

The not-so-good:

Products aren’t cheap– In general, TS products are pricier than those found in a regular grocery store. For example, the spice jars on TS run almost $10. In contrast, McCormick seasonings at a Kroger store cost $4-$8.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most MLMs, products must be priced higher if consultants are to be paid a commission. The company must also make a profit.

Products are consumed- As a TS consultant, you’ll soon learn that you need to spend money on products in order to make money on products. As you host parties and give out food samples, you’ll run low on your initially ordered TS kit(s). So, you’ll find yourself ordering more kits as time goes on.

The silver lining to this is the fact that you’ll score free and 50% off products as you sell a given volume of TS products at your hosted parties. So, those free and reduced cost items will at least partly cover your supplies. On the downside, you’ll need to continually order products even if you never sell anything for TS.

You can be deactivated- In the TS legal agreement, there is the following stated term: “I agree to maintain a minimum of $200.00 of Part One Retail orders, less credits, per quarter. In the event that I fail to have and place the required quarterly minimum, the Company need not provide any written or electronic notice that this Agreement has been terminated.”

So, if you don’t purchase and/or sell at least $800 of product each year with TS, you won’t be an active member.

Parties are a must– Food is a sensory experience, meaning that customers are more likely to purchase a food item once they’ve tasted it. As such, you’ll need to host house parties in order to move product. Given that TS even rewards you based on how much product you move at a house party, you may not even have the option of not hosting parties on a regular basis.

There’s a website fee- TS Consultants who wish to list products on their own TS-sponsored website must pay a $10.95 monthly fee for the website. Additionally, consultant must pay $29.95/month for the ecommerce platform that connects to their website.

Tastefully Simple is a business pass

In a world of many upon many business opportunities, Tastefully Simple simply costs too much money and time to be a feasible long-term business. TS is a business you may wish to shop from while compiling your family’s dinner plans; however, buying the actual business requires that you devote all your spare time to hosting parties, cooking, shopping for groceries, and making sure your stockpile of products doesn’t go bad or become contaminated.

Have you sold products for Tastefully Simple? Please leave your comments about this business opportunity below.

23 Comments

  1. Kimberly Wood says:

    I used to be a consultant and know many high level consultants still at the company. It was just announced August 1st that
    compensation is being reduced for ALL consultants as the company has run through all of their cash reserves and now needs to give their consultants less to keep running (company has been mismanaged by Jill who ignored all high level partners she hired to help turn the company around). Consultants will be required to do more home parties (which no one wants to attend any longer -this model of selling is from the last century) and buy product at FULL PRICE and then at the end of the month they will calculate how much to reimburse you depending on your sales and parties! This is unheard of in the direct selling world and everyone is jumping ship! Sad to see the company go down like this as the food is excellent. Just can’t seem to get into the 21st Century!

    Reply
  2. Rebecca Herron says:

    I used to be a consultant with Jafra Cosmetics. God I hated the looks on people’s faces who showed up because they felt obligated. I’ve been a TS consultant before and am going to join again. Everybody loves food. And unlike so many other MLMs where guests feel obligated to buy something they don’t really want, almost everyone loves at least one product, whether it’s a box of beer bread or a jar of spinach dip. And reorders are frequent. Who wouldn’t want to sit around with a bunch of friends tasting food and having a few drinks? Also, I use it at home, so I get all my own stuff at a discount. You can sell TS without carrying an inventory, but I always like to stock up a bit so I have most of the products on hand at a party or at the office.

    Reply
  3. This business I think is for those living in the United States of America. It will be very good for those in the catering business profession. For any area of business, one chooses to work, passion and interest are the keys. Money should not be the first determinant for promoting any product but passion. When passion is there, money will come.

    Reply
  4. I remember going to neighborhood Tupperware and Avon parties as a kid. It was a lot of fun and something the neighborhood ladies greatly anticipated, more to get together and visit than to make a purchase.

    That was back when most families stayed in one home for decades. In our times of moving often, this could be a good way to get to know your neighbors if the minimum order requirements to remain active isn’t a problem,

    I don’t know if many people can turn this model into a very successful full-time, full income producing business. It seems modeled after the old Tupperware style, where it was more for a homemaker to have something to do while the kids were at school, than a legitimate profitable business.

    I’d expect an investment on Tastefully Simple’s end in return for those minimum orders in the form of continuous training and support for an obviously high-end MLM.

    In recent years, I’ve been to a similar type of party for Pampered Chef, where the products are also cooking related. And I felt like I needed to make a purchase since my friend had went to the trouble and expense of hosting the party.

    But I never bought another thing from the company.

    Reply
    1. Hey Laurie-

      This line here: “And I felt like I needed to make a purchase since my friend had went to the trouble and expense of hosting the party.” is exactly what I dislike about these modern MLMs. They force you to throw parties and then you feel obligated to make a purchase for attending. This causes sellers to rely solely on their own social circles in order to make sales. That avenue is going to dry up incredibly fast and any early success will be gone when next quarter’s sales quota comes knocking.

  5. Whew … How to make good money on this with all the costs? I think that with all these fees, it may not give much room for marketing costs such as Facebook’s Ads etc.?
    I think I did not dare to move on to this mission.

    Just my thoughts.

    The best greetings
    Matt

    Reply
    1. Rebecca Herron says:

      All what costs? Other than your initial party supplies there isn’t really any other investment. The website fee is optional, and you don’t have to keep an inventory on hand. The quarterly requirement is easy to meet. And all your supplies are tax deductible. I’ve even donated gift baskets to fundraisers and that is great advertising and tax deductible. It’s really win/win.

  6. Dave Curtis says:

    I get the uniqueness of this concept, from a marketing standpoint. Considering that nearly 40% of food goes to waste in the US, there is certainly a market for it (even if we don’t use it). I have yet to meet anyone who has made a dime in the MLM industry, however. I’m sure there are some who have been successful, but I’m fairly certain the percentage of those who have is painfully low.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      I see two ways of actually making money in an MLM.

      1. Get in and out early. You need to be one of the first ones in before market saturation takes hold. Sell while the industry is new and hot and people are still interested. You would then need to take whatever profits you made and walk away. Don’t reinvest.

      or 2. Claw your way to the top. This would require an insane amount of reach, time, and effort. You would need to recruit a ton of people to do the work for you. The overwhelming majority of MLMers will never climb out of the bottom tier and I really do not see this as a viable strategy in any stretch of the imagination.

  7. James Harvey says:

    Wow, i have never heard of this company before. I am looking to get into the food industry with my first business. Do you suggest this for a beginner like myself or is this for more experienced people? Are MLM programs as good as they claim to be? I have been warned about them from a few of my friends.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      I’m not a big fan of the MLM business model, especially when the main mode of selling is to throw a party to sell to your friends and family. You will quickly burn through your contacts. Programs like Tastefully Simple may work well early on, but I do not see them as a long-term business strategy.

    2. Rebecca Herron says:

      James, I’ve been a TS consultant in the past and am getting ready to join again. I think it’s perfect for a beginner, especially if you find a consultant to join under that helps you get started. Parties are fun because who doesn’t like to taste food with friends.

      I suggest you join under someone who doesn’t insist that you recruit others, unless that is your plan. I make it clear when I join that I’m not interested in having a team under me. I’ll have an occasional party and focus on reorders and Facebook marketing. I don’t want to be pressured and I’m not in it to make a million bucks. I honestly think this is one of the best MLMs out there. If you have any questions, let me know. :)

  8. Ariel Baradarian says:

    Very interesting business. Depending on the place and culture one is dealing with, this seems like a business that in certain cases can potentially make lots of money for a committed entrepreneur. However, the costs of the products and maintaining the business are a lot, and unless you have a lot of money going in from the get-go supplying you with money, it seems hard to maintain. But still an interesting business…

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      It’s an interesting business model for sure, but I don’t see these types of MLMs sustainable in the long run. There are only so many parties you can throw and on top of that, you need to sell (or buy) at least $200 worth of product every 3 months or risk being deactivated. This is a common tactic my MLMs to keep sellers moving products and it unfortunately causes a lot of people to dig into their own pockets in order to hit the sales minimums.

  9. Hi, Steve.

    Thank you for your review of Tastefully Simple! I’ve never heard of this MLM before. I agree that food is a good thing to sell because people have to and like to eat. But, as you said, the problem is that the prices are too high.

    I would not join this MLM because of the minimum that a person has to spend or sell each year. Plus, I wouldn’t be interested in hosting so many parties to show off the products. In my experience with MLMs, they just take too much time to get started and to maintain.

    Have you tried any of Tastefully Simple’s products?

    Thank you!

    Weston

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      We did attend a Tastefully Simple party once. It was thrown by one of my wife’s old coworkers. The party was nice because you got try everything, but at the end of the night we felt pressured to make a purchase, and ended up spending $30 on pancake mix and syrup. That’s an outrageous price to pay for such simple ingredients but we would have felt bad leaving there without buying anything. That was our first, and last, of the MLM parties.

    2. Rebecca Herron says:

      Having been a TS consultant a couple times before (and being retired now I am going to join again), I will offer you my opinion, Weston. As Steve said, TS parties are fun because you get to eat food! Steve said he attended a party where he felt pressured to buy, which surprises me. I’ve attended TS parties as a guest and hosted many, and it was always a relaxed no-pressure situation. Even people who don’t want to spend too much can walk out the door with a box of Beer Bread (their biggest seller) for $6.99 (I think that’s the current cost). The great thing about TS is most of their products are either ready to serve or required mixing with just one or two ingredients. A jar of salsa mix (which I remember running about $8) makes several batches of salsa by mixing with canned tomatoes. Most products are under $10 and provide many servings. So while they are more expensive than supermarket brands, you are getting a good quality at a good price overall, while sharing time, food, and sometimes a glass of wine with friends. When I hosted parties, I would always tell people don’t buy if you don’t love something. I mean, how much pressure is that? I like it because I never felt I was “selling” something or trying to twist someone’s arm to buy. I appreciate Steve’s input, but I don’t believe it is representative of a TS party. Just my 2 cents.

  10. I actually happen to be a fan of the MLM business module. I have actually found that a lot of people don’t like this style of business because it is not as easy as it is often portrayed, there is actually some work involved. Lol But the same goes for any business.

    From what you have documented, in my opinion, this actually does not sound like to bad of an opportunity if you are a chef or like to cook. i would say do some more research but it sounds pretty decent if you ask me.

    That’s my 2 cents and great post by the way I think the details of the program were explained wonderfully.

    I wish you the best!
    Ian J.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      It’s not a bad business to get into if you have a wide social circle and are offering quality products. My main issue with a lot of newer MLMs are the high-pressure “JOIN MY TEAM TO BECOME RICH TOO” and the focus of hosting parties to sell only to family and friends. It’s a quick way to burn through a lot of cash, especially if you have to buy a starter package before you can even start selling.

  11. Joanne Hakaraia says:

    Hi Steve.
    In the past, I’ve been involved with several MLMs in some way, shape or form, and the biggest gripe I’ve had is how overpriced the product is. No matter what type of product, whether it be consumable, functional or decorative, it is very overpriced. I completely understand the reasoning behind this and I’ll even admit that the product is usually of good quality however, it is difficult to move a lot of product and make good money without being rather aggressive.
    I hadn’t heard of TS until now – thanks for the great read.

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      That’s my biggest gripe too. You end up overpaying for regular stuff. My wife and I did attend a Tastefully Simple party a few years ago and we left with a box of pancake mix and syrup for about $30. I mean, the pancakes were alright, but for $30 they better be the best damn pancakes I ever had in my life. That was the beginning and end to our MLM party attendance.

  12. Actually, my neighbor recommended it to me over some lunch the other day, but he forgot to mention it was this time consuming and expensive.

    He just mentioned I would make easy money with helping them sell foodstuffs. He also mentioned that I would make a good monthly income hosting parties (I’m a party guy by the way).

    But I definitely don’t want to host parties to sell products to my friends. They will never come back. Do you have any other similar programs that are more convenient I can use?

    Reply
    1. Steve Razinski says:

      In general, there aren’t any MLMs that we recommend. We don’t like the business model of selling overpriced products to your friends and family. Plus, you burn through your contacts fairly quickly and the only way to make money after everyone is sick of your parties is to start recruiting others to do the same. It’s just not a method of making money that we recommend.

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