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Should You Join Melaleuca, An MLM Company that’s ‘Not an MLM?’

If you’ve purchased vitamins, protein shakes or other wellness products online, then you may have heard of Melaleuca. This company, which was founded in 1985, offers many (400+) different health and wellness products, including the following:

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  • Vitamins, minerals and supplements
  • Cosmetics
  • Essential oils
  • Household cleansers
  • Energy drinks
  • Bath and shower products
  • Weight loss products

Melaleuca’s unique value proposition is that all their products are organic. So, even though the products do cost more, they are better for you and the environment. It also appears that the company attempts to work with local farmers and suppliers whenever possible.

When you reach the Melaleuca website, you can shop for products and even place them into your shopping cart. Prices are not advertised on the storefronts, nor are they displayed when your items are in your shopping cart. Once you attempt to checkout, the site forces you to create an online account, which involves providing your phone number and email.

Why would you need to provide your phone number in order to create a shopping account?

Because this information is eventually used by other Melaleuca members to contact you and encourage you to sign up with the company as a member.

I know this because I had to call the company in order to set up my account. On top of my phone number and email, I was asked for my full name, state of residence and zip code. I was then told that my account would be set up in 48-72 hours once a marketing executive had gotten in touch with me. Alternately, I could work with a current Melaleuca rep in my geographic area to create my account.

When I responded that I was only interested in purchasing some products from the Melaleuca website and seeing their prices, I was provided with the following guest access site address:

What’s good about this guest site is that, while you still can’t purchase your products from it, you can at least see their actual prices. To complete your purchase, you are again forced to sign up as a member.

So, why is Melaleuca so interested in having you become a member?

Because the company operates as a multilevel marketing or MLM business. Except that, in the case Melaleuca, it is always called a “referral-based” business.

What is the Melaleuca referral-based business about?

Melaleuca operates as both a health and wellness product e-tailer and a referral-based business. Company members, who are non-employees, sign up with the company in order to purchase its products online and have them shipped to their homes/businesses. The price of signup is not openly advertised on the website, much like its product prices. However, the current cost of signup is $35.

In order to complete signup, the prospective member must work with a current member and sign up under him/her. As a result, that current member, who is now referred to as a Product Advocate, earns a commission every time his/her new downline member makes a product purchase. The standard commission is 7%, which adds up quickly if the Product Advocate recruits a few more members under him/her.

Whether you are a member or Product Advocate, however, you must accumulate a set number of product points each month in order to remain in active status and collect commissions. Currently, the point level is 50, which translates to about $80 of product. So, for every month you wish to remain with Melaleuca, you must place a product order of around $80.

Interestingly, Melaleuca never uses the word MLM to describe its recruitment emphasis. Instead, it always states that it is a “referral-based company.” However, if a business offers incentives to its contractors/members to recruit others into the business, and pays them a commission for doing so, then that is the essence of network and multi-level marketing.

As with any MLM or other business opportunity, there are pros and cons.


Eco-friendly, organic products– Many of Melaleuca’s products are on par with what you would locate at stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The company emphasizes that its products are better for the environment, and it employs fair trade practices with farmers and suppliers.


Expensive products– It can be argued that organic and ecologically friendly products are going to cost more than mass produced items found at regular grocery stores and discount chains. However, that’s sometimes hard to justify when purchasing $10 toilet bowl cleaner or $8 glass cleaner.

Automated purchases– As a member or a Product Advocate, you are enrolled in a product auto-ship program. You can opt out of receiving certain products, but you must make a purchase each month or be deactivated.

Warm market emphasis– The company encourages its members and Product Advocates to reach out to their warm market (i.e., friends and family) as a method of recruitment. This is fine at first, but warm markets eventually dry up once everyone has either been sold to, recruited or attempted to be recruited. Steady sales and promotion in the MLM ranks is usually accomplished by those members to reach beyond their warm market. Unfortunately, Melaleuca provides very little training in this arena.

Low average earnings– Melaleuca discloses how much its Product Advocates earn as they recruit other members and move up the ranks. It’s not that much, as shown in this table:  

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The average yearly income for a Product Advocate 3, who has around 6 personal customers and 20 active customers, is only $550. That’s not a side income, or even enough money for a vacation.

Is Melaleuca a good business to enter?

While Melaleuca offers organic and good quality products to consumers, its commissions are too low to warrant this company being a good business opportunity. The Product Advocate would need to recruit dozens of personal customers and hundreds of active customers in order to make a decent part-time to full-time income. While this is possible, it also requires reaching out to a wider audience, not just one’s warm market.

A final drawback to this business is its emphasis on buying products each month for personal or demo use. This leads to Product Advocates having product stockpiles at their homes. Even months after quitting Melaleuca, many reps still reports having product backups and stockpiles in their closets and basements.

Overall, there are better and higher-paying business opportunities out there, and which don’t require monthly product purchases.

Have you worked with Melaleuca as a Product Advocate? Please leave a comment below about your experiences.

13 thoughts on “Should You Join Melaleuca, An MLM Company that’s ‘Not an MLM?’”

  1. As a former Melaleuca client, I do love the products, albeit pricey. I did end up stockpiling many products, because you don’t always need the amount you are forced to purchase every month. There are certain products that you can’t find elsewhere, so that’s why I miss them. The postage & handling charges always killed me, & frankly keeps me from re-signing up. No matter what anyone says ~ it is a form of MLM. The people at the top make commission from the layers of people below them.

  2. Straightforward insight and yes, it is pyramid/MLM because of the structure of the organization and the relationship to the downlines. Denying it is not is foolish. That isn’t to say being a part of an MLM isn’t a bad thing as long as you know what you’re expected to do in order to increase your income. MLM/Pyramids are just another form of a business model which is perfectly acceptable and legal. Where this model becomes problematic, just like any other form of “sales” is it is reliant on relationships. Cultivating personal relationships is very challenging and when one mixes business with friendship, there lies the greatest rub. My family belonged to Amway moons ago but I witnessed many people coming through their lives, but in the end none ever became long-lasting personal relationships. So, advice to anyone thinking this particular business model is for them: good luck. Understand the cost and consequences that come with it and may you prosper and still keep those relationships close a long-lasting.

  3. Hi Steve, Thanks for researching writing this article in 2017. You get a lot of credit for saving people from misleading business “opportunities.”

    After 18 years as a Melaeluca customer simply purchasing their products because I know they are the best, I decided to refer a people starting 1/1/21….kind of a New Year’s resolution to do something different now that my “Honey Do” list is under control after retiring as a medical doctor.

    Here’s a challenge for you. Contact me and consider taking a second look at Melaleuca. It’s certainly changed over 18 years for the better.

    Pay $1 for a full-year’s membership, try their products. If you’re not happy after 2 month Melaluca will cheerfully refund all the money that you have spent. If they don’t, I personally will.

    Think of this an an interesting follow-up to your 2017 article.

    As a medical doctor I think you will be add years to your life and life to your years with their Peak Performance Pack Vitiamin/ Mineral pack to name just one of their 500 products available.

    News Flash: you are already buying products from the center aisle at your grocery store the Melaeluca sells for less with higher quality. Whole Foods quality at WalMart prices.

    • This is half wrong , there is definitely a way to make wayy more then 550 a month, this must be old as the company gives out major bonuses to those who join especially the last few months , my first check was 1,300 for enrolling 8 people! It’s an amazing business opportunity ! Especially for stay at home moms like me , and no it may work like an MLM but is not an MLM , the state of Idaho does not allow MLM companies and this company is based and ran out of Idaho. You are not required to put in a 50 point order, it’s 35 which is about 60 bucks , and it’s easy to do so because you need to replace items in your home as they start to run out or low. It’s more like a 60 dollar order , and also it’s 19 dollars to join for the year not 35! And sometimes even offered at a dollar for the year! A lot of false, mis information here , and it’s very discouraging to those who are trying to make something out of this !! This is like no other company that’s out there!! The opportunities are endless!! And yes warm market is targeted first and there is absolutely extensive training on how to go above and beyond your warm market ! So please do not post false information!! This opportunity is amazing and like no other and has changed my life for the better just within the first month of shopping here !! Also, no one mentions that you can just shop- you don’t need to share with anyone, just be a happy customer !! Anyone who wants real information , and direction from the top leaders in melaleuca, please feel free to message me !!

  4. July 2020: $19.00 to enroll as a customer. Monthly minimum purchase is 35 product points. Been a customer with Melaleuca for 27 years. Still shop at the grocery store and at Wal-Mart. Out of the 20 customers I have referred over the last 27 years, 14 are still customers. Obviously it’s not for everyone. Much of the perception depends on the information you are given during the first presentation. Thanks for listening. GAry

  5. Thank you for this article, I’m not totally agree with your points.
    I’ve been shopping as a customer since 2010, and I have help many people enjoy the benefits of total wellness that the shopping club offer.
    The business model is totally different that’s why the company is solid like no other company in the DSA, the real benefits that the consumer receive build loyalty to the brand and that’s where residual income come from.

    Anyways, information allow us to make the smartest decision and It’s available to all who want to know. Making decision based in what we heard without doing our diligent job will make us misunderstand the business model and the real value behind this unique company.
    Again, I’m here to share info with anyone who want to the job.

    To your success,


  6. I’m thinking of joining this company and leaving Young Living Essential Oils. IIt seems melaleuca products are better buy I won’t know until I join. I’ve also looked at doTerra products and like some on paper. I buy other cleaning products from a small company called opulent blends, a family run business.

    • Hi Susan! What ever happened ? Young living can be costly , the products are legit I have to say but the prices are not beneficial for anyone ! Melaleuca has been an amazing opportunity for me ! I would love to share more if you would like to email me , I know this post is old , but please feel free to write back or message me !! Have a great day!

    • Fact:
      Melaleuca were the first company who made/sold essential oils. However, I won’t brag about their oils, I’d rather you see it for yourself 😊

  7. Frank Vandesloot brought this on himself by trying to disguise a MLM company by calling it something else when everyone in the world that has ever been in MLM knows its a MLMDoubt that?

    Remember, “if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can call it a chicken all day long but it’s still a duck.

    I believe if everyone would stop saying it’s a chicken instead of a duck all the negative postings.

    Good luck.

  8. Great article.

    I found a number of inaccuracies, though. The first one is that Melaleuca is actually not an MLM. In the same way that you wouldn’t call an insurance agency where sales people, managers, regional directors, and VPs earn commissions and overrides based on group sales, you should not call Melaleuca one, either.

    There’s not a sales organization in the world that’s NOT paid on multiple levels…so calling a company an MLM based on that criteria alone is faulty reasoning.

    The next thing is that only about 12% of all out customers ever choose to start a business. The other 88% are just shopping each month – like me. I’ve been a customer since 2010, and I can’t imagine ever going back to shop the way I used to.

    People earn money on CUSTOMERS – not on recruiting. Now…I’ll say that if people do choose to start a business, Melaleuca compensates incredibly well. That 7% commission can actually go as high as 20% for personal customers. It’s only 7% for your customers’ customers.

    Also…all our products are not organic. They ARE green, and most of them are food grade which means they aren’t toxic like bleach and other traditional household products; however only limited products are organic.

    Also, you do NOT have to purchase 50 product points each month. It’s 35 if you choose to become a preferred customer and shop monthly. It’s no different than shopping via Thrive Market.

    In fact, it’s better than Thrive because Thrive only gives you a one-time commission of $25 for a new member, whereas Melaleuca will pay you each month to buy stuff you would have bought anyway.

    Additionally, people who do not want to become monthly customers actually don’t have to. They can shop only when they want a product. You got that fact incorrect. I have a friend who orders under my account every other month to buy prenatal vitamins, only.

    There’s no stockpiling or distributing, but the products are concentrated, so they last a SUPER long time. I haven’t had to buy disinfectant for over a year, to be honest, because the last time I bought three bottles, and they have lasted me for forever.

    I love the company.

    It’s frustrating when people who aren’t members discuss us from the outside and provide such inaccurate info. Good try, though. I do appreciate the effort. I just wish it was more accurate.

  9. I have been with Melaleuca for around 5 years now. I was encouraged to sign up under my mom and did so under the pretense that I didn’t want to run it as a business. Therefore, I would use the products, but I wasn’t going to actively promote it.

    I find this article accurate with a few minor inaccuracies. Melaleuca routinely has promotions for $1 memberships. So it’s only $1 to sign up most of the time. You ARE required to purchase a certain amount of product each month and each product is given a point value (that coincides more or less with the price.) The lowest monthly commitment is 35 points, which translates to about $50-$70 worth of product. I am considered a DIRECTOR or Product Affiliate I. I receive a check for $35-$45 each month as my commission.

    I used to have more downlinks under me and therefore received a higher commission, approx $90-100 a month. A few customers in my downline quit and that dropped me back to a lower commission rate. My lifetime earnings at this point have been $4,518.

    Its a legitimate company, I am happy to use the products (all my household cleaning, laundry, vitamins and sports supplements are melalueca. As well as random snacks.) The business model-whether you call it MLM or referral based marketing- doesn’t match my personality and so this is me doing absolutely nothing but buying products for myself. My mom however is Mrs. Melalueca and goes to the annual event in SLC and usually earns herself a trip to the Bahamas each year. I think her residual check is around $600 each month.


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