Market America: A Review Of The Pros And Cons

by Martin Russell on May 1, 2011



There has been a lot of talk, both positive and negative, about joining Market America as a way of making money.

In this review I’ll go into the background of the business, and then the pros and cons of what the company is offering. From this, you can decide for yourself what to really make of “Market America Scam” complaints, “reviews” by Market America representatives, and much of the rest of the information you’ll come across.

The Background To Market America

Market America was founded in 1992 by James Ridinger, who had previously been in MLM including reportedly being a 6-figure earner in Amway.

Market America is essentially an online retailer, and compares itself to QVC and Amazon.com. It claims to offer over 35 million products and services ranging from health products and books to videos and home supplies. They also carry their own line of 2,500 exclusive Market America-branded products including their Isotonix® range and Ultimate Aloe® Juice. Their Isotonix OPC-3 antioxidant in particular has it’s own strong niche in the health marketplace.

Importantly it also has ‘Partner Stores’ such as Target, Best Buy, Apple, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Bloomingdales, Barnes & Noble where you can get ‘MA cashback’ discounts – mostly 2-4%, but some up to 55% (for Bloomberg® Businessweek) – for shopping through the Market America portal.

As of 2011, the company reports having over 3 million signed-up buyers (‘Preferred customers’), 180,000 distributors/representatives (the Market America term is “UnFranchise® Business Owners”) and turnover of $3.4 billion USD in total retail sales.

In aiming to be a ground-breaking business, one of Market America’s more unusual features is that it has alot of it’s own jargon. It has it’s marketing slogan “Built on Product. Powered by People®” but it describes itself as a “product brokerage” business using a “malls without walls”. They are not an MLM, direct sales company or a network marketing opportunity, they do ‘one-to-one marketing’ as an “UnFranchise®” (“Because you have all the benefits of a franchise but do not have to pay a franchise fee.”)

Anyway, with that to kick us off let’s get down to the money-making essentials.

Market America – The Pros

Market America does have a Sales Representative option where there is no fee to join but you only earn on direct sales form your referrals. So I’ll ignore that for this review and be talking about only the option where you get paid on multiple levels of recruitment – you thought I was going to say MLM didn’t you, but no, it’s their Unfranchise® model.

First, the distributor gets sales training as part of their distributorship. This is a way to improve one’s marketing, networking and social skills. Many people overlook this part and focus only on the money. That is a big mistake because learning is a key part of the reason for joining any business opportunity.their

Second, there is access to sell a vast range of products with marketing support from a well-established and known company. It becomes easier to sell in a crowded market place with that backing. And it also helps that Market America has their exclusive lines, like Isotonix OTC-3, that distinguish them from all other outlets.

Third, further earnings come from helping other people build their own businesses too. The multi-level aspect means you earn not just on your sales, but on the sales of others you introduce to the business, and the sales of their referrals as well, so your earning potential is greater.

But unless the claims are hyped, the pro side of Market America isn’t going to make people think it is a scam or make them worry too much, so let’s quickly get to the other side.

Market America – The Cons

Firstly, people can have extra questions when they are buying. They need to buy through your Market America web Portal so that their purchases are registered to you. And for the exclusive product lines they are usually more expensive than similar products sold in the stores. The value is based on the quality and efficacy, not discount pricing, and this is where the one-on-one marketing comes in to explain and educate the customers.

Second, it takes time to build a successful network because most people won’t automatically want to switch their buying habits to go through your business, and even fewer will want to do this as a business for themselves. It also takes time to train people and you need to develop leadership skills to retain their commitment to the group.

Third, to become an UnFranchise Owner with your website and business systems – and get access to the downline commission payments, does cost money. There is an initial set-up fee of $130, a monthly fee of $20 and a $99.95 yearly fee. In addition, you are expected to purchase hundreds of dollars of product from Market America at the start, and ongoingly to keep up your personal business volume. I couldn’t find this information on the company website which appropriately focuses more on the retail customer than the distributor, but general startup costs seem to be around $700. All these costs are part and parcel of having a “business” not a job, but they can lead to ‘scam’ claims or other issues if not explained clearly.

Fourth, the margins on these products are mostly fairly small because many of them have lots of competition keeping the prices low. So the volume of sales you need in your organisation to make a reasonable income for yourself is quite large.

The Verdict on Market America?

Market America isn’t for everyone, and neither is the business model. But it is simple enough to buy some of their products and test out the experience for yourself.

It is true that like in any business there are no guarantees of a return on your investment. You are doing the advertising, marketing, and selling on behalf of the company so you need to be good at marketing and promotion, or be ready to learn.

You can begin with people you already know so you can practice safely, but particularly in Market America to grow a big business with the sales volume that can give you a steady, residual and growing income you will need to expand your networks and connect with others who may be interested in your business too. Make sure you plan for your marketing to do this.

PS: This is a drop dead simple, paint by numbers system to help you get more leads, traffic and signups into your MLM, get your $2 trial here (while it is still available!)

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