Monday, August 7, 2017

Clothes, MLMs & Those Ugly Leggings

How some network marketing companies are preying on you for business It has come to my attention that a whole lot of you have swung by my blog in response to an article about multilevel marketing businesses, and in particular LuLaRoe. And so, since this is now a mainstream discussion, I wanted to step up to the podium for a second, if you don't mind.

Let me first start by saying that I love clothes. I hoard them, I adore them, and I love them for flattering the imperfections I've collected through motherhood. I don't have a designer budget, and I am by no means qualified to participate in the professional fashion community, but I believe in making a person feel truly complimented rather than covered up and hidden. Which is why I spent time making fun of LLR twice here on my blog. (Here, and here.)

They are both poorly written, comedic rants about the unattractive patterns that have invaded our current fashion scene (guys, imagine looking back at this in 30 years?), and yet they are the two most popular posts on this blog OF ALL TIME. On a blog mostly written about happiness, family, and living a positive life. That says a lot.

leggings and impulse shopping

Here's the thing. I'm not going to pretend to know everything about LLR's company policies, or their manufacturing methods, or anything specific about how they are run. But what I do know, is what it's like to watch someone get sucked in by their marketing.

I have a friend that went through some difficult life situations, and she filled the gaps with shopping. I know firsthand how new clothes, or a sense of winning something can give you a little boost on an otherwise dismal day. The thing is - this friend turned to this quick fix more often than she should have, mostly because of the way LLR made it available to her. She was a member of over 150 LLR consultant's Facebook groups, and she stalked their pop up sales to try and nab the rare patterns before anyone else could. Even the outlandish patterns were sometimes appealing (girlfriend wore flying pigs on her legs once!) because of the satisfaction in scooping them up before others did.

The appeal was two-fold, though, because the style and design of LLR can hide a body you are unhappy with for as long as you want it to. Maybe this is an outlandish claim to make, but I'm willing to bet their marketing team knows their demographic pretty well (any successful company does), and they are aware that by catering to those who want comfort and hiding, superficial acceptance of a body they aren't treating well, and the thrill of racing to claim unique pieces before others, they are milking a goldmine of depressed impulse shoppers.

I am not blind enough to believe that these are the only LLR customers out there. I own a handful of their leggings myself, and I enjoy them (in patterns that don't look like they came from an acid trip) for different reasons than I just described. But I also don't identify myself as their key demographic. I'm their lucky one-off customer, not their target.

Gimme all the leggings!

My friend plunged herself into debt and an overflowing closet because of the biological thrill of their marketing design. Smart for business, sickening for consumers. Though I'm happy to report that she has worked her way far out of this situation, I'm willing to bet that it has gotten much worse for many other LLR customers. Which brings me to another thought.

I saw a post in a support group yesterday that discusses this phenomenon of victim marketing. This is something I have taken issue with a lot over the years, but didn't have the right verbiage to describe how I felt about it. Here's a quote from Motivational Coach, Meagan Ward:

"When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I was trained to market using the almighty I-overcame-tough-shit strategy. With the obligatory terrible incident, moment of truth, and phoenix-like return... Every day I’d scour my mind for a time when I’d been screwed over, passed off, etc."

Victim Marketing...perfect name for it.

LLR doesn't use this method...they are more sly about it. They don't need to point out the struggles of life to its customers - they have already evolved past that, to a point where they need something to patch the holes in their lives.

But both of these methods irk me - they get under my skin in a bad way, and I think are to blame for much of the bad reputation that MLMs have garnered over the years.

The impulse to 'add to cart' with network marketing

I say all this as someone who is NOT "too good" for an MLM. Technically, I am a part of one myself. The difference (for me), is that when I share the company I am a part of, I do so with good conscience, knowing that they give back to worthy causes, and with a genuine love that I share with my customers. I don't have to sell them friendship. I don't have to sell them rare, one-of-a-kind designs. I don't have to market in a way that attacks the tough parts of their lives. I like that I am a part of something that is admittedly frivolous, and just for fun. I may not like all of their ideas all of the time, and they may not like how I find some of their suggestions limiting to getting an actual business off the ground, and that's just reality. But some things I just can't get over.

Preying on the vulnerable, potentially emotionally unwell doesn't sit with me.

I have often called LLR the Trump of direct sales. And ooooh I AM fearful of the comments I will get for that one, but whatever, it's out there, and I believe it. Wildly successful thanks to subtle bullying. (One of them is a little less subtle, haha.)

Anyway, that's my two cents. You can read more about this modern day phenomenon on the post that has brought everyone over to my poke-fun-at-the-patterns LuLaNOPE posts, HERE, where they explain with much more detailed research what I'm getting at above. ;)



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5 comments:

  1. *insert internet applause here*. Yassss girl, yas. Thank you for being so open and up front about your opinion on this. The MLM article from QZ is actually how I found your page. The Trump of Direct Sales cracked me the heck up (along with the bit about patterns from an acid trip).

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    1. Glad you liked it! :) Thanks for stopping by!! I think we all tolerate this crap on social media quite a bit, but it's time we start point out the ones with shady practices and negative attitudes! No one needs that in their lives!!

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  2. I think you were too negative on your previous posts - I thought they were hilarious and I am a guy that knew nothing about LLR before reading the article that linked to your blog. I had to shake my head because MLM is part of a general "take advantage of the financially desperate" industry. It needs to stop. I think your perspective is important and offers a take that the well researched article cannot.

    When I got out of college, my first "real" job was with with a title loan/payday lending company. I helped managed their database at their headquarters. What both MLM and title loan/payday companies do is take advantage of the desperate. Both do it similarly - in MLM the "consultants" are usually women, as are the customers. In payday lending/title loan stores, the employees are usually women as well. They put these women in bad areas of town and their customer base is desperate - a dangerous combination.

    When I worked there, I was on the phone with an employee 2,000 miles away at a store walking her through a computer/database entry issue. While I was on the phone with her, someone walked in and pointed a gun at her. If you charge 360%+ annual interest to poor desperate people, you are asking for it. I saw the database - one customer that I think about now and then took out $600 and over three years paid a little over $3,000. She still owed the $600! We kept height and weight of our customers in our database to assist the police in robberies because they were all too common.

    What I am saying is, taking advantage of the desperate is too common and your blog got noticed because calling it out strikes a nerve. You wrote about it in a way that the researched article couldn't. You should write about it more.

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  3. Taking advantage of the desperate is just...crushing to me. Great comments on this post. MLMs just put their hands in another guy's pocket. The author needs to write more on this subject.

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  4. I had never heard of LLR before reading the article that linked to your blog. I have to agree that selling some of those patterns would tax the talents of the best salesperson! I did get many a laugh, so thanks for that. This blog reminds me of Regretsy, minus the bad language. ;) MLM schemes prey on vulnerable, sometimes desperate people. It's depressing that there are so many out there who don't feel bad for taking advantage of their weakness.

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