Review of: Arbonne
- Super transparent about the details of the opportunity
- One of the few MLMs that allows consultants rise up in rank without having to recruit
- Relatively inexpensive, compared to other MLMs
- Real quality products
- No inventory requirements
We Don’t Like
- Difficult to get away from the alarming failure/success rate
- Failure to control the dishonest practices of some consultants
Summary: Arbonne has a lot of positives going for them and I consider them to be one of the most transparent in the industry. However, to give yourself the best chance of being part of the tiny group of successful Arbonne consultants, you need to break away from traditional practices and do what over 90% of consultants are not doing.
This is a long overdue update of our Arbonne review.
There are 3 types of people that I expect to read this review: those looking to get an outside perspective on the Arbonne opportunity, those looking to get information on Arbonne products, and those who are already affiliated with Arbonne in some way.
If you’re looking to learn about to Arbonne business opportunity, you’re going to get a lot of value from this article. Unlike most other Arbonne reviews, we’re not going to tell you how Arbonne is the greatest thing since sliced bread or how they’re the worst thing since WW2. You will simply learn about the compensation plan, the cost to become an Arbonne independent consultant, the cost to remain an Arbonne independent consultant, how much Arbonne consultants earn on average, how you can be successful as an Arbonne consultant, and a lot more.
I would say this review is more an interpretation of the facts than me giving my opinion. The goal is to equip you with enough information to ask the right questions and, ultimately, make the right decision — whatever that might be.
If you’re looking to learn about the products, you’re still welcome to read this post but don’t expect to get much value out of it. Here are a few sites I found that do a decent job on the products: Makeupalley, Smart Skin Care and Influenster.
If you’re already an Arbonne consultant you’re likely not going to agree with many things in this review. But can I ask you to attempt to read this with an open mind and leave your thoughts in the comments… respectfully? Correcting wrong facts and politely articulating your opinion is more useful to readers than name-calling.
If you’re interested in a particular section, jump right ahead:
- What is Arbonne?
- How does the Arbonne business model work?
- Arbonne Compensation/Success Plan
- How much do Arbonne Consultants make? (as per Arbonne Income Disclosure Statement)
- How to make money as an Arbonne Consultant
- Cost to become an Arbonne Consultant
- Cost of being / to remain an Arbonne Consultant
- Arbonne Success Stories / Positive Reviews
- Arbonne Complaints / Negative Reviews
- How to become an Arbonne Consultant
- How to stop being an Arbonne Consultant
- Is Arbonne a Scam?
- Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme?
- So should you become an Arbonne Consultant?
- A word to active Arbonne Consultants reading this review
- My recommendation to you
What is Arbonne?
How does the Arbonne business model work?
The simple gist of the Arbonne opportunity is: you pay the fee to become an independent consultant, send traffic to Arbonne through your unique link and earn a 35% commission when they make a purchase.
Another way is to purchase products at a discount price and keep the profits when you make a sale. Note that Arbonne has no inventory requirements, so it’s not mandatory for consultants to keep inventory.
Read the above paragraph again and you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually not very different from a regular brick and mortar business. You buy products and sell products for a higher price than you bought them and you’ll make a profit.
You could also earn additional income from the sales achieved by personally sponsored Independent Consultants if you have any.
Now, this is an over-simplified model of how the Arbonne business model works. But the devil is in the details, so read the following section for the details.
Arbonne Compensation Plan (a.k.a. SuccessPlan)
Full information on the compensation plan can be found in the official Arbonne Success Plan document.
Check out the following videos to listen to two successful Arbonne Independent Consultants talk about the criteria and process for promotion, as well as the rewards that come with each rank.
How much do Arbonne Consultants make?
The information in this section can be found in the official Arbonne Income Disclosure/Compensation Summary statement for 2017. Read the full document here.
There’s no straightforward answer to this question, but the average annual revenue of Arbonne independent consultants that received any earnings was $788 in 2017.
On the face of it, here’s what we can tell from the document:
- Arbonne had approximately 227,400 independent consultants in 2017
- Of all these consultants, only 27,300 (12%) received any earnings from the company during the year. These are considered active consultants.
- That would suggest 200,000 (88%) independent consultants didn’t receive any earnings
- The figures shown in the table only account for the 12% that received earnings
- Based on the figures on the above chart, 90% of all active consultants earn an average of less than $3,500 per year (less than $300 per month)
- It’s not until the rank of Regional Vice Presidents that we get to liveable annual earnings, but only 2% of active consultants make it there.
- This does not reflect any possible expenses incurred by the consultant
The truth is the vast majority of Arbonne consultants cannot be considered successful. In fact, according to the official summary report, only 3% of active consultants (0.4% of all consultants) make “own your life” money.
Next time you run into that neighbour or former coworker that is trying to sell you on this life-changing opportunity, ask them what their rank is. If they’re not yet at Regional Vice President level, chances are they’re still struggling to find their feet in the business.
Looks like it’s all doom and gloom. So you should forget about Arbonne and move on to something else, right?
Remember the numbers are averages and averages hardly ever tell the full story. For example, most people might only be using this opportunity as a side hustle. Yes, they are poor but I put that down to the fact that most of the people recruited to become independent consultants are not the right fit for the business in the first place.
If you’re looking to separate yourself from these average numbers, the next section is for you. It tells you where people fall short and what you could do differently in order to succeed.
I’m currently working with Arbonne consultants that make over $3,500 per month, so I know for a fact that you can defy the averages. You just need to determine whether you’re a good fit for this opportunity and that’s what this review is supposed to help you achieve.
How to make money as an Arbonne Consultant
This is probably the most important section to you if you’re an aspiring Arbonne consultant or an already existing consultant looking to become successful.
As cliché as it sounds, the most successful business people are those who provide solutions to real problems and have the tenacity to see out their vision.
The reason most consultants fail is that they don’t know what problems they are providing solutions to. They are dragged into the whirlwind of having to make enough sales to meet their monthly quota — same whirlwind their recruiters were dragged into as well.
Educate people about the products
Know this: Nobody cares about your products. Nobody cares that you want to make money. People only care about finding solutions to their problems. Offer that to them and you have their attention.
Think about why you love Arbonne products. If you don’t love the products, I suggest you stop right now. There’s no way you can truly promote a product if you don’t believe in the value it provides.
What’s so special about the skin care products? How about the makeup? What problems did you have before and how have these products solved those problems?
If you already have a network of friends that use luxury personal care products, start with them. Tell them why the products you are offering are better than the ones they’re already using. What are the ingredients and how are they different? Are your products cheaper or more expensive? If they’re more expensive, you need to be able to give them a reason why they should pay more. There are more angles but the point is it’s easier to sell to folks that already understand the value in luxury personal care products than it is to sell to others.
Then there’s the other — and bigger — part of trying to educate people on why they should spend more on personal care products.
I first learned about Arbonne from my ex-neighbours who I would say were extremely passionate about the opportunity and the dream life they were both going to have together in future. Their biggest mistake, however, was jumping straight into telling me how this opportunity could change my life forever before even trying to educate me about the products. They didn’t know I was all too familiar with these conversations and that I ran this blog. The rest is history.
I looked into the company, studied the business model, wrote the old version of this review, and they’re now disgruntled ex-Arbonne consultants who do not have any good thing to say about Arbonne.
I shared this story to reiterate my point about educating people about your products. It is also a good example of how not to run your Arbonne business, i.e. don’t just go around trying to recruit people. Contrary to what many Arbonne consultants have chosen to believe, the vast majority of the people you will run into do not invest significantly in personal care products like body lotion. There’s a reason household brands like Vaseline continue to lead the way in number of sales.
This principle of educating your potential customers applies regardless of whether you choose to go the inbound or outbound sales route or both. Combining both is ideal for maximum results but mastering one should be sufficient enough to make money as an Arbonne consultant.
I cannot really speak in-depth about outbound sales except that you’ll need to be able to approach people and try to educate them. Most people will not be receptive to you and that’s okay. It’s a natural reaction because, for the most part, you will have had no prior interaction with these people. How do you feel when complete strangers approach you to talk to you about products?
One thing all successful entrepreneurs have is the willingness to invest in their learning/development and this is one area you should consider investing your time or your money in if necessary. You can read books, blogs, find a mentor, etc. From the comments, I learned that some teams have weekly/monthly calls to support you. So look within your team if there’s someone you can learn from. As is the case with most things, you will naturally get better as you talk to more and more people about your products.
From an inbound sales perspective, you position yourself in a spot where customers come to you. If I had to choose between outbound and inbound, I’d choose the latter simply because of its convenience and potential reach.
Who is your target audience? Maybe it’s the lady in her late thirties, regularly shops online and already likes Arbonne on Facebook, or it could be the 25-year old guy across town who is using Google to search for a solution to his skin acne problems. They know what they want, you have what they want, so all you need to do is place yourself in a position to be found by these people.
This is probably oversimplifying the process and, yes, there is a learning curve, but it’s only a fragment of the possibilities that exist in inbound sales. Who do you think is more likely to convert into a paying customer: the gentleman on the street that has never met you or heard about your product or the lady that knows her problem and finds you with the solution?
Position yourself as an authority by educating your audience, both online and offline, and it will naturally need to trust and more sales.
Build a website and tackle all of the pain points of your audience, including the difficult topics bloggers in your niche and other consultants tend to shy away from. Learn how to write consistently and with intent — you don’t have to be an expert writer — and learn strategies to get your website found. Over time, you will become the go-to person when it comes to topics in your niche. That is how to build authority online.
There are thousands of sites with articles across the web you could read to learn how to create a website or write with intent or learn SEO. However, I highly recommend one that lines them all up in one place in sequential order and it’s free to sign up for.
The same principles still apply offline. Address your prospects’ concerns before they even ask. This shows you know your stuff and you’ve got nothing to hide. Address the difficult topics like the challenges with sales, running costs, even the perception Arbonne might have due to some negative reviews online. Address everything and their trust in you will grow.
Build a team
Let’s be clear, this is NOT a standalone way to make money as an Arbonne consultant. You should only consider building a team once you have mastered the art of selling products.
Do NOT become an Arbonne consultant and immediately start trying to recruit people, regardless of what the person that got you to join told you. Building a team should happen naturally after product sales.
I’m emphasizing this so you don’t become part of the reason why Arbonne is considered — rightly or wrongly — shady by many. If my neighbours had tried to educate me about the Arbonne’s products, just maybe I would have had a better impression of the company and not written such a harsh review. Imagine how many people do the same thing across the world and take another look at the average numbers. It’s clear something isn’t right about the strategy most people use.
The process of building a team should be natural. If the people you sell the products to find them very impressive, some of them will want to promote the products as well. If someone is a repeat client of yours, maybe you should tell them about Arbonne’s Preferred Client program where they pay a $29 annual fee and get a 20% discount on products or if interested, they could become Independent Consultants to get a 35% discount on products and the opportunity to make some money by selling Arbonne products. This is the natural and legal way to start to start to build your team.
As time goes on and you manage to build a strong base in your team, your role will evolve from being an active salesperson to more of a mentor to the people on your team.
Cost to become an Arbonne Consultant
The cost to become an Arbonne Consultant is $79. This is also an annual renewal cost if you choose to remain a consultant. The registration fee comes with your starter kit which includes a start guide and product samples.
At the time of writing this, there is an offer in which you can get register and get your starter kit for only $49, provided you purchase products worth 250 QV in the same order.
Cost of being an Arbonne Consultant
The cost to remain an active Arbonne consultant is 150 QV in monthly sales/purchases. That is, if you’re able to make 150 QV in sales every month you’re good. What this also means is if you are only able to make 120 QV in product sales, you will have to purchase 30 QV worth of products to receive any compensation that month.
The sooner you become a master at making sales, the sooner you wouldn’t have to worry about having to purchase products to remain active. People struggling with sales find themselves having to purchase products and this pressure to meet their quota forces them to switch their focus from product sales to recruiting. It was certainly the case with my neighbours and is probably the case with the person trying to recruit you right now.
Arbonne Success Stories / Positive Reviews
Here are some of the positive reviews I found on Glassdoor:
“Best way to create Asset wealth that I’ve ever discovered” – Independent Consultant, Toronto, Canada.
“Work 10 hours a week, work from home, great for making a little extra cash or as a full on career, lots of mentoring and career help from management, working for a company that stands behind their products.” – Independent Consultant, Calgary, Canada.
“35% commission with overrides and cash bonus incentives! You are essentially your own boss with the help of Corporate who provides excellent marketing materials. Travel incentives, growth opportunity and an amazing way to grow yourself personally.” – Regional Vice President, Saddle Brook, U.S.
“You get to make your own schedule and they provide amazing people to coach you along your journey to help you be successful.” – Independent Consultant, Honolulu, U.S.
I noticed a recurring piece of advice to aspiring consultants is to invest in their personal development and to be self-motivated. This is in line with some of the stuff you’ve read earlier on in this article.
If you’re interested in reading actual success stories where some successful consultants share their personal experiences and strategy, you can check out Arbonne’s official success page.
Arbonne Complaints / Negative Reviews
As you would expect from a company that has well over 200,000 independent consultants who also sell (or try to) products to lots of people, not all of the reviews can be positive.
Here are some of the negative reviews on Glassdoor:
“They claim you have a very flexible schedule but in order to move up, you need to work your butt off. The compensation plan is not as great as claimed. Lots of hidden costs (i.e. you are taxed on the retail value of what you buy and not on the discount price)” – Independent Consultant, Toronto, Canada.
“The goals are unreachable. The goal is to grow your team in order to make your paycheck higher. People don’t want to buy the products. Products are too expensive. At the meetings, you have to pay to get in and then you feel guilted into guilting friends and family to have a party. Family and friends will stop talking to you since they think your just going to ask them to have a party. Parties take like 4-6 hours but you’re told at the beginning that it’s 2 hours. You have to purchase an obscene amount each month.” – Independent Consultant
How to become an Arbonne Consultant
First of all, you’ll need to either already know an Arbonne Consultant or search for one within close proximity using the company’s search tool. You must know your consultant’s full name or their Consultant ID.
Once you’ve chosen a consultant, you will go through six short steps asking you for details such as your name, email, address, confirming your consultant again, adding the registration package to your shopping bag and accepting the terms and conditions.
Check out and you’re all set. Your order should be mailed to you.
If you already know an Arbonne Consultant, you probably don’t need to go through this yourself. They should be able to walk you through it.
How to stop being an Arbonne Consultant
I’m including this section because I’ve been asked about this several times. The instructions are not easy to find on the company’s website and if you belong to a team that wants to be difficult, you could definitely find yourself in a situation.
On the same page where you will have to accept the terms and conditions in order to become a consultant, there is also a download link for the Notice of Cancellation agreement. Fill out the form and mail, fax or submit in person to the Customer Service team. If you meet all of the criteria listed in the agreement, your Independent Consultant status should be terminated within a few days.
Is Arbonne a Scam?
The simple answer is no. Look at it this way, Arbonne is a company that has been around for over 40 years, that sells real products and tries to expand their reach by using Independent Consultants.
As a company (not the opportunity), Arbonne is completely legit. I have researched many direct selling companies and I must mention that Arbonne is actually among the most transparent when it comes to disclosing costs involved and managing expectations.
Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme?
The answer to this question is a less-than-straightforward no. If we were to consider the definition of a pyramid scheme according to the FTC, there would be no real products being sold to the public — only smokescreen products going to other distributors. In Arbonne’s case, the products are real…but there is a grey area.
The reason there is even a debate as to whether Arbonne is a pyramid scheme is that many consultants have made the opportunity look like a pyramid scheme. Imagine Mr. X having a hard time selling products and then going out to recruit Mrs. Y. Mrs. Y struggles and goes on to recruit Miss Z. Don’t forget Mr. X hasn’t stopped — he’s still trying to recruit A, B, and C. Same with Mrs. Y, and potentially Miss Z.
One could argue that consultants don’t make commissions off the purchases of consultants under them and they would be right. But again there is a grey area. Consultants make commissions when prospects make the purchase just before they become consultants.
Granted, Arbonne isn’t directly telling these people to behave this way but the company doesn’t do anything to check this. I also sympathize with the fact that when you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of consultants, it can be difficult to manage the behaviour of every single one of them. However, when thousands of consultants behave unethically, it ultimately affects the reputation of the company.
I’m willing to give Arbonne the benefit of the doubt, despite having no clear evidence to support this, that their products have enough clout to generate more revenue from public-facing sales than disguised consultant-consultant sales and consultant personal purchases combined. Based on this, I’d say Arbonne is NOT a pyramid scheme.
Should you become an Arbonne Consultant?
If you were expecting a Yes/No answer to this question, I have news for you: it’s a question you and you alone can answer.
There’s really only one thing you need to master: the art of making sales. Whether you choose to go the person-to-person route or you choose to promote Arbonne products using online methods, the only thing that stands between you and being a successful Arbonne consultant is making consistent sales.
Recruiting is another thing you could learn, only after you’ve learned how to promote and sell Arbonne products. Building a team is a method of scaling your business to increase your income potential, not building your business.
If you’re confident you can learn how to make consistent sales and potentially build a team that can also make consistent sales, then you’re well on course to becoming one of the few successful Arbonne consultants one day.
If you have doubts about your chances of being successful with Arbonne, maybe you should consider building your own online business centred around something you’re more passionate about. What’s that thing you can start talking about from the moment you wake up? Build a business around it!
A word to active Arbonne consultants reading this review
I have received several hits from a number of Arbonne consultants who challenged the nature of the previous version of this Arbonne review. Some of the name-callings can be found here in the comments section, worse can be found in my emails.
I’ve even had a few consultants threaten me with legal action for “misrepresenting the facts” about a company that they neither own or are employed by.
It’s interesting to note that not only were the facts accurate at the time I originally published the post, but the same facts are also still largely accurate today. I’ll be honest, I understand that the tone of the previous version might have come off as aggressive, but the facts and my overall view of the Arbonne opportunity have barely changed, if at all. Here’s a screenshot of the summary I had at the beginning of the old review:
Since the facts haven’t changed, I’m starting to question why a lot of people were so eager for me to update the review. Did they want me to change my tone? Did they hope I would finesse the facts? Did they expect me to change my overall opinion? I’ve also always wondered why consultants would go on Google to search for Arbonne reviews. Is it because the people they are trying to recruit challenge them with info from these reviews?
While we’re on the topic of Google, a lot of consultants seem to have an issue with how prominent this website is on Google for search queries related to Arbonne. Ironically, my biggest criticism of the company was the extent of the online marketing training offered to give consultants the best chance of succeeding. Some agreed with me (like the ones that joined the free training platform I recommended), while most argued that Arbonne did, in fact, have extensive training for consultants. If that was the case, an article like this that has some not-all-positive things to say about Arbonne shouldn’t occupy a spot among the top 10 results in Google for any search term ahead of thousands of consultants.
While we’re on the topic of Google: If I were an Arbonne consultant, I could become successful from this page alone. Whenever someone tells me I’m intentionally trashing Arbonne in order to promote something else, I think to myself that if only they knew I could make so much more by telling lies about how much I love Arbonne and how it’s this perfect business opportunity that is meant for everybody instead of promoting a free training program that earns me zero commissions. Keyword there is FREE. I never ask anyone to get the paid version of the training until they have juiced the value out of the free version first.
I could go on and on about this because this harassment has been going on for years but I’ll stop here. If you want to have a civil conversation, devoid of name-calling, regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I’ll be more than happy to chat with you in the comments.
My Recommendation to you
As much as I have said many good things about Arbonne and how you can work to be successful as a consultant, I still cannot recommend Arbonne as a standalone opportunity. Yes, you can make money. No, it is not a scam. No, it is not a pyramid scheme. Yet, somehow, I still cannot say you should go ahead and join.
Why? Because the failure rate is alarming. I mentioned in the previous section that I have all the tools and traffic in my arsenal to be very successful with Arbonne but I feel it would be wrong for me to put monetary gain over my conscience. This is why I would rather promote the product — the training that taught me how to write with intent, gain traffic and earn income — instead of promoting Arbonne. The free version of this product can help you lay the groundwork for a successful Arbonne business.
Even if you’re already with Arbonne and you’re looking to improve your results, this training can teach you some basic principles and skills to help you leverage the power of the internet to expand your business.
Using the techniques taught in this training, you can actually promote Arbonne products for free as an affiliate without having to join as a consultant first. Don’t believe me? This link is an affiliate link that takes you to Arbonne’s RE9 Advanced Restorative Day Cream on Amazon. If you purchase it or any other product on Amazon within the next 24 hours, I will earn a commission from all your purchases at no additional cost to you.
Basically, in this model, you don’t pay to promote and earn commissions from products. If you’re curious to read my personal story, you can check it out here.
If you’re not a big fan of my top recommendation, here are a few other authority sites that have helped me over the years. I still visit these sites frequently:
There are a few others but if you know what exactly you’re looking for I can almost guarantee that at least one of these 3 blogs will have an answer for you if it’s related to online marketing. They might not give you the tools and 1-on-1 support you need, but they will certainly point you in the right direction on where to find them.
I had one goal with this Arbonne review: To give you the facts straight up and to finesse some of the facts with my opinion.
We’ve talked about the compensation plan, consultant average earnings, what the earnings tell you and what they don’t and how you can break yourself apart from those averages by being successful. We also mentioned the costs involved with being an Arbonne consultant.
All the information you need to determine whether the Arbonne business opportunity is a good fit for you can be found in this review.
I also want to give credit to whom credit is due. Despite my reservations about the opportunity, I must acknowledge that Arbonne is among the most transparent companies that use the MLM business model. Take it from someone that has encountered and reviewed several MLM companies. Everything I needed to write this review was found on their website and that saved me a lot of time in having to seek out consultants to interview.
I really hope you got the information you were looking for in this review. It’s a lot of words. You might agree with some, you might disagree with others. You might agree/disagree with everything. In any case, feel free to make yourself heard in the comments.
Originally published on Feb 10, 2017, updated on November 12, 2018.