The health industry is booming and Usana is one of many network marketing companies to take advantage of the trend. After all, everyone wants to live longer, feel better, and be healthier, so why not sell products that help with this goal.
Health products also make sense from a more cynical perspective. For one thing, it's easy to slightly vary the formula of a supplement or a protein shake to create a product that is technically unique. This means that companies don't need to waste time reinventing the wheel, they can simply take a currently popular product a tweak it.
Another factor is that it's tough to tell when a health product is working or not. People often see positive effects because they expect to (that's the placebo effect) or they genuinely can't tell. Those patterns are frustrating for consumers, but they help explain how there are so many health companies out there that seem to be very successful.
As for Usana itself, the company has its advantages. The products look appealing and some customers find them to be effective. The website also has an emphasis on science, which may provide a valuable sales angle.
Two Ways To Make Money With Usana
Usana is a health MLM, so the ways that you can make money are pretty typical. The first approach is to earn commissions from product sales. You can move on from this and build a team as well. Team building can increase your income potential but the approach does come with additional challenges.
This post looks at each of the two-income approaches in-depth, along with the overall potential for making money.
Make Money From Product Sales
Usana offers more than 50 different products across the categories of Nutritional, Diet & Energy, and Personal Care.
For the most part, there is nothing particularly special about their products. For example, their meal replacement shakes are pretty much what you would expect (aside from a hefty price tag). Even the ingredients list for the product is pretty similar to what you would find for similar products online or in stores.
There is some potential for the products to be healthier than normal. Usana suggests that they use cleaner ingredients, special production processes, and the like. It's hard to know how accurate these claims are, as the site tends to use plenty of rhetoric without providing much evidence at all.
Even if the products are healthier than the generic grocery store brand, there are plenty of other companies taking a similar approach. Customers could easily find cheaper alternatives from a specialty food store.
In the end, the products from Usana simply seem to be overpriced versions of common products. We see this all the time in MLM health supplement companies; charging premiums for below-average quality products
While we're talking about the products themselves, it's worth highlighting the MyHealthPak. This provides customers with AM and PM packages of the supplements that they want to use. It's an unusual service and one that would be appealing.
Even so, MyHealthPak would only be worthwhile for customers who are ordering multiple supplements at a time from the company. Some of the supplements cost $40 or more for a container, so many people simply wouldn't be buying multiple types at a time.
Product Reviews And Effectiveness
Usana's products are very common on Amazon and on eBay – although it is mostly the protein shakes and the supplements that you find. They seem to be selling for a bit less than the company’s site offers, which might be a problem for reps of the company.
In general, the products seem to receive mostly positive reviews, but that doesn’t mean much for this type of product.
When it comes to supplements, the physical effect you feel is often minimal unless you were actually deficient in something that the supplement was for. However, people tend to convince themselves that they feel a change.
For example, your energy levels change every day from a range of factors. If you took a supplement that claimed to boost your energy, you would associate any energy increase with the supplement. Many people end up paying more attention to the boosts in energy, and less to any decreases.
This means that your energy levels could stay exactly the same, but you would convince yourself that the supplement actually worked. You can even see this pattern in some of the reviews:
In a similar way, the shakes receive good reviews, but most of them would apply to any protein shake out there.
So, the products might get good reviews, but take this with a grain of salt. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the products are good – and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are better than what is out there.
The key emphasis of Usana is health. In fact, the full name of the company is even Usana Health Sciences, which certainly implies that the company takes health seriously and that it does its research. More than one MLM company implies that their claims are science-based, but the vast majority of the time, these types of MLM use corporate tactics to buy the results they want.
The company is involved in a number of research papers, but this doesn’t actually suggest their products do what they say. Most of their research focuses on general nutrients and approaches for improving health like olive oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A – which can be found in a range of different products.
I mean, sure, vitamin D is important for health and some people will need to take supplements. Proving that point doesn't say anything at all about whether the vitamin D supplement from Usana is any good.
There is little indicating that Usana's own products are any better than nutritional supplements or other similar products out on the market. Yet, Usana's products tend to be more expensive than comparative products elsewhere.
Additionally, Usana has a strong association with the Dr. Oz Show as well, which has concerning implications for Usana science.
Dr. Oz might have a cult-like following, but Dr. Oz has been before a senate subcommittee for bogus health claims – with a senator saying that he ‘plays a role in perpetuating scams’. With the toxic nature of Dr. Oz’s reputation, I wouldn’t want to promote any company even remotely associated with him.
There's one more area to talk about with products – how you actually sell them. Usana uses a purchase-first model for retail sales.
This style means that you need to buy the products from Usana (at a discount) and then sell them on to customers. While you get to choose the price that you sell products at, Usana suggests selling them at a 10% markup over the Preferred Price. If you do so, you're getting a 10% commission on sales (minus tax and shipping fees). That's a very low percentage, especially when you're taking all the risk.
You can increase the amount you earn by purchasing through the Auto Order program. This provides another discount and you can earn up earning as much as 18% commission (minus tax and shipping fees). 18% is still a seriously low figure. It's even less than many other MLMs that don't require you to purchase first.
Make Money Building A Team
The low commission rate from Usana isn't the only issue with the company. Usana also uses a binary compensation plan model. This type of model involves building two distinct teams under you, as the image below shows.
The concept of the business is that you recruit people to form the left arm and the right arm of your business. You are then involved with helping the people you recruit to recruit others, and so forth. The binary style is frustrating, as it places considerable emphasis on the way that your team is structured.
Because of this, you have to recruit two different people who are successful (and continue to be successful) to make any headway in the business.
There is the potential to expand further, by having three business centers to your binary structure (versus the single business center in the image above). Expanding like this increases your income potential and the overall complexity. Usana also has requirements that you need to meet to get the three business centers to begin with.
One aspect of this binary plan is the need to balance the two different teams. The way that they are balanced affects the income that you earn from your downline. This means that you can't just focus on your own business. You have to pay attention to how well the people below you are doing too.
Talk about frustrating!
We're only talking about the most basic aspects of the plan too. Usana has various other bonuses and requirements that make the whole process more confusing too. There are even some consultants that you don't earn commissions from, just points.
A major issue of compensation plans for MLMs is that they get complicated fast. The approach often makes it seem like it is easier to earn money than it actually is. It also makes it hard for people to work out how to maximize profit.
One tricky thing with this company is that you start out with a limitation on how many people you can recruit. Specifically, you can recruit a total of four people, and then you are supposed to help them to build the people they recruit.
In general, the setup is such that you are helping people you recruited to recruit others, rather than recruiting additional people yourself. This is a bit unusual and potentially challenging. Making money is also based on getting the two sides of your business to match, and you are actually limited by the success of your smallest side.
Recruiting others and making sales in this type of company can be challenging. Finding four other people who can do this and are as dedicated as you, is even more so. Personally, I'd rather rely on my own hard work than counting on others to be as motivated and enthusiastic as myself.
Plus, you really want these people to be promoting to different markets, otherwise, they will just be in direct competition with each other.
With multiple ways of earning money and downlines, the opportunity might sound like a great way of earning money. However, as tends to be the case with MLM, theory and practice are often very different from each other.
The earnings publication for the company makes this pretty clear:
The earning data considers Active Usana Associates only. More than 50% of those associates didn't earn anything at all, while almost 25% earned between $1 and $250 in 2017. This means that more than 75% of associates made less than $250 in a year. That's not very good.
This means that your chance of earning a decent amount of money with the company is unbelievably low.
Additionally, these statistics don’t take into account how much work is actually involved in earning this money. This isn’t a passive business and you do have to actively sell and promote the company no matter how successful you are.
Can You Generate Reliable Income With Usana?
The Usana Review
The MLM model does work as a way to make money and you could, theoretically, make reliable income by signing up with Usana. Even so, it's important to take a serious look at the way that you earn money and whether Usana is a good approach for doing so.
There's no doubt that the biggest earners will be those who can successfully build and maintain a team. For Usana, this means recruiting relatively few people, then supporting them and the generations below them. This creates a business where you're heavily relying on the success of other people.
I don't know about you, but I find that style concerning. You can't truly predict or control the decisions that another person makes. To make matters worse, Usana's model relies on having two teams that are relatively balanced. Even just losing one team member could dramatically affect your entire earnings.
Why get involved in this type of model? Most people simply won't make money. Some might lose it instead.
MLM Critic & Author: Nathaniell
What's up ladies and dudes! Great to finally meet you, and I hope you enjoyed this post. I have to be honest though. I'm not a big fan of MLM. Tried it. Hated it.
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Edwin I Bernard
Great article on USANA. I once was an Independent Rep for USANA. You described the reasons why I quit very clearly.
When you’re building a team, you have to meet a minimum amount of sales in points each month to qualify for commissions. HEre’s the problem. When your sales meet the balance criteria, you get paid the full amount each month. When your left and right sides are grossly imbalanced, you are paid based on the side that has the lesser amount of sales.
The carrot that is used is this. There is no limit to your downline points accumulation. The problem is if you are unbalanced your commissions are governed by the lesser side points. This highlights the point you made about the difficulty of managing your team and their sales.
I disagree with you on one point regarding the nutritional supplements. Most cheap store-bought products only need to meet the standards for food production. The USANA Supplement is manufactured in its own facilities that are set up to drug manufacturing standards. The proportions, ratios, and quality of the ingredients by law, have to meet standards set up for drug manufacturing. That is the reason why their supplements cost what they do.
Well Nathaniell, that is my two cents worth. All the best to you.