Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme or Legal Business Opportunity?



Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme? Some people claim this international skin care MLM company operates under the guise of a pyramid scheme, but is that really the truth? Is the Arbonne MLM scheme legit or not?

Let’s take a closer look and find out…


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Is Arbonne a Pyramid SchemeCompany Name: Arbonne International, LLC

Owned By: National Products Group, Inc.

Price To Join: $79 to get started

My Rating: 4/10



~ Arbonne Business Reviews ~


What Is Arbonne International?

Arbonne has been around for more than 40 years, being founded way back in 1975. As a company that provides  a range of primarily cosmetic and skincare products, Arbonne is not too bad. As a business opportunity selling Arbonne products, well, you will definitely have your work cut out for you to make any real money with this MLM company.

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One good thing about Arbonne is they don’t over-hype the benefits of the products. They pretty much just tell it like it is and everything they claim is pretty fair and reasonable. Some other companies really talk up their products; not just to sell them, but also to try and justify their high price tags.

The Arbonne International range of products and the business opportunity are currently available in the following 7 countries:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Poland
  6. New Zealand
  7. Taiwan


The Arbonne Products

As with all MLM type setups, the product range is expensive. This is largely due to the way the company compensates its members, with downline commissions and group bonuses. The products of every MLM business will always be pricey for this reason.

Let’s take a brief look at what’s on offer at Arbonne International.

  • Skincare
  • Personal Care
  • Nutrition
  • Makeup
  • Hair Care
  • Weight Loss

To be honest, Arbonne has a hell of a lot of products, so I’m not going to get into them all here. On their website you get to access their product catalogue, and it’s well over 100 pages long. Here’s the link if you want to check it out in more detail.

As mentioned earlier, the products are rather expensive. From both a consumer point of view as well as a business opportunity selling these products, that can present very major problems.

For one, why would somebody spend say $50 on a particular Arbonne product when they can get something comparative at the store for less than $20?

This kind of pricing makes it hard to want to purchase Arbonne products for yourself, and even harder to convince others to buy them. There are far easier ways to make money than this.

One example is $17 for a standard can of deodorant, which you can likely buy for around $4 somewhere else. It won’t be branded with the Arbonne insignia, but it’s likely just as effective and may even smell better.

What Arbonne products do have going for them is their organic nature. Arbonne International have made it a point to manufacture the majority of their product line from all-natural ingredients. As both a consumer or a seller of Arbonne, this is its biggest plus.


Arbonne Products


The Arbonne Business Opportunity and Compensation Plan

Now let’s take a look at the business opportunity side of things.

As mentioned earlier, Arbonne products have been in existence since 1975, and the MLM business opportunity has been around for almost as long. What this means for people thinking of getting involved in selling Arbonne products is both product and brand name saturation. People have been using Arbonne, hearing about Arbonne and selling Arbonne for more than 40 years.

Since MLM business opportunities do operate on a pyramid structure, where is that going to place you in this now giant-sized Arbonne pyramid? Obviously at the very bottom, but it’s the size of this structure that is mostly significant. MLM opportunities are mostly about recruitment and earning money and bonuses from your downline.

It’s going to be incredibly difficult to build up a downline in this day and age, competing against all the other cosmetic and skincare brands on the market, as well as competing with the massive army of Arbonne consultants that already exists. That's why I suggest checking out how Wealthy Affiliate teaches people how to make money online. It's way easier.

You also have to remember that with MLM you are not really going into business. You’re not even franchising. You are really only buying into the opportunity as an unpaid employee of Arbonne. All the benefits of MLM go to the company, not to the distributors.

That’s why so many businesses adopt the MLM style of selling. They amass a veritable army of salespeople running around selling their products on a commission basis only.

As an independent consultant you get Arbonne products at a 35% discount. You can choose to simply sell products at retail to customers and earn 35% commissions, or you can also recruit and build a downline, earning smaller commissions from your recruits as well as possibly qualifying for group bonuses.

Roughly only some 10% of Arbonne consultants actually make any profit, and the average yearly earnings for consultants is only around $600 or so. Not much for a business. About $50 a month for those that actually do make some money.

There are five different ranks to aspire to at Arbonne, and they are:

  1. Independent Consultant
  2. District Manager
  3. Area Manager
  4. Regional Vice President
  5. National Vice President

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Arbonne Compensation Plan

Definition of an Illegal Pyramid Scheme

Human Pyramid SchemePeople have labelled it the "Arbonne pyramid scheme", but to really be classified as an outright illegal pyramid scheme, the business has to be solely reliant on recruiting to make money AND there are no products or services with any inherent value.

The reason MLM companies and the like avoid this official pyramid tag – despite the fact they are indeed a pyramid – is because they do sell tangible products that have value. While there is a huge emphasis on recruiting, the products can still be sold at a retail level.

A naked pyramid, or a Ponzi scheme, relies solely on getting new investors into the pyramid to pay the profits of older investors.

So, does Arbonne fit the definition of an “illegal” pyramid system?

No, it doesn’t because of its products. Despite this fact it doesn’t stop government organisations from investigating companies like Arbonne, nor does it prevent people from issuing lawsuits against MLM companies on the basis of them being pyramid schemes.

The online world is chock full of obvious pyramid and Ponzi schemes created by people who don’t even try to hide the fact. Social media groups are full of people trying to recruit others into a cash gifting scheme or money matrix of some form or another. They are everywhere.

Although MLM businesses do profit heavily from their distributors and their business structure is a pyramid, they do still provide products that people do buy, sell and actually use.


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What I Like

  • The products are made from natural ingredients
  • Arbonne has been around since 1975


What I Don’t Like

  • The products are expensive (like all MLM)
  • You have to pay money to be a distributor
  • The skincare and cosmetic market is heavily saturated
  • Arbonne itself as a market or business is saturated
  • 90% of consultants make zero dollars with Arbonne
  • The average yearly earnings is only about $600
  • It would be a very hard way to make any money
  • You will spend all your time and energy trying to recruit others



How Much Does Arbonne Really Cost?

It costs $79 to join as a consultant, for which you receive all Arbonne products at a 35% discount. Each year you pay a $30 renewal fee. Apart from that, there is no minimum monthly spend required to remain active as a distributor of Arbonne products.


Is Arbonne International a Scam?

I don’t think it’s a scam, and it doesn’t fit the full definition of a naked pyramid or Ponzi scheme. I just think, from a business perspective, that Arbonne has been around way too long and it would be extremely hard to make money selling the products and the opportunity to others.

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Another Way To Make Money

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I primarily do affiliate marketing for a living and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It gives me time, money and flexibility, which equates to genuine lifestyle freedom. Anyone can do this business and do it successfully if you are shown how. It's a hell of a lot easier than multi level marketing and you don't need to recruit people. You also don't need to buy products all the time. You simply promote the products of other companies and earn commissions if someone buys something. They handle the sales part.

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Darren Burton

Site Owner
I am an author, online entrepreneur and internet marketer. I work from home and anywhere else in the world I choose to work. I've been making a living online since 2010, and you can do it too. I'm here to help.

2 thoughts on “Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme or Legal Business Opportunity?

  1. It seems to me that the cosmetic/personal care industry is already very saturated with numerous products sold by various companies.
    From your review it looks like Arbonne Products has been doing business for a while and do have satisfactory products but their marketing program leaves something to be desired. It seems to me that once their customers find a cheaper place to buy roughly the same products and or they are not that successful recruiting people to their downline then they are pretty much out of business. Do you feel the same way?

    • That’s one of the major problems with MLM, is the prices of the products are sky high. They have to be in order to compensate all the distributors involved in each sale. That’s precisely why most MLM companies practically force their distributors to purchase most of the products, because they know it’s almost impossible to sell at a retail level when competing with comparative products at a fraction of the price.

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