Front Loading: How Mary Kay Predators Rope Their Prey Into Large Inventories and Bigger Debt

One of the several ways Mary Kay Cosmetics rakes in billions of dollars year after year is by convincing newly-signed consultants to buy large quantities of inventory as they start their “businesses.”

The tactic often used by Mary Kay’s predatory sales force is called front loading.

One MLM attorney’s explanation of front Loading is as follows:

“Front loading” occurs when the new reps are required or financially incentivized to buy an extraordinary amount of product upon enrolling. Legally, the purchase of inventory must always be optional. This is crystal clear, MLM Law 101. So you might be asking, “If the initial purchase is made voluntarily, what’s the problem?”

The answer lies with one word: MOTIVATION

Regulators try to analyze the motivation driving people to purchase the product or service. If the motivation is pure and distributors are purchasing product due to a sincere want or need, the program is in great shape. If, on the other hand, distributors are purchasing product primarily to qualify for additional bonuses, it’s a problem. This is known as “Opportunity Driven Demand.” [Emphasis added.]

NSD Stacy James - FrontloadingOf course, Mary Kay Cosmetics’ sales force doesn’t call their tactics “front loading.” Rather, they use such innocuous euphemisms as “buying a full store” or “investing in inventory…(because, you know, women are impulsive and can’t wait for their orders).”

As a multi-level-marketing company that does not track its sales to the end user, Mary Kay’s claimed $900 million in U.S. revenues comes from the only source that it does track–the inventories bought by the company’s consultants.

Unlike most modern companies that use systems like Just-In-Time inventory to avoid having too much capital tied up in inventory, Mary Kay Cosmetics does just the opposite. Mary Kay actually encourages women to have inventory, regardless of whether or not it is actually needed.

As Mary Kay predators use various pressure tactics on their prey, they are always careful to put the burden of decision-making on their victims. “No one held a gun to her head” and “It was her choice” are the common refrains that give the predators their absolution from being held responsible for their front-loading tactics.

NSD Pam Shaw FrontloadingYet, like the definition above, Mary Kay predators almost always are found encouraging women to buy the largest amount of inventory–the Star Consultant order–possible (whether or not they and their families can really afford it), baiting them with prizes and the promise of a successful business.

The perks of being a Star!
When you make an inventory purchase of this amount, you’re also a Sapphire Star Consultant. That translates to additional incentives and rewards:

  • Fabulous prizes like jewelry, accessories and electronics that get more enticing with this Star Consultant category
  • The prestigious Ladder of Success pin, which signifies your success
  • The opportunity to include your name in the first search tier of the Consultant Locator when you have a Mary Kay® Personal Web Site.
    That means when potential customers visit or call 1-800-MARY KAY to look for an Independent Beauty Consultant in their area, they could be referred to you.
  • The option to use the Customer Delivery Service for Star Consultants, which ensures immediate delivery of products to your customers
  • Having a strong business foundation on selling products, and that means more income for you!

As a Star Consultant, you can proudly announce your award-winning performance with the Ladder of Success pin. An inventory purchase of this amount can earn you an emerald star! [Source].

NSD Cyndee Gress - FrontloadingWhile it is technically true that new consultants can sign up with a minimal amount of inventory, in reality, large purchases of inventory are pushed from the highest levels throughout the Pink Pyramid.

Below are documents and videos showing the different tactics used by Mary Kay’s sales force to convince women to purchase larger amounts of inventory. Some of the tactics are more subtle than others. However, in the end, as opposed to encrouage women to be thrifty or frugal in their purchases, all of them push “bigger purchases are better.”

This document is from Mary Kay Cosmetics and places emphasis on the different levels of inventory–with special emphasis on the “Star” prizes for ordering $3600 worth of inventory.

….For example, consider setting your goal to be a Star Consultant every quarter. Remember, as a Star Consultant, you’ll not only build a stronger customer base and potentially increase your income, you’ll get these awesome additional perks:

  • Your choice of new and exclusive prizes – such as jewelry, electronics and more – each quarter you are a Star Consultant.
  • The prestigious Ladder of Success pin that lets you wear your accomplishments.
  • And the Customer Delivery Service for Star Consultants.

Mary Kay Inventory — Ready Set Sell by MaryKayVictims

One document, as pushed by National Sales Director Candy Carlson, shows just how Mary Kay’s predatory sales force ropes women into large inventory purchases with a “point systems”–the higher the point, the higher the inventory purchase the new consultant should make.

Inventory Decision Worksheet – Candy Carlson

This video references the Mary Kay Inventory Quiz:

In this video, Mary Kay Sales Director Blythe Egbert gives her viewers a myriad of reasons why new Mary Kay consultants should make large inventory purchases:


Images, courtesy of a friend.

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