According to a recent article in the New York Times, Mary Kay Cosmetics is seeing great success in China. There are now approximately 200,000 Mary Kay Consultants in China, and direct sales is sweeping the country. AVON and Amway have large sales forces in China as well, with AVON signing up some 50,000 representatives a month.
In 1998, China banned direct sales companies, claiming they were covers for various evil activities and intentions. But in 2006, China lifted this ban and the direct sales companies came flooding in.
Many of the Chinese Mary Kay recruits are already discovering many of the negatives that U.S. current and former Mary Kay consultants discovered: claims of great income are realized by very few, and many Chinese consultants who are making money are making not much more than they are or were in their “real” jobs.
As usual, a Mary Kay spokesperson is quick to defend the “business opportunity”:
“Mary Kay is extremely careful in communicating to members of the independent sales force that their success is up to them,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “There are no guarantees and that they should invest in their business carefully.”
Of course everyone should do their best to research any potential money-making venture before signing on the dotted line. But the hype and rah-rah environment and tactics used by Mary Kay and other MLMs and direct sales companies is, some say, designed specifically to get the potential recruit to override any internal doubt they may feel and to dismiss any objections or questions they may have.
It seems the Mary Kay invasion of China will only expand. There are just too many things that make it attractive to Chinese women. And when you read the quote from the Chinese woman saying she loves Mary Kay because of the “professional training” they give her, you realize they’ve already made great inroads.