Real, Unbiased doTERRA Review from an Ex-MLMer
Table of Contents
- WTF Are Essential Oils?
- doTERRA: Who Are They?
- How doTERRA Started
- Is doTERRA a Mormon Company?
- Are doTERRA Essential Oils Safe and Organic?
- Pros: Why doTERRA is Good
- Cons: Why doTERRA is Bad
- Compensation Plan: How The doTERRA Business Works
- doTERRA: Quick Summary
- Bottom Line: So is doTERRA a Pyramid Scheme?
- Shameless Plug: Realistic Passive Income Without MLM?
WTF are Essential Oils?
News flash: It’s 2020 and unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard of the MLM doTERRA.
Or, at the very least, you’ve heard someone mention “essential oils”.
And no silly goose, I’m not talking about the kind from fish or olives.
I’m talking about frankincense, tea tree, and peppermint essential oil to name a few.
To some, these plant-derived elixirs represent a cure for everything from anti-aging to the common cold.
To others, they represent an opportunity to start a direct sales business and make some serious bank.
That’s right, essential oils have invaded the MLM space…
Now run for your lives!
Between word-of-mouth marketing, home parties and full-fledged conferences, essential oils are sellin’ like Glocks at an NRA convention.
And from the looks of things, this “EO mania” isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Even so, the general population still knows very little about essential oils, which means that this market is (amazingly) still in its early stages.
So does this mean that you should sign up as a distributor in 2020?
Y’know, become an Essential Oil Tycoon and get ahead of the curve before the market hits critical mass?
Not so fast, Slick.
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So What Exactly Are Essential Oils?
Without getting into the boring technical details, essential oils are basically organic liquid compounds that have been extracted and distilled from plant materials.
The oils capture the fragrance and flavor characteristics (aka “essence”) of a wide variety of flowers, herbs, fruits, etc. which have been shown to have positive health benefits.
Many aromatherapists, naturopaths, and other health-conscious peeps swear by ’em.
Don’t forget that word-of-mouth is the primary driver behind a company like doTERRA, doing almost TWO BILLION dollars each year.
Fact: In 2020, they’re ranked the 15th best MLM (by revenue) on the planet.
For a company that started just over a decade ago, that says a heckuva lot about the high quality of the product.
(And doTERRA’s recruiting strategies.)
But in terms of the business opportunity, you might wanna think twice.
So what exactly am I saying here?
Half the time, prob’ly not much.
For the record: I have nothing against essential oils — I think they’re a fantastic product when used within reason (i.e. they don’t fix or cure everything).
So in the spirit of fairness, I’m not just gonna point out the downside here.
(That would be too easy.)
Instead, I figured it would only be right to provide a detailed review of the doTERRA company as well as the business opportunity.
That way, you can hopefully decide — once and for all — if this is a good fit for you or not.
If bacon grease really IS your essential oil of choice, you can safely skip the rest of this article.
Now, let’s get crackin!
doTERRA: Who Are They?
doTERRA (meaning “gift of the earth” in Latin) produces and distributes a wide variety of health-care and wellness products that contain essential oils.
And they’re pretty damn good at it.
This is largely accomplished through their massive network of three million distributors (known as “Wellness Advocates” in doTERRA-speak).
doTERRA also has a robust back-end operation that includes over 1,800 employees and a 383,000-square-foot corporate office and manufacturing center in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
In other words, doTERRA ain’t exactly a humble “mom and pop” operation.
So how exactly did this essential oil empire come to be?
Simple: they were funded by Mexican drug cartels.
How doTERRA Started
Led by CEO David Stirling, this highly capable and experienced team which includes Corey Lindley, Emily Wright, and Dr. David Hill has been one of the golden keys to the company’s meteoric success.
After spending more hours that I care to admit researching doTERRA, it’s clear that every aspect of the multi-level marketing company’s strategic direction revolves around two main objectives:
- Educating people about the many benefits of using essential oils and promoting a wellness lifestyle.
- Offering an ever-expanding line of EO-related products for their distributors to sell and recruit others into the MLM business.
This strategy has obviously paid off in spades, creating a juggernaut of a company that has experienced ridiculous growth by any standard.
Besides the United States, doTERRA now has offices in 17 countries including Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
And if going from $0 to over $1 billion in sales in just seven short years is any indication, it seems that doTERRA definitely has their sh*t together.
Is doTERRA a Mormon Company?
I get asked this question all the time so looky here:
doTERRA’s headquarters is located in Utah, where approx. 60% of the population are members of the LDS Church aka Mormon Church.
So it makes sense that doTERRA would have some executives and distributors who are Mormons.
But so what?
I’m sure the company also has plenty of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists on board, as well as many other religions.
And besides, Utah has more MLM companies per person than any U.S. state.
So all of the network marketing companies in Utah probably have more than a few Mormons on board.
Last time I checked, doTERRA is an essential oils company — not a “Mormon company”.
(Whatever that means.)
Are doTERRA Essential Oils Safe and Organic?
The famous French poet Victor Hugo once said that:
Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
That could definitely be said about the idea of incorporating essential oils into everyday health and personal care products.
Today’s consumer is lot savvier these days in terms of doing product research.
Especially with new information about the dangers of various chemicals and artificial ingredients in our foods and household products.
Simply put, folks are starting to seek out more natural, holistic, and safer alternatives for the stuff they consume.
Fans of essential oils love the fact that these powerful organic substances are 100% natural and can be incorporated into all kinds of health, wellness, and skin care products.
doTERRA has capitalized on this emerging mega-trend better than anyone.
(Or add to a nice hot bath.)
It’s an entire product line of EO-laced goodies including shampoo, deodorant, skin cleansers, lotions, nutritional shakes, dietary supplements, etc.
That includes Family Essentials — a collection of some of doTERRA’s most popular oils including Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Melaleuca, Oregano, and Frankincense.
They even have the doTERRA Kid’s Oil Collection — gentle blends that are allegedly safe enough for young children of all ages.
And for what it’s worth, doTERRA’s products seem to have mostly high ratings on Amazon.
Are doTERRA Essential Oils FDA Approved?
Well, it depends on how they’re marketed.
According to the FDA, essential oils are classified as “aromatherapy” products which are regulated based on their intended use, advertising claims, and what customers are told to expect from using the product.
One of the biggest selling points for doTERRA products is centered around their very own “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” (CPTG) testing process:
Without an accepted standard for essential oil quality, doTERRA created its own testing process, calling it CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®. The CPTG process certifies that there are no added fillers, synthetic ingredients, or harmful contaminants in their essential oils that would reduce their efficacy. doTERRA even goes a step further, putting all their products and the packaging through a battery of tests to ensure a long and effective shelf-life. This protocol ensures potency, purity, and consistency batch to batch.
Sounds good, right?
It was basically a stern warning against anyone who was promoting products and making outrageous (and unproven) medical claims.
Such claims included that some essential oils could “cure” a variety of illnesses including cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s, and even the deadly Ebola virus.
That included a strict policy for Wellness Advocates to not make any more claims towards specific illnesses or use words such as “illness, cure, disease, treat, etc.”
They could, however, make FDA-approved claims such as talk about the mood or skin-enhancing effects of essential oils, and use words such as “wellness, health, etc.”
Claims that certain products can help the body function normally and support the immune system are also permitted.
For example, this would be an acceptable FDA-approved statement:
With doTERRA’s impressive range of products, you can spray, rub, inhale, and even ingest various essential oils to help remedy certain ailments, or to promote better overall health in general.
But all this controversy has definitely given fuel to the doTERRA haters who basically think the company and their products are a complete scam.
Which is fine — everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.
Speaking of which:
So there’s always two sides to every coin.
Just make sure you take ’em both into account before making up your own mind.
Pros: Why doTERRA is Good
✓ For all of its folklore-like reputation, essential oil usage is being validated by scientific research more and more every day.
This makes a compelling case for using products such as those offered by doTERRA.
✓ Essential oils are highly versatile, which means they have a ton of different potential uses for everyday life.
So what does this mean for a doTERRA distributor?
More opportunities for sales on new products that are highly consumable and encourage repeat purchases.
That’s called residual income, babycakes.
✓ The trend towards natural/organic/holistic health and wellness practices continues to gain momentum.
More and more “ordinary” folks discover the power of essential oils every single year.
Which spells “opportunity” for people who promote products that cater to this trend.
✓ The support system that doTERRA has established for their Wellness Advocates is outstanding.
The company offers free articles and training videos that are part of an online “University” for all things doTERRA.
This includes a lot of product education and useful business building tools to help distributors build their businesses.
✓ Unlike many of the other MLM companies out there, doTERRA’s corporate conferences seem to be run with a high degree of professionalism.
However, doTERRA manages to avoid some of the shadier aspects of these types of events.
✓ The market for these types of products is virtually unlimited.
It’s not geography-specific, as can be evidenced by the fact that the company now ships to over a hundred different countries.
✓ The versatility of the products is a huge plus.
A “go-getter” type of distributor could easily host home parties or workshops to teach various uses of the products.
This would not only leverage their time but also allow them to make more sales.
✓ The company offers a “Fast Start Bonus”.
Distributors who sign up new referrals will receive a 20% commission on the sales volume of the new recruit for the first 60 days.
✓ You can earn free products through their Loyalty Rewards Program.
✓ doTERRA Healing Hands is the company’s charitable organization which:
Seeks to bring healing and hope to the world, for lives free of disease and poverty, and to ultimately empower impoverished communities with the tools needed to become self-reliant.
Any charity is always better than zero charity in my book.
Cons: Why doTERRA is Bad
✗ There is a $35 one-time enrollment to sign up as a doTERRA distributor and like all MLMs, you will be highly encouraged to build a downline of distributors below you (aka recruiting your family and friends) to make commissions and bonuses off of their sales.
Which is fine if that’s your thing.
Just not for me.
✗ The company does not have any exclusive oils that they can call their own.
In other words, doTERRA basically obtains their oils from external suppliers.
To be fair, though, they do offer a line of proprietary essential oil blends (e.g. doTERRA On Guard), which are basically a mixture of two or more different types of essential oils.
✗ This one is a controversial issue that has ruffled more than a few doTERRA feathers.
Unlike their primary competitor Young Living, doTERRA does not own or operate their own farms where they can grow the plants from which the essential oils are derived.
Many doTERRA fans have wondered why I think this is a Con instead of a Pro.
Here’s the best video I could find that explains the main differences between doTERRA and Young Living’s farming approach:
Long story short, whichever approach you think is better completely depends on your point of view.
Both companies have their own way of doing things, and it’s clear that each have excellent systems in place to produce the highest quality oils.
As always, make up your own mind.
✗ They’ve had some issues with the FDA dealing with unproven medical claims.
As previously discussed here, doTERRA received a letter from the FDA warning against their distributors making false and misleading product claims.
This was caused by several Wellness Advocates posting on social media that doTERRA’s oils could even “cure” deadly viruses like Ebola lol.
To help compensate for this, they now enforce a strict, FDA-approved compliance policy that all Wellness Advocates must adhere by.
✗ The retail pricing on their products is a little on the steep side.
This is one of my biggest gripes with the majority of MLMs out there today — the products are typically not competitively priced.
A lot of this has to do with ensuring that distributors hit certain monthly volume requirements to keep those commission checks rolling in.
This can be a difficult hurdle to overcome for the fledgling distributor who is just starting out.
Especially since they usually have to lay out a lotta cash every month before their business reaches any real level of profitability.
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Compensation Plan: How The doTERRA Business Works
Okay, now we’re down to the good stuff: Cheddar.
Y’know, Benjamins. Fat stacks. Dead presidents. Cash money.
This pretty much applies to doTERRA’s compensation plan as well — it’s nothing really out of the ordinary but there are a couple of features that I would like to point out.
First of all, you have to decide whether you want to sign up as a Wholesale Customer or Wellness Advocate.
So the main difference is:
As a doTERRA Wellness Advocate, you get a personalized website and also what’s known as the Fast Start Bonus.
Which basically means you’ll receive a 20% commission on any orders placed by your new enrollees for the first 60 days after you signed them up.
The trick is that you have to be doing at least 100 PV (Point Value) on your own Loyalty Rewards Order before you can qualify for this bonus.
Speaking of Point Value, this is one of the biggest beefs I have with network marketing companies.
In most MLMs, you’ll hardly ever see a 1:1 ratio of PV to dollar value on any of the products that you purchase.
Instead, the PV is often quite small compared to the amount of money you have to lay out to buy the products.
But check this out:
doTERRA is a refreshing exception to this rule with most of their essential oil products having an equal PV to dollar value.
Still, I’m not fan of doTERRA’s overinflated MLM prices.
For example, their Natural Deodorant costs nearly $9 wholesale (almost $12 retail!) for a measly 1.7 oz stick of deodorant, but you only get 5 PV for the purchase.
Compare that to the average store-bought deodorant which normally costs around $4-$5 for 2.7 oz.
See for yourself right here.
This underscores not only their inflated product prices, but the fact that you’re really gonna have to fork over some cash to build up any decent PV.
Yes, you want to “be your own best customer” and all that jazz.
But at the end of the day, you just paid about twice as much as you would have for a larger comparable product that can be found in any nearby supermarket or drugstore.
And you barely got any PV to show for it.
I agree that you get what you pay for in life, but still not the wisest move if you ask me.
Back to the compensation plan.
The company also offers a “Power of 3” incentive program.
Which is basically designed to help distributors focus on building the proper structure in their organization.
Long story short, you get extra money when you sponsor 3 people who enroll in the Loyalty Rewards Program.
Then they each sponsor 3 people who do the same thing, etc.
I guess to infinity.
When (or if) you finally have three personally sponsored distributors doing 100 PV per month and your total Team Volume crosses the 600 PV line…
You will qualify for a $50 bonus on top of your regular commission check.
As can be expected, the bonus amounts will increase as the size of your organization increases.
As you get into the more advanced stages, you will be encouraged to go beyond the Power of 3 and actually build to the Power of 4.
This will come in handy just in case one of your enrollees in the Power of 3 structure forgets or fails to place their Loyalty Rewards order for the month.
doTERRA: Quick Summary
|Essential oil usage is being studied and validated by actual scientific research seemingly more every year.||There is a $35 one-time enrollment to sign up as a distributor but the real money comes from recruiting a team of distributors below you.|
|Essential oils are highly versatile and the trend towards natural, organic, and holistic health and wellness practices continues to gain momentum among consumers.||doTERRA does not own or operate their own farms where they can grow the plants from which the essential oils are derived.|
|The support system that doTERRA has established for their distributors (a.k.a. “Wellness Advocates”) is outstanding and their corporate conferences are run with a high degree of professionalism.||The company does not have any exclusive oils that they can call their own; they basically obtain their oils from external suppliers.|
|The company has a charitable foundation called doTERRA Healing Hands which helps communities in need around the world.||doTERRA has received a written warning from the FDA who did not like how some Wellness Advocates were making unproven medical claims.|
|doTERRA offers a “Fast Start Bonus” and you can earn free products through their Loyalty Rewards Program.||In my opinion, the retail pricing on their products is a little on the steep side for what you actually get.|
So is doTERRA a Pyramid Scheme?
No, it’s not a pyramid scheme.
But realistically, can money be made with doTERRA in 2020?
Well, if their yearly revenue figures are any indication, it’s safe to say there’s a TON of sales volume to be captured by slangin’ essential oil products.
It’s not all roses though.
Like most other MLM opportunities, it’s probably gonna take quite a bit of upfront investment before you begin to move the needle in terms of profitability.
The good news is that this company is poised to take advantage of a major shift in consumer sentiment towards more natural and holistic health and personal care products.
Add to that the fact that essential oils are still unfamiliar territory to the average consumer.
Now you have a recipe for a significant opportunity for an aspiring entrepreneur.
That said, I hesitate to personally recommend doTERRA because of the somewhat ridiculous prices of their products.
This is far from a novel concept — according to the FTC, less than 1% of those who get involved with network marketing actually achieve profitability.
Along with the abysmal failure rate, who really wants to spend time hitting up their friends and family to build a business?
But that’s just me.
There are obviously many successful entrepreneurs in doTERRA who believe they’re selling great products and have genuinely good intentions.
So make up your own mind.
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