It Works is an MLM that has been buzzing on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram with their weird product – a wrap for your midsection that is supposed to leave you more firm and toned.
But does it really work?
Is it worth joining this MLM?
Can you make big money and how is It Works different from other MLM companies?
Is it just another pyramid scheme?
Lots of questions to be answered and I’ve looked into it enough to help you decide if it’s all worth it.
A Little About It Works
It Works was formed in 2001 by Mark Pentecost, a Michigan school teacher and basketball coach who had previously found success in another MLM.
He had just found what is now the company’s flagship product – The Ultimate Body Applicator – and wanted to share it with the world.
Pentecost knew he had the perfect product for his new business venture when he first saw the Body Applicator being tested by his wife.
“I watched my wife try it. She was ecstatic with the results, and I watched her call her girlfriend right away to tell her what had happened. Her girlfriend said that she wanted to try it, and they hung up. It wasn’t 30 seconds later, her girlfriend called back and said, ‘My daughter was listening, and she wants one for her chin. Is there something for the chin?’ That was when I knew that we had a perfect product for direct selling, a product that people would be excited to share with their friends and family.”
The company has been steadily growing since 2001 but really blew up in recent years due to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
In 2012, It Works! Global reached $100 million in sales and just two years later in 2014, they surpassed $500 million in sales.
With such exponential growth, something has to be working. Who is making all of the money and can you get some of it? Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
The It Works Opportunity
The following video by It Works explains how the opportunity is supposed to work. Distributors for It Works are called wrapreneurs.
Wrapreneurs can get started selling It Works’ “crazy wrap thing” by purchasing a kit through an already active distributor.
The Business Builders Kit usually costs $99 to get started but while I was simulating joining It Works, it seemed they were running a promo for June 24 – June 30 where you could join for $9.99.
The Business Builders Kit that I would receive includes:
- 4 pack Ultimate Body Applicator
- 4 pack Defining Gel 1/2 oz sample
- 1 half size Fab wrap
- 1 #ItWorks Adventure bracelet
- Free access to Esuite and replicate website for 1st month
- Country specific business tools
It Works would give you a replicate website so that you can recruit people by telling them about the opportunity. This usually costs $20 per month after the first month which is free.
The Esuite gives you access to the It Works Training Academy, lets you place orders and allows you to track your team’s growth (see who you recruited etc).
In addition to the Business Builder’s Kit, if you plan on doing a party or selling this thing right after you signed up, you can choose to add a Mini Booster Kit ($149) or a Party Booster Kit ($349) which would give you additional products that you could sell and make a profit from right away.
Distributors also have the option of setting up a monthly autoship where you’d receive 2 Ultimate Body Applicators ($109). All distributors must make a minimum $80 purchase every month to stay active.
As with all other MLM companies, you make money by selling the products and also recruiting persons to build a team of distributors. This way you make profit off the product and earn bonuses on the activity of your team.
The compensation plan for It Works is, like most MLMs, a bit complicated to understand. Do they do this intentionally to confuse people?
You can view the full 22 page compensation plan document here if you wish.
To qualify for commission payments with It Works, you must either:
- Purchase a Business Builder Kit (can only happen upon signing up)
- Have at least 150 Personal Bonus Volume
- Successfully process an 80 Bonus Volume auto-shipment during the calendar month.
Let’s take a closer look at what they’re selling.
What You Sell Through It Works
The main product being sold through It Works is the Ultimate Body Applicator, what the company refers to as “that crazy wrap thing”.
It’s a wrap that goes around the torso which is supposed to cause detoxification and works to firm, tighten and tone the area. A special gel is applied to the inside of the applicator for it to work and this is held in place with It Works branded wrap for up to 45 minutes.
Before and after pictures posted all over Facebook show dramatic results yet there are also claims that persons aren’t seeing any significant difference after using the product.
The distributor price for the body applicator is $59.00 and contains 4 applications. Distributors must sell this for $99 for a $40 profit. The gel carries a $30 profit margin costing $45 and retailing for $75.
To me these seemed very overpriced. Then there is the question of whether or not they work as advertised.
If they don’t work as advertised then it’s going to be very hard to sell to anyone who is purely a retail customer. Of course, distributors and those retail customers who end up joining It Works are going to continue to buy product so they could resell or as part of their autoship so that they stay active.
If more transactions are happening inside the organization than to outside retailers then this could mean trouble. That pesky ‘p’ word MLM companies try to dodge might just be happening but we’ll take a look at this a bit later.
What else does It Works sell?
The health and wellness company also sells dietary supplements that they call Greens, skin care products, shakes, essential oils, branded apparel and accessories. However, the Ultimate Body Applicator, “that crazy wrap thing,” is really the star of the show and is what distributors are encouraged to sell.
Does The Product Work At All?
Having done a lot of research into diet and weight loss for a website that I owned, I know that no gimmicky product like a wrap can cause you to lose weight by itself.
You need a combination of proper diet and lifestyle changes combined with regular exercise in order to cause the dramatic before and after scenarios that appear on numerous Facebook profiles ran by It Works distributors.
Well they do tell you this in the fine print but the reality is that following a proper diet regimen with regular exercise is going to cause you to burn fat whether you use a wrap or not.
So does the product actually work?
Distributors are coached on what they can and cannot say about the product. They cannot make claims for weight loss but get around this by saying that the product tones and tightens.
In this excellent article by Business Insider, they tried to get the It Works doctor to talk about the science behind the product but was told that he was unavailable. After several failed attempts which to me just looks bad on It Works, suspicious even, the BI team consulted an unaffiliated doctor about the claims.
The doctor attributed the slimming effect to sweating and had this to say.
“I am unaware of any product in existence that you can apply topically that will melt away fat and cause weight loss. If you wrap yourself in plastic, with or without the herbal lotion, you will probably sweat a bit more than usual and lose water weight on the scale. But this is a short-lived effect and the water will be replaced with the next meal or drink.”
Another doctor, Elizabeth Tanzi, also supported the water weight loss effect.
“[Body wraps] won’t give you long-term weight loss. They can temporarily make you feel a little thinner, and when you look at the scale the pounds can go down a pound or two. But that’s water weight loss. It’s a temporary phenomenon.”
So in my opinion these wraps to me are just a big scam being sold by people who know nothing about nutrition and how the body works. They don’t really work and the only people that are seeing these big results are the people selling them.
From my research, it seems that the people who are just buying the wraps without getting involved in the business side of things aren’t so satisfied with the results or lack of results that they’re experiencing.
However, I’m not here to review the product. My aim with this review is to see whether or not it is worth becoming a distributor for It Works. In order to determine this, I would still need to know if the main product is something distributors can stand by.
Should You Join It Works as a Distributor?
If It Works is not a pyramid scheme and you can make honest money selling their “crazy wrap thing” then I don’t see any problem with joining the company as a distributor.
For me, the main product is nothing but a gimmick as it does not have any useful benefits except to give the user the false impression that they’re having a healthy experience.
It seems as if retail customers are onto that gimmick as there are tonnes of negative reviews for the wrap. The only people excited about the wraps who are sharing positive reviews appear to be It Works distributors.
Furthermore, there are numerous complaints about unfair business practices – customers being charged $50 to cancel their auto-shipment, billing after cancellation and poor customer service.
Here’s one such review posted to PissedConsumer.
“My “It Works” representative was a friend of mine, so luckily I didn’t have the problems that others have had regarding poor customer service, nasty payment surprises etc.However, without meaning any disrespect to my friend, I would warn others to beware of any company that ties you in so severely before you can leave.
I should have been suspicious when I found out that you can’t just buy one product: you have to commit to 3, or pay a $50 fee. Whilst this is likely to be perfectly legal, morally it’s not how companies should operate if they want good customer relations. Also, the products are jaw-droppingly expensive even when “discounted”; I earn a decent salary & still struggled to keep up with the binding commitment to buy a product per month for 3 months. And in terms of quality, they are ok but certainly not value for money.
Customers want to feel they are getting a good deal.I’m afraid being forced to buy 3 x overpriced products for 3 months, then losing money if you cancel before that period or losing your reward points if you cancel after, isn’t a good deal.”
Here’s another posted on their Better Business Bureau page.
“This company is fraudulent. Their autoship “loyalty agreement” states that customers may cancel auto shipments prior to the 3 month agreement period if they agree to pay a $50 fee. However, when you try to do this online, a message pops up stating that you cannot cancel because the 3 month period is not up. Basically, once you are in, there appears to be no way out. This is a pyramid scheme with aggressive distributors. Furthermore, the products do not work as they claim.”
A $50 cancellation fee doesn’t even sound right. Committing to 3 months auto-shipment also doesn’t sound fair to consumers either. If the customer finds that the products aren’t working as claimed then they should be able to cancel and return the unused product without incurring any expense.
Is there a pyramid scheme?
Logically, it would seem that if there are problems selling the product and there is so much buzz about It Works distributors making money then it’s because there’s a lot more emphasis on recruitment. Also, the compensation plan seems to incentivize buying product so that distributors can qualify for commissions and bonuses.
Distributors higher up in the rankings certainly rely on their downline’s group volume for earnings which certainly seems like distributors make up a bigger percentage of purchases than retail customers – a surefire red flag for a pyramid scheme.
So should you become an It Works distributor?
You have enough here to decide for yourself. You can also do the research just as I have done and make up your mind.
I would never encourage anyone to join an MLM because I do not like the business model and how it is set up. There are far better opportunities available if you want to make money. One alternative is to become an affiliate marketer.
Affiliate Marketing As an Alternative to It Works
Affiliate marketing is a more secure and stable business model than multilevel marketing. You have way more freedom because you aren’t tied to any one company and you can choose to do business with whoever you please.
This means that you can choose the products you promote and you do not have to pressure people to be a part of any sales team.
If It Works was sold through affiliate marketing, it would go something like this.
- You’ve decided that you want to help people in the weight loss niche
- You sign up with It Works as an affiliate (costs you nothing)
- It Works would give you access to promotional material such as affiliate links, banner ads, email copy etc.
- You would create content on your blog/website to attract the audience you’re trying to help
- They would come to your site, read your content and click on your links to buy the It Works products
- They go to the It Works website and buy the product. You would get an agreed upon sales commission.
- You continue to promote the product – nothing to buy, no product to stock and no monthly obligations.
If it were this way then you could earn as much as you like by increasing your promotions and constantly working on your website.
This is actually an easy to learn process and you can check out this primer course if you’re interested. Follow and implement the steps and you’d be on your way to building an internet business that will last for years and one that you can be proud of.
Affiliate marketing is how I’ve been earning a full time living online since 2009 thanks to the help of Wealthy Affiliate, the website where the course can be found. For a review of Wealthy Affiliate, go here to learn more.
What are your thoughts on It Works? Let’s discuss it in the comments below whether you’re a current or former distributor, or someone is trying to get your into their team.