Encinitas, CA (PressExposure) January 09, 2010 -- MonaVie is a billion dollar company ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US - and it's made all this money by selling juice. MonaVie and some of its juice-drinking disciples say the juice, which costs anywhere from $20 to $45 per bottle, has unique healing properties that both cures and prevents disease. Detractors say that MonaVie is nothing but over-priced snake oil, and that its business model makes fraudulent claims that distributors will gain instant riches. What is the truth behind this controversial company?
MonaVie juice is a blend of Brazilian acai berries, which contain high concentrations of flavonoids and anthocyanins, making acai berries powerful antioxidants. Some research suggests that acai berries do indeed help to prevent cancer, slow the aging process, and generally improve health.
But the independent testing laboratory ChromaDex ran a study in 2008 that showed MonaVie tested quite low in anthocyanins (an antioxidant) and phenolics (the chemical compound found in wine that seems to have beneficial health side-effects). According to ChromaDex, "even apple juice... has more phenolics" and "MonaVie's vitamin C level was 5 times lower than that of Welch's Grape Juice."
Then there's MonaVie's MLM (multi-level marketing) business model. Sometimes called "network marketing", unsalaried salespeople, or "distributors", develop their own customer base and earn a commission based on the volume of products they sell. Besides MonaVie, cosmetic maker Mary Kay and Amway Global are two examples of well-known MLM companies.
Most MonaVie distributors make very little money on MonaVie - more than 90% of the distributors were considered by MonaVie to be "wholesale customers", meaning that most of the juice they bought to distribute they actually drank themselves. In 2008, the dropout rate for distributors was over 70%.
While some disgruntled former distributors would call MonaVie a pyramid scheme, multi-million dollar network marketer Jonathan Budd thinks this is unfair. Budd, who began working for MLM companies at 22 and by 25 was earning a six figure income, states that the real problem is not the product but MonaVie distributors not knowing how to develop their customer bases.
In his article "Mona Vie: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly... (An Insider's Look at the Mona Vie Company)", Budd states that many of the successful MonaVie distributors are professional MLM insiders with years of experience in network marketing, or marketers who have been quietly using internet marketing methods. According to Budd, MonaVie doesn't do nearly as much as it should or could to teach distributors how to sell the product. Budd goes on to argue that if MonaVie diversified its products, lowered its prices, and did a better job educating its distributors, the company would be poised to make unprecedented profits.
In sum, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so, apparently, is MonaVie. Despite dubious claims and over-hyped marketing, some consumers continue to offer their own anecdotal reports of major positive shifts in their health. And while most distributors make nothing or even lose money on MonaVie, a few top producers really are getting rich. When it comes to MonaVie's future, the jury is still out.