The supplement market is one of the most competitive markets in the world, and the entire competitiveness of the industry sparks some of the most unique methods to sell supplement products.
The vagueness of the supplement industry makes it a hotbed for multi-level marketing, or a marketing scheme where members are incentivized to recruit new members. MLMs originated from pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes of old, where individuals are enticed with monetary benefits, instead of the actual benefits from the product.
What is USANA?
One of the most popular multi-level marketing schemes today is from a company called USANA, a company based in Utah, which sells dietary supplements, skin care products, and other healthcare products. It’s one of the longest-running MLMs in the world, and its operations span worldwide.
USANA sells its products primarily through non-employee agents, called “associates”, which are essentially resellers of the company’s products. The company offers a membership-based discount, which comes with an initial product package, which the associates could either use or resell. These associates are also given an incentive to recruit new associates, and that’s where the bulk of the company’s profits come from.
How good are USANA products?
USANA’s products are mostly comprised of meal replacement shakes, protein bars, energy drinks, health supplements, and personal care products.
We’ve analyzed these products and found that many of these products are quite comparable to the other products of the same category. One of the best-selling products of USANA, called Cellsentials, contains significantly less multivitamin content compared to other mainstream multivitamins.
Having less multivitamin content doesn’t necessarily mean that USANA’s products are inferior compared to other products, but the price comparison highlights the major differences between these two products – and we see the same trend with other USANA offerings. In general, there’s nothing to suggest that USANA’s products work better than other products in the same niche, and their product’s subjective reviews are coming from USANA users that may also be USANA associates.
USANA’s prices are 50% to 150% more expensive compared to other products in the same category, and this is why many supplement experts criticize USANA’s business model. USANA users are likely to be USANA associates as well.
It’s great that USANA meets the minimum required regulations, such as the FDA labeling requirements, and certain state contamination regulations. It also passed independent tests and reviews that support the accuracy of its product labels, but these do not necessarily suggest that the products are proven effective.
Is USANA a SCAM?
USANA is not a scam, but most of its business is in the gray area – it’s either good or bad. There’s no denying that the membership offerings can be an income source for its product associates, but the product offerings are simply tokens in this equation.
Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes have been outlawed in the United States, but adding a legitimate product to the equation somehow makes them legal, and it’s our opinion that it’s being exploited by USANA, just like other multi-level marketing companies.
The upside to USANA is that their products aren’t as useless as other products sold by other MLM companies. These are good products that can provide decent benefits, but the downside is the pricing of these supplements.
From a supplement critic’s perspective, you can get more out of your money if you buy premium-quality supplements that are backed by scientific studies and clinical trials. You’re better off with products that are reviewed independently by actual supplement users and supplement experts, and not by the same people that sell the products.
It’s our opinion that USANA isn’t a dedicated dietary supplements company, and the company’s main goal isn’t to sell supplements but to recruit more associates. It’s apparent that many of those that are interested in USANA is in it because of the potential income source, and not necessarily because of the benefits that their product offers.
If you’re interested in USANA supplements, the ideal way to go would be to get the membership and be an associate to get the discounted price for these supplements. But if you have the time to research and read up on supplements, you can get more value by choosing supplements that are highly specialized to produce the results you want.