Is Shaklee an MLM? Evaluating a Prominent Multi-Level Marketing Contender


Shaklee stands as a notable figure within the multi-level marketing (MLM) landscape, sparking debate regarding its business model and product efficacy. This detailed examination delves into Shaklee’s operations, offerings, and the MLM framework to furnish readers with a balanced perspective, enabling informed decisions about engagement with Shaklee or similar MLM ventures.

The Genesis of a Visionary Idea

Shaklee’s story begins in 1956, when Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee, a chiropractor and nutritionist with a deep belief in the healing power of nature, decided to turn his vision into reality. Dr. Shaklee had long been experimenting with nutritional supplements, driven by the conviction that natural vitamins and minerals were crucial for maintaining health and wellness. His pioneering work led to the creation of “Vita-Lea,” the first multivitamin in the United States made from natural sources. This groundbreaking product laid the foundation for Shaklee Corporation, marking the beginning of a new era in nutritional supplementation.

Expansion and Innovation

Under the leadership of Dr. Shaklee and his sons, the company rapidly expanded its product line and distribution network. In the 1960s, Shaklee introduced one of the first biodegradable household cleaners, Basic H, further solidifying its commitment to products that were not only good for human health but also for the planet. This era also saw Shaklee venturing into skincare and weight management products, diversifying its offerings and broadening its appeal.

A Pioneer in Sustainability

Shaklee’s dedication to sustainability became more pronounced in the latter part of the 20th century. In 2000, Shaklee became the first company in the world to obtain Climate Neutral certification, effectively offsetting its carbon emissions to zero. This commitment was further highlighted through partnerships and initiatives aimed at environmental conservation and sustainability education.

The MLM Model: Controversy and Success

Shaklee’s adoption of the multi-level marketing model was instrumental in its growth, enabling it to build a vast network of distributors who not only sold products but also embodied the company’s philosophy of living in harmony with nature. However, this model also attracted scrutiny and criticism, common to the MLM industry, with skeptics questioning the viability and ethics of such business practices. Despite these challenges, Shaklee has maintained a transparent and supportive approach towards its distributors, emphasizing sales through genuine consumer demand rather than recruitment alone.

Legal Challenges and Reputation Management

Over the years, Shaklee has faced its share of legal challenges, including lawsuits alleging misleading marketing practices and disputes over product claims. Each time, Shaklee has responded by adjusting its practices and striving to maintain the trust of its consumers and distributors. These efforts have helped Shaklee navigate the fine line between being a successful MLM company and ensuring ethical business practices.

Global Expansion and Digital Transformation

Entering the 21st century, Shaklee embraced global expansion, extending its reach beyond the United States to markets in Asia and beyond. The digital age has also seen Shaklee adopting new technologies to improve product accessibility, distributor support, and customer engagement, reflecting the company’s adaptability and forward-looking approach.

Continuing the Legacy

Today, Shaklee stands as a testament to Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee’s original vision: to improve people’s lives through natural products, ethical business practices, and a commitment to sustainability. The company’s ability to evolve while staying true to its core values has ensured its place as a respected leader in the MLM industry and the broader health and wellness community.

Shaklee’s history is not just a chronicle of a company but a reflection of how visionary ideas, when coupled with commitment to ethics and sustainability, can create a lasting impact on the world. As Shaklee continues to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, its legacy serves as a beacon for future generations in the MLM industry and beyond.

What are Shaklee’s products?

Shaklee’s product range is a testament to its commitment to enhancing health and wellness through natural, scientifically backed products. Spanning across nutrition, weight management, beauty, and household categories, these offerings reflect Shaklee’s holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle and environmental responsibility. Let’s delve deeper into each category to understand the breadth and depth of Shaklee’s product lineup.

Nutrition: The Foundation of Wellness

Shaklee’s nutritional products are designed to fill the gaps in the modern diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for optimal health. The Vita-Lea line, a cornerstone of Shaklee’s nutritional offerings, is a comprehensive multivitamin that supports overall well-being. In addition to Vita-Lea, Shaklee offers specialized supplements targeting specific health concerns:

  • OmegaGuard: A high-quality omega-3 supplement to support heart and brain health.
  • Vivix: A potent antioxidant blend aimed at cellular health and longevity.
  • NutriFeron: A unique blend designed to boost the immune system.

These products, along with targeted solutions for children, women, and men, underscore Shaklee’s commitment to supporting health at every stage of life through natural, high-quality ingredients.

Weight Management: A Balanced Approach

Shaklee recognizes the challenges of maintaining a healthy weight and offers a suite of products designed to support weight loss and management goals. The ShakLEAN meal replacement shakes are a cornerstone of this category, providing a balanced mix of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to promote satiety and nutritional balance. In addition to shakes, Shaklee offers:

  • Meal-in-a-Bar: A convenient, nutritious alternative for on-the-go meals.
  • Snack Bars: Healthy snacking options to curb hunger without compromising nutritional goals.
  • Metabolic Boost: A supplement designed to enhance metabolic rate and support weight loss efforts.

These products are integrated into Shaklee’s weight management programs, which combine nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations to help individuals achieve and maintain their ideal weight.

Beauty: Natural Care for Radiant Skin

Shaklee extends its philosophy of natural, wholesome living to its beauty line, offering products that nurture the skin without harsh chemicals. The beauty range includes:

  • Youth Activating Serum: A formula designed to combat aging signs and promote youthful, radiant skin.
  • Radiance C+E: A blend of vitamin C and E, along with other antioxidants, to brighten and smooth the skin.
  • Essential Cleansing Oil: A gentle, effective cleanser that removes impurities while maintaining skin’s natural moisture.

Shaklee’s beauty products emphasize sustainability, with packaging designed to minimize environmental impact, reflecting the company’s commitment to health and the planet.

Household: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solutions

Recognizing the importance of a clean, healthy home environment, Shaklee offers a range of household cleaning products that are safe, effective, and environmentally friendly. The Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate is a flagship product, renowned for its versatility and eco-friendly formula. In addition to Basic H, Shaklee’s household line includes:

  • Germ Off+ Disinfecting Wipes: For convenient, effective surface cleaning.
  • Nature Bright Laundry Booster and Stain Remover: A natural solution for brighter, cleaner clothes.

Dish Wash Concentrate: A biodegradable formula that cuts through grease without harsh chemicals.

Are Shaklee products good?


Shaklee’s products have a mixed reputation. Some people swear by them and say they’ve seen real results, while others find them overpriced and no more effective than similar products on the market. Shaklee’s Vita-Lea line of vitamins is the most popular product, with customers saying it gives them more energy and improves their overall health. Shaklee’s ShakLEAN meal replacement shakes are also popular, with customers saying they help with weight loss and curbing hunger. Shaklee’s Basic H line of cleaners is also well-reviewed, with customers saying it works better than other cleaners on the market.

Understanding Shaklee’s MLM Framework

Shaklee’s business model is rooted in multi-level marketing (MLM), a strategy that allows its distributors not only to sell Shaklee products but also to build their own teams of distributors, creating a network that can contribute to their success. This model is designed to provide individuals with an opportunity to start their own business with relatively low upfront costs, leveraging Shaklee’s established brand and product line. Here’s a closer look at Shaklee’s MLM business model and the process for joining Shaklee as a distributor.

Shaklee’s MLM Business Model Explained

Shaklee operates on a direct selling model, where distributors, also referred to as “Shaklee Distributors,” market and sell products directly to consumers. Unlike traditional retail, Shaklee’s model bypasses the middleman, enabling distributors to earn a portion of the sales directly. This direct relationship with customers allows for personalized service and product recommendations based on individual health and wellness needs.

Earning Potential: Shaklee’s compensation plan is multifaceted, offering several ways for distributors to earn income:

  • Retail Sales: Distributors purchase products at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices, keeping the difference as profit.
  • Bonuses and Incentives: Shaklee provides bonuses for reaching sales milestones, recruiting new distributors, and helping team members achieve their sales goals. These can include cash bonuses, trips, and other rewards.
  • Residual Income: By building a team of distributors, individuals can earn a percentage of their team’s sales, creating a potential for long-term, passive income.

Rank Advancement: Shaklee’s business model also includes a rank advancement system, where distributors can achieve higher levels of income and rewards by meeting specific sales and recruitment criteria. These ranks range from Distributor to higher levels like Director, Executive Coordinator, and Master Coordinator, each offering increased earning potential and additional benefits.

How to Join Shaklee as a Distributor

To become a Shaklee distributor, an individual must follow a straightforward process that includes an initial investment and commitment to the company’s values and business practices.

  1. Starter Kit: Interested individuals begin by purchasing a Shaklee Starter Kit, which includes product samples, marketing materials, and access to training resources. The cost of the starter kit varies, offering options for different budgets and commitment levels.
  2. Training and Support: Shaklee places a strong emphasis on education and support for its distributors. Newcomers are given access to a range of training tools, including online resources, webinars, and in-person events, to help them understand the products and effective sales techniques.
  3. Monthly Minimums: To remain active and qualify for commissions, Shaklee distributors are typically required to maintain a monthly minimum in sales or purchases, often measured in Point Value (PV). This commitment encourages distributors to actively engage with their business and customer base.
  4. Building a Network: Success in Shaklee’s MLM model is significantly influenced by an individual’s ability to build and mentor a team of distributors. The company provides tools and resources to help distributors recruit new members and support their team’s growth and success.

Ethical Business Practices

Shaklee stands out in the MLM industry for its commitment to ethical business practices and sustainability. The company encourages honest sales tactics, realistic income representations, and a focus on selling quality products that meet genuine consumer needs. Shaklee’s adherence to these principles has helped it maintain a positive reputation in the MLM space.

Is Shaklee a Pyramid Scheme?

Shaklee is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, not a pyramid scheme. Understanding the distinction between MLMs and pyramid schemes is crucial for evaluating business opportunities and recognizing legitimate enterprises. Here’s an expanded explanation on Shaklee’s status and the differences between MLMs and pyramid schemes.

Shaklee: MLM Business Model

Shaklee operates under the MLM business model, a legitimate and widely recognized direct selling strategy. In MLMs, distributors earn income through direct sales of products to consumers and by recruiting new distributors. The earnings from the recruited distributors’ sales provide additional income streams to the original recruiter in the form of bonuses or commissions, based on the company’s compensation plan.

Key Characteristics of Shaklee’s MLM Model:

  • Product Sales: Shaklee offers a wide range of health, wellness, beauty, and household products. Distributors earn profits by selling these products directly to consumers.
  • Earnings Structure: Distributors can earn money not just from personal sales but also from the sales made by their recruited downline. Shaklee’s compensation plan is designed to reward both sales and team-building efforts.
  • Transparency and Support: Shaklee provides extensive training, support, and resources to its distributors, emphasizing ethical sales practices and sustainable business growth.

Pyramid Schemes: An Illegitimate Model

Pyramid schemes, in contrast, are illegal and focus primarily on recruiting new members rather than selling products or services. The primary way to make money in a pyramid scheme is through recruitment fees that new members pay to join, rather than through any real investment or sale of products to the public. This model is unsustainable because it relies on an ever-increasing number of recruits to generate profits, leading inevitably to collapse when recruitment slows down.

Key Indicators of a Pyramid Scheme:

  • Lack of a Legitimate Product or Service: Pyramid schemes often do not offer any real, valuable products or services for sale to the public.
  • Focus on Recruitment: The primary way to earn money is through recruiting new members, rather than through the sale of products or services.
  • Unsustainable Business Model: Pyramid schemes require constant recruitment to sustain income levels, which is not feasible in the long term.

Distinguishing MLMs from Pyramid Schemes

The fundamental difference between MLMs and pyramid schemes lies in their business models and focus. MLMs, like Shaklee, have a product or service at their core, offering distributors the opportunity to earn income through both sales and recruitment. In contrast, pyramid schemes prioritize recruitment over sales, often without offering a legitimate product or service, leading to an unsustainable business model destined for collapse.

Shaklee’s Legitimacy as an MLM

Shaklee’s long-standing presence in the market, its wide range of products, and its transparent compensation plan all underscore its legitimacy as an MLM company. By focusing on product sales and providing comprehensive support and training to its distributors, Shaklee distinguishes itself from pyramid schemes. Moreover, Shaklee’s commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices further reinforces its reputation as a reputable company within the MLM industry.

Exploring Alternatives to Shaklee

The MLM and direct sales landscape offers a variety of options outside Shaklee, including Herbalife, Beachbody, and Isagenix, each with unique product lines and business models. Potential participants are encouraged to conduct thorough research, considering company reputation, product range, and compensation feasibility before committing.

Our Key Takeaways for Prospective MLM Participants

Shaklee’s role as a significant player in the MLM industry provides valuable insights into the complexities of network marketing. While offering opportunities for income and personal growth, the MLM model, as exemplified by Shaklee, necessitates a careful evaluation of products, business strategies, and ethical considerations. Resources like I Buy I Review offer impartial reviews to aid in navigating the MLM landscape, emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making in this nuanced domain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shaklee

Is Shaklee a reputable company?

Yes, Shaklee has established itself as a reputable company in the health and wellness industry. Since its founding in 1956, Shaklee has been committed to providing high-quality, natural products and operates on a sustainable and ethical business model. It’s also known for its rigorous testing and research in product development, making it a trusted name among consumers. Furthermore, Shaklee’s longevity and membership in the Direct Selling Association (DSA) affirm its reputation.

Can you make money with Shaklee?

Yes, it is possible to make money with Shaklee by becoming a distributor. Distributors earn income through retail sales of Shaklee products to customers and can also earn bonuses and commissions from the sales of distributors they recruit into their team. However, like any business venture, the amount of money one can make with Shaklee varies based on individual effort, commitment, and sales skills.

Why is Shaklee no longer on Amazon?

Shaklee products are primarily sold through independent distributors to ensure customers receive personalized service and accurate information about the products. If Shaklee products are not available on Amazon, it could be due to the company’s policy to protect its distribution model and maintain the integrity and quality of customer service. However, availability on third-party platforms may change, so it’s best to check Shaklee’s official website or contact a Shaklee distributor for the most accurate information.

What company owns Shaklee?

Shaklee is an independent company. Over the years, it has gone through various ownership structures, including being publicly traded and privately owned. As of my last update, Shaklee operates as a private company, focused on its mission to provide natural health products and a robust business opportunity for its distributors. For the most current information on Shaklee’s corporate structure, please refer to the company’s official website or corporate communications.

How does Shaklee support sustainability?

Shaklee has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, being the first company in the world to be Climate Neutral certified, meaning they offset their carbon emissions to zero. Their commitment includes using sustainable ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and supporting environmental conservation projects. Shaklee’s operations and product development are guided by the principle of living in harmony with nature.

Is Shaklee’s MLM model ethical?

Yes, Shaklee’s MLM model is considered ethical. The company focuses on selling quality products and provides substantial support and training to its distributors. Unlike pyramid schemes, Shaklee rewards distributors for product sales and team building, not just recruitment. The company’s business practices are transparent, and it adheres to the guidelines set by the Direct Selling Association (DSA), which promotes ethical business practices in the direct selling industry.

How does Shaklee ensure product quality?

Shaklee is committed to ensuring the highest quality for all its products. This commitment is reflected in their rigorous testing protocols, including up to 100,000 quality tests annually. Shaklee’s products are developed based on the latest scientific research, with natural ingredients sourced responsibly. The company also adheres to strict safety standards to ensure that every product meets or exceeds industry quality benchmarks.

Can anyone become a Shaklee distributor?

Yes, anyone who is of legal age to enter into a contract can become a Shaklee distributor by purchasing a starter kit and agreeing to the company’s terms and conditions. Shaklee provides training and resources to help new distributors start and grow their business. However, success as a distributor requires commitment, effort, and the ability to market and sell products effectively.