What Is Market America? An Opportunity Or A Racket?

Greetings!  Thank you for finding your way to my Market America review.  Have you ever been approached by someone you know asking if you can introduce them to ‘the right people’?  This approach is a sales technique used by Market America distributors to deflect people into thinking they are not trying to sell them on something.

I am not a distributor for Market America, nor would I ever be because I just don’t believe the MLM business format is a good way to generate an online income, particularly for those of us approaching or in retirement.

What Is Market America?

Market America Worldwide is a multi-level marketing company founded in 1992 by James Howard (JR) and Loren Ridinger.  The company sells a vast array of products in multiple categories through a brokerage system.  Market America has its own exclusive product lines as well as access to millions of other products through Shop.com.  The company has a global presence of independent distributors referred to as UnFranchise Owners who generate commissions by purchasing products themselves, through customers and recruiting others into their organization.

Who Is Market America For?

Market America targets young people just out of college who may have lots of debt by luring them into the dream of making huge amounts of money in 2-3 years, part-time, and setting themselves up for life with residual income.  Stay at home moms and dads are also targets as well as retirees like us who may be looking to generate some income.

Brief Details and Price

website: marketamerica.com

owner(s)/founder(s): JR Ridinger and Loren Ridinger

price to join and what’s included:

Fast Start Kit: $399 + tax includes:

  • the Getting Started Guide
  • UnFranchise Owner Magazine
  • Seminar and Training System
  • audio training series
  • unfranchise.com management reports
  • shop.com website
  • coaching from the person in your upline who recruited you into the business
  • Subscription fee: $129.95 value

Additional fees are:

Annual renewal fee: $99.95

Business support materials: $200

UnFranchise management system: $21.95 a month

Mandatory business events, conferences, meetings, etc hundreds to thousands of dollars (fuel, flights, accommodation, food costs will all be on you).

CRIO rating (out of 10): 1

My Review Of Market America

Market America was founded in 1992 by James Howard (JR) Ridinger and his wife, Loren Ridinger.  Loren’s brother, Marc Ashley, is President and COO and company headquarters are located in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Prior to founding Market America, JR was a top distributor for the multi-level marketing giant, Amway.

Market America has a global presence with operations in:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • United Kingdom
  • Taiwan
  • Australia
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore

Market America operates as a product brokerage.  What this means is that they do not manufacture their own products nor do they specialize in a single service but rather offer access to millions of products and services from well-known companies, via Shop.com, which is part of the parent company.  Product/Service categories include:

  • market america review antiaging product imageweight management
  • health and nutrition
  • age management
  • personal care
  • skincare
  • Motives cosmetics
  • baby and children’s care
  • home and garden
  • financial services – featuring the ‘debt shredder’ product
  • internet services – web design category
  • entertainment

The company refers to its distributors as “UnFranchise Business Owners” or UFO’s and utilizes a binary multi-level marketing business model, though they don’t like to call it that.  UFOs generate income through their website and in-person via home business presentations which they are required to do as per the “Getting Started Guide” which you can read here and which details every single thing you are required to do including sales targets, daily, weekly and monthly tasks and how to recruit others.

You are also required to attend events, seminars, conventions and world conferences, at your expense, where you can be indoctrinated even further.  They want you to purchase a ticket for an event every single month as well as  2 additional tickets that you can sell to others. In addition to events, you also need to pay for the training:

  • New Distributor training is $5 online and must be completed in your first 30 days
  • Basic 5 is $5 online and also must be completed in your first 30 days
  • ECCT (Executive Coordinator Certification Training) $50 in-person training within 28 days of earning your first $1500 in commissions
  • Local seminars cost $30
  • International Convention = $200
  • World Conference = $200

This can really add to your business expenses because you will have to include the cost of travel such as fuel, flights if necessary, accommodation, and food.  And recall that you have to buy at least 2 additional tickets which you hope to be able to sell to others who want in on this business.

You are required to listen to one audio a day and attend meetings or training weekly.  You must be constantly learning and updating your knowledge as well as recruiting others into your organization who must demonstrate a willingness and commitment to work the business plan.

Shopping annuity

This term has been coined by Market America.  It is essentially cash back for shopping. What it means is that you get credit for every purchase you make, whether it be personal or customer. This includes their own exclusive brands or the merchants at Shop.com.  Essentially, every dollar you spend becomes ‘social currency’ whereby it then becomes either Business Volume (BV =exclusive brands) or Internet Business Volume (IBV =Shop.com).

Getting cashback for shopping is not a unique or new concept but they really push this concept and talk about it constantly.  It is one of the highlights of their sales campaign.


There is truly a plethora of products available at Market America which includes their own exclusive brands and all the merchants at Shop.com which is over 3000 partner stores and over 40 million products.  These include big-name brands such as Home Depot, Nike, Target, Nordstrom, and Land’s End.

Accusations have been leveled at Market America that the products are overpriced, which often happens in the MLM format because everyone needs a slice of the pie.  Also, they like to promote the fact that because they have such a vast range of products, there is something for every potential customer so you are less likely to lose a sale based on that, unlike other MLM’s that usually only sell items in one or two categories.  I guess there may be some truth to that.

Some of their best-selling products are in the Isotonix Range which features products to boost your immune system and supply you with vitamins and essential minerals.  Nothing particularly ground-breaking there as there are many companies selling similar products such as TruVision Health and GNLD Neolife.

Here are some of the products in the Isotonix line:

what is market america review product image

how to join

Step 1:  Apply

You will be invited to join Market America as an UnFranchise Owner only if you ‘have what it takes’ and if the person who recruited you thinks you can be successful and really be of value in their organization.   You will pay the fee to join then choose a category from their exclusive line that you would like to sell.

Step 2:  Create

This entails creating BV or Business Volume.  Business volume is a point value that is assigned to all of the Market America exclusive products.  Points vary depending upon which product line you choose to sell.

Additionally, you will need to create IBV or Internet Business Volume which is the point value assigned to the partner stores in Shop.com.

The way to create BV and IBV is through:

  • Personal use -you literally shop through your own business and buy everything that you can this way to accrue points.
  • Customer sales- you must generate and cultivate a customer base of at least 10-15 people and get them to shop through your website where they can save money.  You will be assisted by an app called ‘Shop Buddy’ which will get your customers cashback on certain products or services.  You can purchase trial size products to give to your customers to help them make buying decisions.

Step 3:  Qualify

You must qualify what is called your BDC or Business Development Center.  This is a spot on the computer that tracks everything you do.  You must have an opening order of 200 BV which then opens up both your left and right ‘banks’ so that you can start accumulating points towards commissions.

You can qualify by purchasing anything you want to meet the 200BV, but they highly recommend you do so by purchasing the “Fast Start Program” for $399 + tax (shipping is free) and which includes your $129 subscription fee that is required to join.  There are Fast Start Programs in 4 categories:

  1. General Fast Start
  2. Motives – Cosmetics
  3. TLS – Weight Loss Solutions
  4. Web Solutions

Step 4: Activate your business

Here is where the MLM recruiting comes in!  You must personally ‘partner’, or ‘sponsor’ (i.e. recruit) and place one qualified UnFranchise Owner in your left leg, or Leg 1, and one on your right leg or Leg 2, (see below) which is your organization.  Now you will have to approach family, friends, and those in your inner circle and they have to have what it takes to join Market America.  If they don’t they will not be of value to you or anyone else in your organization.  Each time someone is recruited, they follow the same 4 steps as outlined above.

what is market america review binary plan graphicMarket America utilizes a Binary Compensation Plan and this illustration on the right shows you how it looks.  You are the blue dot at the top.  Your first two recruits are the first two red dots in each leg.  Those two people are in your downline and you are their upline. They, in turn, do the same, recruiting two people in leg 1 and leg 2 and so on. You can of course recruit more than two people and in the case of Market America, that person would be placed at the bottom of your organization.  Commissions flow upwards.

With this kind of system, everyone has a personal interest in helping everyone else because only teams that work together and train, motivate, and push each other will make commissions.

Levels at Market America and corresponding commissions

There are 19 Levels within Market America ranging from UnFranchise Owner (not yet qualified = no commissions) through to Senior International Field Chairman.

Level 2 –  Qualified UnFranchise Owner – 200 Personal BV, or Business Volume = still no commission yet

Level 3 –  Coordinator – you must accrue 1200 Group Business Volume or GBV in both of your ‘legs’ in a weekly commission cycle and you will receive $300

Level 4 – Executive Coordinator – Here you must accrue $5000 GBV in each leg of your organization in a weekly commission cycle and receive $600 commission

With all of the Levels above this, there is no explanation of what is required to generate commissions but you can be sure it will be thousands more needed so you had better be recruiting like mad and training people if you want to climb this ladder.

Remember that almost everyone is doing their business part-time, so you need dozens of people each working 10-15 hours a week in your downline and they have to be the ‘right people’ because, to be successful in multi-level marketing requires tenacity, a thick skin, a large network of people that also know lots of other people, to recruit, and working capital to get started because you have to purchase not only your start-up program but lots of products so that you start earning BV and IBV to gain points and earn commissions.  In fact, I created a checklist that may interest you that gives you an insight into what you should beware of before contemplating joining any network marketing business.

I did find a compensation plan that is so confusing, complicated, and lengthy as to give me a headache but if you would like to read it, here it is.

There is very little information about what you can earn other than to say that there are 50% to 80% margins with their exclusive lines, or BV and 2% to 50% with their partner lines, or IBV.  So, I have taken a screenshot of what they state you can earn if you follow their training to the letter and are working 10-15 hours a week on your business just to make it a little clearer.

Remember too that what you are seeing here is gross, not net profit.  There are still all those conventions and training, travel, and expenses that come out of your pocket.

what is market america review compensation plan image

income disclosure statement

There is no current income disclosure statement available for Market America, however, my research led me to this disclosure from 2015.  Note that these figures do not include those that are in their first year of business.  This means that people in their first year of business are basically making nothing or losing money as is typical of MLM’s.  Also, almost 60% are making less than $5000 and even those making up to $5000 are only 12.06% of participants.  They also don’t inform us how long any of these UFO’s have been working this business.  As always, information is vague because they don’t want you to know the truth.

Why are there no recent income disclosure statements either?  There are so many red flags with this business.

what is market america review income disclosure 2015

market america review income disclaimer comment


In 2017, two UnFranchise Owners filed a federal lawsuit accusing Market America of violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and California state law.  The suit claims that Market America executives tell people that they can make more than half a million dollars when in fact only those at the top make that kind of money and 90% make nothing.  The suit also claims that the company is running an illegal Pyramid Scheme.  The case is still ongoing as of 2019 and you can see the document here.

There are several other legal actions and lawsuit skeletons in the Market America closet which are too numerous to mention but let’s just say it gives me zero confidence in this company and those that are running it.  Beware!


There are many!  I have posted one here but it is easy to find more.

what is market america review pissed consumer comment

Pros and Cons


  • vast selection of products
  • global presence


  • multiple lawsuits and legal actions
  • the flawed MLM business model
  • cult-like organization
  • need to recruit family and friends
  • extremely complicated commission structure

Final Thoughts About Market America

The training is so intense and the compensation plan is so overwhelmingly complex that I think I would go out of my mind if I were an UnFranchise Owner.  Having to follow this system is just too rigid for me.  It is not like owning your own business at all in my opinion when you have all these people at Corporate laying down the requirements and people in your upline pushing you to buy and sell and recruit more and more.  Nor would I be comfortable approaching family, friends, and others to see if they are ‘right’ for the business or getting them to approach others to do the same.  What a hassle.

The dropout rate is extremely high in MLM’s and in fact, most people, and I mean 97%, that join a network marketing company make no money or actually find themselves worse off financially than when they started.  But, don’t take my word for it.  Have a look at this document from the Consumer Awareness Institute.  The statistics are really grim.

The truth is that the only people making money in Market America are those in the top 1-2%.  This is a tough, competitive type of business requiring huge amounts of time and energy.  You will need to be a fantastic salesperson with a huge network of contacts to have any hope of making a good income and it will take years of hard work.

Hey, if you think it is for you then I wish you the best of luck but I could not operate in this kind of regimented, cult-like environment.  I have viewed many of their videos and it is like a three-ring circus.  This is typical within the Network Marketing industry.  They get people all fired up at the conventions, alluding to great wealth and an amazing lifestyle that only very few will actually achieve.  Forget it!

Is Market America a scam?  Well, looking at the millions of products they sell through shop.com I would have to say no.  But it sure sounds like a lot of hype sold by very slick and accomplished salespeople that try to indoctrinate you into their way of thinking.  They try to seduce people into the business when in fact 90% of the people who join this company make no money.

As for the ‘opportunity’, I would advise you to steer clear of this racket.  Their history speaks for itself.

 A Better Alternative

Philip and I would never join a Multi-level marketing company, no matter how seductive it may seem because we know that this system is flawed and would require vast amounts of energy, money, and a huge network of people to recruit and train.  No way.

Instead, we do something that is much easier and which we discovered when we were looking at how to supplement our retirement income online.  It’s called Affiliate Marketing and it is NOTHING like network marketing or MLM as is another name for it.

It takes time to develop, yes, but we don’t have to follow a rigid schedule and make endless phone calls to ‘prospects’ or weekly meetings with our upline or harass our family and friends.

We joined a friendly Canadian company that has been in business since 2005 and it has taught us and continues to teach us, all we need to know about being an online entrepreneur.  You can find out all about it by reading Philip’s article on Wealthy Affiliate.  If it tweaks your interest, you can come on in and check out the platform for FREE, no credit card, no harassing phone calls.

Anyway, that’s how we do it and we are having fun.  I thank you for taking the time to read this review and I hope you gained some knowledge from it.  My goal is to prevent any of us from getting bamboozled into something that will not be of benefit or could actually lose money.

Stay safe out there in cyberspace,

Your friend,



Market America




Business opportunity




Value for money



  • vast selection of products
  • global presence


  • multiple lawsuits and legal actions
  • the flawed MLM business model
  • cult-like organization
  • need to recruit family and friends
  • extremely complicated commission structure

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