Learn how to use attraction marketing to build your online business.
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • History of the MLM Industry

    Posted on Timeless Kathy Sammons 11 comments

    I was thinking about the evolution of direct sales, looking at how far it had come from door to door peddlers in the late 1800s, to the sleek PPC (pay per click) capture pages of today.

    Many well known businesses have had their start… in direct marketing.  In 1890 David McConnel started selling perfumes from his company in New York City, by 1906 there were 10,000 representatives.  In 1937 they changed their name to Avon.

    Then there was the, always familiar, Fuller Brush company that started in 1905.  In 1931 Frank Stanley Beveridge, who was the former vice president for Fuller Brush Company started a company called Stanley Home Products.  They sold household items that people used every day.  Starting in the depth of the great depression their idea was that many people could start their own business with little money down, and be very successful.

    It was during this time that they figured out a way of increasing sales by promoting to groups and organizations.  Along the way they moved into the home and thus the home party plan was born.  It was this training that produced leaders like Mary Kay Ash founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics and Brownie Wise of Tupperware, as well as others.

    In 1934 a vitamin company, selling food supplements, became the king of the vitamin world.  Nutrilite went on to develop the first MLM style compensation plan in 1945.  In 1949 a couple of buddies started working with Nutrilite and became some heavy hitters in the business.  In 1959 these two men had a falling out with Nutrilite and started their own business, the Amway Corporation.  Interestingly enough, in 1972 Amway acquired Nutrilite.

    Companies continued to improve products to bring to market and there were many product breakthrough in the direct sales industry.  In 1956, for instance, Dr. Forrest Shaklee developed a method of extracting minerals from vegetables and created the Shaklee Vitamin Company.

    I find it very fitting that in this time of economic distress, we are again seeing an increase in companies and distributors using this form of product marketing.  Many people today fill the internet, seeking a better way of making a living.  It is in their hopes and dreams, that companies are moving ahead and developing new products and services that continue to build our industry to the force that it is today.

    For more information see: The History of MLM

    Kathy Sammons

    Kathy has worked with many entrepreneurs that are now successful in their MLM company by sharing with them the lead generation tool that is rocking the internet marketing industry.  If you want to move ahead and figure out how to market your MLM MLSP is where you will find your answers.

    • http://www.scottmarvinmarketing.com Scott Marvin


      Very well written history of network marketing and direct sales. Yes it has come a long way since then. People will buy anything and everything online today and in my humble opinion the internet will eventually control over 90% of all sales activity.

      Scott Marvin

    • Linus Ruzicka


      It’s always refreshing to take a look back and realize that the MLM industry isn’t something that started in the lat 1980′s…it’s been around for much longer than that – obviously.

      What boggles my mind is that eventhough it’s been around for that long, people still call it fraud or a scam. If you started a franchise on your own and failed in the first year, would you call it a scam or a failure.

      There is a big difference when people take a look at who to blame. is it themselves or is it really the business?


    • Tamra


      Never really thought about the history of marketing. Very well written article.


    • John Stone


      Thanks for the History of MLM. I didn’t realize that the industry dates back to the depression.

      John Stone
      Facebook Leads

    • Jeff Mitchell

      The history of MLM is awesome. The old timer MLMers would lose their mind if they had the power to harness the same technology as we do. It would take them 10-15 years to expose their business to as many as we can in 14 hours.

      Great post.

      Jeff Mitchell

    • Yo Le

      Hey Kathy,

      Thanks for the great history lesson on MLM. It’s really amazing to see how things have evolved and how times have changed.

      - Yo

    • Carlos

      Learning something new every day.You brought up some key factors most people are unaware.Looking forward to your next blog.


    • Barry Monteiro

      Amazing. Not many people think about our industry from such a historical perspective.
      Great post!

    • Bill Palte

      Hey Kathy,
      I was familiar with the history. It’s great that you are sharing it to the world. Many people are fascinated when they learn the beginnings of this great industry.

      Thanks for sharing.

      To Your Continued Success,

    • Bert McClure

      Hey Kathy,

      This is a really cool post to bring us back to the beginning. Sometimes we need a refresher on the industry we are in.

      We definitely are in a time that spawns home business growth as the other time frames in history you mentioned.

      Thanks for the history lesson.


    • Nathan McClure

      That was interesting Kathy. An understanding of history gives insight into the future.