Selling NoWay products

December 16th, 2008  |  Tags: , , ,

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I had the Thanksgiving football games on while I was running some experiments. Amway ran ads in every game, explaining what a wonderful company they are. (They have run these ads regularly since, and I now have more time to finish writing short notes.) The ads included numbers that were, I suppose, intended to lend credibility to their claims. I found them to do the exact opposite: they merely strengthened my belief that Amway is some kind of cross between Mary Kay and Scientology.

The numbers that stuck out the most were these:

  • Amway makes “3 million people” into “small business owners” with “$7 billion in sales” every year.
  • Amway has 450 products and 700 patents.

The first of these basically tells you everything you need to know: the mean Amway “small business owner” has slightly over 2 grand in revenue every year? Yikes. I hope that they have some magical way to have more profit than revenue, or at least that Amway ships their cookware, cleaning supplies, and nutritional supplements to their small business owners for free.

I won’t address the latter number except to point out that most of the Amway products mentioned are shockingly pedestrian and seem unlikely to exploit inventions that warrant patent protection; certainly, not at the rate of more than one patent per product. This means that Amway’s portfolio is probably dominated by business method patents, which I suspect have titles like “Mechanism for paying ‘small business owners’ at the top of the pyramid with fees from other ‘small business owners'”