Source: 5/25/2010

Herbalife Popular Among Latino Immigrants

Nutrition and weight loss supplements are sold by Herbalife worldwide via multiple selling platforms. Among them are Herbalife nutrition clubs hosted by independent distributors all around the world. These independent distributors sell Herbalife products directly to friends, family and neighbors, allowing them to earn a commission if they manage to harvest new distributors. According to figures, 64 percent of the company's US distributors, are Latino.

Some of these gatherings have evolved to resemble a bar or a health club as opposed to the typical sales party where demonstrations and samples are handed out. One distributor who originally came from Mexico ushers in a few women and serves them each a cookie-flavored protein shake, cold aloe water, and a hot raspberry tea for the price of $4.

Mrs. Garcia, one of the women who was served stated: "People we know invited us to become distributors because we were looking for work. Maybe eventually we will, but we've got to try it first,".

In many immigrant communities, Herbalife has managed to establish a presence in one form or another due to the 50,000 "nutrition clubs" developed by Herbalife distributors in Zapotecas, Mexico. Herbalife produced $2.3 billion in 2009 as a result of the efforts of its Mexican associates and their nutrition club sales model.

"Actually this is a Latino company. It's a cultural phenomenon. In times of recession we've had a lot of success because we provide an alternative source of income," said Herbalife spokesperson Marco Gonzales as he explained that it costs $87.95 for the starter kit necessary to become a distributor.

Immigrants are drawn to the low start-up cost, both due to the fact that it is low, as well as the lack of an immigration status check from Herbalife. New distributors are only required to provide a tax identification number and pay taxes on the income, according to Gonzales.

One problem that occurs with this sales model is that it changes the technical status of the business transaction due to the fact that distributors are providing food, drinks and supplements without the proper licenses that demand certain regulations be followed.

One such case in Passaic, New Jersey, revealed that health inspectors shut down Isabel Carmona, fining her for $850 because she violated health and zoning regulations after her neighbors complained about the disruptive flow of people coming and going from her home where she was operating a nutrition club.

In some cases, Latinos all but praise Herbalife and even allege that the company gets distributors to purchase thousands of dollars' worth of Herbalife products that they are unable to sell. In one such case, an anonymous man claims he lost $30,000 in savings on Herbalife products, and is currently trying to dissuade other immigrants from making the same mistake.

"At the conventions you have mothers sleeping with their children in the halls of the hotel - they can't afford a room - but they're there out of love for Herbalife, and come from small towns and they're uneducated." he said.

"Sometimes people will notice we're overweight and say, 'look, try Herbalife and you'll see - it will help.' stated Mrs. Garcia, who added that many Latinos feel the difference in their since they started attending the nutrition clubs.

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