Sozo Review: Coffee berry and autoship concerns
Sozo launched in April 2009 and are based out of Texas in the US under the corporate entity name “Sozo Global Inc.”.
Heading up the company is Co-founder, Chairman, CEO and President, Mark Adams (four executive titles… really?). J. Larry Cantrell and John Constantine are also listed as co-founders, however neither appears to have an executive management role within the company.
In Mark Adams’ (right) executive bio, Sozo claims he’s
an experienced entrepreneur with six successful prior business start-ups, all of which remain in business today.
I did try to find out some further information on any one of these prior six business startups but wasn’t able to find any. Whether or not Sozo is Adams’ first MLM venture is not clear.
Read on for a full review of the Sozo MLM business opportunity.
The Sozo Product Line
Sozo market a series of beverages with the key ingredient being coffee berry (also known as coffee fruit).
On their website, Sozo claim that ‘research indicates that the compounds present in the whole coffee fruit may assist in‘:
- neutralizing free radicals responsible for aging
- promoting healthy cardiovascular function
- supporting healthy glucose metabolism
- promoting healthy energy and mood
- promoting focus and mental clarity
Sozo state their Select Coffee is ‘the healthiest coffee in the world‘:
Everyone who harvests coffee beans simply throws the coffee fruit away—everyone that is, except for SoZo.
SoZo is the first and only company to capture the CoffeeBerry’s® high-ORAC goodness in a healthy drink. SoZo is created with a patented process that preserves the nutrition of the whole coffee fruit, yet still retains the true flavor of the bean.
Sozo instant coffee comes in single-serve sachets and is available in two flavours, Caffe Latte and Dark Roast.
Sozo describe their nutritional beverage (actual product name) as the ‘most nutritional beverage on the planet‘.
SoZo has developed a proprietary blend of the CoffeeBerry and other powerful fruit and vegetable extracts that, together, offer a full spectrum of antioxidant protection for the body and the mind.
And finally there’s Sozo Ignite Energy Drink,
Ignite’s naturally occurring caffeine won’t give you the jitters. Its energizing blend of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetable extracts assists in promoting alertness and mental acuity, while helping to reduce stress and support endurance.
The Sozo Compensation Plan
The Sozo compensation plan pays out retail commissions, residual weekly commissions via a binary compensation structure and matching bonuses via a unilevel team. Several incentive bonuses are also offered to qualifying affiliates.
Sozo offer retail commissions to their affiliates when a customer purchases products through provided replicated storefronts. Retail commissions are paid out as the difference between the retail and wholesale cost of a product.
Enrollment Product Pack Commissions
When a Sozo affiliate recruits a new affiliate, they have the option of purchasing an Enrollment Product Pack. The purchase of one of these packs generates a $30 to $150 commission for the recruiting affiliate.
Fast Start Bonus
When a first order is made (excluding an Enrollment Product Pack) by a newly recruited affiliate or retail customer, the recruiting affiliate is eligible for a Fast Start Bonus on the product order.
How much of a Fast Start Bonus is paid out depends on the recruiting affiliate’s monthly autoship amount:
- 50 Product Volume (PV) in autoship – 5%, capped at $10
- 100 PV – 10%, capped at $20
- 200 PV – 20%, capped at $40
Affiliate Membership Ranks
There are fourteen affiliate membership ranks in the Sozo compensation plan and, along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Distributor – sign up as an affiliate
- Builder – minimum 50 Personal Volume (PV) a month in sales, recruited at least two new affiliates (one in each side of the binary) and generate at least 300 Sales Volume (SV) matched weekly in the binary
- Bronze – minimum 50 PV a month in sales and generate at least 500 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Silver – minimum 100 PV a month in sales and generate at least 1000 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Gold – minimum 100 PV a month in sales, have at least four personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (2 on each side), have at least one personally recruited Bronze ranked affiliate (unilevel) and be generating at least 2000 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Platinum – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least four personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (2 on each side), have at least two personally recruited Bronze ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 3000 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Sapphire – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least six personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (3 on each side), have at least three personally recruited Bronze ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 5000 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Ruby – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least eight personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (4 on each side), have at least four personally recruited Silver ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 10,000 SV matched weekly in the binary
- Emerald – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least eight personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (4 on each side), have at least five personally recruited Silver ranked affiliates and be generating at least 15,000 SV matched weekly for at least two consecutive weeks in the binary (1 week if re-qualifying as an Emerald)
- Diamond – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least eight personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (4 on each side), have at least six personally recruited Silver ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 20,000 SV matched weekly for at least three consecutive weeks in the binary (80,000 SV a month if re-qualifying as a Diamond)
- Blue Diamond – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least twelve personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (6 on each side), have at least seven personally recruited Gold ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 75,000 SV matched weekly for at least four consecutive weeks in the binary (75,000 SV in one week if re-qualifying as a Blue Diamond)
- Black Diamond – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least twelve personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (6 on each side), have at least eight personally recruited Gold ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 125,000 SV matched weekly for at least four consecutive weeks in the binary (125,000 SV in one week if re-qualifying as a Black Diamond)
- Presidential – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least twelve personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (6 on each side), have at least six personally recruited Ruby ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 250,000 SV matched weekly for at least four consecutive weeks in the binary (250,000 SV in one week if re-qualifying as a Presidential)
- Crown Ambassador – minimum 200 PV a month in sales, have at least sixteen personally recruited affiliates active in the binary (8 on each side), have at least eight personally recruited Ruby ranked affiliates (unilevel) and be generating at least 500,000 SV in for at least four consecutive weeks in the binary (500,000 SV in one week if re-qualifying as a Crown Ambassador)
Once a Sozo affiliate qualifies as a “Builder”, they are then paid a Builder Bonus everytime one of their personally recruited affiliates becomes a Builder.
How much of a Builder Bonus is paid out is tied into the qualifying affiliates Personal Sales Volume (PV):
- 50 PV – $10
- 100 PV – $20
- 200 PV – $40
Residual weekly income in Sozo is paid via a binary compensation structure. A binary compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of the structure with two positions directly under them.
These two positions represent the start of two teams, with Sozo paying out a percentage commission every time 300 Sales Volume (SV) is matched between the left and right binary teams.
Note that excess volume from the stronger team (up to one million volume points) that it not matched is carried over until it is matched.
How much of a percentage Sozo pay out of the sales volume is tied into an affiliate’s monthly autoship order:
- 50 PV autoship – 10% ($30 on 300 matched SV)
- 100 PV autoship – 12% ($36 on 300 matched SV)
- 200 PV autoship – 15% ($45 on 300 matched SV)
Note that in order to qualify for binary commissions, a Sozo affiliate must have personally recruited at least two new affiliates (with at least one in each binary team).
Leadership Check Match
Sozo’s Leadership Check Match is a matching bonus, paid out on the weekly binary commissions of personally recruited affiliates and their downlines.
The Leadership Check Match Bonus is based on a unilevel compensation structure. A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of the structure, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1).
If any of these level 1 recruited affiliates go on to recruit new affiliates of their own, they are then placed on level 2 of the unilevel team. If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretically unlimited number of levels.
Sozo pay out on up to 8 generations, with how many generations an affiliate is paid out on dependent on their affiliate membership rank:
- Gold – 1 generation
- Platinum – 2 generations
- Sapphire – 3 generations
- Ruby – 4 generations
- Emerald – 5 generations
- Diamond – 6 generations
- Blue Diamond and above – 7 generations
A generation is defined as the affiliates between Silver or above ranked affiliates, with each unilevel leg operating independently of the rest.
The first generation are all the affiliates between the affiliate at the top of the leg and the first Silver or above ranked affiliate in that particular unilevel leg. The second generation are all the affiliates after the Silver or above ranked affiliate, up until the next Silver or above ranked affiliate is found.
If no other Silver or above ranked affiliate exists in the unilevel leg, that particular generation runs down the entire length of the unilevel leg.
How much of a matching percentage Sozo pay out is not fixed but rather “floats” from month to month. How much of a percentage the company pays out is dependent on the commissionable volume left after binary commissions and “other bonuses” are paid out that week, subject to Sozo’s cap of paying ‘up to 50% of total companywide commissionable Sales Volume to Distributors every single week‘.
In essence, whatever volume is left is what is proportionally paid out amongst Leadership Check Match qualified affiliates.
Rank Achievement Bonus
If an affiliate achieves certain membership ranks within a specified time period of joining the company, Sozo pay them out a one-time Rank Achievement Bonus.
- Gold (90 days) – $250
- Platinum (90 days) – $750
- Sapphire (180 days) – $1500
- Ruby (180 days) – $2000
- Emerald (12 months) – $2500
- Diamond (12 months) – $3000
- Blue Diamond (18 months) – $5000
- Black Diamond (24 months) – $10,000
- Presidential (36 months) – $25,000
- Crown Ambassador (48 months) – $100,000
Note that the Sozo Rank Achievement Bonuses are stackable, meaning an affiliate is able to make a maximum of $150,000 if Crown Ambassador is achieved within 48 months as per the above schedule.
Sozo pay out Gold and above ranked affiliates a monthly Car Bonus:
- Gold (generate at least 8000 new SV matched in the binary for the month) – $500
- Platinum (generate at least 12,000 new SV matched in the binary for the month) – $500
- Sapphire (generate at least 20,000 new SV matched in the binary for the month) – $800
- Ruby (generate at least 40,000 new SV matched in the binary for two consecutive months) – $1000
- Emerald (generate at least 60,000 new SV matched in the binary for two consecutive months) – $1200
- Diamond (generate at least 80,000 new SV matched in the binary for three consecutive months) – $1500
- Blue Diamond (generate at least 300,000 new SV matched in the binary for four consecutive months) – $1800
- Black Diamond (generate at least 300,000 new SV matched in the binary for four consecutive months) – $1800
- Presidential (generate at least 1,000,000 new SV matched in the binary for four consecutive months) – $2000
- Crown Ambassador (generate at least 2,000,000 new SV matched in the binary for four consecutive months) – $4000
Dream Home Bonus
The Dream Home Bonus is paid out to Blue Diamond or higher ranked affiliates:
- Blue Diamond – $2000
- Black Diamond – $3000
- Presidential – $4000
- Crown Ambassador – $6000
Qualification for the Dream Home Bonus is the same as the Car Bonus.
Dream Lifestyle Bonus
The Dream Lifestyle Bonus is an additional cash bonus, paid to Sozo’s Blue Diamond or higher ranked affiliates:
- Blue Diamond – $2000
- Black Diamond – $3000
- Presidential (1,000,000 matched SV in the binary for four consecutive months) -$7000
- Crown Ambassador (2,000,000 matched SV in the binary for four consecutive months) – $10,000
Qualification for the Dream Lifestyle Bonus is the same as the Car Bonus.
Life Insurance and Health Benefits
Third-party life insurance and health benefits through ETMG are also offered to Bronze and higher ranked affiliates, subject to autoship order requirements and minimum matched SV in the binary.
Joining Sozo as an affiliate is $39.
Optionally, an affiliate may choose to purchase an “Enrollment Product Pack” when they join. There are three packs to choose from, with each also providing affiliate membership:
- Beginner – $199
- Business Builder – $499
- Professional – $1299
Quite a few coffee-based MLM companies have launched over the last few years, with Sozo appearing to have survived the boom in competition.
Product wise I have no idea on the use of coffee berry in their blends but if an affiliate can find a retail market for the product then they’re set. Coffee is obviously a repeat-consumable which brings with it the expectation of repeat business.
As far as the Sozo compensation plan goes, it revolves around product sales with nothing directly paid out on the recruitment of new affiliates. Sales volume is treated no differently from customers or affiliates, leaving affiliates the choice of how they wish to structure their business.
One glaring red flag I observed however was how Sozo integrates autoship into the plan and how much an affiliate pays in monthly autoship is tied into their commissions.
Typically when a company offers monthly autoship to their affiliates there’s a conscious effort to ensure that it’s entirely optional (usually via a comparative sales volume qualification).
The reason for this is to discourage affiliates simply going out and recruiting new affiliates, whacking them on monthly autoship and then having them do the same.
This is of course problematic in that it shifts focus away from retail sales, and also because it means the business pretty much operates as a defacto pyramid scheme – moreso when affiliates must be on monthly autoship to earn commissions.
Autoship red flags arise in Sozo from the moment they join the company, with the amount of autoship an affiliate opts in for dictating what percentage of a commission they earn in the binary.
The more an affiliate pays, the more they earn.
Whilst its true that autoship is a product sale, quite clearly the motive behind the purchase can be called into question. In MLM, affiliates purchasing products (on autoship or otherwise) for the purpose of commission qualification is legally frowned upon.
Autoship is also tied into the Fast Start Bonus, again dictating how much of a commission is earnt on first orders.
And things certainly aren’t helped with the company itself heavily pushing autoship onto its affiliates:
To begin receiving Team Earnings, stay Active every four weeks with an automatic reorder of products called an “Autoship”.
All you have to do to access team earnings is be on an automatic
reorder (Autoship) at either 50PV, 100PV or 200PV of your favorite SoZo products
As per the above verbiage, autoship is mandatory to earn binary commissions (the heart of residual income in Sozo’s compensation plan).
Given the already inherent risk of a company being full of only autoship affiliates when autoship is offered to affiliats, Sozo seem to not only not offer an alternative but also wholly encourage such an environment.
This in my opinion overshadows the product line and retail side of the business, as it’s clear there’s a large focus on recruitment of new affiliates and the expectation that they will sign up for monthly autoship, whether they actually want the products or not.
Sozo do try to negate some of this concern with a sample driven marketing strategy, however the fact remains, affiliates are required to purchase products to earn commissions.
As a prospective affiliate I’d strongly recommend evaluating the retail vs. affiliate autoship revenue of your potential upline. If their sales volume is retail focused then you might have gotten lucky and found someone correctly working the Sozo business opportunity.
Given how the compensation plan is framed and the incentives tied into monthly autoship however, I suspect these Sozo affiliates will be few and far between.
Update 30th August 2020 – A reader was asking about Sozo and its products in the comments below. Turns out Sozo’s parent company Renew Interests was acquired by Youngevity in 2016.
Not sure when it was shut down but today Sozo the MLM company, as reviewed above, doesn’t exist.
How much their coffee worth comparing to average store prices? My guess a lot for something that theoretically “may improve” your health.
Companies like this are not usually allowed to make health claims and so use the word ‘may’ in their wording. Independent testimonials are usually worth reading, provided the person has no moneymaking agenda and is simply just buying it as a customer. Educating yourself on the ingredients is usually helpful.
Good idea. If you do the research, you’ll find that something that sells for couple dollars per DROP, is actually primary component of kitty litter. 🙂 (Look up “zeolite” on Wikipedia, then see what sort of company sells zeolite)
This blog tends to concentrate on the MLM and compensation structures involved in the “opportunity” under discussion, rather than critiquing the product/s involved.
Which is fortunate for Sozo, since the information on its’ website WRT to its’ coffee is filled with lies, half truths and exaggerations and very little “truth”
Anyone who wants to make money from retailing the coffee is in for a very rude shock when they get out into the marketplace.
I understand that. I just wish they would post cost of products too. A lot of large MLM companies do so. None of their products is really competitive to store stuff, but at least they are not ashamed for their upsell.
The fact that Sozo does not show prices show that margins (for company, not for distributor) are astronomical.
$70 for a case of this drink… good luck selling that. Better have lots of friends that own health food stores and gyms lol
I think everybody here is missing the point of the company. Get an update the Coffeeberry in Coffee is patented nobody can duplicate the product so you won’t be in competition with nobody.
If you have not drank it you just don’t know how you will feel afterwards. Then they have Health Insurance, Life Dental, Vision, and retirement plan coming.
The top 11 MLM earners sell Coffee something called Organo Gold with Ganoderma which can be copied all over google.
Get pass all that and see what Sozo has to offer really offer and if you don’t get that than go drink your Maxwell House and make them richer.
Coffee berry is ‘berries of the coffea (coffee plant)‘ (Wikipedia). Sozo have patented these naturally occurring berries have they?
I have tried a couple of sozo products. i have tried their Columbian blend, the ignite powder and the latte.
I have to say that the ignite and coffee were good, while the latte tasted like something from 7-11. The product line is very expensive. $20 a lb for the coffee.
My biggest problem is not the product being overpriced but the lack of info on the product. I’mm just not sold on the actual business in how rare an article is on the cultivation of the coffeeberry and the process behind it
Word trickery, Oz. It’s not “coffee berry”, it’s “CoffeeBerry(tm)”, Sozo’s “proprietary coffee berry extract”, that’s “patented” (so they claim).
Search of USPTO revealed plenty of patents involving coffeeberries, but search on Sozo brought up nothing. Hmmm?
Coffee being one of my special interests, I’m fairly confident in saying virtually every one of Sozos’ coffee related claims is male bovine excreta.
Throw in the obvious endless-chain-recruiting aspects of the Sozo compensation structure as so clearly pointed out by Oz, and, IM(very)HO anyone who decides to become involved with Sozo will need more than hard work to make a buck.
The Patent and Trademark are NOT Sozo’s they belong to VDF Futureceuticals who are a product partner of Sozo. Sozo make this clear in the information that I have seen.
I am from the UK so not (yet) affiliated with Sozo and have done a ton of research on Sozo for when it launches along with their competitiors.
I do see the issue with autoship (a type of pay to play set-up) and have sent an email to them asking about this (awaiting reply)
I have had, to date, every question I have asked answered satisfactorily. The ingredients listings are available and I found them without too much effort, anything I couldn’t find, I asked and they provided the information.
All mlm is hard work!
Some are more legal than others… and selling woo is hardly a viable long term career… So… is CoffeeBerry ™ woo?
“woo” – There appears to be supporting science behind the CoffeBerry TM extract. However the real test is to try it. I have had my first cup, not yet become Superman!
woo isn’t just prevalent within mlm, there are traditional companies that offer products with plenty of woo and many have been around a long time.
I wonder if that’s where the term “woosy” comes from?
I had a reader request by email asking me to go over Sozo’s compensation plan as apparently they’ve changed it since this review was written.
I headed over to the Sozo website today to research it and found that, while Sozo do have a business opportunity page with a compensation plan link, it currently redirects back to the homepage of the website.
I’m not sure if this is a HTML bug in the site or if Sozo are not providing their compensation plan to the public anymore.
Either way, I was unable to source their latest comp plan so can’t review it. Given that apparently the plan has been updated, I’m hesitant to use a third-party sourced copy in this istance, in case it’s not the latest plan.
Just checked it too, def an html loop not giving any info on comp plan.
Since my last post I did register. I have not really been persuing building it as I am now Co-founder/Owner of a UK based network marketing company so will not be building any other company than mine. I still use the coffee though 🙂
That sounded like a good idea, if I have interpreted it correctly. It can be interpreted in many different ways, but most of them are rational.
One of them is to get a wider perspective, to see more parts of a market, “don’t become too narrow minded” or “look for ideas and experience outside your own back yard” or any other relevant idea.
Comp plan link works now.
Wow! You people aren’t very good at what you do are you!! I’m glad I don’t get sucked into these types of comments or my wife and I wouldn’t have had 9 people in our group after joining Sozo only 2 weeks ago.
We are also 14 of 50 who are qualifying for an all inclusive cruise. How do ya like me now!!!!
All affiliates on autoship I take it? RIP retail sales.
Can somebody please tell me how to get info on this product for purchase as well as to look at the business opportunity.
Been looking for nearly 2 weeks with no success. Thanks.
Sozo was bought out by Youngevity in 2016. Doesn’t exist anymore.