Clever Container Review: Premium storage solutions
Clever container was founded in 2006, with the MLM side of the business launching in 2007.
Based out of the US state of Illinois, Clever Container are headed up by Karen Eschebach and Jennifer Weaver.
Absent from the Clever Container website are the exact roles Eschebach and Weaver have in the company, aside from being owners. For some reason there’s no corporate management structure provided anywhere on the Clever Container website.
So the story goes, Eschebach and Weaver (right) met at a Pampered Chef party:
When she became a mother herself, (Karen) began a Clutter Cutters Club for other moms in her Grosse Pointe, Michigan neighborhood.
“We’d get together once a month,” Karen explained, “and I’d help them all with ideas on how to organize their pantries and linen closets. I’d give them an assignment and the next month, they’d come back with before and after pictures.
Sometimes we’d even go to someone’s home and organize a closet, so everyone would learn from the process.”
It wasn’t long before people started asking for more personal attention and Karen found herself with a small business as a professional organizer.
After a corporate career in data processing, where she designed systems to keep information in place, she thought she’d found the perfect way to organize her life as a wife and mother with her desire to work.
With three kids, there weren’t a lot of extra hours in the day, so Jennifer decided to spend a few evenings a week as a direct sales consultant for The Pampered Chef — selling cooking utensils at parties that women in the neighborhood would have in their homes.
And it was at one of those parties, which Karen happened to attend, that the two women’s little side businesses began to merge into one very big idea.
That idea of course was Clever Container, which Eschebach and Weaver have been running ever since.
Read on for a full review of the Clever Container MLM business opportunity.
The Clever Container Product Line
As the name suggests, Clever Contain market a range of storage solutions.
There are far too many products to individually go through here, however a full catalogue (complete with retail pricing) is available from the Clever Container website.
Areas of storage Clever Container sell products to deal with include
- essential storage (home general)
- out the door (shopping and errands)
- laundry and
Prices seem pretty reasonable, with most items coming in at under $30 retail.
The Clever Container Compensation Plan
For reasons unknown, the Clever Container compensation plan is not provided on the company website.
The following analysis is from a Clever Container compensation plan document dated July 2014. I believe this is the most recent revision of the plan at the time of publication.
Clever Container Affiliate Ranks
There are ten affiliate ranks within the Clever Container compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- New Consultant (first 90 days) – sign up as a Clever Container affiliate (no MLM commissions)
- Consultant – generate $300 PV a month in sales volume (no MLM commissions)
- Managing Consultant – generate $500 PV a month in sales volume (no MLM commissions)
- Senior Consultant – maintain $500 PV a month in sales volume, have at least two active unilevel legs and a downline generating at least $2500 GV a month
- Executive Consultant – generate $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least three active unilevel legs (one must contain a personally recruited Managing Consultant or higher) and have a downline generating at least $3500 GV a month
- Director – maintain $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least four active unilevel legs (one must contain a personally recruited Senior Consultant or higher and another a personally recruited Managing Consultant or higher) and have a downline generating at least $5000 GV a month
- Associate Director – maintain $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least four active unilevel legs (one must contain a personally recruited Director or higher and another a personally recruited Senior Consultant or higher) and have a downline generating at least $5000 GV a month
- Managing Director – maintain $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least four active unilevel legs (two must contain a personally recruited Director or higher) and have a downline generating $8000 GV and $40,000 TGV a month
- Senior Director – maintain $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least four active unilevel legs (all four must have a personally recruited Director or higher (two must be Associate Director or higher)) and have a downline generating at least $8000 GV and $80,000 TGV a month
- Executive Director – maintain $700 PV a month in sales volume, have at least five active unilevel legs (all five must have a personally recruited Director or higher (two must be Managing Director or higher)) and have a downline generating at least $8000 GV and $160,000 TGV a month
Note that PV stands for “Personal Volume” and is the sales volume generated by an affiliate’s own purchase of products and their sales to retail customers.
GV stands for “Group Volume” and is the PV of an affiliate’s downline, excluding any volume generated by Director or higher ranked affiliates and their downlines.
TGV stands for “Total Group Volume” and is the PV generated by an affiliate’s entire downline (includes Director volume).
Rank Advancement Bonus
Clever Container affiliates are paid the following bonuses when they first qualify at any of the following given ranks:
- Managing Consultant – $50 (must qualify within 3 months of joining the company)
- Senior Consultant – $100 (must qualify within 3 months of joining the company)
- Director – $500
A $300 matching bonus is also paid out on personally recruited affiliates who qualify at the Director rank.
Note that the affiliate receiving the matching bonus must themselves be at the Director or higher rank.
Retail commissions are available on the sale of all Clever Container products, paying out a 20% monthly commission on PV.
Note that PV includes retail sales and an affiliate’s own purchases (for the sake of simplicity I’ve bundled the two together).
All Clever Container affiliates start with a base 20% retail commission. Once they sell over $1000 in PV, affiliates are then paid a 25% retail commission.
This percentage amount can further be increased to up to 33% percent as follows:
- sell $2500 PV in a month = 3% bonus (28%)
- sell $4000 PV in a month =5% bonus (30%)
- sell $6000 PV in a month = 8% bonus (33%)
Note that a temporary 5% percentage boost is available in an affiliate’s first four months with the company.
New Clever Container affiliates can qualify for this 5% bonus by achieving $1000 PV in sales volume in their first month, which is maintained throughout the following three months.
The wording in the Clever Container compensation plan suggests this additional 5% is paid out at the end of the four month qualification period, retrospectively on all PV generated during the qualification period.
Residual commissions in Clever Container are paid out via a unilevel style compensation structure.
A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1):
If any of these level 1 affiliates go on to recruit new affiliates of their own, they are then placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team.
If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical number of levels.
Clever Container pay out residual commissions based on the retail sales activity of affiliates within a unilevel team, with how many levels an affiliate is paid down determined by their affiliate rank:
- Managing Consultant – 3% on level 1
- Senior Consultant – 5% on level 1 and 2% on level 2
- Executive Consultant – 5% on level 1 and 4% on level 2
- Director or higher – 5% on level 1, 4% on level 2 and 3% on level 3
Team Volume Bonus
Team Volume in Clever Container is volume generated by an affiliates downline, excluding volume generated by Director or higher ranked affiliates and their downlines.
Director or higher ranked affiliates can earn a Team Volume Bonus on this sales volume, paid out as a flat percentage bonus.
How much of a percentage bonus is paid out is determined by a Clever Container affiliate’s rank:
- Director – 2.5% bonus
- Associate Director – 3% bonus
- Managing Director – 3.5% bonus
- Managing Director – 4% bonus
- Executive Director – 4.5% bonus
The Generation Bonus allows a Clever Container affiliate to earn an additional bonus percentage on their downline’s sales volume, tracked via generations.
- Director (must have previously qualified as an Associate Director or higher) – 2.5% through one generation
- Associate Director – 5.5% through one generation
- Managing Director – 5.5% through the first generation and 4% through the second
- Senior Director – 5.5% through the first generation and 4% through the second and third
- Executive Director – 5.5% through the first generation, 4% through the second and third and 3% through the fourth
Unfortunately Clever Contain do not explain how they define a generation within their compensation plan material.
Typically a generation bonus is paid out down each individual unilevel leg, until an affiliate of a specific rank is found. This then caps off the first generation, with any affiliates after this ranked affiliate forming the second generation.
The second generation is capped once another affiliate at the specified rank is found, with the process repeating itself for subsequent generations as required.
If no specified ranked affiliate is found, the first generation extends to the last level of that particular unilevel leg (generations in each unilevel leg are calculated independently from the other legs).
Given the generation bonus starts around the Director rank, if I had to guess I’d say a generation is defined when a Director or higher ranked affiliate is found in a unilevel leg.
The mentor bonus is a 10% bonus commission paid out on the retail sales volume of newly recruited affiliates (an affiliate’s own purchase volume is excluded).
This 10% bonus applies to any retail sales volume generated by a personally recruited affiliate, within their first 90 days of joining the company.
Joining Clever Container
Affiliate membership with Clever Container is available for either $99 or $149.
The difference between the two price-points is the amount of product an affiliate receives, which is cited as $230 and $415 retail value respectively.
Note that after a Clever Container affiliate’s first twelve months with the company, they then need to sell at least $1000 PV worth of product over a rolling twelve month period to maintain their affiliate membership.
When I first sat down to review Clever Container, I figured I’d be reviewing some sort of Tupperware clone.
There is some overlap between the two companies, however Clever Container focus exclusively on storage solutions – and seem to do a pretty good job of it.
The products they marketed reminded me of the sort of stuff you’d find in Ikea.
On the marketing side of things, everyone has stuff that needs to be stored, so there’s definitely a market out there. The challenge I suspect will be getting to people before they just run down to the local supermarket/Ikea/hardware store etc.
One way of doing that is to market Clever Container’s storage solutions as a way to re-organize what a potential customer might already have stored.
I know as I browsed through their catalogue, I couldn’t help but think some of their products would look much nicer under my coffee table over the shoeboxes full of papers I have sitting there now.
The approach Clever Container have adopted to combat this is the party-based MLM marketing model.
You host a party, you invite people you know, give them a product presentation and then start taking orders.
The pros of this model combined with Clever Container’s offering is obvious. You’ve got a good chance of getting people to think about their current storage systems (or lack thereof), and you’re pitching to a warm market.
The downside is that you’re going to run out of people you know pretty quickly.
If you’re going to take being a Clever Container affiliate seriously, sooner or later you’re going to have to tackle ongoing customer acquisition.
Not helping is the fact that Clever Container’s product line is permanent. That’s not to say that repeat business isn’t possible, but if I were to say replace my shoeboxes – that’s done and I’m not going to be needing replacements anytime soon.
New storage or updating other areas of the house would be where repeat business comes into play.
But even then, hitting the cold market after your first few months is going to be the key challenge here.
It’s not like you can walk around with Clever Container products under each arm and randomly approach people you think might be interest in storage.
One idea that just came to me as I’m sitting here collecting my thoughts was a blog. Showcase all the different ways Clever Container’s products can be used (photo-heavy with a step-by-step guide explaining what you did).
And make sure you take snaps of your customers’ storage ideas too. That alone should give you plenty of material to drip-feed a blog with for months on end.
No doubt this is already a cluttered space on the net though, so you’ll have to do your homework on the internet marketing front (I didn’t look any further into the idea).
Moving onto Clever Container’s compensation plan, at first it looks a bit shallow with only three levels of unilevel commissions offered, but the Team Volume and Generation bonuses do extend payable levels considerably.
One thing I noticed was the emphasis on building new business, as Director or higher ranked affiliates are phased out of regular Group Volume (GV).
This does kind of “punish” an affiliate with a successful downline (which might get irritating at the upper levels of the affiliate ranks), but does force Clever Container affiliates to maintain focus on their newer and lower-ranked affiliates.
That in turn spurs growth (higher-ranked affiliates will need to replace Director or higher ranked affiliate volume), which should create and maintain healthy upline downline relationships.
One thing to be particularly aware of is the rather high entry into MLM commissions, which sits at $500 PV and $2500 GV a month.
Commissions below that are possible, however you’re only looking at single-level until the above criteria is met.
An affiliate’s own purchases can help towards that amount (excluding affiliate membership fees), but it’s much simpler to focus on actually selling the products and building a customer-base (the PV and GV requirements are monthly and ongoing).
This got me thinking about how much product you’d have to sell to meet that ongoing quota. Most of Clever Container’s products are priced around the $10-$30 range.
That means with a few sales per customer, you’re looking at four or five spending $100 or so a month.
Then I thought about what they would get for that amount. Three, maybe four box storage solutions? The same in basket solutions?
All of a sudden the prospect of storage solutioning an entire household starts to add up.
If you can find the market though and more importantly sell to them, more power to you. For me this is one of those “I like the designs but I’m not sure if I’m ready to spend hundreds of dollars for solutions to clutter”.
Even as admittedly neat as some of Clever Solutions products seem (no pun intended).
Anyway, with a solid retail offering and well-defined niche to fill, Clever Container looks to be an interesting MLM opportunity to ponder over.
Entry into the company isn’t expensive, so if you think you can market the company’s products beyond your warm market – why not give it a shot. Definitely research your marketing strategy (or strategies) before jumping in though.
Talk to people without pitching the products or the opportunity.
How do they feel about storage? Can you see yourself selling the idea of storage solutions and Clever Container’s products to them?