Liv Review: Visalus lifestyle company spinoff
Liv launched in mid 2017 and describes itself as an ‘invite-only, global lifestyle community for passionate people‘.
The company is headed up by Visalus co-founders, Nick Sanicola (CEO), Blake Mallen (President) and Ryan Blair.
Curiously, Visalus is not mentioned in any corporate bios or the “about us” section of Liv’s website.
Although they are presented as separate companies, there does seem to be significant overlap between Visalus and Liv.
Over the past few years Visalus has been embroiled in one controversy after another.
Outside of Visalus affiliates feeling coerced into joining Liv to receive bonuses however, the two companies appear to operate independently of each other.
Read on for a full review of the Liv MLM opportunity.
Liv sells memberships, which the company claims
gives you access to member-only limited time offers on NEW, unique & innovated products most relevant to Liv members.
Experiences offered to Liv members are grouped as global and local.
These are presented as a “Liv List”, which is pitched as a bucket list Liv members can experience now as opposed to “someday”.
There is also a members only forum where Liv members can submit, rate and vote for Liv List ideas.
Other services detailed on the Liv website are:
- Liv Travel – access to a discount travel booking engine
- Liv Deals – access to an ecommerce platform
- Liv Photobook – photobook printing service
- Liv Marketplace – another ecommerce platform
Liv offers three retail membership tiers:
- Access – 9$ a month plus $30 activation fee, provides access to Liv List global and local, Liv Deals (five a month), Live Travel (hotels only), Liv Marketplace and $40 in “hotel credit”
- Premier – $49 a month plus $50 activation fee, adds all Liv Travel services, Liv Photobook and increases hotel credit to $100 on signup and then $50 a month
- VIP – $99 a month plus $100 activation fee, adds Liv Photobook for Liv List moments, “VIP-Only upgrades” (not specified) and increases hotel credit to $200 on signup and then $100 a month
The Liv Compensation Plan
Liv’s compensation plan revolves around the sale of memberships to retail customers and recruited affiliates.
Sales volume is generated on retail membership sales as follows:
- Access membership = 39 PV and then 9 PV a month
- Premier membership = 99 PV and then 49 PV a month
- VIP = 199 PV and then 99 PV a month
PV stands for “Personal Volume” and is sales volume generated via sales to retail customers and a Liv affiliate’s own orders (note autoship is the latter).
Note that despite being halfway through 2019, a number of bonuses on Liv’s current compensation plan are marked “2018 Special Promotion”.
I’ve purposefully left these bonuses out of the analysis below.
Live Affiliate Ranks
There are fifteen affiliate ranks within Liv’s compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Active Promoter – sign up as a Liv affiliate and generate 125 PV a with a standing monthly autoship order or 200 PV a month in retail membership volume
- Bronze – recruit and maintain three Active Promoters and generate 2000 GV a month
- Bronze Elite – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 6000 GV a month
- Silver – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 12,500 GV a month
- Silver Elite – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 25,000 GV a month
- Gold – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 50,000 GV a month
- Gold Elite – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 100,000 GV a month
- Platinum – maintain three Active Promoters and generate 150,000 GV a month
- 1-Star Platinum – recruit and maintain at least one Liv Platinum ranked affiliate
- 2-Star Platinum – recruit and maintain at least two Liv Platinum ranked affiliates
- 3-Star Platinum – recruit and maintain at least three Liv Platinum ranked affiliates
- Diamond – recruit and maintain one 1-Star Platinum, 2-Star Platinum and 3-Star Platinum affiliate
- Diamond Elite – recruit and maintain three 3-Star Platinum ranked affiliates
- Diamond Executive – recruit and maintain one 3-Star Platinum, Diamond, Diamond Elite affiliate
- Diamond Global – recruit and maintain three Live Diamond Elite ranked affiliates
GV stands for “Group Volume” and is PV generated by a Liv affiliate and their downline.
Note that from Bronze Elite, up to 60% of required GV is counted from any one unilevel team leg.
Liv affiliates are paid when they sell memberships to retail customers.
- sell an Access membership and receive $15
- sell a Premier membership and receive $25
- sell a VIP membership and receive $50
Residual retail commissions are paid based on monthly generated retail membership volume.
- generate 0 to 200 retail PV a month = no residual retail commission
- generate 201 to 500 retail PV a month = 10% retail residual commission rate
- generate 501 to 1000 retail PV a month = 15% retail residual commission rate
- generate 1001 to 2500 retail PV a month = 20% retail residual commission rate
- generate over 2500 retail PV a month = 25% retail residual commission rate on the first 2500 PV and 30% on any additional PV
Note that this volume is calculated on the ongoing monthly PV generated by retail membership sales, not the initial PV value.
E.g. Access memberships generate 9 PV towards residual retail commissions, regardless of whether they are new memberships or not.
Liv affiliates are paid up to $160 on recruitment of new affiliates.
Recruitment commissions are coded, based on rank:
- Active Promoters can earn up to $75
- Bronzes can earn up to $100
- Bronze Elites can earn up to 110
- Silvers can earn up to $120
- Silver Elites can earn up to $130
- Golds can earn up to $140
- Gold Elites can earn up to $150
- Platinums and higher earn the full available $160
The coded nature of the business means that $160 is paid out on each newly recruited Liv affiliate.
The recruiting affiliate receives the recruitment commission rate for their rank.
If the recruiting affiliate is lower than Platinum, the difference between what they are paid and $160 is paid upline to higher ranked affiliates.
E.g. A Silver Elite recruits a new affiliate and is paid $130, leaving $30 to roll upline.
Liv searches upline for a Gold or higher ranked affiliate to pay the remaining $30 to.
- if a Gold is found first, they receive $10 ($140-$130), leaving $10 to be paid to a Gold Elite or $20 to a Platinum or higher ranked affiliate
- if a Gold Elite is found first, they receive $20 ($150-$130), leaving $10 to be paid to the first upline Platinum or higher ranked affiliate
- if a Platinum affiliate is found first, they receive the remaining $30
A residual recruitment commission of up to $40 is paid on first-level recruitment activity.
That is affiliates recruited by those you’ve personally recruited.
- Silvers receive up to $10 in residual recruitment commissions
- Silver Elites receive up to $20 in residual recruitment commissions
- Golds receive up to $30 in residual recruitment commissions
- Gold Elites receive up to $35 in residual recruitment commissions
- Platinums receive the full available $40
Residual recruitment commissions are coded in the same manner standard recruitment commissions are.
Note that residual recruitment commissions generated by Active Promoter to Bronze Elite affiliates are automatically passed up to the first Silver or higher ranked upline affiliate.
Rising Star Recruitment Bonus
To qualify as a Rising Star, a Liv affiliate must
- qualify at Bronze within thirty days of signing up; or
- enroll three retail membership customers and generate 2000 GV within thirty days of signing up; or
- satisfy either of the above qualification criteria for two consecutive months.
Liv affiliates who are Rising Star qualified receive double recruitment commissions (excludes first three recruited affiliates).
Liv pays residual commissions via a unilevel 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 level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are 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 infinite number of levels.
Residual commissions are paid on membership sales volume generated within the unilevel team as follows:
- Active Promoters earn 5% on levels 1 and 2
- Bronze and Bronze Elite ranked affiliates earn 5% on levels 1 to 4
- Silver ranked affiliates earn 5% on levels 1 to 6
- Silver Elite and Gold ranked affiliates earn 5% on levels 1 to 7
- Gold Elite and higher ranked affiliates earn 5% on levels 1 to 8
Leadership Depth Bonus
Platinum and higher ranked Liv affiliates are able to earn beyond the first eight levels of their unilevel team.
The Leadership Depth Bonus starts off by paying a 2% residual commission from level 9 of an affiliate’s unilevel team.
When a Platinum or higher ranked affiliate is found in level 9 or deeper in a unilevel team leg, they cap off the first generation of that leg eight levels below them.
4% is paid on sales volume generated on this first generation (level 9 of the unilevel team leg down past eight levels below the first found Platinum affiliate).
From there 2% is paid down to infinity.
If a second Platinum or higher ranked affiliate exists deeper in the leg, 2% is paid down on eight levels below them, after which the Leadership Depth Bonus stops paying out on that leg.
Note that the Leadership Depth Bonus is calculated independently for each unilevel team leg.
Liv affiliates are charged an option $29 a month for marketing tools.
Liv takes this fee and uses it to pay the Star Bonus.
The Star Bonus pays up to $8 a month on fees paid by recruited affiliates. A $6 second-level residual Star Bonus is also available.
- Platinum affiliates earn a $2 Star Bonus and $1 residual
- 1-Star Platinums earn a $4 Star Bonus and $2 residual
- 2-Star Platinums earn a $6 Star Bonus and $4 residual
- 3-Star Platinums and higher earn an $8 Star Bonus and $6 residual
Liv affiliate membership is $399 and includes one month (30 days) of VIP membership.
After a Liv affiliate’s first month, “optional” marketing tools (replicated website, backoffice tools and a mobile app) are billed at $29 a month.
Having an active lifestyle sort of fits into Visalus’ weight loss theme, so I sort of get the idea behind Liv.
Admittedly the cynic in me initially saw Liv as the monetization of Visalus affiliate incentive trips.
It seems however that significant effort has been put into fleshing Liv out as a standalone opportunity, so I’ll give Visalus a pass on that.
What you’re basically looking at is a travel portal with trip ideas. The Photobook service compliments the trip idea, with everything else offered pretty much being secondary.
This is reflected in Liv’s compensation plan, which exclusively focuses on membership sales, as opposed to actual use of offered services (including travel).
I did come across Liv Coins, which appears to be an attempt to offer something on use of Liv’s services.
Liv Coins are an internal currency generated on the sale of Premier and VIP memberships, as well as use of Liv services.
Both Liv retail customers and affiliates can earn Liv Coins, which once acquired can be put towards purchases within Liv’s offered services.
This doubles as an incentive for Liv retail customers to refer new customers.
Note that generated volume on these referred customers (excluding Liv Coins) rolls up to the original referring affiliate.
Overall though I think Liv might struggle to sell the upper tier memberships to retail customers.
Between the $9 a month Access and $49 a month Premier memberships, Photobook and increased travel booking options are offered.
That translates to a $480 difference in fees paid annually, so retail customers are going to have to frequently book services to recoup that outlay.
The Photobook service is a nice idea, but with everyone carrying a smart phone around these days might be outdated.
There’s plenty of photo binding services available these days, so I’m not really seeing that justifying a $480 increase.
VIP membership adds “VIP-only promotions”, which aren’t explicitly specified on Liv’s website.
The closest Liv gets to disclosing what VIP-only promotions are:
-Liv List VIP Upgrades
-Private VIP-Only events
-Liv Mysteriously, receive first complimentary shipment of Liv Launch products
-Liv Media (2 TB storage)
Beyond that nothing specific is disclosed, which makes asking $600 more annually a tall order.
Getting back to Liv’s compensation plan, the active requirement of 125 PV autoship seems a bit strange. I say this because one VIP membership only generates 99 PV after the first month.
This implies a Liv affiliate is going to have to take out two VIP memberships on autoship to qualify for commissions (or even more cheaper memberships), which makes no sense.
And it’s certainly disheartening to see retail PV qualification at 200 PV. Why is this more than self-funded qualification?
Once qualified Liv’s compensation is reasonably balanced but there’s no requirement to focus on retail sales.
Note that I say reasonably balanced, on the assumption all the 2018 Special Promotion offers aren’t still active.
Other than the car bonus, the 2018 Special Promotion offers are hugely recruitment based and basically flip Liv’s compensation plan into pyramid territory.
Without them the compensation paid out is more balanced, but the focus on recruitment (each affiliate on 125 PV or more autoship), is still possible.
The simple solution to this is abolish self-funded commission qualification. Either keep the 200 PV retail requirement or reduce it to 99 PV (one retail VIP membership).
While this is something Liv corporate needs to address, the good news is you can still ascertain how your potential upline is running their business.
All you need to ask them is how many active retail memberships they have under them, and weigh that against their personally recruited affiliates.
If retail memberships don’t at least match recruited affiliates (or worse the Liv affiliate refuses to share this information with you), there’s a good chance that affiliate is focused on recruitment over retail.
This translates to their Liv business being run as a pyramid scheme.
Again, Liv corporate can address this by adjusting commission qualification as detailed above. But until that happens, your own due-diligence is the best took you have.
One last issue I want to note is the ridiculous $29 a month marketing tools fee.
Having backoffice reporting, a replicated sales website and whatever Liv offers through its app isn’t “optional”, it’s standard in any MLM offering.
Charging affiliates $29 a month for access seems farsical, especially when $14 of the $29 is paid out in commissions.
If you have to charge a monthly fee, get rid of the Star Bonus and reduce the monthly affiliate cost closer to whatever it costs to provide the marketing tools (nowhere near $29 per affiliate).
Liv affiliates are the company’s sales-force and nickel-and-diming them isn’t productive.
Beyond that, if you’re on board with Liv’s “bucket list now” message and can see yourself making use of the offered services (remember you have to recoup your fees at a minimum to make it worthwhile), it might be worth evaluating Liv for a few months as a retail customer.
See how that goes because signing up as an affiliate lets you recoup that outlay through recruitment, which is something retail customers aren’t going to be doing.
If you personally can’t justify the cost of Liv as a retail customer, signing up as an affiliate to try and sell the memberships to retail customers makes no sense.