Vemma: Is it really a revolution?


I am not an expert in business models, nor on the intricacies of international trading laws - so I'm not even going to go into whether Vemma is an illegal pyramid or Ponzi scheme, and whether or not it is flouting the legal rules of doing business. I am more interested by the impact Vemma has on those who sign up, and I find the phenomenon very interesting from the point of view of how Vemma markets itself and convinces (often) young people to put up large lump sums of money for it's products.

What saddens me about Vemma is that it has packaged more than just energy drinks in cheap cellophane: it has packaged success into a brash, soulless Mayfair tinted formula of Grey Goose Vodka, a gold Rolex, and a BMW car. Talk about a cliche. No space is given to those who simply want to earn a comfortable living or supplement their income, but instead everything is discussed in hyperbolic terms: "YOU could change the world!", calling this a "young persons revolution."

This is where Vemma becomes more sinister and, in my perhaps overly analytical eyes, like a religious cult. Everyone within it speaks alike in motivational quotes and refers to the same classic materialistic symbols of success. All "affiliates" look up to Vemma success stories such as Alex Morton with such reverence that he has become a living advert for the company, and his every movement is recorded and broadcast on social media to his thousands of loyal followers.

Appealing specifically to the youth of today is a very clever marketing strategy, as graduate jobs are harder and harder to come by and people are increasingly forced into domains they had never previously considered or aren't particularly interested in. Vemma essentially sells the idea that salesman = entrepreneur, and that a fairly exploitative business model is merely highly efficient networking, as happens in other more legitimised business on a daily basis, and on a global scale.

If success to you means being able to instagram extortionate bar tabs and refer to yourself as a entrepreneurial go-getter without the proven business credentials, then Vemma may be the movement that connects you with like-minded tank top toting individuals, for whom success is simply money, and not having to go through the motions of the 'daily grind' of a 9 to 5 job (ironically, as the preferred verb for working is 'grinding,' which also seems weirdly sexual and inexplicable.)

Not only that, but the social media channels of all of it's 'affiliates' are virtually interchangeable with one another. Wolf of Wall street screenshots are juxtaposed alongside 'inspiring' quotes about how they will be laughing all the way to the bank while you slowly rot inside at your desk cubicle. These posts may be sent out with the best intentions to be motivational and to make you realise that following the ascribed route to adulthood is not necessary but they come across to many (ie me haha) as crass and condescending, and only seem to attract likes and comments from those in similarly money orientated businesses, some more legitimate than others.

The vemma dream may or may not happen for those who choose to enter this company, but the business model of network marketing seems at once unsustainable and exploitative. In essence, you are given the tools to sell goods to other people, and then take a cut of their profits. But you then need a larger pool of people to sell to, as you slowly get through all your aquaintances. Establishing 'relationships' with people, however temporary or permanent, in order to take commission from their earnings just doesn't seem right to me - and perhaps that is unfair, I see it as an economically fueled sociability, that lasts until someone writes their name down and hands over cash. In a time of quickly forged cyber friendships, this is an easy task.

A positive thing that Vemma seems to offer is a sense of independence and social confidence - you have to be pretty good at public speaking to convince strangers to hand over money, so this could be a beneficial exercise in sales pitching, but given that Vemma as a company has had it's fair share of controversy (I'm pretty sure they claimed their products cured autism at one point), putting them on your CV may not be the best move. For those who believe that they are doing a good deed towards the people who they sell to, I hope that they have done adequate research first and make sure that this is a company they want to become associated with - as leaving the company and admitting defeat may be as painfully public as all those declarations they made of future success.

To conclude, it seems that Vemma as a company will only continue to thrive in this period of economic uncertainty, for a generation of instagrammers for whom visual reminders of material extravagance are all too easy to come across on daily basis.

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