Lifebrook Review: Aronia berry farm launches MLM opp
At the time of publication Lifebrook provide no information on their website about who owns or runs the company.
Further research reveals Tony and Jennifer Heisterkamp identified as the company’s founders on the official Lifebrook Facebook page.
The Heisterkamp’s are based out of Iowa and run the Eden Valley Apple Orchard & Farm.
As per a 2011 interview with KMEG 14 Fox44 Siouxland News, Tony Heisterkamp (right with Jennifer) retired from selling furniture in 2005. Shortly after that he started Eden Valley Apple Orchard & Farm, on which he grows organic apples and aronia berries.
As far as I can tell, Lifebrook is Heisterkamp’s first MLM venture as an executive.
Read on for a full review of the Lifebrook MLM opportunity.
Lifebrook market a range of products with the aronia berry as a key-ingredient.
Aronia berry are also known as chokeberry and are native to eastern North America.
Lifebrook claim the “benefits of aronia” have been ” confirmed by hundreds of scientific studies.”
The company however doesn’t cite any of these studies in its marketing material.
Around the world, scientists have proven aronia’s unmatched combination of health benefits.
Ditto which scientists have proven aronia’s purported health benefits.
Nonetheless, Lifebrook refer to aronia as “the world’s most health-giving superfruit” and claim “benefits” associated with its consumption include:
- more energy
- stronger immunity
- clearer thinking
- healthy joints
- better sleep and
- improved digestion
The company does however acknowledge that none of its claims have been verified by the FDA.
Lifebrook market an aronia berry daily supplement, soluble powder and juice.
- Vitronia is a “full-spectrum” daily crystallized aronia supplement
- Puronia-CP provides “all the benefits of pure, natural aronia in a soluble crystal powder”
- Puronia is a “proprietary formulation of pure aronia juice”
At the time of publication Lifebrook provide no retail pricing on their website or in their marketing material.
The Lifebrook Compensation Plan
The Lifebrook compensation plan is a mix of retail sales, getting paid on recruited affiliate orders and residuals via a unilevel and generation bonus.
MLM Commission Qualification
To qualify for MLM commissions (and bonus retail commission percentage), a Lifebrook affiliate must generate at least $105 PV a month.
PV stands for “Personal Volume” and is sales volume generated by retail sales and an affiliate’s own purchase of product.
Lifebrook Affiliate Ranks
There are eight affiliate ranks in the Lifebrook compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Independent Advocate – sign up as a Lifebrook affiliate and maintain commission qualification requirements
- Business Builder – remain commission qualified and recruit and maintain at least three affiliates who are also commission qualified
- Team Builder – remain commission qualified, recruit and maintain at least four commission qualified affiliates (at least one Business Builder) and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $4000 GV
- Team Leader – remain commission qualified, recruit and maintain at least five commission qualified affiliates (at least one Team Builder and one Business Builder) and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $8000 GV
- Director – remain commission qualified, maintain at least five personally recruited commission qualified affiliates (at least one Team Leader and one Team Builder) and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $20,000 GV
- Executive Director – remain commission qualified, satisfy Director requirements, have a ranked Director affiliate in at least one unilevel leg and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $50,000 GV
- Senior Executive – remain commission qualified, satisfy Executive Director requirements, have a ranked Executive Director affiliate in at least one unilevel leg and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $100,000 GV
- National Executive – remain commission qualified, satisfy Senior Executive requirements, have a ranked Senior Executive affiliate in at least one unilevel leg and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $200,000 GV
After qualifying, monthly requirements to maintain an affiliate rank are as follows:
- Independent Advocate – remain commission qualified
- Business Builder – remain commission qualified and maintain three personally recruited commission qualified affiliates, or have a total monthly downline volume of at least $1500 GV
- Team Builder – remain commission qualified and either maintain initial Tem Builder qualification criteria or have a total monthly downline volume of at least $3000 GV
- Team Leader – remain commission qualified and either maintain initial Team Leader qualification criteria or have a total monthly downline volume of at least $6000 GV
- Director – remain commission qualified and either maintain initial Director qualification criteria or have a total monthly downline volume of at least $15,000 GV
- Executive Director – remain commission qualified and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $35,000 GV
- Senior Executive – remain commission qualified and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $70,000 GV
- National Executive – remain commission qualified and have a total monthly downline volume of at least $150,000 GV
GV stands for “Group Volume” and is PV generated by an affiliate’s downline.
Note that no more than 60% of required GV can come from any one unilevel leg up until Director. From Executive Director the percentage is reduced to 40%.
Also note that from the Team Builder rank, commission qualified affiliate unilevel legs must be generating at least $300 GV a month to count towards recruited affiliate requirements.
Lifebrook affiliates earn a 20% commission on retail orders.
Preferred customer orders (retail customers who have signed up for monthly autoship) generate a 10% commission on generated sales volume (PV).
A bonus of up to 15% is available on retail volume, based on how many preferred customer orders an affiliate takes each month:
- two to four preferred customer orders – 5% bonus
- five to nine preferred customer orders – 10% bonus
- ten or more preferred customer orders – 15% bonus
Note that this isn’t a commission rate bonus but rather an increase in generated volume for retail orders (used to calculate retail commissions).
First Order Bonus
When a new preferred customer or recruited affiliate places their first product order, a 25% First Order Bonus is paid out.
Note that the First Order Bonus is capped on orders of up to $500 PV (which itself is counted at a rate of 50% of regular PV for some reason).
Lifebrook pay 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.
Lifebrook cap payable unilevel levels at five, with how many levels an affiliate can earn on determined by rank:
- Independent Advocate – 4% on level 1 (personally recruited affiliates)
- Business Builder – 4% on levels 1 and 2
- Team Builder – 4% on levels 1 and 2 and 2% on level 3
- Team Leader – 4% on levels 1 and 2, 3% on level 3 and 2% on level 4
- Director and higher – 4% on levels 1 to 5
Enroller Residual Bonus
The Enroller Residual Bonus is a percentage bonus paid out on monthly volume generated by recruited affiliates on levels 1 and 2 of the unilevel team.
- Independent Advocates earn 6% on level 1 (personally recruited affiliates)
- Business Builders earn 6% on level 1 and 3% on level 2
- Team Builders earn 6% on level 1 and 4% on level 2
- Team Leaders earn 6% on level 1 and 5% on level 2
- Directors earn 6% on levels 1 and 2
The Generation Bonus allows a Lifebrook affiliate to earn beyond the first five levels of their unilevel team via generations.
A generation in the Lifebrook compensation plan is defined when an Executive Director or higher ranked affiliate is found in a unilevel leg.
This affiliate begins the first generation, with the generation ending if another Executive Director or higher ranked affiliate exists deeper in the leg.
If no such ranked affiliate exists, the first generation runs the entire length of the unilevel leg. If another Executive Director or higher ranked affiliate exists, a second generation begins.
This second generation follows the same rules as the first generation, in that it ends only if a third Executive Director or higher ranked affiliate is found deeper in the leg.
Using this generational structure, a Lifebrook affiliate can earn an additional sales volume bonus on up to three generations per unilevel leg:
- Executive Director – 2% on the first generation
- Senior Executive – 3% on the first and second generations
- National Executive – 3% on the first, second and third generations
Executive Director ranked affiliates earn a matching bonus on commissions their personally recruited affiliates earn:
- Executive Directors receive a 5% check match bonus
- Senior Executives receive a 10% check match bonus
- National Executives receive a 15% check match bonus
Basic Lifebrook affiliate membership is $49.95.
There is also a “Fast Start Pack” option, however at the time of publication the cost has yet to be disclosed.
Whether there is any financial incentive for signing up with a Fast Start Pack is unclear.
Lifebrook appear to currently be in prelaunch, so I’m willing to cut them a bit of slack with regard to their online presence.
I will say though that for an MLM company, a Wix website doesn’t really cut it. Probably best to wait until you’re ready to actually launch with a decent website you can throw basic information about the company up on.
On that note, I think there should be some disclosure that Lifebrook’s products are sourced from the owner’s farm business. There’s of course nothing wrong with this arrangement, but it should factor into Lifebrook’s marketing materials.
Instead, this is how Lifebrook’s suppliers are referenced:
Now Lifebrook brings you the purest aronia direct from farm to table, thanks to our dedicated network of American growers.
I don’t know if Lifebrook are sourcing aronia berries from independent farms in addition to Eden Valley Apple Orchard & Farm, but it needs to be disclosed either way in a transparent manner.
With regard to the aronia supplements and juice themselves, my own research revealed aronia berry based products are readily available and pretty-competitively priced.
Without product pricing from Lifebrook it’s impossible to make a comparison, save to say if you’re in the US aronia berries are readily available – both locally and online.
If Lifebrook can keep costs down due to in-house manufacturing, that’s great… but I suspect the lack of pricing revealed might be a symptomatic of non-competitive pricing.
Also how Lifebrook are marketing their products needs to be addressed. It’s all very well to talk about scientists and scientific studies, but then you also need to provide evidence of such.
And it does no good adding an FDA disclaimer stating your products are ‘not intended to diagnose, treat cure of prevent any disease‘, when in the same breath you recommend dosages for your juice:
The protective power of the antioxidants we consume lasts 4 to 5 hours, so
regular replenishment with small doses is ideal.
Doseage is medicinal territory and if you see your products as medicine then that needs to be cleared with the FDA.
Otherwise you’re just asking for trouble when Lifebrook affiliates start running around the internet parroting claims the company itself has made.
Moving onto the compensation plan, legitimacy here hinges on whether the $105 commission qualification is being met by an affiliate’s own purchase of product.
If so, that’s fine – there just also needs to be equivalent retail volume being generated each month too.
Historically juice-based MLM opportunities have primarily derived revenue from affiliate autoship orders, which makes them defacto pyramid schemes.
Lifebrook do provide a great retail incentive with bonus PV, however it’s still possible to just ignore retail, self-qualify and get paid to recruit other affiliates who do the same.
And the Enroller Bonus certainly doesn’t help, effectively incentivizing affiliate autoship recruitment (which kind of cancels out the bonus retail PV incentive in a way).
Disqualifying affiliate order PV from the $105 PV MLM commission qualification would remedy this and ensure retail sales are being generated.
Otherwise you as a prospective affiliate are going to have to establish whether or not your potential upline is actually selling Lifebrook’s aronia products to retail customers, or whether they’re just looking to sign you up on autoship and move on.