Mary Kay Company Analysis: The Iconic Pink Beauty Brand

Mary Kay has become a truly iconic and successful network marketing company in the US and globally.

As early as 2018, the company was featured on the DSN Global 100 list in the 6th position, based on revenues of $3.25B in 2017. Despite a gradual dip in revenue since then, Mary Kay is still immensely successful and expanding operations worldwide.

Here, we evaluate the intricate details of this company to understand the key performance indicators.

Section 1 – The Company

Mary Kay Logo

In this section, you’ll learn about Mary Kay’s incredible performance and the history behind its successful market dominance.

What is Mary Kay?

Mary Kay Inc. is a privately owned multilevel marketing (MLM) company that sells skincare and color cosmetics globally. With a 60-year history and operations in nearly 40 markets around the world, it has become an iconic beauty brand for women.

The company positions itself as a brand that values inclusivity and diversity while empowering women to be successful.

Market and performance

Mary Kay (MK) is a multi-billion-dollar company. Forbes indicates that MK had revenues worth $2.7 billion in 2022, although the annual revenue trend gradually declined from a high of $3.6 billion in 2018.

Roughly 4,500 employees work in the company’s 18 distribution centers, two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, beauty centers in China, and 28 market satellite offices worldwide.

Additionally, MK’s products are sold in nearly 40 countries by millions of independent distributors (Mary Kay Beauty Consultants).

Due to MK’s success, Forbes (*) hailed Mary Kay Ash, the founder, as one of the greatest business stories of all time in 1996.

RELATED ANALYSIS – Other leading MLM companies in the cosmetics market: 1) Amorepacific (the second-largest cosmetic company in South Korea); 2) Oriflame (a successful European network marketing company with a long history).


Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay in 1963 with just $5,000. She launched her “Beauty by Mary Kay” business and introduced a new skincare approach with the Basic Treatment Set (a foundation and four skincare products).

In 1964, Ash also started an annual tradition of recognizing women’s accomplishments in entrepreneurship called Seminar.

MK chose the iconic pink color in the ’60s to match most Americans’ typical white bathrooms.

In 1969, Ash established the career car program, making the pink Cadillac a symbol of success for MK’s Independent Beauty Consultants.

The company went public in 1976 but returned to being a privately held, family-owned business in 1985. Today, with over 35 markets, Mary Kay is a successful global company.

Who founded Mary Kay? (video)

Mary Kay Ash was the founder of Mary Kay Inc. She was motivated by the saying, “You can do it.” Unfortunately, she passed on in 2001.

Who is the CEO of Mary Kay?

Ryan Rogers is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Mary Kay Inc. He is the grandson of the founder, Mary Kay Ash.

Richard R. Rogers, who co-founded Mary Kay, Inc. with his mother, Mary Kay Ash, is the company’s Executive Chairman.

Who is the owner of Mary Kay?

Mary Kay is a family-owned business managed by the Mary Kay Ash family.

Where is the Mary Kay headquarters?

Mary Kay’s global headquarters is located at 16251 Dallas Parkway, Addison, Texas 75001.

The company also has 28 satellite offices around the world.

Values and company mission

Mary Kay Ash founded the company with the core value of faith first, family second, and career third. She stated that the company does more than sell cosmetics; it’s also changing lives by empowering women.

MK also runs social responsibility programs like Pink Changing Lives and Pink Doing Green. The company established the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation in 1996 to support cancer research and prevent domestic violence.

Section 2 – Business Model

Amway business model

In this section, we analyze Mary Kay’s business model and evaluate the potential business opportunity or limitations for independent distributors.

How does Mary Kay market its products?

Mary Kay uses multilevel marketing to sell its products globally, except in China, where it sells through beauty centers.

Mary Kay’s compensation model explained

Although Mary Kay doesn’t provide publicly accessible documentation of its MLM compensation plan, various online sources have revealed the compensation plan documents.

Here is the detailed 2023 compensation plan:

This 2020 compensation plan document provides a lot more detail; however, it may have various differences from the 2023 plan since the compensation plans are updated every year:

In summary, here is the overall career path of an MK Beauty Consultant:

  1. Consultant: An “active” consultant orders at least $225 wholesale in 3 months and can purchase products at 50% of the suggested retail value
  2. Senior Consultant: Has 1 to 2 active recruits, earns 4% commission on team orders, and gets a $50 team-building bonus when recruits spend $600.
  3. Star Team Builder (Red Jacket): Has 3 to 4 active recruits. Earns 4% (under $1,000 production), 6% ($1,000 to $1,799 production), or 8% ($1,800+ production) team commissions, and a $50 team-building bonus when recruits spend $600.
  4. Team Leader: Has 5 to 7 active recruits. Earns 9% team commission or 13% if five active team members order $225+ and you order $600. Plus a $50 team-building bonus when recruits spend $600.
  5. Elite Team Leader: Has eight or more active recruits. Earns 9% to 13% team commission on team orders and a $50 team-building bonus when recruits spend $600.

And here is an overview of the top-tier levels:

  • Sales Director in Qualification (DIQ)
  • Sales Director
  • Senior Sales Director
  • Future Executive Senior
  • Executive Senior Director
  • Elite Executive Senior
  • National Sales Director Qualification
  • National Sales Director
  • Senior National Sales Director
  • Executive National Sales Director
  • Elite Executive National Sales Director

How many Mary Kay distributors are there?

According to Mary Kay Inc, there are millions of independent sales force members worldwide.

The company states that roughly 1.5% of its Independent Beauty Consultants reach the Independent Sales Director level. 10% of those Sales Directors earn the use of MK’s iconic Pink Cadillac, with 1,000+ Pink Cadillacs currently on the road.

Based on this information, there are more than 600,000 Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants in the US.

How to make money on Mary Kay

Beauty Consultants can make money through several options, including:

  • a 50% profit reselling MK products at the suggested retail price
  • personal team commission
  • commission on team orders
  • team-building bonuses
  • the Mary Kay Career Car Program – Independent Sales Directors can earn the use of a Cadillac XT5 (or cash). They can also earn the use of a Chevy Malibu and Chevy Equinox (or cash).

How to become a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant

To become a Beauty Consultant, you first need to connect with an existing Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant (you can be connected with one through the MK website).

Then you’ll sign and submit an Independent Beauty Consultant Agreement.

Finally, you’ll choose one Mary Kay Startup Option:

  1. Mary Kay eStart – A $30 yearly subscription to get a personalized website and online store, access to secure card payments, and online education.
  2. Mary Kay Starter Kit – A $130 yearly subscription to get the Mary Kay eStart plus full-sized products and samples for demonstration to customers. It also has party supplies, literature, and educational materials.
  3. Mary Kay New Beauty Consultant Sample Pack – An add-on for a $45 yearly subscription to get a bundle of the most frequently requested MK products, essential literature, and educational material.

How much can you earn as an MK Beauty Consultant?

Unlike the US MK website, the Canadian MK website provides an income disclosure for Beauty Consultants.

The income disclosure indicates that most Beauty Consultants’ primary source of profit is selling MK products. However, MK cannot reliably track this and only provides the commission and bonus-related income details.

That said, a typical Beauty Consultant doesn’t earn any commission or bonuses, and the average annual income was $245 in 2021.

Here is an overview of the Canadian Beauty Consultants’ income in 2021:

Rank% of Independent Sales ForceAverage Annual CommissionsAverage Time to Position
Independent National Sales Directors0.04%$155,543 14 years
Independent Sales Directors1.83%$22,293 3 years
Commission Eligible Beauty Consultants14.66%$245 
Beauty Consultants not eligible to earn commissions83.46%$0 

What happens if you quit Mary Kay?

If you quit Mary Kay, the company will repurchase original and unused products at 90% of their original cost.

This only applies if they were purchased within one year before return.

Section 3 – Products

Mary Kay's products

This section covers Mary Kay’s products, highlighting some best sellers and evaluating the production process’s unique aspects.

What does Mary Kay sell?

MK sells skin care and color cosmetics worldwide, with a global portfolio of nearly 800 products.

Such products include buffing creams, body lotions, shampoos, styling gels, cleansing creams, facial soaps, moisturizers, eye colors, mascara, lipsticks, blemish concealers, tanning lotions, cologne sprays, and eyeliner brushes. 

Some of the best sellers in Canada include:

  • Satin Hands® Shea Hand Sanitizer priced at $11.00
  • TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Advanced Lifting Serum priced at $78.00
  • TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Day Cream Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 priced at $58.00

What is unique about Mary Kay’s products?

Mary Kay has positioned its brand as offering high-quality, extensively researched, and tested products. To achieve that goal, the company’s Research & Development team includes distinguished scientists worldwide. They hold Ph.D. and other advanced degrees across multiple disciplines such as skin biology, cell biology, chemistry, and biochemistry.

In 2018, Mary Kay opened the Richard R. Rogers (R3) Manufacturing/ R&D Center, a $100 million state-of-the-art facility dedicated to advancing the company’s leadership in science-based innovation.

Where are Mary Kay’s products made?

Mary Kay has two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Dallas, Texas, USA.

The company’s global distribution system, known as the Mary Kay Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), is an innovative facility with the following functions: transportation, maintenance, distribution assembly, inventory control, warehouse, and metro shuttle.

The company also has a plant in Hangzhou, China, which manufactures and packages products for that market.

Lawsuits and independent reviews of Mary Kay

Mary Kay has faced several legal challenges, including the 2004 court case, Woolf v. Mary Kay Cosmetics. Woolf argued that workplace rights could be applied to independent contractors. The Supreme Court ultimately denied certiorari in this case (the court refused to take the case).

In another incident in 2021, (an independent advertising watchdog organization) filed a complaint with the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) against Mary Kay. This led to an investigation by the DSSRC, and Mary Kay had to remove the claims that were considered deceptive from publication.

Despite such legal challenges, Mary Kay has received recognition as a reputable global employer and a family-friendly employer by various organizations:

  • Reputation Institute (Ri) (*) ranked Mary Kay number 42 in the 2019 Global Workplace 100 Study as one of the world’s most reputable employers.
  • Forbes (*) ranked Mary Kay 97 out of 500 companies for America’s Best Midsize Employers 2019.
  • Home Affairs Bureau (*) featured Mary Kay Hong Kong in the Family-Friendly Employer 2018 ranking. 

Additionally, Mary Kay has received high customer ratings on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 based on 7,449 reviews.

Section 4 – FAQs About Mary Kay

Amway FAQ

The frequently asked questions in this section can help demystify various misconceptions about Mary Kay.

Is Mary Kay a pyramid scheme?

Mary Kay is registered as a multilevel marketing company; hence, it fulfills the regulatory requirements of an MLM – not an illegal pyramid scheme. Plus, the company is a member of the Direct Selling Association, which implements a code of ethics that prohibits pyramid schemes among its members.

Can you make money with Mary Kay?

Based on MK’s income disclosure, Canadian Beauty Consultants earned an average of $245 annually in 2021, and only about 1% of all Beauty Consultants made a reasonable income. Being a Beauty Consultant is a business, like any other, whereby such low success rates are typical, with 90% of startups failing.

Can I buy Mary Kay without a consultant?

You can only buy Mary Kay products online or in person through an Independent Beauty Consultant.


Author: Victor Nyorani

Victor Nyorani - Network Marketing Start

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