Amway is a multi-level marketing system comprised of an international company called Amway Corporation and several surrounding but legally separate Amway Motivational Organizations (AMOs). Amway Corporation manufactures and sells personal care products and markets products from other companies.
Anybody can become an Amway distributor; distributors may purchase products from Amway at a rate published as wholesale price. These products can be used for personal consumption or sold to others. Furthermore, if a distributor can convince a new participant to join the system, the distributor becomes the new person's sponsor. Amway distributors receive monthly payments based on the amount of sales their group generates; the group consists of all people sponsored by the distributor, and all people sponsored by those, and so on. Nobody can join without a sponsor.
The AMO's offer free motivational speeches for people who have not yet joined the Amway system and they sell motivational seminars, tapes and literature to Amway distributors.
Amway employs a system of "levels" to reward successful distributors; higher level distributors act as mentors to newer distributors, organize regular meetings of their group and derive most of their profit from the sale of motivational tools to them.
While supporters of the system point out that Amway is an easy way to earn money on the side and that it makes sense to buy products for personal use "from your own business" wholesale, critics charge that even the wholesale prices published by Amway are often higher than retail prices elsewhere; supporters claim that Amway products are of higher quality than products available elsewhere. Amway does not qualify as a pyramid scheme since the main aim of the enterprise is the sale of products. Critics point out however that participating in the system is not free, that AMOs often emphasize the attracting of new participants over selling products and that many distributors spend little time actually selling products to others. Reports that AMOs target psychologically vulnerable people and that some distributors have become alienated from friends and family who did not support their activity are rejected by Amway supporters as exaggerated. Amway has recently created an internet arm called Quixtar.