Case #114-2023: Administrative Closure – Reliv International, Inc.
BBB NATIONAL PROGRAMS
Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council
Case Number 114-2023: Administrative Closure – Reliv International, Inc.
Reliv International, Inc. (“Reliv” or the “Company”) is a direct-selling company founded in 1988, and based in Chesterfield, Missouri. The Company markets proprietary nutritional supplements.
Basis of Inquiry
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) is a national advertising self-regulation program administered by BBB National Programs. This inquiry was commenced by DSSRC pursuant to its ongoing independent monitoring process, which monitors advertising and marketing claims disseminated by direct selling companies and its salesforce members.
This inquiry concerned thirteen earnings claims and six product performance claims disseminated by Company salesforce members. The representative claims that formed the basis of this inquiry were communicated on Facebook and YouTube. Those claims are set forth below:
- “3k – 7k per day…and 100k to 300k or more monthly”
- “ All expense paid trips”
- “create your own income…financial freedom”
- “financial freedom…how to earn money during quarantine”
- “long term career…financial freedom”
- “replace full time income”
- ”I thought if I could just make $5,000 a month and be able to work for myself and help people it would be worth it and it far exceeded that…we made millions of dollars; [03:17] escape debt; pay for college; choose when to retire.”
- “earn an income on your terms; to be able to afford private school and not worry about it; welcome to the power of residual income and its unlimited potential; in my very first month I made $800 profit…that allowed me to sell my dress shop and go full-time with Reliv.”
Product Performance Claims
- “I lost 30lbs.” (consumer testimonial)
- “The health benefits are numerous: Stress relief; healthy skin; anti-inflammatory; immune system support; digestive health; heart health.”
- “healthy aging, healthy cells, healthy skin, digestive health, heart health”
- “Science is showing by combing both of these programs can help reverse your type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, losing that unwanted belly fat, and fatty liver disease many doctors are doing these methods…Science also realizes by changing the type of water you are drinking is the fastest and easiest way to lower high blood glucose levels this also helps with high blood pressure.”
- “my mom ended up getting off high blood pressure medication, my uncle got off Prozac, my little cousin got off Ritalin, my aunt Rita got off her arthritis medication she’d been on for years, my grandma started to go to the bathroom once a day and she was so excited”
- “My family never has flu shots and enjoy year round health. No prescription meds for any of us!”
DSSRC was concerned that the above representative social media posts would imply to a reasonable consumer that:
a) the typical Reliv salesforce member could generally expect to earn significant or substantial income, pay off significant debt, and/or earn a full-time income from the Company’s business opportunity;
b) the Company’s products could effectively treat a series of health-related conditions; and
c) consumers may be persuaded to substitute Reliv products for their use of prescription medications.
Reliv promptly responded to DSSRC’s Notice of Inquiry. The Company did not attempt to substantiate the representative claims at issue in this inquiry but rather informed DSSRC that it had contacted all of the individuals who were responsible for the social media posts identified in DSSRC’s Notice of Inquiry and have them removed from circulation.
Administrative Closing Determination
DSSRC acknowledged and appreciated that the Company promptly removed and/or modified all of the social media posts at issue to address DSSRC’s concerns and determined that Reliv’s actions were necessary and appropriate for the reasons stated below.
With respect to earnings claims at issue, while DSSRC will evaluate any claim based upon the context in which the claim appears and the potential net impression of such claim to the audience, some words and phrases are prohibited when made to a general audience of prospective or current salesforce members. Such words and phrases include statements such as “quit your job,” “be set for life,” “make more money than you ever have imagined or thought possible,” “unlimited income,” “full-time income,” “replacement income,” “career-level income,” or any substantially similar statements or representations. Other terms, such as “passive income” and “residual income,” are prohibited when they convey that income can be continuously earned by salesforce members with little or no ongoing effort.
Regarding the “all expense paid trips” claim made by the Reliv salesforce member, section 2(F) of the DSSRC Earnings Claims Guidance states that, for purposes of a DSSRC inquiry, an earnings claim is any claim, express or implied, communicated by either the direct selling company itself or by its independent salesforce members that conveys that salesforce members may earn or have earned company-sponsored incentives, including those lifestyle purchases described in section 2(B), and vacations or other rewards.1
Turning to the product performance claims in the inquiry, DSSRC has noted in previous inquiries that health-related claims must be supported by reliable and competent evidence demonstrating that the product can perform as claimed. The Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) standard of competent and reliable scientific evidence has been defined in FTC case law as "tests, analyses, research, studies3, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results."2
In addition, with respect to the weight loss testimonial claim, DSSRC concluded that because the Company did not demonstrate that weight loss results featured in the social media post were consistent with results that could be generally expected by consumers, the advertisement should include a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the generally expected performance in the depicted circumstances. However, there was no such disclosure accompanying the post. DSSRC expressed its appreciation to Reliv for removing the post in its entirety.
Based upon Reliv’s good faith actions to address its concerns, DSSRC administratively closed its inquiry.
(Case 114, closed on 5/3/23)
© 2023, BBB National Programs
 DSSRC Earnings Claims Guidance at https://bbbprograms.org/programs/all-programs/dssrc.
 See Vital Basics, Inc., C-4107 (Consent April 26, 2004); see also In Re Schering Corp., 118 F.T.C. 1030, 1123 (1994).
 16 CFR 255.2 (b).