J.R. Watkins Business Review

The purpose of this article is to provide an independent Watkins business review. Please know that I am in no way affiliated with the company, although I was a Watkins distributor at one point.  Additionally, please know that Watkins is a registered trademark, owned by the company. The information presented in this Watkins business review was collected from articles online, the company’s website, from my personal experiences and independent research.


Watkins is manufacturer of personal care, home-care, remedies, and organic flavorings products. They utilize the direct sales business model to sell their products and services to others. This means that the company manufactures the products and has an independent sales force that sells the products via word-of-mouth advertising.  In addition, they are the only direct sales company that I know of that also sells their product line in retail stores (more on that later).

The company has a very long and proud history. In fact, Watkins is one of America’s oldest companies. J.R. Watkins started the company in 1868 from his home in Plainview, Minnesota. From 1868 to 1978, the company was a traditional company with locations in the United States and Canada.

At one point, it had more than 130 branches in the U.S. and Canada. In 1978, the company was purchased by Irwin Jacobs. The Jacobs’ family continued to grow the company and converted it to a multi-level marketing company sometime around 1990. The company is America’s original natural apothecary manufacturer.

The company is one of the largest employers in southeastern Minnesota. J.R. Watkins is privately owned by the Jacobs’ family. It is a member of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Their mission statement is “to be the most trusted natural products company.” Their competitors include companies such as Amway, Pampered Chef and Melaleuca. The company does business in the United States, Canada, Phillipines and United Kingdom.


What makes the company so great is its products.  The products are absolutely awesome! Some of their popular products include their Natural Gourmet™ food products such as their black pepper, cinnamon and vanilla. These are three of my favorite Watkins products.

The personal care products are great too. I really enjoy the salves, bathroom cleaner and laundry detergent. My wife and I use many of the products, even though we are no longer affiliated with the company as distributors.

The products are very reasonably priced and are comparable to supermarket prices. In addition, they are very high quality and come with an unconditional money-back guarantee. Please know that Watkins also sells their products in stores such as Target™ and Wal-mart™. You can purchase products from these stores, even if you aren’t affiliated with Watkins. That’s what we do now!

At the time of this writing, Watkins manufactures more than 350 products. Each year, they add new products to their product line. They have everything from quality food items to bathroom cleaner to laundry detergent. Most of their items are consumable items, which mean they are used and then need to be reordered. This leads to repeat sales for Watkins distributors.

What I want to do in the paragraphs below is review some of my favorite products the company makes.

One of my favorite products is the Natural Home Care Lemon Room Freshener. I love this product. It smells fantastic. More importantly, it eliminates bad odors.  I keep a bottle of it in the bathroom and one in our living room.

You can simply spray it a couple times and those bad smells go away.  It lasts a long time. It’s concentrated and very effective. You can use it on surfaces or simply spray it into the air. Compared to some of its competitors, I think it’s the best product available.

It comes in a small, 4 fl ounce bottle. You can purchase a bottle of this product for between $3.50 and $4 per bottle, depending upon where you shop.

Another great product is the Natural Home Care Savon Hand Soap. This stuff works like a charm. We have a bottle in the bathroom and one in the kitchen.  My favorite is the Aloe and Green Tea flavor. It smells really good and doesn’t dry out your hands. It leaves your hands clean, smelling good and fresh. What more could you ask for in a hand soap?

We purchased the 11 fl oz bottle. That thing lasts a long time. It retails for $7.49 on the website.  I will be the first to admit that you can buy cheaper hand soaps at your local drug store. But I do believe that once you try the Watkins Savon Hand Soap (Aloe and Gree Tea) you will keep using it! To me, it’s worth the $7.

I love the J.R. Watkins Natural Home Care Window Cleaner. My favorite one is the Aloe and Green Tea Scent. It’s one of my top ten favorite Watkins’ products.

It does an amazing job cleaning the windows in my vehicle and in my house. It doesn’t leave any streaks or residue on my windows. It removes grime, fingerprints and dust.

The window cleaner is also biodegradable, non-toxic and priced right. It is comparable, or better, than the window cleaners you find at the discount stores and grocery stores. It also contains no animal ingredients.

One 24 fl ounce bottle lasts a long time, depending upon how much you use it. Best of all, one bottle costs approximately $3.50, so it is priced competitively with similar items you would find at the grocery store.

I also love the J.R. Watkins Natural Home Care Furniture Polish. This stuff does an outstanding job cleaning and dusting the wooden surface on our entertainment center and furniture. In fact, it makes our furniture look like new again.

It can even remove watermarks and hide scratches. It gives your furniture a nice shine, so when you have guests over they will be impressed.

It can be used on finished and unfinished wood, natural wood, vinyl, particle wood and more. It is non-toxic and biodegradable. It isn’t tested on animals and contains no animal ingredients.

It retails for $7.99 per bottle, which is a little bit pricey, but I still think it’s a pretty good deal.

Another great product is the Watkins’ black pepper. It is very concentrated compared to most other black pepper spices sold in the grocery store. That means that it has a stronger flavor and you can use less of it and still have a great taste.

It’s made with the finest Malabar and Lampong peppercorns. More importantly, the peppercorns are granulated, not crushed, which means they keep their flavor.

My wife and I use the pepper on eggs, vegetables, meats, salads, pastas, stir fry, in marinades, soups and countless other things. In my opinion, it’s one of the staple items in our kitchen. It comes is a six ounce can, which lasts almost 18 months for the two of us. It retails for just $7.99.

I also enjoy the Watkins High-Oil Korintje Cinnamon. It’s the best tasting cinnamon I’ve ever used. We use it on toast, on pudding, on pancakes, in cakes, on cinnamon rolls and in so many other recipes. It comes in a large 6 oz tin can.

The cinnamon has won countless awards. In 1928 it won the Gold Medal prize for the highest quality cinnamon at the International Exposition. Another great thing about it is that it is ground well. It’s very fine, unlike other cinnamon products you find at the grocery store.

I also recommend the J.R. Watkins Natural Apothecary Hand and Cuticle Salve. It comes in several different essences, to include lemon, mango, aloe and tea, and lavender. Lemon is my personal favorite.

What I really like about the product is that it works. It does a great job protecting your skin from the harsh elements. If you work outside, or tend to have dry hands and cuticles, you should check it out. It is made of beeswax base and is very good at moisturizing, nourishing, and revitalizing your hands.

According to the official Watkins’ website, the salve is:

• 95% Natural and above
• Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free
• Sodium Laureth Sulfate Free
• Paraben Free
• Phthalate Free
• Mineral Oil, Petrolatum free
• Dye Free

In other words, the salve doesn’t have many harmful ingredients.  At the time of this writing, the product retails for $8.99, for a 2.1 ounce can.

My wife and I really love the J.R. Watkins Original Vanilla. It’s easily our favorite vanilla available for purchase. We use it for baking all types of things such as cakes, cupcakes, brownies, whoopie pies and chocolate chip cookies.

It’s made from Madagascar Vanilla beans. Even better, it’s double strength. You can get up to 132 uses per 11 ounce bottle. Also, when you freeze it or bake it, the flavor doesn’t dissipate. At the time of this writing, it has a suggested retail price of $15.99.

If you’ve never tried the J.R. Watkins Original Vanilla, you should. It’s won countless awards. It tastes great. It’s even used in the “Famous Amos” chocolate chip cookies. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

I also enjoy the J.R. Watkins Meat Magic Exhausteur de Viande Flavor Enhancer. This product is absolutely awesome for chicken, beef, steak, and seafood. I’ve used it in burgers, meatloaf, baked chicken, stir-fry chicken, steak, deer meat and countless other recipes. All you do is add a teaspoon or two of it to any dish and BINGO!

We’ve had our bottle for about a year now and are only half way through it. One bottle is 11 fl oz. For the best use, you use two teaspoons for every pound of meat. You can vary the amount depending upon your taste-buds and the recipe you are cooking.  One bottle of the Watkins Meat Magic retails for $9.99.

This is just a broad sample of some of the company’s great products.


Did you know that Watkins products are sold in stores? I know that they can be found in Target. They are also available at Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, Cub Foods, HyVee, Rothman’s Fresh Markets, Woodmans, Wal-mart, Hannaford, Ralph’s, Pick N Save and about 30 other retail stores. Additionally, you can also buy Watkins products at Amazon.com, ebay.com and drugstore.com.

I have mixed feelings about this myself. From the company’s perspective, it’s definitely a great idea. They get increased exposure to their products and develop new revenue streams and new customers.

As a distributor, on the other hand, it’s hard to compete with retail stores. After all, why would someone buy products from you (the distributor), when they can get the same products in stores, probably at a cheaper price? Personally, I see that as a huge disadvantage for distributors.

In fact, I wouldn’t join any direct sales company that offers its product line in stores. I think it defeats the whole concept of using the direct sales business model to begin with.

But, I know that people think differently about this subject. Some distributors are fine with it, claiming that the added exposure is good for their business.


The income opportunity is great for someone looking to make an extra few hundred dollars per month or someone looking to build up a full-time income with the company!

There are several ways to make money with Watkins.  The first way you make money is by selling products to retail customers. You can do this by doing group presentations, one-on-one sales presentations or by sharing Watkins catalogs with friends and family members. When you do this, you keep the wholesale retail difference.

In most cases, this is somewhere between 20% and 40% of the selling price. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes it’s less. It varies by product and whether or not you give your customers any type of discount. Every product has a “suggested retail price.” The amount you charge customers is up to you.

The next way to make money with J.R. Watkins is to sponsor new distributors. When you sponsor people into the Watkins business, you can earn money off their sales too. When they sell products to customers and sponsor new distributors, you earn a small commission off each sale. As their sales increase and their downline grows, your commissions grow and you make more money. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to help your new Watkins distributors succeed.

The final way to make money with Watkins is with leadership rewards and incentives. When you build a large downline and generate lots of sales volume, Watkins will reward you with cash incentives, gifts, travel opportunities and more.

The amount of money you can earn is unlimited. It’s all based off your sales volume and your group’s sales volume. The more volume your “total business” does the more money you make. You can get started with your own Watkins business for about $39.95.


Success in Watkins is not rocket science.  If I had to boil it down in a nut-shell I would say the secret to success is to use the products yourself, to find five to ten customers, to sponsor a few distributors and then help them do the same thing.

Most of the top earners have personally sponsored 50 to 200 people and they also each have 10 to 100 customers.

I think it also helps to have a game plan and have a mentor.  Find someone in your upline who is successful and willing to help you and let them help you come up with a game plan.  Create a simple business plan that makes sense to you, that you can stick with, and will lead you to your goals.

I should also tell you that if you want to succeed, it will take time.  Most businesses take a year or two for the owner to get profitable and several years to make a good income.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  More important, this is not the lottery or some get rich quick scheme.  You have to put in the work and be consistent before you can expect any type of results.


In conclusion, I believe the Watkins business is a viable and legitimate business opportunity for the following reasons. First and foremost, they offer exceptional products at reasonable prices. In addition, all products come with a 100% money back guarantee.

Next, they have an outstanding reputation, a strong financial backing, exceptional leadership, and a long history. Additionally, they offer a fair compensation plan and great distributor support. Simply put, they have everything that’s required in a good direct selling company.

Your key to success is to find a successful sponsor, build a large retail customer base, and consistently sponsor new distributors into your Watkins business. If you can do that, you will make money and build a profitable Watkins business. Please know that Watkins is not a get rich quick business opportunity. It takes time and effort to succeed, just like any other viable business model.

On a side note, I encourage you to share your Watkins experience with others. If you are currently (or formerly) involved in Watkins, please share your story.  Just leave a comment below to do so.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional

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13 thoughts on “J.R. Watkins Business Review”

  1. I have a little past experience selling Watkins products. Many years ago a friend of mine who was a distributor let me call some of his clients to see if they were interested in ordering more products. I wasn’t to hip on calling people i didnt know but of course i was just a teenager back then. I know now that sometimes to make your business grow you have to branch out into the unknown so it can be a success. One think i did like about selling for my friend was that he let me sell chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, almonds and raisins for baking purposes. Once I got orders coming in for those items i had to use the weight scale he provided to measure the quantity of the item to assure the exact measurement they had ordered. Then i would pour the product into plastic ziplock bags and box them ready to ship out to the customer. That might be something i can offer on the side again. People are always running out of necessuties such at those i mentioned when they need to make a quick treat for a neighbor. Im not sure why i quit selling for him or the Watkins company other than i was probably too young to aporeciate what i really had going there. I too like the original vanilla flavoring. I also enjoyed reading about other products Watkins has available now in their product line. Thank you for all the information and everyone’s comments. I would like to learn how to gain the confidence need to be successful in this business. I guess it might come in sponsoring a distributor at a party so I can see first-hand how the distributor advertises the products. Thanks again!

  2. Sorry this is an old subject but just found this blog and post-
    Here is the answer to why JR Watkins Products are in some stores.
    JR Watkins having product in stores is not new. Watkins products have been available through independent “mom and pop” stores almost since the company’s beginnings. At one time, Watkins Corporate actually had a number of storefronts called “counter stores” around the country.

    What was new about our brand awareness efforts when we first introduced them around 1999 was that Watkins purposefully placed products into national and regional chain stores, instead of just allowing them to be in small mom-and-pop stores. Most consumers were purchasing their household goods in the chain stores, and Watkins needed some kind of brand name exposure in those stores to reach out and introduce our brand to new customers.

    Most impressive is that Associates are now seeing more products than before the brand awareness efforts started.
    Interestingly, before the program, there were a number of products (especially personal care items) that we almost had to discontinue, because they just weren’t selling for Associates. However, once those products were in selected chain stores, Associate’s sales of those products went up…way up in some cases.

    In addition to allowing us to carry more products, there are plenty of benefits that you offer to people that retail stores cannot:

    You carry over 300 products, but retail locations carry a limited number of products.
    You help people choose the right products for their specific needs.
    You provide friendly, helpful advice including product tips, recipes and more.
    You provide direct-to-the-home convenience.
    Every product you sell comes with a 100% unconditional money back guarantee.

    You can offer people the ability to gain financial freedom and improve their lives if they join your team and actively build their own Watkins business.

    Many companies blend marketing methods and use multiple channels to get their products to the consumer. Dove has created Dove Chocolate Discoveries, Jockey has a Jockey Person-to-Person Division, The Body Shop markets via The Body Shop at Home, Partylite Gifts markets retail as Colonial Candles of Cape Cod.

    Like Watkins, these companies have experienced how having their brand available through multiple channels results in more sales through each of those channels. We expect more and more companies will use multiple channels in the future, because it’s a win-win model.

    If you would like more info about the JR Watkins products, or the business, visit

    1. I am happy you gave this information. At first, I thought it would be bad for distributors having the products in stores nation wide, but your explanation does help alleviate these concerns. I can see where it would help build better brand awareness. The other advantage is: many people hate going to stores, and if you can show them how to get their favorite Watkins products delivered to their home, I believe many people would take advantage.

      I have always loved the majority of Watkins products I have tried, and I also like the style of the packaging.

      Thanks for setting us straight Todd.

  3. Wow, I really never knew Watkins was a MLM either. I have used their products when I bought them at grocery stores and Walmart. I like their packaging for one because it gives an antique perception.

    Watkins has the best vanilla I have ever used, and I believe they also have molasses that are great. I have never tried the pepper, but I will.

    Some of Watkins items are a bit pricey, but they are quality. I also don’t think selling in regular stores along with direct selling is a good approach. I wouldn’t fight that battle and it surprises me others do.

  4. The only exposure I have ever had with these products is in stores, so I wasn’t even aware of the direct sales model that the company also uses. I do agree that placing the product in stores complicates the selling process for their distributors. I’ve found it to be much easier to simply go to Whole Foods whenever I need to replace an item that has run out versus having to order it through someone else. However, if you build a solid base of customers who return to you regularly when they need/desire a product I am sure you could find much success. Plus, I am sure in areas where these retailers don’t exist the market for direct sales is greater.

  5. I also think the direct sales/retail hybrid is an interesting approach to selling personal care and home care products, considering these kind of products have a major presence in so many retail stores. I could see this hybrid working well with products that were not already so heavily exposed and easy to access. As mentioned in the review, why would I buy from a distributor when it is so easy to find these products in retail stores? Then again, it could be a case of only certain products being available in retail stores while distributors have a greater number of products to sell. Do you know if this is the case?

    1. I have no idea how many Watkins’ products are available in stores. That is a great question. I still don’t like the idea (from a rep’s perspective) of having to compete with the chain stores.

  6. I find the retail and direct sales hybrid to be an interesting marketing approach. I have only been familiar with J.R. Watkins as a retail product but had an “aha!” moment as I read this post and can see their angle in offering their product in multiple ways. By limiting the number of products available in retail stores, consumers are then lead to purchase additional items from a distributor. If I were to be a J.R. Watkins distributor, I would have to really believe in the value and mission of the product and company and share that excitement with others so they saw the value to buying into the company rather than shop retail.

    1. I guess there are some merits to having the products in stores. It could help the Watkins’ reps a little bit, but I still think it’s a bad deal overall for the reps.

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