There is a difference between cults and high demand groups. This must be accepted and clearly defined.
cult; noun, a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous; a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much; a small group of very devoted supporters or fans.
Looking into the origin of the world Cult takes factual history into the Etymology Dictionary. cult (n.) 1610s, "worship," also "a particular form of worship," from French culte (17c.), from Latin cultus "care, labor; cultivation, culture; worship, reverence," originally "tended, cultivated," past participle of colere "to till" (see colony).
Many people throw the word "cult" around loosely and seemingly use it to encompass organizations which do not have an origin of worship. Thus, those who worship tend to reject the notion that the simple act of doing so exudes cult behavior.
High Demand Groups such as pyramid type organizations, sales seminars, life coaches, youth boarding facilities which are not religion based and/or metaphysical groups can exude a behavior that while mentally damaging do not encompass the ritual of worship that must be present to fall into the definition of a cult.
Both Cults and High Demand Groups have many characteristics in common. They both tend to have a classist system, demand members to adhere to their rites, rituals, rules and expectations. They also practice shunning anyone who either refuses to comply, by excommunication or firing them. Should someone choose to leave the cult or HDG, they often must make the decision to leave behind family and friends, creating a great loss for the exiting member.