By: Latesha Richards, Nutraceutical Medical Research LLC
In tough economic times, branded products can stay competitive.
Originally Published NO January/February 2010
With economizing on the mind, consumers may be
looking for smarter, budget-friendly ways to pursue
healthcare. A 2009 online survey conducted by the
Council for Responsible Nutrition (Washington, DC)
revealed that the purchasing loyalty of some dietary
supplement users has changed due to cost-cutting. As
with many other types of purchases, consumers may be
switching to lower-cost alternatives.
While this may sound alarming to companies selling
brand-name dietary products, these marketers should
realize that there is opportunity to win customer loyalty
with branded products.
The Need for Value
There are two types of consumers: those I call traditionalists, and others I refer to as
committed dietary supplement users. Traditionalists' purchasing behavior is largely
unaffected by price. These customers are fairly brand-loyal and tend to be less swayed
by cost-savings. Conversely, committed dietary supplement users have trended toward
spending less on wellness overall. These consumers may perceive more value in "me
too” generic-version supplements.
Despite their differences, both traditionalists and committed supplement users still seek
evidence that a product truly works. As consumers are forced to stretch every dollar, all
are demanding value for their buck.
Both consumer groups measure value according to their confidence that a product will
do what it purports to do. And these consumers are savvy. They have grown more
confident in the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements because they have
actively been seeking more information about supplements through due-diligence and
word-of-mouth recommendations before purchasing. Both consumer groups know how
to differentiate between good products and great products, and if they have not been
fully convinced of a product's merit, they will move on.
Show Them the Evidence
Ultimately, the challenge for product marketers is to convince consumers of the quality
and superiority of their dietary brand over others—and to a level that will motivate
consumers to buy not only once, but repeatedly. Even with committed dietary
supplement users, for whom price might be paramount, opportunity still exists to
convince these customers that regardless of price, there is value behind a high-quality
Information supporting product efficacy is of utmost importance to both types of
supplement users. Consumers are looking to companies to provide up-to-date,
accessible, and easily understood information that is concise, emotionally satisfying,
and convincing. How can product makers meet these needs? They must continuously
build solid evidence that will, 1) back up product claims and increase consumer trust, 2)
set branded products apart from less-expensive, generic versions, and 3) provide
consumers with meaningful and valuable information that will drive purchase behavior.
When companies show that they value science, research, and integrity in their product
development and marketing, consumers perceive value. Product makers that seek
ingredients that are generally recognized as safe or that have new dietary ingredient
status show commitment to using high-quality, scientifically backed ingredients.
Also, companies must differentiate their products' quality from the competition.
Companies that sponsor trustworthy, proprietary studies to prove claims and efficacy for
their products will stand out over those that rely solely on existing data.
Companies should also be sure to confirm product efficacy at their products' indicated
dose. This is particularly important in differentiating functional foods. It is difficult to
declare condition-specific benefits when the proper dosage of ingredients to achieve a
product's health claims has not been established.
Earn Their Loyalty
Condition-specific supplements and functional foods are uniquely positioned to meet the
changing financial, health, and quality-of-life needs of consumers. In the face of an
evolving healthcare landscape, consumers are demanding more-meaningful information
from supplement makers because they truly want to believe in the value of dietary
supplements. Evidence is a powerful tool that drives consumer loyalty. As the nutrition
industry sees more generic brands enter the market, branded-product manufacturers
need to work harder than ever to increase credibility of their brands.
Richards, L. Brand Savvy: In tough economic times, branded products can stay competitive.
Nutritional Outlook website. 2010. Available at:
http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/article.php?ArticleID=2354. Accessed March 31, 2010.