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How Can Supplement Companies Win in 2020?

by Matt Weik

The supplement industry isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s growing every year. More and more brands are coming to market with hopes of building a booming business. Some brands are merging with larger brands and taking a fat check in their exit. And some brands are seemingly disappearing overnight and closing their doors, leaving employees jobless and in search for their next paycheck.

It’s been a wild ride the last year for sure. But one thing is for certain, the supplement industry is pretty darn exciting. Yet, with all of the excitement, supplement companies need to be thinking about the future and not just being in the moment. What can they do in 2020 to make it their best year to date? I have a few ideas.

Now, I’m no industry insider in the sense that I’m looking at supplement brands’ earnings reports and such – quite frankly I find that boring. To me, you’re either growing or you’re dying and those who are just getting by will soon be on their way out. Supplement companies and brands need to continue to be thinking outside the box with how they market, their new product launches, and understanding the direction of the industry and what the consumers wants and needs are as they navigate year to year. The things that worked in 2015 don’t work today. And the things that worked yesterday… well, they might not work tomorrow. However, below are a few things that, in my opinion, supplement companies need to focus on in 2020 if they want to win.

Functional Foods and Beverages

Let’s start with where I see the biggest boom and that’s with the continual push for functional foods and beverages in the space. This is THE hottest space to be in right now as more and more people are entering the space and bringing new consumers to the market. People who never used supplements before are starting to open up a little more and dabble with supplements because of the success they’ve had with various functional foods and beverages.

It’s because of functional foods and beverages that in 2019 we saw some of the biggest sales and acquisitions of supplement companies with Quest Nutrition selling for $1B and ONE Brands selling for $397M. This is the new wave and if you aren’t prepared, you’re going to miss out.

Collaborate with Non-Supplement Brands

They say those who can’t do… teach. In this instance, those supplement companies who aren’t ready to sell… collaborate. It’s about thinking outside the box when collaborating. BSN did a great job of this when they got with Cold Stone Creamery and launched some great tasting ice cream flavored protein powders.

Here’s what I would like to see and if a brand does this, you owe me royalties (I’m serious). Look at what has been hot and trending for quite some time and leverage it. Let’s take coffee as an example. It’s the most consumed morning beverage in America. Other beverages don’t even come close. Drive past any Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and you’ll see a line at the drive-thru no matter the time of day. Ding ding ding. See where I’m going with this?

Why haven’t any supplement companies tried to collaborate with these coffee giants to launch some sort of coffee with protein RTD, a protein powder with added caffeine but the flavor of a cup of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee, or heck, a Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut flavor protein powder (or even bar)? Collaborations could absolutely help a brand win in 2020 with some unique flavor extensions or even products that can also fit into the functional food and beverage space that I mentioned in #1.

Leverage Social Media

If supplement companies haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon by now, they might as well give themselves the kiss of death. You need to be omnipresent! Supplement companies can’t live off of being a legacy brand these days. Or by putting ads in magazines (the less than a handful that still exists today). You need to be on social media and be engaging with your consumers.

It’s not good enough to just have a brand page on social platforms. You need to actively be posting and speaking with followers. Ghost has done a fantastic job creating their “lifestyle” supplement brand by leveraging social media. They made the brand “cool” by forming a community. If you want to win in 2020, you need to mirror their model while differentiating at the same time.

Produce MORE Content

Think you’re producing enough content? Produce even more. Not producing any content at all? What the heck are you waiting for? The best brands across the globe are helping their consumers by educating them and guiding them towards achieving their goals. What are you doing? Nothing? Shame on you. Now is the time to start producing content at scale and helping your consumers.

Here’s something else supplement companies need to think about. If your brand is out of sight, out of mind… you lose. Your competition is going to take your business. If you’re selling product from your website and people have no reason to ever go back unless they want to purchase… you lose. Having content drives traffic to your website where you can convert sales. Even if people aren’t interested in buying right now, at least you’re in the front of their mind. And with SEO, the content you produce or have produced can bring tons of organic traffic your way without spending a dime on marketing. The last thing you want to have happen is to be forgotten. You can also use the content as a social media post (teaser that links to your website) to leverage both of them and watch your sales and traffic increase.

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