by Matt Weik
When it comes to loyalty, a conversation can go south very quickly. I’m sure this article isn’t going to make some people happy, but I think the discussion needs to be had. When it comes to loyalty in the supplement industry, does it even exist anymore?
I guess we should define exactly what loyalty is and we can work from there. If you look up the definition of “loyalty” on dictionary.com you will find the following definitions:
1. The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
2. Faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.
3. An example or instance of faithfulness, adherence, or the like.
For this article, I’m going to look at all aspects of the supplement industry from the brand sales representatives to the consumers who are spending their hard-earned cash on supplements.
Sales Representatives Have No Brand Loyalty Anymore
Oh boy, I can hear my inbox dinging now with all the messages I’m going to get over this heading. But, in my opinion, it’s accurate. If you don’t think it’s true, you may be in denial. Look at where we are today with the supplement industry. Sales representatives are jumping from brand to brand and always looking for new opportunities.
Look, I’m not hating or knocking them for wanting to better their career, but can you really jump from brand to brand after you walk in telling a retailer that the current brand you’re with is “the best” out there? Then five months later you walk into that very same retailer only working for a different company but giving the same song and dance. Is a retailer supposed to believe you at that point when it’s a pattern?
When I worked for MET-Rx during my tenure there, I honestly thought I was going to retire with the company. I believed in the products, I believed in the heritage of the brand, and I didn’t want to work for any other company. That’s not to say other brands didn’t approach me to jump ship but my loyalty was to MET-Rx.
If you believe in multiple brands out there and you jump ship, that’s cool. More power to you. However, what I’m feeling today is that people will peddle anything just to collect a paycheck which seems a little grimy to me (but to each his or her own). And unfortunately, brands are giving out the most ridiculous titles to people who have no business having such a title. You see people who have half a brain cell getting titles like President, Vice President of Sales, and even c-suite titles being given to people who have zero industry experience and knowledge.
I just don’t see much loyalty these days from a lot of the brand sales representatives out there.
Customers Lit Loyalty on Fire and Won’t Even Piss on It to Put it Out
Customers these days have absolutely no loyalty for the most part. Sure, they may follow certain brands on social media and buy specific products from a brand they like, but as soon as the new shiny object is released from another brand they’re gone. When the dust settles from them pushing the gas pedal to the floorboard and you look around, most brands wonder where their loyal customers went.
This happens to the best of brands. Back in the day, Optimum Nutrition was the craze, and everyone was buying their stuff. Today, smaller brands are stealing market share because they are dangling that shiny new object in front of their face with outlandish claims and hype. And cool, do what you need to in order to gain new trial on a product as long as you’re being truthful about the product and not creating false marketing hype that doesn’t deliver.
It’s natural for us to try something new if it’s supposed to be better. But this tosses brand loyalty out the window. There was a period where I only used MET-Rx products. It was about loyalty to the brand. But, like most people these days, I have my staples that I use from MET-Rx and then I go month to month trying new products to see if they are better than the products I used in the past. So, I’m just as guilty and I’m not standing here on my soapbox looking down on anyone – I’M GUILTY TOO.
The fact of the matter is, we will never have the brand loyalty we had 20 years ago. Back then if you were a MET-Rx fan, you only used MET-Rx. If you were an EAS fan, you only used EAS. If you were a Labrada fan, you only used Labrada. You get the point. It was about loyalty. That simply doesn’t exist these days as the times are changing with each passing year and new brands are popping up what seems like just about every week.
What brands need to do now is figure out a strategy to not only get new trial on their products and get past customers to repurchase, but they also need to figure out how to keep those customers and not have them feel like they need to leave the brand to try something new.
Another topic to be discussed is sponsored athletes, ambassadors, and brand models. But touching on those areas will probably result in death threats so I’ll save that for another article when I’m feeling a little dangerous. But in all seriousness, think about the loyalty, or lack thereof, in the supplement industry. It, unfortunately, doesn’t exist anymore.