by Matt Weik
The supplement industry is a booming market with steady growth each year. New supplements are being added to portfolios in hopes of stealing customers away from competition as well as increasing revenue by introducing something exciting that can help customers achieve their goals. Supplement brands tend to focus on the 18-35 demographic and the majority of that demographic is focused on men.
What I find interesting is what happens after customers age and move outside of that “target demographic” and become 36, 40, even 50 plus? That person could have been a loyal customer of yours since they were 18. Brand loyalty is extremely important in today’s age because with pricing wars going on, many customers will jump ship to get a similar product at a lower price.
What I’m Seeing from Supplement Brands
I’m seeing a lot of supplement brands marketing towards the demographic I mentioned above. A lot of specific keywords being used and a lot of hot buttons being pushed to entice trial and ultimately a purchase. It’s the instant gratification that I see so many supplement brands going after with their customers. We have pre-workouts, energy drinks, etc. that provide instant feedback from the consumer. There is no long-term play with those items. After all, you really don’t see 60-year old’s drinking Bang energy drinks, right? I mean, if you “ain’t Bangin, you ain’t hangin,” right?
But in all seriousness, what’s the end game for a lot of consumers these days? What are they trying to accomplish? For most men who fit into the 18-35 demographic, they exercise to look good and build muscle. While that might not be every single individual, that tends to be the majority. What happens when they get a little older though? Their priorities tend to shift. And that’s where brands are missing out and losing.
As we get older, we begin to think about our mortality. It’s morbid to think about but in the end, we’re all going to die one day. If you have kids, you probably want to live long enough to see them grow up and potentially have a family of their own. Well, for them, the bodybuilder-type mentality has probably been long gone and they are searching for ways to maintain their health and longevity. What major supplement brands are providing that these days? Not really any in the sports nutrition industry. Which is exactly my point.
This is exactly where I feel brands can start expanding. Cater to those who supported you for so long so they can be lifelong customers. Again, it’s brand loyalty and the supplement brands who can retain customers the longest tend to win in the end.
How Can Brands Capitalize on Expanding Their Demographic?
The customers who are buying up all of those stimulants will one day realize that they should put them down. Goals change. Priorities change. And health obviously changes. Should you have a health condition such as a heart attack or some other form of illness, you’re probably going to be told to discontinue the use of supplements containing stimulants and to extremely limit your caffeine intake (that means goodbye to pre-workouts, energy drinks, and maybe even coffee).
Supplement brands can capitalize on expanding their demographic and introducing new wellness-type products into their product portfolio. Maybe even consider starting another brand under the current that specifically caters to an “aging” demographic. The customer is obviously familiar with your brand and when you promote a new extension, they can more easily feel comfortable about staying loyal to the brand because they already have experience with the brand and their products and feel comfortable – it’s as if it’s risk-free.
This is why I see the brands that have products for athletes winning so early on in the consumer lifecycle. Brands who provide products to high school athletes to help them improve their performance initiates the brand loyalty lifecycle very early on. Kids think wearing the brand swag and taking the supplements are cool and are more willing to stick with the brand due to familiarity. When the athlete gets to college (regardless of if they are still playing sports or not), they will most likely continue to use products from the brand assuming they are at least still working out. After graduation, you guessed it… they’re familiar with a brand and therefore continue buying their products.
Why would a brand want to stop targeting and marketing to existing customers? It’s much easier and less expensive to keep customers than it is to acquire new ones. Why not cater to a broader audience and demographic?
It’s not like you need a million new SKUs to cater to individuals outside the 18-35 demographic. You should already have a multivitamin in your portfolio, a joint product, and probably a fish oil supplement, right? Those are staples today. If not, those are definitely products I would recommend starting with.
So, what else would you need? Maybe a liver/prostate support product? Maybe a vitamin D product as well as a cognitive functioning product to keep the brain healthy? The list can go on and on but you don’t need a bunch of products in this new category.
Much of what you already have can be used, it could simply be a matter of changing your marketing and how you word your copy. This is where a good copywriter comes into play. For instance, a 22-year old can use the same protein powder as a 40-year old. Their goals could be polar opposite – and that’s ok. But the key is to have the consumer understand the benefits that can be had from using the product and make sure the respective copy goes out to the right channels.
For instance, a lot of hype and excitement can go into copy directed at the younger demographic where the older demographic would be more responsive to copy that describes the longevity and wellness aspect. Supplement brands simply need to be more conscious of how they word and position products.
I would even recommend starting off by having new copy created for existing products that can be used regardless of age. No need to change the label, simply change the copy for the marketing and push it out to the right channels to get eyeballs on it.
Overall, it’s my opinion that supplement brands can do a lot more with what they already have. Putting yourself in the corner by only looking at the 18-35 demographic will only get you so far. And while it can be extremely profitable, there is so much more you can do with minimal effort.