The Commodity Myth for Nutritional Supplements

Shattering the nutritional supplement commodity myth secures the sale and educates customers for better health.

In the nutritional supplement world, The Commodity Myth is when consumers say that “all  supplements are the same.” When supplements are commoditized in consumers’ minds, dollar-store brands and bargain Amazon listings reign supreme.

Many El-Cheapo nutritional supplement brands are commoditized to a lowest common denominator.

You know the brands I am talking about. There is a certain economy class nutritional supplement that ranges from toxic to adequate. They are most often found at rock-bottom prices in locations like:

  • Drug Stores – Generic brands that offer bare-bones basic supplements
  • Dollar Stores – Probably the worst option due to low supplement quality and FDA safety risk warnings regarding bad foreign manufacturers
  • Amazon – Consumers who believe the Commodity Myth will sort by price and buy the cheapest supplements
  • Membership Warehouse Stores – The combination of bulk purchasing and generic ingredients makes for irresistibly cheap supplement for budget-conscious consumers

Now, not all supplements in the aforementioned outlets are crappy quality.

Bargains can be had, and health can be supported without breaking the bank. That is, if a customer is lucky or informed enough to pick a winner against difficult odds.

But quality supplement brands are something altogether different. They may cost more, but the extra expense is justified. Consumers will pay more for supplement cleanliness, bioavailability, safety and overall effectiveness.

The truest supplement forms (those that respect and realize nutrition’s potential to optimize health) cannot be commodified. Instead, they offer unique properties that create unique sales propositions.

When Vitamin World needed to train its sales force on the Nutritional Supplement Commodity Myth, they called the Natural Health Writer.

In tandem with nutritional supplement industry Marketing Genius Gerard McIntee, I created the following Commodity Myth training piece. It was subsequently published in Vitamin World’s Healthy Sales in-house newsletter:

The Commodity Myth, as it appeared in the Healthy Sales newsletter for Vitamin World store associates

Education is always the secret to supplement sales success.

In this case, the commodity education can completely change a customer’s supplement buying habits — compelling them to shop for the most effective supplement, and not just the cheapest.

With Vitamin World, shattering The Commodity Myth was a slam dunk because they had the right products to back up the claim.

Standardization, cleanliness, branded ingredients, sophisticated stacking strategies… there are many ways for supplements to rise above the commodity crowd.

The Natural Health Writer is here to help you find those sexy supplement features and benefits that set you apart from other products. You may have unique features and benefits that you have not even identified and tapped yet.

The Lesson

The Commodity Myth is an intriguing frame for a common challenge in supplement sales: product differentiation.

The Natural Health Writer‘s magazine spread-style sales training piece proved a successful tool in educating associates on how to educate customers about The Commodity Myth — ultimately selling more nutritional supplements at a higher price, while meeting customer demands for cleaner, healthier and more reliable formulas that work.

As my one-time mentor, Nutritional Health Alliance founder and supplement industry legend Gerald Kessler used to say, “Don’t bargain with your health.”





Healthy Sales

The ultimate training tool for Vitamin World Associates. Healthy Sales provided selling tips, industry insight, motivation and more.

If I were a Vitamin World Associate, I would enjoy reading this on my breaks.

Healthy Sales may be the coolest project I ever worked on, with the greatest potential to supercharge supplement sales.

With Healthy Sales I coordinated with an NBTY Vice President (and bona-fide marketing guru) to create the ultimate training tool for Vitamin World Associates. The concept: Associates would read the Healthy Sales newsletter to learn sales techniques, conversation starters, industry insight, and more. It was a motivational tool, as Associates’ commission earnings would rise as they learned. Since Healthy Sales was entertaining and eye-catching, it made education fun.

During a leadership change, the axe fell on Healthy Sales. It’s a damn shame, and it fills me with regret. I don’t think Management gave enough credit to their Associates’ intelligence, ambition and eagerness to learn from Healthy Sales. And by the way, one advertisement per issue paid for the whole shebang, making Healthy Sales a free program.

The Lesson: Need to train your sales force on how to maximize supplement sales?  Consider commissioning me to create a dynamic, vibrant magazine-style publication like Healthy Sales.  The concept was golden, and it was ready to soar just when it was axed.

Selling Active Ingredients

I wonder where that fish did go?

Vitamin World had a problem. Fish oil was a red-hot supplement, but customers were defecting to cheaper brands that appeared to offer more bang for the buck. Appearances can be deceiving, however — and Vitamin World Associates needed training that would help them educate customers on this fact.

The Natural Health Writer sat down with a President at NBTY to create the training piece you see at the right. It teaches Associates about how active ingredient levels trump all. With this insight, Vitamin World Associates steered customers back to VW fish oil products — all by educating them on active ingredient value.

The Lesson: It’s amazing how one piece of insight about a supplement, clearly communicated in one training piece, can supercharge sales of that supplement across an entire chain. The Natural Health Writer knows training.

Selling Resveratrol

Resveratrol: substantiated to the nines with seven references!

How do you make a nutritional supplement sexy? It sounds strange, but if you can sell an image, you can sell anything. Especially Resveratrol.

Though commonly sourced from knotweed, Resveratrol’s sexier source is red wine grapes — an origin that sells a mindset of escape. Consumers associate the Resveratrol with romantic images of rolling vineyards in warm, lively, summer months. Not to mention that special feeling of lightheartedness that comes after a glass of favorite Pinot Noir. Resveratrol tips its cap to the good things in life and promises, through these positive associations, to be one of them.

But all the romance is useless without substantiation. My Resveratrol piece to the right balances romance with strong supportive evidence. By presenting relevant figures and credible references, this piece successfully integrates two keys to successful supplement marketing: desire and credibility.

Selling Healthy Weight: CLA

There are facts. There are figures. Get confident about it.

Weight management is a tricky category when it comes to supplement marketing.

Outrageous claims have placed the entire category under a microscope. Consumers remain eager to buy supplements for healthy weight management (a.k.a. WEIGHT LOSS. There, I said it!).

CLA is a strong weight management play. To the right is a page from Healthy Sales, a newsletter I created to teach nutrition sales techniques to Vitamin World Associates. My approach is a clinic for marketing weight management supplements: Note the conservative language, authoritative facts and strong substantiation. These all empower VW Associates to communicate CLA’s benefits to customers in a clear, compliant manner.

The Lesson: With effective writing, you can successfully sell weight management supplements — while keeping your marketing materials clean and accurate.