Supplement Perspectives
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The Year in Review: Consumer-Driven Marketing Transparency Moves the Industry Forward

Todd Pauli, partner, strategic marketing, at the Shelton Group, on the new mind-set you should adopt in the new year.

Note: This is written by Todd Pauli, partner, strategic marketing, at The Shelton Group. Enjoy!

Want information about anything today? You know you can find it online. You can learn to play the banjo watching YouTube videos from your couch, or you can stand in the aisle of a health food store and discover that a vitamin company received an FDA warning letter for ingredient adulteration. Sometimes the web is really helpful and sometimes it’s scary. Either way, consumers in our industry verify quality via Google these days. The importance of knowing where their food comes from has translated to caring about the source of their supplements, and personally, I love it.

Sure, there is the risk that false information exists on the web, but consumers are savvy. They face the same risk almost every time they conduct product research, and shopper studies show they conduct research a lot. Most new purchases are researched online and despite the plethora of information resources, company websites are still one of the top destinations consumers turn to for product information.

So how does this apply to marketing? In short, it means a catchy tag line or an over-bloated consumer promise isn’t enough. But then again, if you produce legitimate, tested products it never really was. Consumers who visit your site are looking for you to demonstrate your worth, not simply tell them what to buy.

Build consumer confidence by inviting them inside your operation, being transparent about ingredient sourcing, testing, and the facilities where your products are made. A short video on your website goes a long way in demonstrating quality in a way that consumers connect with on an emotional level. Build website content that addresses quality practices head-on. The better the content, the more your site will become a trusted resource for product information while helping you move up the search engine ranks when consumers research the quality of your brand.

All of the work we are doing for our clients now has a strong transparency component to it. Sometimes we go so deeply into describing a client’s quality programs that we find ourselves explaining to consumers about the global supply chain, economic adulteration, product testing, and DSHEA compliance far more comprehensively than even most industry insiders knew a few years ago. We go to this level of detail because consumers are looking for brands they can trust.

Consumer demand for transparency also has industry-changing implications. Many great people and organizations fight hard every day to combat negative press and help legislators and consumers understand that we do work in a regulated industry. It’s incredibly exciting to realize that more and more consumers seeking the best products also strengthen our industry through their educated purchase decisions. There’s no room for companies with subpar testing and purity practices on this playing field.

The best type of marketing, the kind I look forward to working on every day, has nothing to do with product spin or “hooking” consumers. It’s about telling the transparent type of stories that build consumer loyalty and trust. I think it’s the start of a great period for both when it comes to natural products.

Todd Pauli works with clients in the natural products industry to develop comprehensive marketing strategies that integrate social media, advertising, and content marketing.  Prior to joining the Shelton Group, Todd led marketing communications efforts for several well-known businesses, including NOW Foods, one of the largest supplement manufacturers in the natural channel.  Todd has 15 years of experience in helping businesses develop digitally-focused marketing strategies.

 

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