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Nutraceutical Science Must Innovate or Die


by Jayesh Chaudhary


“Invest in your brand even in hard times.” “Don’t cut communication budgets.” These are statements one often heard during the downturn. A third might be, “Don’t cut research budgets in hard times.” Innovation helps in building brand value. Any communication without something solid to offer to the consumer may fall flat. Research provides facts (content) and communication provides the form (wrapper/packaging). Solid brands need first solid research and true innovation, and then high-quality communication. Good marketing brings the first sale, whereas product value brings repeat business.

Research and Marketing Budgets

“Innovate or Die” has always been the war cry of Pharma and Biotech. Nutraceutical firms have never been as aggressive in research. But in the past five years, nutraceutical product launches have slowed down and research budgets been further squeezed, generally due to slower sales. Truly breakthrough technologies and ingredients are much less common than they were five years ago. At the same time, however, media scrutiny and criticism is leading consumers to seek more science-driven products.

Many nutraceutical companies are quite naive when it comes to research costs and spending. Douglas Kalman, MS, RD, FACN, director of clinical nutrition, Miami Research Associates, Miami, commented: “Most nutraceutical companies lack understanding when it comes to what research costs. A company can get one or more studies (small or medium scale) for the price of one or two advertisements in a high-profile periodical. Many firms appear to have no problem putting out loads of marketing; but, ask them to spend a small portion of their advertising on safety and efficacy studies (for substantiation, intellectual property, etc.) and they hesitate.”

However, increasing research spending need not adversely impact marketing expenditures. In fact, well-substantiated label claims and genuine product benefits help in branding and make life easier for brand managers. Market differentiation becomes clearer, paving the way to effective communication.

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