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Supplement Perspectives

Innovate and Educate to Drive Probiotic Sales

Digestive health is red hot. Probiotics are dominating the functional foods and supplements market. Sales for prebiotic products continue to grow. 

From a retailer perspective, this popularity is unmistakable. Dozens of new products containing probiotic ingredients have been introduced in recent years. Go into a health food store or pharmacy. You will see tons of offerings both in the fridge and on the shelf. More and more mainstream supermarkets and club stores also carry functional foods that contain probiotics and supplements.

Marketing dollars from probiotic-finished product companies and raw materials suppliers, along with a significant mainstream media blitz, have supported this surge. And consumer awareness of probiotics has grown because of the reasons previously stated. (Have you seen Erin Andrews’ probiotic commercial?)

Ironically, that increase in probiotic consumer awareness comes with confusion and misinformation. More education is essential to help shoppers optimize their digestive health when it comes to choosing healthful probiotic products of all kinds. 

When buying probiotics from health food stores, customers often have the opportunity to talk to a knowledgeable sales staff. However, store employees come and go. Training retail staff can be a challenging task for companies at best because the time required for proper training isn't available. The minimal training that does take place occurs using some form of electronics or employee training manual. However, when new staff is placed on the sales floor, the consumer will hold them to the same standard as an experienced staff, expecting to receive the same solid feedback. Retailers should expect nothing less.

In a time where retailers must differentiate themselves with great customer service and solutions to merely survive, it would behoove retail management to invest in staff training.  Yes, it is very difficult to keep knowledgeable staff in place. However, it is something that must be done as your staff truly impacts customer service and, ultimately, your bottom line.

In-Store Seminars Will Drive Sales

Retailers can also offer in-store seminars to educate customers and prospects on the profound benefits of probiotics. Live seminars are a natural extension of the retailer and its creation of custom verbal content for its customers and prospects. These events are remarkably effective at bringing customers into the store. In-store seminars build and reinforce the retailer's relationship with the consumer while generating measurable sales results for the retailer.

Well-run seminars are designed to bolster relationships with customers and boost sales. Each event should be able to accommodate 30 to 50 people and held on the same day each week. Topics should be predetermined well in advance. With probiotics and digestive health such hot topics and vitally important for our health, retailers should consider having several seminars on this topic per year. Be sure to have a manageable number of attendees in order to facilitate a strong interaction between attendees and the speaker, as well as between attendees and the retail sales staff. 

For nine years, I had the cool experience of hosting a weekly one-hour radio show that was a marketing arrangement between my former employer Jarrow Formulas and Tunies Super Save Nutrition, a retailer in Coral Springs, FL. Co-hosted by store owner Al Forman (he still is involved in the radio show), we explored a topic—including probiotics—each week that was widely listened to by Tunies’ customers. We also had a featured guest who was an expert on the day’s topic. I received great feedback from listeners via phone calls and e-mails each week. As with in-store seminars, our radio show bolstered relationships with current customers, helped to bring in new ones, and significantly increased sales.

With the popularity of both functional food and supplement products containing probiotics skyrocketing, measures must be in place to alleviate confusion and misinformation. Solid retail staff, in-store seminars, and radio shows are three ways a retailer can work to educate their customers and, at the same time, provide optimal customer service. We are in a growth industry. Be good to your customers and you’ll be successful. 

TAGS: Ingredients
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