Breaking Into and Away From the Pack in Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition brands and products seem to originate from one of three types of entrants into the space: The Enthusiast, The Existing Company or The Opportunist. Regardless of their position, all types of entrants must take three specific steps if they want to be successful.

Chris Lockwood, Ph.D.

September 10, 2015

3 Min Read
Breaking Into and Away From the Pack in Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition brands and products seem to originate from one of three types of entrants into the space: the Enthusiast, the Existing Company or the Opportunist. The Enthusiast brings with him an incredible amount of authenticity that creates loyalty within the core consumer, but he often lacks resources and becomes a victim of the Russian nesting doll effect, where the Enthusiast is himself the outermost layer of the company’s capabilities. The Existing Company possesses distribution and infrastructure strengths, but often fails to achieve sports nutrition success because it lacks what the Enthusiast excels at—authenticity within its corporate culture, which invariably affects resource allocation and branding. Then there’s the Opportunist; a person or company with little or no real knowledge of the space, but can see a lucrative environment for which they often have no long-term vested interest. Regardless of their position, all three types of entrants into the sports nutrition space must also do these three things right if they want to be successful:

1.       Build a business plan and culture that reinforces authenticity, innovation and being consumer-focused;

2.       Invest in research and development (R&D) that places its emphasis on innovation, efficacy and quality; and,

3.       Build sales and marketing around an education and creative platform that empowers and reinforces the consumer, and also creates a unique voice and community.

As mobile device-based social media replaces traditional advertising as the preferred medium for reaching consumers, the interface between customer and brand is not only occurring in real time but has permanent traceability. With that comes the ability to reinforce “street cred" and a company’s marketing, or expose the failings of the wizard behind the curtain. That is, what companies could once overcome with volume-based print media campaigns, brick and mortar-only distribution and consumers who lacked the ability to rapidly exchange communication, has now been surpassed by peer-to-peer influencer marketing that provides virus-like, global amplification of what a brand really is and whether its products are worth one’s brand loyalty.

So much emphasis on authenticity may suggest success is all about marketing. Instead, think about replacing the word authenticity wherever you would otherwise use the term quality, defining each by regulatory guidelines and laws, as well as by consumer expectation. In doing so, you’ll begin to better understand its true meaning and need for being ever-present within every step of your company’s processes, procedures, practices, products and culture. In other words, to be truly authentic to the target consumers and their expectations is to be a trendsetter in quality by design. By leading in quality within every nook and cranny of your company’s DNA and surpassing consumer expectations, you express and reinforce legitimate authenticity. From developing an effective business plan, hiring the right type of people, reinforcing the culture, and being an enthusiast at every step of the product development, distribution and promotional process is the definition of designing quality (consumer-focused authenticity) into a company and its products.

Chris Lockwood, Ph.D., CSCS, serves as president of AP Nutrition, a consulting services and research firm for the dietary supplement and fitness industries. His clients have included raw material suppliers, sports nutrition and general wellness brands, multi-level marketing and direct-response companies, dietary supplement retailers, contract manufacturers, publications, athletes and celebrities. . He has served as editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness and M&F Hers magazines; as the senior category director of the diet, energy, food and beverage category for GNC; as senior brand manager of ABB (formerly a Weider Nutrition company); and as chief scientific officer of 4Life Research. Lockwood earned his doctorate in exercise physiology at the University of Oklahoma.

Looking for more information on the Sports Nutrition Market?

Chris Lockwood, Ph.D., will provide practical application and tips on bringing a product to market as part of the Sports Nutrition Workshop at SupplySide West. The three-hour workshop will take place on Friday, Oct. 9, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Visit for the complete agenda and to get registered.

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