Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors share which new product ranges they are exploring and what role outside sales reps play in their order-taking process in 2021.
Polling data taken during the live Dietary Supplement Trends for 2021 webinar presented by the Natural Marketing Institute draws attention to emerging industry trends as manufacturers and distributors share what they consider to be the biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead.
Gummy-type supplements becoming increasingly popular
Dietary supplements in capsule form remain the most produced form among participants (29%). Due to its nutrient delivery efficiency and being much easier to swallow, capsules (especially hard shell) remain the preferred choice for many users. Gummy-type supplements are, however, becoming increasingly popular, and not just for kids, as adults are estimated by some to comprise up to 80% of the gummy vitamin market.
“Pill fatigue” drives some users who take multiple supplements a day to opt for tasty gummies instead. While questions around the effectiveness of gummy supplements remain, manufacturers seem to prioritize exploring these delivery options to users. Only 17% of supplements are currently sold by pollsters in gummy form, but 25% of those polled are exploring this product format/delivery system as worth investing in.
Product differentiation remains the biggest challenge
With 57% of pollsters indicating that they differentiate their products by ingredients and quality from their competition, it’s no surprise to see that 43% of pollsters named product differentiation as the biggest challenge when marketing and selling their products. Considering their lack of emphasis on non-ingredients aspects of their products when seeking to differentiate themselves form competitors, there are other avenues to explore. If contending for a lower price point proves too difficult, strategic sponsorships, renewing visual branding, or highlighting ethical sourcing practices are other differentiation methods to look into.
It further appears that all participants see the biggest market opportunities as the product segments in which they are already selling. If this stems from a bias towards their current business strategy, it might be worth exploring opportunities in other product markets again.
Field sales reps not strategically equipped
Dietary supplements are “technical” products that require frequent customer training. This is evident in the fact that 76% of companies’ sales teams regularly visit customers, not only to do stock takes and order-taking, but also to educate retailers on unique product specifications and possible medical considerations.
There are two aspects in which field sales teams can be more strategically equipped to sell more effectively. Firstly, it stands out that after product differentiation (43%), a lack of consumer knowledge and the ability to educate the end users (29%) is noted as the biggest challenge to marketing and selling supplements. Secondly, only 33% of field sales reps who regularly visit customers in person place orders in the field – the assumption is that they only submit orders when returning to the office or from home, after hours.
Equipping field sales teams with the right mobile sales tools will allow them to have all product information and product images in the palm of their hand, available to share with and educate customers during visits, in turn making it easier for them to remember and educate the consumer on these products. Top mobile field sales apps are able to process orders from the field, even when offline, and can help sales reps speed up the ordering process, rather than completing orders after working hours.
Dietary supplement businesses that utilize the right sales tools can overcome product differentiation challenges by offering a better service, delivered by more informed sales reps.
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