by Matthew Lombardo Matthew Lombardo No Comments
Trust in the healthcare system is wavering and consumers are putting their health in their own hands. Dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidant, and herbs are now the preventative measures people are turning to—it’s a vast industry, and it’s only growing. Some researchers are finding that the global market for dietary supplements will balloon to $278.02 by 2024. That’s a huge pot! Even in the diluted world of Amazon, profit margins are still earning between 40 and 50 percent. There’s no better time to consider branding your own supplement line than now. This article is for business savvy individuals that may be unfamiliar with the industry. It doesn’t get into technicalities (it won’t show you how to apply for an EIN), but will act as a general guide to get started in the world of dietary supplements.

Step 1: Research

First, attend nutraceutical trade shows in your area and meet with industry professionals face-to-face. Bring a pen. Talk to sales reps, owners, and retailers to get different perspectives. Gather as much information as you can concerning market trends and insight. Go to local vitamin stores and look at the labels. Note how popular products are being displayed. Browse online retailers and note which products are ranking the highest. Another option is to call a turn-key nutraceutical manufacturer and ask to schedule a meeting with an advisor. These companies can often provide counseling for every step of the way. Take notes. Use the information to form a vision in your mind of your product and brand, and write it all down.

Step 2: Plan-of-Action

Decide whether you want to sell online or to brick-and-mortar stores. I would avoid selling to both markets in the beginning. Brick-and-mortar stores are in heated competition with internet retailers which may only cause conflict—slowing you down and diluting your efforts. I suggest that if you have a strong background in social media/internet marketing, internet sales may be the way to go. If not, there’s still promise in selling to brick-and-mortar with the proper planning. The expense for brick-and-mortar will be higher but, if done correctly, may ensure sustainable returns. Whereas the internet is often boom-or-bust. If you go internet, be prepared to set up social media pages for your product and running sponsored ads. Blogging and hiring influencers is also helpful. If you decide brick-and-mortar, pitch your product to as many stores as possible. Get a rough idea of how many places will buy into it. Aim for about 200 stores. If your product is in 200 stores, and each store re-orders 12 bottles a month at $10 each, that’s a cool $24,000 a month!

Step 3: Product Development

Use the research to come up with a concept for your product. Ask yourself what the identity of your product will be. What system of function in the body will it support? Do you want to create a sleep formula or a protein formula? After you‘ve answered these questions, you can consider what you want the label to look like. Brainstorm a brand logo and label design. If you’ve consulted with a reputable contract manufacturer, they may have in-house graphic designers to refer you to. You can also hire a freelance designer to come up with a brand logo and label for you. I recommend using an in-house team, if possible. Those designers often have the industry knowledge freelancers don’t.  Once you have the product identity and label design, you can consider the ingredients. Consult with a nutritionist or doctor who is knowledgeable of nutraceutical products to help you decide which ingredients will go in—keep in mind all the research you accumulated—are people buying sleep products with melatonin? Or is valerian root trending? If you can’t answer these questions, go back to step 1. Once you have a product concept, you can submit your product to contract manufacturers for quotes. This is a tricky step. Many online resources are claiming to be contract manufacturers who are brokers. Brokers may get the job done, but you will be paying hidden, unnecessary broker fees. Make sure you call reputable manufacturer that is GMP certified (dietary supplement MUST be GMP certified to comply with the FDA) and ask to see the facility. If you’re satisfied with the cost to manufacture, expect 6-8 weeks of production time.

Step 4: Take action

Initiate your plan-of-action. Note that you should have already done the leg work before you began product production. If you need money to get started, tell your rich friends—or a bank— about your innovative new product. Show them all the research you’ve done, and provide a list of stores that will buy it when it’s available. Alternatively, show them your spiffy social media accounts and content you’ve created. Show them your DM box full of IG models that will rep your product to their 100k followers (Yes, you should solicit influencers ahead of time). Ask the helpful staff members at your manufacturer for advice on sales tactics. They want you to succeed!

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Now that your product is in stores, follow up with owners and sales clerks. Make sure your product is selling. Provide these people with samples, flyers, and posters to help promote your product. Teach them why they should be selling your product over the competitors. For internet sales, keep track of Ads that are converting clicks into sales. Study email marketing tactics. Optimize your Amazon seller page. Continue to work until it’s time to reorder your product, and expand your line.

Matthew Lombardo

Labeling Compliance at ABH Pharma
Matthew Lombardo works in Labeling Compliance for a leading, global manufacturer of Dietary Supplements. He has over 10 years’ experience as a nutritionist in New York and has worked extensively with major distributors in the industry. He’s also been known to string a few good sentences together.
Matthew Lombardo

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