Let's assume a couple of things. You are, or want to be, a supplement brand owner. The overarching goal is to sell lots of your products to consumers and enjoy the freedom and rewards of being a successful brand owner. But the secret behind going from a nobody private label supplement to a national best seller is not quite what you think...
you need a competitive advantage
You might be asking just what is a competitive advantage in the supplement business? It's just as you suspect.
A competitive advantage is what makes your supplement (and supplement company) better than the competition in the minds of your customers and potential customers.
There are a few concepts that must be understood to arrive at the proper competitive advantage for your supplement. These items are especially key when creating or improving supplements or defining marketing positions for your current supplement line. Let's take a look.
You must be able to demonstrate the benefit your supplement gives to customers. This has to be done to substantiate value in your customer's mind. This is an ongoing process for new supplements as well as old. Established supplement lines must stay current with trends to continue to offer a benefit to customers. If they don't, their competition will.
A great example of this is Turmeric Curcumin Supplements. Years ago millions of bottles of turmeric capsules were sold with standard turmeric root powder. As ingredient technology improved, turmeric 95% extract was introduced which gave customers a concentrated and more potent turmeric supplement. A good majority of turmeric supplement manufacturers and owners incorporated the turmeric 95% extract to stay with the competition. Today we see the incorporation of BioPerine® from Sabinsa Corporation in a very large percentage of turmeric supplements and curcumin supplements. As a turmeric capsule manufacturer, we at Ameri-Kal rarely manufacture turmeric capsules without it. BioPerine® is a black pepper extract with studies showing higher uptake of turmeric in the body with increased bioavailablitiy. In the minds of many consumers, a turmeric supplement with BioPerine® offers a better value and demonstrates a greater benefit than supplements without it.
Who are your customers? What do they enjoy? What do they value? What is their income level? These are all questions you need to ask yourself to successfully create a target market analysis. As the title of this blog indicates...
SUCCESS IS UNDERSTANDING YOUR CONSUMERS BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITION.
Below is a list of questions to answer about your target consumers. The answers will help you better create your supplement line and also help uncover underlying advantages to build into your supplement that can be reinforced in your marketing.
- Target Demographic - Age group, gender, marital status are all good characteristics to consider.
- Geographic Location - Where do they live? Will they have access to your product?
- Income Level - Understanding income level helps identify price points for your products.
- Education Level - Will your marketing focus on appealing to most people or do you want to appeal to a select group educated in a specific subject?
- Work Industry and Hobbies - Will your supplement target a specific work industry or a certain type of hobby? Examples could be supplements for bodybuilding or supplements to improve concentration for students.
- Health Conditions - It is extremely important to understand what sort of health conditions your consumer might have that would lead them to seek your supplement as a solution.
- Information Consumption - How do your target consumers get information? Local newspapers, social media, blogs, magazines, local news or word of mouth? These answers will help guide your marketing efforts.
- Communication - How are your consumers most comfortable communicating? Phone, email, text, social media...or maybe even by mail.
- Attitudes, Values and Lifestyle - What are your target consumers attitudes towards life, work, money, and happiness? What do they value most? What sort of lifestyle do they strive to have? The deeper you go, the more the picture of your target consumer comes into focus.
- Influencers - Who is important to them? Family, friends, celebrities, social media celebrities? This answer can help determine ways to communicate with them.
- Challenges or Problems - What challenges do they face? Not enough time? Too many different supplements to take? Too much product information to digest?
- Overcoming Challenges - Does your supplement help them overcome their challenge or problem?
- Objections - What are the biggest objections to using your products from the eyes of the target consumer?
“Who should ultimately design the product? The customer, of course.” - Philip Kotler
Identifying your competition might seem like a pretty easy task. In our turmeric supplement manufacturer example above you would probably take the logical step to research other turmeric supplements and compare them to yours. It is a great start but we are missing out on the big picture. Let's take a look at a different supplement to keep things fresh and illustrate this point.
Weight loss supplement manufacturing is a very big market. If you plan to create a weight loss supplement you will have plenty of other supplements to measure up to. Working with a weight loss supplement manufacturer like us will help you navigate through the endless possibilities of ingredient combinations to arrive at a competitive formula. But there is something missing. When considering competition you not only need to look at competitive products, but also competitive solutions. As a weight loss supplement brand owner you are competing not only with other supplements, but also competing with all the other ways your target consumer could lose weight, including diet and exercise for example. Understanding all competitive solutions will help give you an edge with your target consumer.
Benefit + Target Consumers + Competition
So what do we get by understanding these three concepts? Your Competitive Advantage!
A successful supplement brand will demonstrate the BENEFIT it provides to the TARGET CONSUMERS that is better than the COMPETITION.
See how this all comes together? Navigating through the right process will help you understand your customer better than your competition.
So what is your competitive advantage? Seems like an easy question to answer with such a great outline above to guide you...your welcome ;) Unfortunately, many supplement owners (and product owners in general) fail this simple test by still placing value on the competitive edge they perceive rather than looking through the eyes of the consumer. This can lead to a product that may have some "technical" advantages, but offers little differentiation to the consumer. The result is no increase in perceived value and no competitive advantage. Do everything you possibly can to look at your product and answer questions through the eyes of your consumer.
Lessons from Michael Porter
If you never got around to getting that MBA but still want to master the competitive advantage (advantage) over your competition, look no further than Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter who wrote the book on it. It is literally called Competitive Advantage and offers greater insight into strategies and thoughts on the subject.
Porter make the case that there are 3 main ways to sustain and maintain a competitive advantage. Cost leadership, differentiation, and focus.
As your supplement brand grows you will have the option to be more competitive on pricing as your costs lower through volume. Think of a company like Walmart that is able to sell products lower than everyone else because of the volume of products sold. As a bulk supplement supplier we can assure you that most desired costs can be attained with the right volume. Don't let the Walmart example scare you into thinking that you have to sell a cheap product. At Ameri-Kal we are also a probiotic manufacturer. Probiotics tend to be more expensive then common supplements. This increased cost allows for greater margin that can be reduced to be more cost competitive. Excelling in cost leadership doesn't mean selling a cheap product. It means offering a competitive value to price ratio in the eyes of your consumer.
Differentiating your supplement quite simply means offering better benefits than your competition. These benefits can be achieved through innovation, quality or customer experience. Supplement innovation can be seen in unique delivery methods, cutting-edge ingredients and supporting data. One of the easiest differentiators to achieve is quality. Premium supplements use premium materials and packaging with robust websites offering validated information. Think of Apple products and packaging. The whole experience is elevated and demands a premium price. You can also differentiate on customer experience. Again, look to the Apple Store for full service and a winning customer experience. As a supplement brand you may achieve a high level of customer service with excellent communication and follow up after each purchase.
A high level of focus can give a competitive advantage. Concentrated focus on a specific niche supplement market can provide reduced competition and a smaller (but still viable) market that large supplement manufacturers are not catering to. These niche supplement markets have a niche target consumer that is sometimes easier to identify and target. Supplements that cater to not-so-common ailments and health concerns could fit this strategy well.
Need help with all this?
At Ameri-Kal we eat, sleep and breathe supplement manufacturing and supplement marketing. We've even put together a nice supplement manufacturing checklist to help you achieve your goals step by step.
Ameri-Kal works to partner with you, one-on-one, to discuss your target consumer and help you understand your customer better than your competition at no charge. Over 35 years in the supplement manufacturing industry has given us a unique perspective to spot supplement trends and navigate the every-changing consumer market to help our customers achieve a winning edge in the supplement industry. If you would like to call or send an email we would be glad to discuss your needs for FREE along with FREE price quotes for supplement manufacturing. No strings attached!