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Field Marketing Trends for Health and Nutrition Brands

Posted 13 Thu Jan

The health and nutrition industry has had many emerging trends in the past, from numerous diets, like the Atkins diet, to the emergence of lifestyles, for example, vegetarianism, to various workout types; step aerobics anyone? In 2021 we witnessed an increase in Vegan lifestyles and sustainably produced healthy products. We’ve also seen an increase in vitamins and supplements which help with physical appearance, for example, hair and nail growth. So, what can we expect to see during 2022? We interviewed Pete Kroth, our Sales Manager, and Paul Papworth, who heads up the field marketing team for a world-leading health and nutrition brand, on all things Health and Nutrition in 2022…

Hi Pete, Hi Paul,

Thank you for joining us today, let’s jump straight in and find out about what health and nutrition brands can do to strengthen their field marketing in 2022 and beyond!

What field marketing techniques would you say are most important for health and nutrition brands?

Pete: This depends on what footprint the brand is in; our strategy would be different for those looking to enter the convenience store market, those looking to get into the large multiples, or those looking to take a slightly different avenue and get their products into gym chains. But there is one field marketing technique that we’d recommend for brands no matter what landscape their entering and that is experiential, let consumers sample your products, and be creative with the way in which this is executed. When a new brand emerges it’s really important that they give consumers a chance to trial the product and get to know and understand the brand. Consumers need to follow a journey to allow them to invest in the products.

Additionally, to this, we’d recommend undertaking knowledge and educational activities for retailers and for the retail workers, it’s imperative to educate the retailers on the product, its benefits, and where it should be situated in stores. When you have a product that sits within the health and nutrition category you kind of get caught under a wide catch-all umbrella, from elite protein to a low-fat chocolate bar, to retail staff they’re within the same category. With educational activities, you can give the retail personnel the knowledge they need to correctly position and sell your product.

Paul: To add to this from a gym perspective you’ll be working with not only the food and beverage manager for the gym chain but also a range of gym staff including the membership teams to the personal trainers. So, it’s important to train and create brand ambassadors right through the chain in order to promote your products.

As Pete has mentioned education is really important, it’s so important to gym chains, we work with a leading health and nutrition brand and have adopted a model which focuses on education as opposed to a hard sell. This has involved brand ambassadors and territory managers who go into the gyms regularly to support the gym and work in partnership to promote the product.

Moving further down the line once the product is stocked within stores, we’d recommend utilising store management teams and data analytics, this allows you to monitor compliance, identify any gaps and get the right stock levels into each store.

Add to this traditional merchandising and product upselling and you have yourself a perfect recipe for health and nutrition field marketing.

What do retailers like to see in a health and nutrition brand?

Pete: For me, if you’re looking to get into a multiple retailer or independent store, they’d be looking for something which is relatively mainstream and on-trend, right now that might be plant-based for example. They’d be looking for something innovative and different that they can offer their client base and something which drives sales and consumers into their store. They’ll also be looking at the profit margin.

Trends are really important to retailers, two-years ago the trend would have been vegetarian products, last year there was more of an explosion around vegan products, this year it’s plant-based products.

Mainly, innovation, good margins, products at good prices, and a product that is available to the wider masses.

Paul: Gyms are at the forefront of the way in which health and nutrition are sold and marketed because the people within the gyms are the people that make use of the product. They are the people who are more likely to try the next new thing without any degree of prompting whatsoever.

In gyms, you’ll be dealing with the head of food and beverage and they’ll have a good understanding of the trends. The gyms work in a similar way to the multiples and they’d be looking at unique selling points, marketing collateral and also will want to know what the profit margin is.

In terms of trends as Pete said there is a movement from vegetarian, to vegan and now a strong focus on plant-based products. The move from vegan to plant-based is largely down to product contamination, if a vegan product has been made in a factory where meat products are present there could be cross-contamination. Plant-based are solely made within plant-based factories.

Another trend within the gym sector follows popular diets, currently, this is the ketogenic diet, this is a low carb, high fat diet, 85% of your macronutrients come from far, this depletes the glycogen reserves within your body, your body then starts to produce ketones to fuel your body to run in the most effective and efficient way. So ketogenic products are popular right now.

What is the competition like and how do you stand out from the crowded retail shelves?

Pete: It’s all around the visibility at the point of purchase, ideally, you’d be positioned within the eye line of the consumer, however, this isn’t always possible, in which case it’s down to traditional merchandising and point of sale.

Eye-catching point of sale will draw the consumer to your product because when you’re at the fixture, depending on what category you are in, you normally make your mind up with about one and a half seconds. The more visible you are the better.

Just to step away from the health and nutrition sector, a brand that has done this exceptionally well is tony chocolonely, their products are branded to stand out, their USP is clear and on the fixture, they have stand-out qualities. Quality of point of sale is really important.

Paul: Once you have a strong POS presence it’s then building up the brand to grow the number of facings on the fixture. If a customer can see two instead of one, this is a lot better.

We’d recommend getting a barker and a wobbler on the fixture. A barker hinges onto the fixture and has the branding and price on it. A wobbler sticks out of the fixture and is usually circular, as consumers are walking past this will grab their attention.

What health and nutrition trends are retailers likely to promote in 2022?

Pete: Plant-based is going to be huge again in 2022, with vegetarian and vegan products rebranding to plant-based. Products that fit into the flexitarian lifestyle will also see a boost as people try and do the right thing sustainably. We’ve seen trends around ‘meat-free Monday’.

Consumers are getting new perceptions of vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based foods as they become more popular and more widely available. People are becoming more experimental with these foods.

Paul: This is where we come back to experiential marketing, it’s imperative consumers are able to try your products in order for them to invest and adapt their products into their lifestyle. We need to break down the perceptions, barriers, and preconceived ideas that meat substitutes taste like cardboard for example.

Pete: It’s been a strange couple of years with covid-19 and people have had time to think and reflect not only about their jobs and career prospects which have seen the emergence of new brands and concepts but also about their lifestyle and wellbeing and how they must look after their bodies. With this in mind, we’re excited to see the new concepts that arise in 2022.

What are the best routes to market for health and nutrition brands?

Pete: This is a difficult one! If you’re a really small player in the industry you will need to go through specialist wholesalers. At this early adoption stage, the larger wholesalers may struggle to understand the product and where it sits within the marketplace. A lot of the larger wholesalers are still supplying the large demand for chocolate and fizzy drinks which tends to be a dominating area. We’re positive we’ll start to see this change within the next few years though!

With Instore, there is the option of suppling through Smiths News, our parent company that distributes to the supermarket giants and thousands of convenience stores every day. It’s a great distribution option for many of our clients.

What is the ideal time for health and nutrition brands to launch and propel their campaigns?

Paul: For me, it’s always January for peak sales, this is as you can expect because of consumer demand at this time, however, this becomes a very crowded and competitive market. If it’s a product launch we’d perhaps recommend a soft launch before this period, as you might find you are hidden amongst the crowd. October is a good time for this, or also at the other peak time which is at the end of Summer. It’s a time when people have indulged on their holidays and now they are back to the daily grind and healthy lifestyle.

Pete: When dealing with the multiples and the convenience stores January is definitely the time when the consumer is looking to purchase.

Paul made a really good point, when you’re looking at supplying the multiples you want to make sure that your on-shelf presence is done prior to Christmas. As the Christmas stock is being brought into the store and also exiting the store a lot of resource is taken up.

Pre-Christmas for getting products into store definitely and then strong execution of the field marketing campaigns in January. Your product levels in store throughout January are really important.

It’s all about maintaining the product supply and looking at compliance and education to ensure you can get longer distribution terms to enable you to supply your products all year round.

How do you in-store ensure success for health and nutrition brands?

Paul: We’ve worked in this sector for a while now and it’s given us a good understanding of a model which works, this knowledge sets us up right from the offset for success. We have a different route to market through the distribution model with Smiths News who currently has daily drops at retailers, convenience stores, and gyms across the United Kingdom.

The approach we have works, it ensures that there is a culture of autonomy across the account, people are experts within their field and they are trusted to go and do the job they do well. We ensure consistency of training and support to the people out in the field, giving them all the tools, they need for success. When we work with brands, we’re an extension of the team, we’re very hands-on and work with like-minded brands who want us to be an integral part of the organisation.

We constantly find new ways to work and new ways to support brands in this sector and have the knowledge to impart, we’re keen to grow this part of the business. It’s mutually beneficial to the brand and us, it’s what allows us to grow together towards a common goal.

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