Nutrasource Blog

Product positioning tips for the dietary supplement industry

Posted by Jennifer Andrews, M.Sc. on Tue, Aug 25, 2015

The road from initial idea to market launch—also known as concept to claim—can be a long one with many bumps along the way.  Understanding how a product and its ingredients affect human health is step one, but ultimately you will need to decide how best to position the final product in a crowded marketplace.

Who will benefit from using the product?  Does the desired target demographic have a need for this product?  What regulatory classification or pathway will best help you access this market segment for long-term success and the largest possible return on investment?

Answering these and other questions will help you carve out the right niche for your product and help you stand out from the competition.  Read on for tips on how to go about positioning a new dietary supplement product in today’s growing market.

Assess the target population

market segmentation

Consider the health concerns and challenges of your ideal customer.  Figuring out how your product can satisfy a specific need your target audience may have, or fill a gap that can ultimately help improve their health and wellness, will provide you with valuable information to help you best position your product.

Decide which claims you’re hoping to make on your product

Figure out what you want to communicate about your product and how you will message this to the end user.  A lot can be said about a product, from FDA-authorized health claims and results from scientific studies to statements about a product’s shelf-life.  Understanding what your ideal buyer persona wants, needs and values will help you determine which label statements will resonate most strongly and encourage the most sales.  Once this is done, you can then figure out what evidence you will need to substantiate the claims.

Take a look at what your competitors are doing

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Observing the competition is useful – not to copy them, but instead to figure out what makes your product unique in comparison.  Looking at industry trends, sales figures and competing brands can help with this.  Are there already existing products on the market with the same ingredients?  What regulatory category do they fall into (e.g., dietary supplement, cosmetic, drug, medical food)?  What claims are they making, and are they supported by clinical research?  Having a clear view of your competitors will help you differentiate your product in a meaningful way.

Conduct background research on the product’s ingredients and the health effect of interest

One of the most important steps of any product development pathway is to conduct an assessment of the existing scientific literature.  Is there already published data on the ingredients and the health indication of interest?  Is it animal data, a history of traditional use or results from one or more randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals?  What source material was used in the studies (e.g., was it the root of a plant or its leaves)?  What dose was given and what was the dosage route (e.g., was it administered orally, topically or some other way)?

What you find during this stage can help you figure out the next steps, including whether or not clinical research on your precise formulation would be advantageous.

Determine whether the quality of existing science is enough to support the claim you want

After scanning the scientific literature, you will then want to interpret and draw conclusions from the collective body of evidence.  Is there strong science to support the efficacy of your product or ingredient, or are you relying on exclusively subjective or anecdotal evidence?  Understanding the quality of the supporting evidence available, as well as revealing any gaps that may exist in the body of literature, will help you determine whether new research should be conducted or not.

Figure out whether or not you need to gather your own product-specific data

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You may already be familiar with the benefits of clinical research to substantiate the efficacy of a product’s individual ingredients.  However, have you ever considered the value of carrying out your own clinical research (through an experienced contract research organization) on your proprietary finished product?  Regulators from many different jurisdictions agree that the strongest evidence is that resulting from one or more product-specific, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials.  This gold standard of evidence is a large investment, but the increased product sales and brand trust resulting from your one-of-a-kind, science-backed health claim will be worth it in the long run.

Do you have an idea for a new product, or are you ready to put existing plans into action?  Contact us today at [email protected] to speak with a member of our regulatory team to learn how to get started.

Topics: Dietary Supplements, Clinical Research, Health Claims, Regulatory, Product Positioning