Ever since Dr. Oz mentioned them as a breakthrough weight-loss solution, raspberry ketones have exploded onto the supplement market, and just about every finished product maker has—or is feverishly developing—a SKU dedicated to the weight-loss ingredient.
But something strange is afoot in the raspberry ketone world.
Last week, by chance, I noticed that a Twitter search for “supplements” was waterlogged with rote tweets about raspberry ketones for weight loss, posted with links to strange URLs.
“Raspberry ketones supplement really works for weight loss”—“Raspberry Ketones is all the new craze!!”—“The New Breed Supplement called Raspberry Ketone Weight Loss”—“New Weight Loss Craze Raspberry Ketones Diet Supplement.”
If you've ever seen a direct message link saying something like "someone’s been saying mean things about you here" and you clicked on it—thereby sending the same message to all of your followers—then you know the frustration of Twitter hacks. It seems a similar force is at work here.
Responses from hacked Twitter users run the gamut from irreverent to angry.
The scam may or may not have a meaningful impact on the market, though there’s no doubt that raspberry ketones are a genuine super-fad.
They were certainly a hot topic of conversation on the SupplySide West show floor last week. Bulk suppliers were selling out by the score—though it may or may not have been actual raspberry ketone. During a chat with an analytical lab exhibiting at the show I learned that the supply for the ingredient is dwindling—as the fad runs on, the batches sent in for identity testing are getting further and further off the mark.
The next açaí scam?
This adulteration threatens to derail the market, as does fallout from the spamming. A similar story unfolded for açaí weight-loss marketers, who were hit by the Federal Trade Commission last year for affiliate marketing scams. Strings of bogus news websites duped unsuspecting customers into signing up for continuity programs that continuously billed their credit cards for supplement shipments. FTC has garnered nearly $5 million in settlements from açaí affiliate marketers over the past the year.
I reached out to both the FTC and Twitter for comment, but neither were able to give me any concrete answers. FTC doesn’t comment on current or potential investigations and Twitter can’t give information about specific accounts.
It’s hard to predict the future, but it would appear that raspberry ketones are sitting on a powder keg. We’ll just have to see if this fad dies out with a whimper—or a bang.