Editorial: Amidst Uncertain Times, Fortune Favors the Bold

According to the ancient Latin proverb, "Fortes fortuna adiuvat" – fortune favors the bold.

Perhaps that concept from the ancients is something to keep in mind as three ‘e’ themes continue to dominate the spotlights for industry.

‘Efficacy’, ‘economics’ and ‘election’ are the subjects du jour, as new clinical results continue to question the efficacy of Vitamins E and C for CVD and cancer risk reduction, economic uncertainty continues to challenge consumer security, and US election euphoria begins to give way to practical considerations of just what will the new administration bring to bear not only on the economy, but also to healthcare reform and even the industry itself.

So as 2008 draws to a close, the future is murky at best, worrying at worst. So what’s to do?

Focus on strengths
Even in the midst of uncertainty, certain strengths remain evident. Vitamin D, probiotics and several other products continue to be re-validated in peer reviewed literature. Savvy companies are positioning marketing messages around the concept of ‘at least you can take control of your health’, skewing the ‘need’ versus ‘discretionary’ aspect of product selection and purchase. Expect ‘more in ones’ and health condition targeted combination products to proliferate. Look for innovative reward and loyalty programs as companies seek to prevent brand switching. And begin to look for ‘comfort’ and ‘value’ marketing strategies. Peace of mind amidst the current buffeting of crisis borne information will be highly sought after, and especially valuable to companies with solid brand strength.

Is an agenda of disease prevention finally on our horizon? Remarks from the incoming administration would seem to suggest healthcare reform including a focus on prevention may be a priority. If this is in fact the case, then our most substantiated categories stand to benefit immensely. And with an aging, expensive population standing to benefit, expect to see a lot more attention towards those products with a demonstrated ability to impact care requirements and quality of life issues for this segment. Cognition, vision, bone/joint/mobility, circulation therefore all represent huge opportunities.

As economies around the world are impacted at lesser or greater levels in our current economic environment, among other things, currencies are fluctuating wildly, employment statistics are being watched closely, perceptions of value can be seen changing almost daily, and new opportunities, strange as it may seem, arise frequently. Whether it’s a new distribution agreement in Asia, a research collaboration in the EU, or favorable exchange leading to windfall in North America, there are opportunities out there, especially in such a volatile market.

In the meantime…

Industry must continue its aggressive outreach programs to non-traditional allies. Expect to see new relationships (formal and otherwise) as get set to fight political, legislative, media, scientific and other battles. I’d also expect to see more engagement with the regulators in the very near future and at different, deeper levels than might have occurred in the past.

These are certainly interesting, uncertain times. One thing is for certain though – there are always opportunities…..

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