1| Stock quality products. No matter how popular an antioxidant product is, don’t carry it if you have questions about its legitimacy. “We are supposed to be the gatekeepers,” says David Stouder, owner of Apple Health Foods in Redwood City, Calif. “If we allow the companies we deal with to start pedaling overpriced, hokey stuff, it’s sort of our fault.” To quickly assess the level of science behind a given product, click on Health Notes, which gives products a one-, two- or three-star scientific rating.
2 | Sell by condition. Most people search for supplements because they want to address a specific condition. Consider organizing the antioxidant shelf of your supplement section by what the products are intended to treat—lycopene for prostate health, CoQ10 for heart health, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) for liver health. Then hang shelf talkers identifying each condition so consumers know which antioxidants do what.
3 | Know why every product is on your shelf. It’s fine to carry multiple brands of green tea, Stouder says, but you’d better be able to explain why. “Whether this one’s standardized and this one’s freeze-dried and this one has the highest level of ECGC [a compound in tea], somebody needs to be able to explain it.” Schedule regular staff trainings with product manufacturers so your employees can speak intelligently about the products you carry.
4 | Stay current with science. You can’t direct consumers toward products that work if you don’t know what they are. To stay current on just-published studies, subscribe to nutraingredients-usa.com, nhiondemand.com, naturalproductsassoc.org and npicenter.com.
5 | Don’t discount anecdotes. Stouder says that because of the high cost of doing original research in humans, many products lack studies yet deliver excellent results. “It’s great to have science but it’s more important that the product works,” he explains.