Natural Foods Merchandiser

Hard Core HABA

?That?s some pimpin? lip balm.? ?That endo did in my back.? ?I just finished the Leadville 100.? ?That grommet busted huge air.?

No idea what any of that means? Well, you better brush up on your sports slang, because the athletes are in your store buying energy bars by the case, and it?s about time for them to be hitting health and beauty aids just as hard.

Christopher Bogush, owner of The Good Witch?s Brew, a body care company in Jamestown, Colo., believes athletes are, by nature, the ultimate naturals demographic. ?It?s a very health-conscious, health-minded group of individuals who are trying to push the limits of their physical abilities,? he says. ?And I feel that with this group, as they get older, they don?t want to let go of their athleticism. It?s not something they just pick up in their 20s and then let go of. They want to hold on to their health as much as possible.?

Along with this natural desire to be and stay healthy comes the less kind side of Mother Nature. ?These folks are getting pounded by the elements out there, doing their thing,? Bogush says, ?and they need a little extra care in terms of their skin.? Natural products may be the answer for a regimen that keeps these athletes looking as good and performing as well as they feel.

Spreading the word
EcoLips Inc., All Terrain and Climb On Products Inc. are bringing the message—and the products—directly to athletes via sports figures and sports-oriented packaging.

Seal Beach, Calif.-based EcoLips, a lip balm company, has gone the furthest, putting together Team EcoLips, a group of extreme athletes, including many who have participated in the ESPN X-Games—the extreme sports equivalent of the Olympics. It also sponsors OP Girls Learn To Ride, a ?series of girls-only action sports clinics.?

Wimberley, Texas-based Climb On also sponsors athletes and events, but focuses mainly on climbing. Steph Davis, Jess Rosskelley and Rebecca Harris, all world-class climbers, are sponsored by Climb On. The company also sponsors the American Bouldering Series, a series of bouldering (unroped climbing on boulders) competitions.

All Terrain, of Sunapee, N.H., was founded by a climber, Todd Hakanson, and the company is active in such outdoor groups as Leave No Trace, The Access Fund, The Appalachian Mountain Club, the American Camping Association and the American Hiking Society. The company will be honored at the 2004 annual Parks Conservancy dinner for its conservation work. The company?s marketing materials are targeted to the outdoor set and feature pictures of people with kayaks, surfboards, mountain bikes and plenty of mud.

These three companies? products may be many athletes?—especially younger extreme athletes—first introduction to natural and organic skin care.

Starting inside
Beyond the foods they choose, athletes are looking for any edge they can find to boost performance. For many, that has meant turning to ephedra, androstenedione (a steroid precursor) and other illegal, or soon-to-be-illegal products. The bad press and legal problems represent a fantastic opportunity to open the doors to the world of natural alternatives for increased stamina, endurance and performance. Williams, Ore.-based Herb Pharm, an herbal products manufacturer, will soon target athletes with a prepackaged mix of six of its extracts. The Sports Pack, as it will be known, will include Athlete?s Power Tonic, Connective Tissue Tonic and others. Ed Smith, Herb Pharm?s founder and owner, believes this will give retailers an easy way to point customers to natural alternatives for performance enhancement.

?With that packet, we?ll be able to put in a more descriptive brochure. The pack will be shrink-wrapped with a description of the individual products and how they can be used for sports training.? This will also expand retailers? and, thus, customers? knowledge of these types of herbs. ?When it?s in a sports pack, they may think of reishi mushroom as a sports herb, but they may not have thought of it as a sports herb before,? Smith says.

Ouch, that hurts
There is one ingredient that, in most consumers? minds, stands above the rest when it comes to homeopathic relief—arnica. A sports-oriented section should include this gateway herbal to point to natural answers for muscle aches, bruises and injuries. Sales of arnica products in natural products supermarkets increased by 22 percent last year, according to market researcher SPINS.

Ronald Boyer, medical director for the Boiron Institute, a division of the homeopathic company Boiron, believes that arnica?s portability makes it ideal for athletes: ?Arnica is great because [the tablets] can easily be carried, you can have them in your car, and they?re really the first thing to take when you have a trauma.?

In fact, TV viewers saw player Didier Deschamps of the winning French 1998 World Cup soccer team take arnica, which he had with him, after a violent collision on the field.

Alissa Gould, spokeswoman for Boiron, says the company is pursuing some creative marketing strategies and going after some celebrity quotes. ?We?ve contacted a few sports teams regarding arnica,? she says.

Boiron makes arnica in gel, ointment, cream and pellet forms, and also makes Arnica Sportenine and Rhus toxicodendron for sports-related injuries.

St. Paul, Minn.-based Historical Remedies has created an innovative product and marketing campaign in an effort to make homeopathics more enticing. Robert Cohanim, owner of Historical Remedies, also believes that homeopathy?s portability is one of its strong points. The company?s Sore Spots lozenges are an example of easy-to-use, easy-to-understand arnica. ?The nature of the packaging and the fact that it?s a lozenge makes it easy for the buyer to automatically position it,? Cohanim says. ?It?s a simple product that tastes good and works for [the consumer].?

A beautiful lifestyle
Bogush, whose company will soon launch a new line, Boulder Bath and Body, feels the key is remembering that hardcore athletes approach personal care differently. ?Both men and women in this demographic really consider their beauty as part of their lifestyle.? It?s a lifestyle that believes in taking care of looks, but not at the expense of being natural.

?It?s an incredibly important demographic that?s emerging, and it?s really important to provide products that complement that lifestyle,? Bogush says. ?It?s geared more toward simplicity, and natural products fit right into that.?

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 5/p. 34, 36

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