NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., - In an unprecedented move designed to increase the association's share of natural products retailers, the National Nutritional Foods Association announced today that it is reducing annual dues for retail members to a flat fee of $30, effective January 1, 2003. The new dues structure, which was approved during a meeting of NNFA's board of directors here last week, will pertain to all independent stores and chains of 50 stores or less.
Most recently, NNFA retailer dues were based on a store's annual sales volume and began at $190 per year. It is estimated that NNFA, which was founded in 1936, has not charged such a nominal amount for dues since the early 1960s.
"The impetus for this change - simply put - is to grow retail membership in NNFA to a level where the association truly is the voice of the natural products industry," said R. Mark Stowe, NNFA's president. "A substantially increased retail membership will give us greater clout in legislative and regulatory arenas and provide a strong foundation for our grassroots efforts. It will also allow the association to get its message out to a much wider audience likely to utilize our services and attend NNFA MarketPlace. In addition, our supplier members have told us they find increased value in belonging to an association that represents even greater retailer numbers."
Although an innovative supplier-backed initiative implemented in 2001 brought retail membership in the association to approximately 3,600 stores, resulting in a six percent increase that year, a more aggressive growth rate was sought. In order to accomplish this goal, NNFA formed a member task force comprised of both retailers and suppliers to examine ways to attract more retail members. As part of that process, NNFA commissioned a survey of non-member retailers and member suppliers regarding their attitudes about membership in the association.
For retailers who had previously been members of NNFA, the most frequently cited reason by far for not renewing was the dues amount. Of this same group, however, more than nine out of 10 were "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the association's products and services.
"The survey confirmed that we're providing benefits that are both relevant and important to our retail and supply members," said David Seckman, NNFA's executive director and CEO. "But it also told us that our current dues structure for retailers was out of reach for many. In addition, we learned that $30 was the amount that most retailers would be willing to pay for membership.
Adam Finney, NNFA's membership director, emphasized that the reduction in retail dues would not be accomplished by raising dues for supplier members or by decreasing association services. Rather, the association plans to compensate for any potential reduction in retailer dues levels by increasing member volume and raising advocacy contributions.
"One of the high points of the survey was that both retailers and suppliers alike said they would be willing to voluntarily contribute to an advocacy fund to educate members of Congress and the media about our industry," Finney said. "NNFA's most valued benefit to all our members is our representation of the industry in Washington, D.C. We're confident that with a more affordable dues structure and increased retailer numbers our members will be willing to support these efforts."