Derek Hall, CEO of Qivana, has held leadership positions with a variety of major supplement and functional foods brands after a long career in pharmaceuticals. He serves as chair of the Natural Products Foundation board.
Functional Ingredients: You’ve led companies with health food channel distribution and direct marketing companies. Is there a disparity in quality and regulatory compliance in marketing in this channel? How does a direct marketing company do it right?
Derek Hall: I’ve actually been a supplier to direct marketing companies for several years but I never saw myself running one of them because I always felt they were a little out of the mainstream with a marketing plan that was more hype than substance.
I realized quickly that just as in the case of traditional retail companies there were some who chose the “low ground” but many, many more who chose to take the “high ground” in their product development process.
At Qivana, a network marketing company, we determined long before we shipped the first product that we would not bring a product to market unless it was accompanied by a robust scientific basis. At Qivana, our products are not just doctor endorsed, they are doctor developed.
I believe network marketing companies who promote dietary supplements need to approach the product development process with the consumer in mind. This changes the focus and puts the emphasis on product rather than the business plan.
Fi: Can you give us an update on the Natural Products Foundation?
DH: I have been a supporter of the NPF since its inception. There’s no doubt in my mind that the industry in general has failed to police itself since the enactment of DSHEA. The NPF adopted initiatives that would further educate the consumer and that would help level the playing field for all supplement marketers.
Through its “Truth in Advertising” initiative the NPF is constantly exposing companies making egregious claims in violation of DSHEA. With help from a team of legal experts, the NPF releases letters each and every week directed to offending companies making them aware of their illegal claims. Seventy percent agree to adjust or remove unlawful claims.
Fi: Compared to retail companies, relatively few multi-level marketing supplement companies support the organizations and programs that help them stay in business. What do you think it will take to change this scenario?
DH: I’m sure this has been the case in the past but I personally see MLM companies playing an active part in industry associations and becoming more visible in issues that threaten the industry, and in many cases are leading the charge. All industries have subpar companies, and if I were one of them I might elect to stay below the radar. Those taking active roles in the industry are indeed the “high ground” companies and certainly those with which I would want to associate.
Fi: Please tell us about your recent adventures in Alaska.
DH: Our youngest daughter and her husband and four children recently moved to Palmer, Alaska. Our son-in-law is an outfitter and big game guide as well as being a licensed taxidermist—hence the move to Alaska. My wife and I helped them move last July and drove the 3,480 miles from our home in southern Utah in a truck loaded with their household goods. The two-vehicle caravan traveled through country like I have never seen before.
The amazing thing was that we saw deer, elk, moose, caribou, grizzly bears, bison, coyotes, big horn sheep, stone sheep and mountain goats and never left the highway as we travelled through Canada and eventually into Alaska. It was strange to observe the sun, high in the sky, at midnight. It truly is the American frontier.