Natural Foods Merchandiser

Are your supplement providers reaching out?

How much impact can supplement manufacturers have on product sales by getting into a store and connecting with employees? A lot, says Catherine Pantaleo, lead practitioner and nutritionist at the Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Boulder, Colorado.

“I think it makes a huge difference in sales,” she says. “We have hundreds of different products on our shelves. If someone comes in and reminds me of the benefits of a particular product, that reminder puts it on my radar. I’m much more likely to sell it.”

Here are Pantaleo’s suggestions as to how manufacturers can improve outreach—and how retailers can best leverage such interactions.

Follow the leaders.
For Pantaleo, certain manufacturers stand out for their ability to generate attention and excitement about their products. Representatives from Metagenics, Thorne Research and New Chapter, for example, often have representatives stop by the store with info on new products and scientific developments. Other companies like Vega get the word out by handing out samples of their protein shakes in the aisles. Pantaleo thinks retailers would be wise to generate relationships with businesses such as these—and other supplement manufacturers could learn a thing or two from these industry leaders.

Get creative.
If a manufacturer really wants to have an impact, it doesn’t hurt to push the creative envelope. For example, one customer outreach campaign that really struck Pantaleo was when Gaia Herbs held a contest to see which employees could design the best in-store Gaia display. That way, retailers competed against each other to see who could market Gaia’s products most successfully— and the winner got a free trip to the company’s organic farms in North Carolina.

Form partnerships.
Retailers often need to lend a helping hand to ensure supplement manufacturers successfully connect with employees. Take the dinnertime trainings Pharmaca has held in the past, says Pantaleo. The retailer would bring in manufacturers to describe their products while employees ate a meal paid for by the pharmacy. Sure, it’s an added expense for retailers, but employees are much more willing to attend and find value in a two-hour training if they’re treated to a nice dinner as well.

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