Setting the Stage - 2003

By Len Monheit
[email protected]

Over the past few years, this column has evolved from a commentary on doing business in the age of technology and making effective use of the Internet, into a mixed vehicle dealing with industry issues, trends and observations in addition to business and communications strategy. 2003 will continue this evolution, and I’d like to provide an overview on a number of issues which will be the subject of further commentary in upcoming months.

Trends in industry self-regulation and management
While continues to draw attention to product categories failing to meet label claims, both NSF International and USP continue the development of their certification programs. Both have achieved high visibility and notable successes, yet many would argue that the impact on the industry has not been significant and consumer recognition of the programs is low. If the overall objective of these and other initiatives is credibility and self-policing, then the industry gets a failing grade. Is there a way, within the spirit of trade and commercial opportunity, to build barriers to entry that protect the integrity of the industry?

The Strength of Branded Ingredients
Ingredient suppliers are trying to solidify their brand position in a very difficult business environment. In some cases, this is leading to a drive to consumer brand awareness, Many are looking for the next ‘Intel® Inside’ concept. Is this realistic? What will it take? How much brand equity can you create, how do you do it and at what cost?

The role of tradeshows and events—pick and choose and get the most out of them.
It’s quite easy for companies to participate in a dozen or more shows and events a year at various levels. Typically, some are attended for historical reasons (we’ve always gone), others for defensive reasons (my competitors go and so should I). Is the industry getting better mileage out of them? What happens between shows to keep programs moving?

International perspectives
The Natural Health Products Industry around the world is watching developments in countries such as Canada which are in the final stages of drafting GMP’s and guidance documents covering Natural Health Products. Various countries’ reactions to issues such as vitamin RDA’s, kava and ephedra bear watching, and in the news we hear of changes in food labeling and safety legislation that will impact us and also create new opportunities.

Integrated communications strategy
Advertising, PR, brochures, sell sheets, radio, television, websites, newsletters (print and on-line), Customer Relationship Management strategy, the Internet and more all play a role in reaching a busy client base. How do you determine your mix?

Food for Thought
The issue of medicinal foods, products with nutritional value, and the ‘functional food’ category has been discussed for some time. Is there a strategy to enhance consumer awareness in a changing legislative environment, and develop new business with nutritional products? Is now the time to redirect energy or build alliances to take advantage of emerging opportunities?

Business Technology and the Internet
And as an organization watching technology developments and the impact of these developments on business processes, we’ll speak to you in upcoming months about building community on-line, managing technology projects, cutting the costs of business operations, and supporting changing client needs.

I’m sure many of you have thoughts and observations on many of these topics which you’re encouraged to share with us and other viewers.

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